RETRO – Murphy Pendleton was probably happy for about fifteen minutes that he had escaped from the prison van. As he was getting transported to a more secure prison, the transport got derailed. The man whose soul is burdened by a dark past; he has now arrived at Silent Hill the place that is full of madness and monsters.
Gaming’s most frightening town is back with Silent Hill Downpour, it is scarier than ever, even though Akira Yamaoka and Konami are not developing the game. Instead, the Czech team Variant games produced the sequel. Konami probably realized that it was an appalling idea to hand over the IP to an American team, so I was hesitant to try out the newest Silent Hill.
Silent Hill: Downpour’ hero is a bad guy with regrets
The protagonist of the series, Murphy Pendleton reminded me a bit about James Sunderland, the “hero” of the second game. Although we do not know if Pendleton is guilty or innocent of the crime that is weighed upon him, it is certainly a bad sign that in the opening scenes he goes and shivs a fat man in the showers. The realistic and graphics bloodsheds provide the basis for this newest Silent Hill game, which might be the most violent one in the series. Another interesting part is that we get to determine the consequences of the story, which reminded me of the recent theme of giving a choice to a player.
This is present in a lot of western games, but it allows us to determine the fate of some characters, such as: to leave them to die, or to help them. This also influences the endings a lot more, although more logically and simpler than in previous Silent Hill games. Especially considering in how Silent Hill 2 the conclusions depended on how good you defended Maria from the monsters, or how many times you bumped into her during the game. Pendleton is the second most interesting character, in my opinion, leaving Rachel from Silent Hill 3 behind.
Heavy Rain in Silent Hill: Downpour
While the developers of Downpour tried to reach back to the roots of the franchise regarding controls, gameplay, and atmosphere, they were not afraid to innovate the old Team Silent’s recipe. The fog was a constant part of the games, but here that role has been taken over by the rain, and the developers even added multiple layers to this change. As when we are drenched in rain, we meet the monsters of the town more frequently. Plus they are also more aggressive, so we need to watch out for them.
Vantra games did not wish to mix up the recipe too much, and just like in the previous titles the game has two dimensions that switch up the gameplay and the story. One is “normal” depressive” the other is a rundown world where we explore the building, fight monsters, and solve puzzles. Also, we end up in “otherworldly” situations when venturing in this dimension.
At the same time, the combat has also been improved, and just like in Homecoming when we face an enemy in the open, we’ll be able to use multiple weapons. However here the monsters can also corner you, and some of the weapons can just weaken or even break into two, in such cases, we’ll need to pick up something from the ground to fight. The other alternative is using firearms which are effective, but we can lose them, and even the ammunition is scarce for them.
If we run out of ammo, we can still use it in melee combat, but it won’t end up doing much good. We can block with Murphy during combat, but only with long weapons, and even then we do not know when to strike or how long is the reach of individual weapons. This is because the monsters can attack you pretty quickly, even bind you with their aura. Besides the rain, the developers added a few other elements to upgrade the old recipe.
Besides the linear gameplay, we also get sidequest that provides us with individual puzzles that we’ll have to solve. Thanks to the changes we do not feel that the town is dead, it is quite undead, and we have the chance to discover the old history of the town. It is weird that the lore and background of the city are expanded by upon a team that is not Team Silent. In one of the sidequests we get to uncover a family murder, and in another one, we get to search for a missing kind and even watch movies regarding the town.
Akira has left the building
New features regardless there is one person who was not part of the development, and a lot of fans are sad because of this. This person is none other than Akira Yamaoka who also helped with Sine Mora. As it was expected due to his absence the music, and sound effects are not as good as in the previous games, but I must admit that the music is still top notch in Downpour.
Instead of Akira, we have Jonathan Davis’ (Korn) frightening design can be heard, and even Mary Elizabeth McGlynn sings a few songs for us during the game. All in all regarding music Downpour is great, too bad it is a little too Silent as there is not much music in this title. Regarding graphics, the game did not change too much compared to the previous Silent Hill games.
It is still the usual depressing, grey, soul-crushing environment. It is hard to say that it looks great since there is not much difference between the Silent Hill 2-3 HD re-release and Downpour. Which is a shame and the same goes for the lag (that was also present in the Silent Hill HD re-releases), and that is shameful especially on the consoles…
A true Silent Hill experience
Downpour fixed a lot of problems that Homecoming cause in the Silent Hill franchise. It provided an experience with the core Silent Hill games usually provide: a proper dose of psychological horror with well-paced tension, constant fear, and at certain parts pure terror. A great story, an interesting main character, and a lot of exploration to the city is provided for the player. The combat is not so good, at times frustrating, but even the best of Silent Hill was not able to be good at that feature (although ten years did pass since Silent Hill 2).
I recommend this game to every Silent Hill fans, as they are more okay we the series’ missteps. However, those who like Alan Wake’s dynamic well thought out combat system, and believe that they’ll get something similar from Downpour, they should just ignore this game. It is a late night, and I’m alone so I’ll visit that town once more, hope I’ll be able to sleep after that.
+ Great story with an interesting main character
+ Topnotch horror
+ New features such as rain and side quests
– Combat is still not the best
– Graphics are laggy and average
– Not too much music tracks/strong>
Developer: Vatra Games
Genres: horror, action, adventure