Saturday, March 3, 2012


Box Art for the upcoming game
Having lived under a rock for the better portion of two decades, I came into Silent Hill sometime just before the 2009 release of Shattered Memories. However, I remember the first time my friend dusted off his PS2 for another go and introduced me to James Sunderland and the small vacation town of Silent Hill. After that I was hooked; the games, Akira Yamaoka's soundtrack, the movie, and even a local abandoned building that my friends explored weekly because it reminded us of the infamous town, I enjoyed them all (well, not Origins and the 2006 movie was ... eh).

I certainly hope I am not the only one avidly awaiting the quickly approaching release of Silent Hill: Downpour (March 13, 2012), the much awaited (in my book) 8th installment to the vastly successful survival horror franchise, developed by Vatra Games, a little known Czech Rebublic game developer, under Konami. 

TGS trailer released for Silent Hill: Downpour featuring Korn's thematic song, simply entitled 'Silent Hill'.

The game is a return to 7th generation gaming, and looks polished, while keeping an aesthetically old feel to the movement and graphics, hearkening back to it's 2001 predecessor and hallmark game Silent Hill 2. which set the bar for survival horror as a genre and for psychological horror in general with its dark and twisted plot about the dark and twisted town.

Hallmark game Silent Hill 2's James Sunderland's first confrontation with his punisher, Pyramid Head.
An early deviation from the series in this new installment is the absence of long time Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka, which was a blow to the heart, I'll tell you what. The soundtrack of the previous games was half the fun and atmosphere, and their replacement by 'nu metal' band Korn makes me reserved, to say the least. Were I not excited about everything else I've seen, I'd probably have lost hope. 

Iconic pieces 'Theme of Laura' and 'Promise' as written by series' original composer Akira Yamaoka.

Downpour has returned combat to the series, which was absent from the previous game, Shattered Memories, (a remake of the first game that was not a part of the main continuity of the series), although, hearkening back to Silent Hill 4: The Room, Downpour will feature weapon degradation, and the inability for protagonist Murphy Pendleton to carry more than a single melee weapon at one time. In any other game, this would be bad design; in Silent Hill, it's just part of the pants-shitting experience.

Speaking of Murphy, this time around, Silent Hill has decided to mind-fuck an escaped prisoner of unknown conviction (since this is Silent Hill, gonna go out on a limb and assume it's not tax fraud, yuk yuk). The psychologically driven monsters this time around have taken two notable forms for me are the Void and the Judge, the latter being a Pyramid Head (the iconic big bad of the series) like brute with a sledgehammer and the Void a darkened cloud from which Murphy can only flee. It's good to see symbolism dripping from the monsters in a style reminiscent to ye' ol' Silent Hill games.

Overlooking Silent Hill
Also, the town has gotten something of a makeover as well. The action has been moved to the southeastern region of Silent Hill, which has never been seen before, ad there will be a focus on the natural world as much as the industrialized hell which Silent Hill fans have grown to known and love over the years. This game, in addition to the staple fog world will feature a randomized weather system during with torrential downpour will summon more monsters for Murphy to face. I enjoy this deviation from the standard fog/ash/hell motif, if only for trying something new, and a well grounded theme built on water is always fun, seeing as it can be taken in so many possible directions.

Also, for any long time Silent Hill fans, a joke ending has been ensured by the developers, of what exactly, we have to wait for release date MARCH 13, 2012.

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