Yeah, we're getting a lot of Silent Hill releases in the span of a month, but where are the advertisements? Where is the push for previews or even a minor attempt at hyping up what was once a majestic flagship series? It's the same old bullshit like when EA pulled all support on Shadows of the Damned right under its release sealing the coffin. Even fans of the series weren't aware that Downpour had already come out. Combine this with IGN's abysmal 4.5/10 review and Downpour isn't going to sell whatsoever, hitting the bargain bins quicker than you can blink. And the greatest injustice of it all is that this is possibly the best Silent Hill since 3.
I don't want to go too much into the game, but I do want to cover some of the rights, wrongs, and misconceptions that there are. First off, and arguably most importantly, the audio is spot on. The music, which is not done by Akira Yamaoka(rather by Daniel Licht of Dexter fame), is incredible, and sometimes epic like the soundtrack to a spaghetti western
. The composer also hits all of the right notes to fill you with dread when wandering the rain soaked streets of Silent Hill. And god help you when the storm comes down. All of the industrial clanks and machine churning is present when necessary, though not nearly as prominent. The soundtrack aims for more of a melancholy and moody approach, which is very suitable for the visual atmosphere of Downpour.
Trips to the dark side of Silent Hill have been unique and a complete blast thus far. These unfortunately few and far between moments have left me with the biggest grin on my face, and the biggest shit in my pants. Those two things not being mutually exclusive. When the real world melts away and you find yourself essentially in hell, it's not just rust and chainlinks and that's all the thought that went into it. There's a lot of mindfuckery, and some very trippy segments that remind me of why Silent Hill is a horror series worth experiencing. This is where the title shines the brightest. The town of Silent Hill itself is also a lot more open in that you can explore and find dozens of sidequests in a lot of the buildings, some of them being the highlights and scariest moments of the game. Don't worry, with your map in hand you won't get lost any more than you did in previous Silent Hills, and all the better with 80% less knob jiggling. There's just more to see, do, and have nightmares about the moment you step foot in the god forsaken town.
The game obviously isn't perfect, and there are a couple of wrongs that should be brought up. The most prominent issue with this game is the framerate stuttering that you'll get from time to time. Luckily, and oddly enough this doesn't seem to happen when you're in the middle of combat, but more when you're exploring certain areas, or when the game is autosaving. This isn't gamebreaking by any stretch, but the amount that it pops up is surprising, and should hopefully be patched out in the future(except it's Konami and Silent Hill, so probably not). There are also some minor control hangups with some hotspots that are too specific combined with hotspots that aren't specific enough, on top of a couple moments where Murphy will climb/crawl under an object when you get near it and you just wanted to walk around instead. There have also been fan complaints about the monsters, but I think the designs work aside from the random twitchy wolfman guy thing, and they also introduced the shadow dolls which are some of the best and scariest fucking things from the series. But I figured since the community has been so vocal about this aspect, I should forewarn you about it as well.
The one major misconception that should be discussed is the combat of Silent Hill. It always gets marked as a clunky worthless piece of shit battle system, and points are always taken away because of it. I don't think a lot of people understand that the battle system is purposefully something you need to fight with, because the struggle of the fight is what adds so much tension to the series. The fact that the gun reticule will jump around sometimes even in point blank range is proof that the battle system is not working with you, and it never has in Silent Hill. If you could swiftly dispatch of every enemy like in Dead Space or RE4, the tension of combat is almost nullified, and the scare completely relies on wtf it is that I'm fighting, and not whether I'll be able to survive or not. I welcome a horde of enemies in front of me in those games, I run away in fear with my heart jumping out of my eye sockets in Silent Hill. I know that defending the combat of Silent Hill by essentially saying that it's shit on purpose comes off as a useless fanboy response, but you'll either get it or you won't. The thing is, while it's not the easiest system to get along with, you can conquer it, and you will master it by the end. It's very much like Punch Out in that you need to attack, block, and counter-attack at the right times by feeling out the rhythms of each unique monster. Or fuck it, you can just run like hell for most of it.
Wow time to wrap this up...I feel that it's necessary to mention that this is a rare release in this day and age. This is a true survival horror title with the flavor of the 90's and early 2000's horror games. This is not a balls to the wall action fest where you suplex zombies and punch cookie shapes out of alien's chests with laser beams. This is that feeling of immense dread that only Amnesia has brought us in recent memory. In a recent podcast Rory pondered why he even plays these survival horror games given how anxious a person he is, and I've had the same thoughts as well. I've concluded that these games are our Dark Souls. The games that are difficult to push yourself through, that never really feel "fun" when you play them, but are ultimately so satisfying to conquer, and leaves you with a feeling of manly accomplishment that most games don't. I think fans of Silent Hill will be left with that very satisfaction upon completing this game, and then revisiting it for some of the literal rollercoaster like moments throughout. Great game so far, and definitely more effective at bringing Silent Hill to the modern age than Homecoming was. Go out, buy it, and support the series so we can see more. I mean shit, if Konami won't even support Silent Hill, who will?