The lights are on
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
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
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.If you liked what you saw, be sure to follow me on either my Youtube
Page (TrueFreakinGamers) or Twitter (thatSTERLINkid) and share your thoughts on
whether you agree or disagree!
*Review based on PS3 version*
Never really cared about this series.