#405 Silent Hill

Posted: 3rd May 2015 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

422nd played so far

Silent_Hill_video_game_coverGenre: Survival Horror
Platform: Playstation
Year of Release: 1999
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

The days are getting longer again and that means that there’s enough light to play more survival horror games – something that would probably fit in the dark, but not when you’re feeling jumpy.

Silent Hill started its own series in the genre, focusing more on psychological horror than zombies and other monster jumps. That should be quite interesting and different, something to look forward to.

Our Thoughts

Good (survival) horror games focus on one thing first of all: Atmosphere. Whether you’re walking through a haunted mansion, solving puzzles, or taking care of zombies as they attack you from all sides, it’s the atmosphere that takes the game from the genre mashup it normally is (as we talked about in Alone in the Dark) and actually makes it a horror game.

Silent Hill probably makes this as clear as anything. There are some supernatural monsters and weird events around, but their presence is rarely where the real tension comes from. A radio you’re carrying warns you when they’re near, causing static on the channel, which means that the main question becomes about where they are. It gets to you, but they’re not jump scares – something the game mainly doesn’t deal in.

As much as that works, it’s not the game’s biggest attraction though. The world it builds, through some conversation and notes, but more through small touches in the world, is incredibly compelling. There are puzzle hints written in blood in places. Your map progress is blocked by canyons that have formed in the street – while of course a good way to constrict the world, it also makes you wonder just what happened in the small town.

Resources aren’t too scarce – enough that you’ll need to be careful, but your pickups are placed well enough that it feels like you can do a lot without it. The world and level design, while at times fairly linear, has been done well and is very playable.

It’s the controls that let the game down. You control your protagonist Harry Mason using tank controls – forward, back, turn left and turn right. This is trickish and sluggish enough in a lot of games, not working with third person viewpoints. Worst are the areas with a fixed camera – one that comes up often early in the game. A static camera just doesn’t work well with character-relative movement. Even when the camera is flexible, it’s slow enough (with no player control) that movement continues to feel awkward.

The issue never really goes away either, the game keeps feeling clumsy, with some required interactable objects being difficult to reach because you just can’t turn to face it easily.  Even fights get annoying because of it, with flying enemies swooping around you.

Final Thoughts

It’s a shame about the control issues, as the game’s atmosphere and general feel make for a really good world and an interesting setting. It’s just that it gets too frustrating to play for too long – or at least that’s what happened for me. I couldn’t take more. It’s an age problem, true, but I hope later games in the series fix the issue.

  1. […] was incredibly impressed by the first Silent Hill game. It had its control issues and its age showed, but the setting was good and tense and the […]