Silent Hill (PlayStation) Review

By Athanasios 22.09.2016

Review for Silent Hill on PlayStation

Horror can be corny like The Evil Dead, gory like Saw, disturbing and "fun" like The Human Centipede, simply disturbing like A Serbian Film, satirical and meta like Shaun of the Dead, or atmospheric and thought provoking like Rosemary's Baby and The Sixth Sense. In the realm of video games, the '90s were mainly B-movie-esque; zombies and shotguns, giant bugs and mutants, clichés and Jill sandwiches… and then something wicked this way came. Taking advantage of the 15th year anniversary of Silent Hill 2, here's a look at the one that put 'psychological' back in horror.

Silent Hill's intro? Pure video game art! The few scenes that lead to the very beginning of it all say what needs to be said without any needless text, and as if the hunting scenes and porcelain-like character faces didn't evoke an eerie, dreamlike aura, the fantastic composition of Akira Yamaoka will certainly create some goose bumps. The opening shows what this is all about - atmosphere. Remove it, and all that's left is a Resident Evil clone with better puzzles and less exciting gunfights, because, unlike Capcom's jump scares, unnerving camera angles, and monstrous… monsters, Konami chose to take the everyday and the mundane, and turn it into something foreboding.

Think about it: an old, imposing mansion, where all sorts of baddies come crushing through the windows, versus a dark, spooky hospital, where the only sound is those of your footsteps… and the weak sound of a child crying… coming through a crack in the wall... which will never be heard again. Which one will make people check their rear while playing? That's what Silent Hill is made of; streets engulfed in an atmosphere-enhancing mist, empty apartments, pitch-black nights, nightmarish creatures, and the Lovecraftian sensation that the evil here can't be beaten by the protagonist - which leads to the biggest strength of this tale: the main lead.

Screenshot for Silent Hill on PlayStation

He's just a plain, ordinary white dude; nothing special about him… and that's exactly why he's great! Harry Mason is not the chosen one, a space marine, or a cyborg ninja. He's just… a guy, and while he can pack some heat, don't expect anything fancy like dual Uzis or miniguns to appear any time soon - not to mention that, while not extremely scarce, ammo must be conserved, meaning that it's usually all about steel pipes and knives. Actually, his "true" defences seem to be, A: a broken radio that emits static noise when something… bad approaches, and, B: a measly pocket flashlight, which illuminates just enough to see what's up ahead, but not as much in order to see, "What the heck is that!?"

While not strictly a survival game, the label "survival horror" fits quite well here… but, what is that horror exactly? The whole thing starts with Harry Mason going to the mountain town of Silent Hill with Cheryl, his little daughter. While doing so, he almost hits a teenage girl appearing out of nowhere, and then crashes nearby, losing his senses. He soon wakes up, only to realise that Cheryl is missing, so he gets out of the car and starts looking for her in what seems to be a ghost town. Don't expect any Resident Evil-like exposition to be found here, though.

Screenshot for Silent Hill on PlayStation

Without spoiling anything, the plot is fantastic, full of symbolism and allegories even in the way the streets are named, and requires examining its finer details, and pondering on the few clues scattered around… and all this just to begin understanding what's going on. Is this a dream? Is this hell? Is this just the hallucinations of a man in a hospital bed? Is everything a scheme devised by a Shiba Inu (*gives high fives to Silent Hill fanatics*)? Additionally, why does everyone talk like a robot? What is this strange plane that invades the real(?) world? And, most importantly, WHERE IS EVERYBODY???

The thing is that, depending on the player, the gameplay portion will either excite or bore to death. Imagine walking around a town for five freaking minutes before something happens; imagine checking a couple of rooms only to find a simple piece of paper with a few nonsensical words on it; and, finally, imagine what little action there is here, making you feel weak and helpless. As mentioned before, this isn't about the actual gameplay, but about the atmosphere, the immersion, the feeling that you are "in" the town. The whole "walking around aimlessly in a mysterious place" is well executed here, but it's certainly not everyone's cup of Aglaophotis.

Screenshot for Silent Hill on PlayStation

Silent Hill is an action-adventure, yet while many supposedly belong to the genre, most forget the 'adventure' part. Thankfully, this offers it in the form of some great puzzles, which are almost as good as the ones found in the "pure," classic adventures of old, such as Myst and the like, and they avoid falling into the same category as the "push statue on tile" ones. Instead, the solution to most of them lies in poems or symbols, and requires the use of some good ol' imagination. They are so good that the only flaw about them is surely the fact that there aren't enough of them to solve.

Note, however, that like most titles that are less of a video game and more like an experience, this great classic is awesome in the latter part, but nothing to die for when it comes to the actual gameplay, although it's certainly far from bad. Furthermore, it's somewhat short, and it only provides a few hours of replayability, with just a bunch of unlockables and alternative endings, but quite possibly the best reason to come back to this hellish world is speedrunning. Other than these, however, the main dish here remains the way Silent Hill masterfully grabs and never lets go.

Screenshot for Silent Hill on PlayStation

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

With its engrossing, scary, and insanely atmospheric game world, a plot that demands careful examination, speculation, and multiple playthroughs to "fully" understand it, ingenious puzzles to solve, and all kinds of monsters to slay or run away from, it's no wonder that Silent Hill remains so entertaining after all these years. Sure, as a game it won't exactly rock anyone's world, but as a mystifying, dark fantasy adventure, it will surely please most horror fans - and not only.

Developer

KCET

Publisher

Konami

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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