A Storm is Coming in Silent Hill: Downpour
Here comes the rain again.
Silent Hill Downpour Korn Trailer
IGN Silent Hill Video Preview
January 5, 2012 - by: Steven Hopper
Silent Hill: Downpour is probably not the Silent Hill game you're expecting, maybe even hoping for. Many of the calling cards from previous Silent Hill games, including a score by Akira Yamaoka, heavy exploration elements, and even much of the town itself won't be appearing in the game. Instead, it will focus on combat and puzzles, new previously unexplored areas of the town, and a new mechanic involving rain (hence the name, Downpour). However, after playing the recent build, I can say that this is the most engaging time I've had with a Silent Hill game in years.
When we had last seen Silent Hill: Downpour, it was not in good shape. As our own preview makes clear, there is certainly some potential, but it needed more development time. The pessimistic tone was certainly warranted, since at the time the game was scheduled to release a month following the preview in October. However, it seems that Konami was aware of the issues plaguing the game, and made the right move by pushing it to March. This is the first we've seen of the game since its delay, and fortunately for survival horror fans, it seems to have improved quite a bit.
To be sure, Silent Hill: Downpour is a marked departure from the rest of the series. The game feels more action-oriented than previous Silent Hill games, and a bit more linear. You were a bit freer to explore the town and check out your surroundings in other games in the franchise, but Downpour goes a more cinematic route, moving you from set piece to set piece quickly (and often violently).
Silent Hill: Downpour's story follows a prisoner named Murphy Pendleton who's en route from one prison facility to another when his bus crashes. He emerges from the wreckage in, you guessed it, the town of Silent Hill. So far, we've only seen a little bit of Murphy's story and only gotten a piece of his personality, but as the plot unfolds we will understand more of what makes Murphy tick.
Combat also plays a very important part in Downpour, but not in the traditional sense. As in other Silent Hill games, guns and ammo are hard to come by, and when facing down enemies you'll often have to get up close and personal to take them out. In order to do so, you'll have to grab melee weapons, which include wrenches, knives, and sometimes even rocks or sticks found on the ground. Harder weapons like wrenches and rocks can be used to bust through locks and give you access to new areas. Unfortunately, melee weapons will degrade after use and eventually bust, and you can only hold one at a time. You'll constantly discard and recover melee weapons, giving a dynamic quality to the combat. While the combat was still a little floaty and detached feeling at this point, there's still time for it to be cleaned up before launch.
The first time Murphy gets transported to the alternate, nightmarish Otherworld is exactly what it should be; confusing, harrowing, and terrifying. The sequence is filled with strange imagery: cages filled with hobbled together body parts, dilapidated walls, and strange collages of destroyed furniture, moving walls, even an old record player with "Born Free" playing on it. Additionally, a crackling ball of light will chase you down, spelling death for Murphy if it manages to get too close and requiring that you haul *** to escape it. Otherworld felt like a Hard of Murphy's own making; the aforementioned song, bars slamming shut the way through, the out of control feeling of sliding down a slope and dodging spikes, all seemed to play on and even taunt Murphy's incarceration. The sequence in the Otherworld was definitely a standout of my time with Downpour, and embodied the horror feel of the franchise extremely well.
As someone who felt the series peaked at Silent Hill 2, my time with Downpour was definitely a positive experience. While the game's general mechanics feel like a shift from the traditional survival horror feel we've come to expect from the franchise in favor of something more action oriented, the overall feeling of dread and suspense has been ported over admirably. It hasn't been something I've said in a while now, but Silent Hill is back on my radar.