It’s been many years since I’ve visited the mysterious town of Silent Hill. Most of the games since their heyday on the Playstation 2 have been sub-par, giving me no incentive to rush out to play them. However, thanks to my loving wife, Silent Hill: Downpour was waiting for me in the mailbox on release day and I was stoked to jump right in.
Our protagonist this time is prison inmate Murphy Pendleton. After a brief tutorial level where Murphy murders another unarmed prisoner in the showers, he is being transferred to a different facility. On the way, a bus accident leaves Murphy free in the wilderness just outside everyone’s favorite vacation hot spot. While journeying through the woods we meet prison guard Cunningham who seems to have it out for Murphy. Cunningham tries to cross a small ledge while holding Murphy at gunpoint, only to slip. Here we get the first karma choice whether you should help her, or leave her. From there its all about survival as Murphy tries to find a way out of Silent Hill with his life and his sanity. To get there you’ll travel through a diner, the tourist destination The Devil’s Pit, the local radio station, a monastery,and finally back to prison.
At it’s core, Downpour is a welcome addition to the past Silent Hill games. The game is once again chock full of creepy locales, and filled with mind bending puzzles. Always one of Silent Hill’s best assets is the music and spooky sound effects, and as usual this game delivers the goods. The game also has a handful of well played jump scares that are quite effective. Finally, the plot and character voices are wonderful. I always enjoyed the Silent Hill games more than most horror franchises because of the attention given to the plots. They never strayed off course like other franchises to become action filled gore games with no emphasis on story. Thanks for that Konami!
Now the negatives, and unfortunately there are a few. The game play in Downpour is more combat based than past Silent Hill games, and that would be fine if the combat wasn’t so mediocre. The controls were spotty at times, and the monsters were not frightening or original in the least. I really missed the freaky nurses and of course Pyramid Head in this game. Also from a game play standpoint, how hard would it be to list on screen what it is they want you to pick up? Dozens of times I would be walking in the dark when it would pop up to pick up something, only to toss my axe for a brick. Finally, the version I played was the Playstation 3 version, and it was extremely buggy. Constant screen freezes and jerks really got annoying, especially during the second half of the game. It got so bad that every time the game would auto save I had to stop what I was doing because if I didn’t the game would lock up and I’d have to restart my system. In my opinion it is unacceptable to put out a product with this many glitches, and for fans I would recommend holding off for the eventual patch that will hopefully cure this issue before playing this. I did not try the game on my 360, so I cannot comment on if that version has the same issues.
On a technical standpoint, Downpour took me about fourteen hours to play through the main campaign, and the thirteen side missions that are available to you during your first play through. Those of you looking for trophies and achievements will be playing the game at least twice to fulfill your side missions and karma decisions. The game has a total of six different endings, I was able to unlock three of them during my time with the game. Although short, they really did make a huge difference how things played out in the end.
Fans of past Silent Hill games should find a lot to enjoy in Downpour. Although glitchy, the game gives you the classic feel of past Silent Hill games. If you’re new to the franchise, I’d recommend starting with the Silent Hill Collection which upgrades two of the best chapters in the series, parts 2 and 3. And for those of you lucky enough to have the new Playstation Vita, Silent Hill: Book of Memories comes out next week. Fans of horror games, Konami is giving you plenty of options this month to take a trip that you’ll never forget. A trip to Silent Hill.