Silent Hill has always had a rather large spot in my heart when it comes down to survival horror. With its lack of action, slow pace, eerie environments, and horrifying enemies, what’s not to love? Well, according to the majority of reviewers and fans over the past few years, there’s a lot. Ever since the events of Silent Hill 4 there’s been a decrease in pleased fans, increase of low critic review scores, and a rather steady flow of new games for the Silent Hill series that continued to disappoint the majority of their players. In my opinion, this streak of bad games has finally come to an end with the release of Silent Hill: Downpour.


As far as the good things about Silent Hill: Downpour are concerned; If you’re looking for a game that has the potential of scaring the crap out of you, then this one definitely won’t disappoint. While playing through the game, I kept track of how many times it made me jump and ended with a total of 33 times, which is actually quite a lot compared to most other horror games I’ve played. However, I have to admit that at least 5 of those came from the doors slamming behind me after entering just about any room in the game. With enemies surprising the player from just about every angle, the environment making sudden loud noises, and even Murphy Pendleton’s (protagonist) hallucinations, this game offers the player a lot to get freaked out about.


While on the topic of getting freaked out, the sound design for the game is great. Both the tunes on the radio, and the original soundtrack successfully come together in order to give the game a creepier vibe that fits perfectly. The environments around you are also full of chilling sound effects that can make you alert, guide you, or even deceive you.


In most horror games, you either have a protagonist that talks too much, doesn’t say much, or simply doesn’t say anything at all. Silent Hill Downpour managed to level things out with Murphy, and he quickly became one of my favorites within this genre. Murphy talks quite a bit throughout the game and manages to refrain from getting annoying. While playing; if he notices something in the area, is taking damage during a chase, or even realizes that the area around him looks familiar, he will say something. One of my favorite things about Murphy is the fact that when communicating with other people around Silent Hill, he doesn’t act like nothing has been happening. He hates the situation he is in and is definitely not afraid to talk about it with the rather interesting cast of characters that this game provides.


Silent Hill Downpour is played much like the majority of previous entries in the series with a few new additions. For starters, there’s now the ability to make choices during a few scenarios in the game that will affect the climax of Murphy’s terrifying adventure. Instead of simply opening doors and walking through them, you now slowly open and close the door while in a first person mode to see what’s behind it. This was annoying at first, but as I got further into the game I was glad they added this option and I’d like to see it in more games.


My personal favorite new additions to the series are the random thunderstorms that occur if you are outdoors, making the world around you much more difficult to navigate through. It becomes much harder to see, a lot more enemies appear, and it’s harder to hear what’s going on around you. When these storms happen, it's best to find one of the many accessible buildings or homes to take cover until the storm clears. Some of these buildings/homes have good loot inside while others only possess danger and a good scare or 2.


Side-quests have been added to the game in order to give people more of a reason to continue playing and add replay value to a series that sadly didn’t ever have much to begin with. These side-quests are not required and are actually pretty easy to miss out on. My first play-through took 9 hours and a few minutes without doing a single side-quest, though there were 3 available to me during my final moments with the game.


Ya know how in most horror games you’re either given a huge arsenal of weapons to choose from, a lot of random ammo, places to buy equipment (health, ammo, etc), weapon upgrades, or all of the above? Well, Silent Hill has never had any of that (at least from the ones I’ve played) and Downpour continues the legacy. You're not some random big shot with a huge arsenal of weapons and definitely can’t kill everything. Fight or flight is what appears to be one of this game’s biggest focuses when it comes down to the combat. There will often be times when numerous enemies approach or ambush you, and your only option is to run away unless you want to die quickly. Your melee weapons also break, so it would be best only to use them when fighting against one enemy at a time.


To conclude with my list of good things about Silent Hill: Downpour, there’s a part towards the end of the game which was completely unexpected and REALLY cool! Unfortunately for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I won’t spoil it for you and let you find out on your own somehow. Usually I don’t add things like this to my review, but I felt the need to this time around.


As for the bad things about Silent Hill: Downpour, the first thing that comes to mind is the absolutely terrible frame rate problem. The frame rate gets so bad at some points that I find myself freezing and/or teleporting numerous feet ahead of the position I am at prior to freezing. The character animations also seem a bit stiff, which is a pity due to how interesting the characters are.


When playing a horror game of any kind, I like being afraid of the games enemies just as much as I am of the environment. Unfortunately, the enemies featured in Downpour aren't really designed well or all that scary looking. Just about all of them have the simple appearance of humans that either have facial distortions or are wearing intimidating accessories.


The combat isn’t all that bad, but there are some things about it that aren’t all that good either. Using a gun should be a stronger and quicker alternative to melee combat when you have one. Instead, it’s frustrating and your tiny dot of a crosshair seems useless most of the time, especially when the enemy is moving. In addition to my combat frustrations, you always have to navigate through your inventory in real time. This means that switching between weapons or needing a key during combat can quickly become more difficult than it should be.


Last but definitely not least is a problem that I’ve always had with the Silent Hill franchise that will apparently never change; extremely confusing points within the plot. Downpour’s story may be great, but there are things that either weren’t answered or felt as if they didn’t belong. Though I enjoyed the game’s final moments, I couldn’t help but think to myself “Wait… What the heck happened to [insert numerous characters here]?” once the credits began to roll.


Overall, I’d definitely say that Silent Hill: Downpour is an improvement from the games that haven’t been doing so well the series, but it still needs a bit more work. 7.5 out of 10. I’d recommend renting first unless you have played Silent Hill games in the past or love the series.Thanks for reading my review.

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*Review based on PS3 version*