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Silent Hill (PlayStation)

88
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  NeoJ (428)
Written on  :  Feb 27, 2010
Platform  :  PlayStation
Rating  :  4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars

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Summary

The fear of blood tends to create fear for the flesh

The Good

It's clear that Silent Hill is not a simple game. I'd say that this is one of the most scariest games in a long time. Game design is disturbing and the sound's unique, featuring a scary story deep enough to create spin offs, sequels and a lot of things (like comics, novels and many more).

Let's proceed step by step. Silent Hill was released as a Survival Horror Game, an alternative for Capcom's Resident Evil. Soon, the players realized that comparing this game with Resident Evil is a big mistake. We don't fight zombies and we're not facing a classic horror story. Silent Hill was conceived as an original game, and that's what it is. This game is the perfect one for those who love psychological horror, the kind of horror from movies like Jacob's ladder, more focused in the atmosphere than in concrete terrible frights. Something more ethereal.

Story is deeper than anyone could tell. Besides the main creepy story the game has many details and secondary stories (Lisa Garland's is my favourite one, a melancholic story in a world of darkness and terrible creatures that will give you a strange feeling, so sad). Everything's connected to Alessa's minds and fears, each creature has a reason to be there and to be like it is, all extracted from Alessa's pain and suffering: The fear of the dogs, the bullying suffered in the school or the creatures from the fairy tales that she used to read. Everything's about Alessa's world, the world that overcame the town of Silent Hill when Alessa suffered her terrible fate.

The main story is as deep as good and the player must take the time to explore all the town and to understand every part of the story, which is not a simple task. You don't have to go everywhere in the town to complete the game, but if you want to know what's happening you should. Even if you take a look at every location in the game many questions aren't answered, so, you'll read a lot of different interpretations of the same thing if you search for more information.

Talking about gameplay, the game works as Resident Evil and that's why it's a Survival Horror Game (that's why people compare it with Resident Evil, but the game has nothing to do with it). We carry different weapons that we aim to the creatures and shoot as well as many puzzles to progress with Harry's searching for his daughter. Of course the puzzles that we'll find are related with Alessa's mind, for example, there's one featuring characters from Alice in Wonderland, one of the tales that Alessa read. It looks like it's out of place, but when you understand the story you won't feel it. To sum up, different puzzles related with the main story and not just mysteries in a mansion without a concrete sense, you know.

When we start the game we'll pick a flashlight and a radio. The radio is necessary because it will make a strange noise when we're near a creature. About the flashlight, you'll need it to go on in the darkest areas of the game (which are a lot), the problem is that its light will attract the monsters around you. We'll find many maps in our quest, and Harry will take notes there about anything, like closed doors, broken doors, places that he had visited or puzzles. You need your flashlight to look at the map, so, as if we were there, if you want to avoid monsters you'll have to search for a room that has none of them, and then take a look at the map and see where you want to go, turn off your flashlight, get out of the room and go there (of course walking, unless you want to be noticed because of your footsteps while you're running). Of course you can kill every creature that you find, but ammo is limited.

Controls are simple too, the classic configuration for a Survival Horror Game, a button to aim and another to shoot, the button to examine and the one for running. You'll have also a status screen to heal you if you need it. There are two buttons, the L1 and R1 that are useless. If you press your running button and one of those they became more useful but it's an annoying way to move, or maybe that's just that we're not used to that.

The camera is different from Resident Evil, we don't have static cameras in the rooms, the camera will follow us in our adventure and what's more, it's part of that scary feeling and atmosphere in the game. Sometimes the camera won't show you what's further. This is a good example about using a camera properly if you want to make a scary game like this.

Graphics aren't special at all, but they're good. Light effects are the best thing about graphics,but the game's not the best out there because of its graphics. The design and the deep story are above all the other aspects of the game. There's something curious about graphics, they're not perfect but that helps with the atmosphere of the game, I mean, if you can't see clearly what you're shooting at it becomes more scary, you're shooting to something and you don't even know what it is.

The music and the FX deserve an entire review. Akira Yamaoka's work in all the games of the series is a before-and-after in videogames. There are some Silent Hill games which aren't as good as they should, but the music was always good, no matter the game. The first Silent Hill has an industrial style all over the game, the music of Yamaoka suits with the rusted world of Alessa where you can smell the oxide at any time. Yamaoka composed a noisy soundtrack for the game, with metallic sounds and strange noises that makes the atmosphere even more claustrophobic. Besides that compositions, Yamaoka included some melancholic tracks for concrete parts of the game, and when you listen to them in the middle of this world, when everything's just noise, they really work as I never thought in a Survival Horror game. Songs like "She", "Tears of..." or the main Silent Hill theme are masterpieces.

You can play the game many times because it has many different endings as well as unlockable weapons, like the Katana, the chainsaw or the Hyper Blaster. Our decisions during the game will influence the story in some ways, specially in the end.

To finish with, there's something that I really like about the game. You don't need to complete the game fast to get a good score at the end. The score depends on the items that you've taken, the good/poor aim that you had, the enemies killed and other things. Silent Hill is a game to be enjoyed little by little because of its depth. Put all your senses on the game and you'll love it.

The Bad

The game has no important bad things to remark but there are some things that aren't perfect. There are some movements that are useless as I said, and the fact that you need to finish the game many times to unlock all the weapons available.

The camera as I said is another scary element that helps with the atmosphere of the game because it won't show us what's there many times. That's perfect for the atmosphere, but not for the gameplay because many times we will walk in the direction of the camera and we cannot see what's further, so, it's possible (in fact it happens a lot) that a creature appears and attacks Harry when you didn't notice it because the camera didn't show you. There's a button to center the view, but it doesn't work as we want sometimes.

Wait, did I say that the game has no remarkable bad things? I forgot about something. The voices are disastrous. The voice acting is boring, soporific and all the bad adjectives that you could imagine. It's not like they're talking when they do, it's like they're reading the script without any feeling and with a large pause between each sentence. Wake up Harry! Your daughter's on big troubles, I think that you should be more interested in what you say. I really love this game and I don't like talking about the bad things on it, so, I'd say that the voice acting is like that just because they're been consumed by the town itself and the darkness on it, and it helps the atmosphere of the game, but the fact is that the voice acting is intolerable.

Another bad thing that depends on how the player plays the game is that you may not want to explore the whole town, only focus in the main story and finish the game as soon as possible. If you do that you won't experience a shocking game and you'll feel like this is just a normal game and nothing unique, specially if you get the bad ending which is a bit frustrating (it's the bad ending, what were you waiting for?).

The Bottom Line

One of the scariest experiences in videogames history with a perfect design and story harmonized by an unforgettable music. There's nothing to reproach in the game (besides voice acting), maybe only the fact that it set very high standards and now it's difficult to make a game as good as this. The game defies the imagination, even Alessa's.