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Silent Hill: Origins Review

16 January 2008

It’s time to turn the lights off, throw on the headphones and delve into the dark and twisted town of Silent Hill once again. Climax Studios in unison with Konami have decided to bring you another step in the beloved and suspenseful series. With the release of four titles to consoles and a major motion film, it’s no shock to see them release a title for the PlayStation Portable. Silent Hill 0rigins finally brings some answers to your questions as to how Silent Hill truly came about and why things happen the way they do.

In 0rigins you’ll assume the role of Travis Grady. Travis happens to be a brute truck driver who seems to have a slight case of insomnia and a trouble past to go along with it. Unlike previous characters in Silent Hill, Travis is more than capable of holding his own and stepping into combat prepared. Grady is headed on his way to Brahms but decides to save on time and take a quick detour through Silent Hill, if only he knew what we all knew, this won’t save much time at all.

On his way towards Silent Hill, Travis starts to have flashbacks that aren’t so clear about his very own past that he has trouble discussing. From the side of a road a little girl falls in the middle of his path as he must slam on the brakes in order to stop in time; however, when Grady gets out of his vehicle to check what happened, the girl is gone and ends up appearing in his rearview mirror with the approaching fog. Confused as to what is going on around him, Travis takes one last look to the front of his truck and sees the lonesome girl walking away.

You’re then forced to chase after her when you come upon a home on fire. With screams from a girl inside, you dash in to play the hero. After finding the badly burned child inside, you must make your way out with a little invisible help from some ritualistic sealing. As you lay the child down, you pass out and wake up in the middle of Silent Hill and so your journey begins to unveil the answers of your past and another chapter behind the 0rigin of Silent Hill.

One of the more welcoming features that we noticed took place at the Main Menu. Unlike other games where you’re just given the abilities to check options or start/continue a game, Silent Hill offers you an entire section filled with 13 tips that will give you an edge inside their world. These tips range from combat tips to ways of exploring Silent Hill to its full potential. We feel that more games should give you this type of option to check out, especially for newcomers of a particularly popular series.

The gameplay elements of the title happen to be far from perfect; however, veteran Silent Hill fans will probably not be so concerned about these issues, but we’d wish they’d take a different approach with them sometimes.

0rigins still features its challenging puzzles and the ability to open new areas by piecing a couple of puzzles together as well. These will inevitably give you access to locked doors, as well as other areas you couldn't get into before. Not all puzzles are mandatory though, so don't think if you can't figure one out, that you'll have to sit there and finish it. This has been a long time enjoyment for the fans of the series and 0rigins will not disappoint you at all with theirs.

Camera angles are laid out in order to build suspense and you can align the camera directly behind your character by simply tapping the L trigger; however, the camera still has plenty of flaws. Sometimes while you’re fighting, due to the angle it forces you to take you’ll be unable to see what is hitting you or who is attacking you for that matter. Although the design is meant for you to feel as though you’re always in tight spots and enclosed in a claustrophobic environment, they could have still done a better job with the overall camera placement. It may not take away from the experience of the title in an extreme manner, but it does fault the combat system as well, which is an obvious key component for the title.

The battle configurations seem to be sufficient enough to enjoy the title without feeling awkward. You’ll use your directional pad in order to switch between weapons, while your R trigger will be used to go into “Combat Stance” in order to fight.

The game is filled with various weapons that even include items in your surrounding environment. You’ll be able to throw TV’s, filing cabinets, as well as other objects. Some of your more standard weapons happen to be crowbars, sledgehammers, and even firearms. Firearms will range from standard handguns to all out assault rifles. Why these guns are readily available in Silent Hill is kind of unknown; however, they’re definitely the best for taking out those pesky enemies.

One of the downsides to your artillery of weapons is the fact that they break and become useless so frequently. The developers combat this with more frequent pickups for use; however, no one individual should be able to carry around 30 potential weapons with them at all times. The game would have been a lot more entertaining had you felt the need to conserve your supplies as opposed to not having to worry at all.

The fighting system allows for minimal combo attacks, which is kind of disappointing though expected within the title. One key reminder, don’t forget to take your finger off of the R trigger in order to finish your seizure-bound enemy on the floor, otherwise you’ll just keep swinging away at air.

Your four main buttons will be used easily as triangle brings up your map, x interacts with everything as well as attacks (hold for stronger attacks), holding on square will allow you to run, and circle cancels out of options.

One of the biggest downfalls to this title, in our opinion, is the fact that the switch between the supposed real world to the dark and bloodied world of Silent Hill isn’t so random and unexpected anymore. Instead, Travis will interact with mirrors placed all over Silent Hill’s town and that will work as the switch between both worlds. Though this does detract from the original experiences gamers are used to having, it doesn’t degrade this installment at all.

Silent Hill is grunged up with magnificently rendered graphical detail. We were impressed with even the facial hair on Travis Grady, himself. The world around you is detailed and gives off that dark and suspenseful feeling that you just know something is going to happen. The game's look plays such a large role in pulling you into its world that the graphics could have significantly hurt it. Fortunately, the graphics help drag you into that twisted universe.

The score for Silent Hill is magically demented. From the opening song to the sound effects placed around the world. Each one will drag you in further and raise the hair on your arms as you make your way through it. The game will never hit complete silence, there will always be something causing you to feel on-edge. This game was created with the headphones in mind, so make sure to utilize yours if you have them handy.

Last but not least, Silent Hill implements a feature that gives the game a ton of replayability. The game gives you the ability to unlock fun and silly things to play the game through a second or even third time with. From flashlights with smiley face symbols hitting the ground or completely new skins for the main character to wear, the game definitely doesn’t fall short in giving you reason to play it again and again.

In the end, Silent Hill 0rigins is the type of game that will drag you into its world and leave you turning your PSP off with rust and blood on your hands from the experience. It’s literally that engulfing of an experience. Though it does have its faults, the game doesn’t fail at delivering to you the same chills and experiences its past titles have delivered as well.

-The Final Word-

With not a lot of shock horrors available for the PSP, Silent Hill is definitely a Godsend. This title would be worth the purchase at a console price. From the beautifully detailed look, to the perfect score, 0rigins will drag you in, beat you down, and then pull you up and in for another exhilarating play-through.
  • Graphical details
  • Challenging Puzzles
  • Incredible score
  • Camera could use work
  • Too many weapon placements
8.5
Platforms reviewed : PSP
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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