Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Silent Hill (1999)

Genre: Survival-Horror / Action | Players: 1
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo

In my self-limited experience with the Survival-Horror genre, there are two monolithic pillars: Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Resident Evil may have come first and hold the hearts of more fans, but Silent Hill speaks to me in a far deeper way. Rather than crawling through austere mansions and sterile research labs, SH forces one to explore far more mundane environments, coated in a grime that perfectly symbolizes the depths of what you are truly plumbing: the human psyche and soul.

You don’t play Silent Hill for scares-per-minute and non-stop action. The best moments come from the near-constant tension of creeping through an abandoned town and any structure therein relevant to the main plot of the early games, or the past of ALL of the gloriously fractured protagonists. The original game, while focusing a bit too much on outdoor environments, does its best to introduce the small handful of locations that became iconic for the series as a whole.

Far more than in any of the other games, these locales act as home to a large treasure trove of easter eggs paying homage to horror movies, novels, pop-culture, and, strangely, Kindergarten Cop. Unfortunately, environmental and logic puzzles aren’t the only thing impeding your urban exploration. A relatively fixed camera works together with tank controls to conjure horrible memories of that other vaunted series’ early games. Thankfully, the difficulty isn’t horribly high even on Hard. This is good, because you’re going to need all the help you can get to achieve a 10 star rating, which encompasses—among other things—killing enemies in various ways, avoiding damage, making good time, and achieving all the permutations of the endings.

I personally recommend not tackling that ludicrous challenge. Silent Hill games are best experienced through systematic lingering, to appreciate the creepily rendered environments and superb music and sound effects. Even the b-movie acting and plot can’t dampen the atmosphere manifested in this mostly complete package.

If this review seems far vaguer than the others on this site, your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. It’s intentional. I personally invite you to kick back in a dimly lit room and walk in Harry’s footsteps as he searches for his daughter Cheryl. You might be surprised to find where the journey will take you, and how far down this rabbit hole goes. Happy exploring.

Buyer’s Guide:
Available on the original Playstation and Playstation Network. Expect to part with more cash than you’d like for a black-label original, or even a Greatest Hits-branded copy. PSN is the answer you seek.

4 'Totally-not-the-Triforce's out of 5

Nutted by NEG (aka: He who knows!)

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