Silent Hill 0rigins

It ranks among the least of the Silent Hill games and is not a particularly remarkable entry into the survival horror genre, but Silent Hill fans will still be able to enjoy this game and what it has to offer. Those who are not will probably find their time and money spent better elsewhere.

If it weren’t for the movie Jacob’s Ladder, my interest in gaming may have never been rekindled. I had been gaming off and on since the days of the Atari 2600, the 16-bit era being my most active. I continued to purchase systems beyond the reign of the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo, but I added very few games to my libraries. After I spent over $400 for a Sony Playstation 2, a memory card, an extra controller, and a game, only to find that I played the system infrequently, I began to wonder if I had, in fact, outgrown gaming.

How does Jacob’s Ladder fit into all this? Well, when I saw the movie in the 1990s, it had a huge effect on me. Not only was it genuinely terrifying (I still find myself turning my head for Elizabeth Peña’s “Anybody home?” scene), but it was the first movie I remember seeing that had a twist ending, and it caught me entirely off guard. Also, the look of the movie was much different than anything I had witnessed, with the twitching heads and the fleshy, disturbing creatures. So, when I discovered that the Silent Hill series was influenced greatly by Jacob’s Ladder, I decided to give gaming another chance.

Like Jacob’s Ladder, Silent Hill provided me with a new experience. I began with the first game, and I can honestly say that there are few times in my life I’ve been as terrified as I was playing that game. I loved it. In short time, I had added Silent Hill 2 and 3 to my collection and eagerly awaited the release of Silent Hill 4. In the interim, I began checking out more and more titles, and my game library began to grow once again.

Obviously, I hold the Silent Hill series in high regard, so I cannot help but have a bias when it comes to these games. Sometimes, that bias may cause me to overlook flaws. That bias can also cause me to judge a Silent Hill game to harshly because of the expectations I bring.

Enter Silent Hill 0rigins.

When this title was announced, I found myself somewhat ambivalent. On the one hand, a new Silent Hill game was being released—one that would further unfold the mystery of Alessa and the town. On the other hand, the game was only being released on the PSP (which I had no intention of buying), plus I had not forgotten my disappointment with Silent Hill 4. The screens that were being released did not look very promising, either. It seemed that this would not be a game that would match the quality of the first three.

When it was announced that the game would be ported to the PS2, I knew that I would buy it, regardless of my reservations. My hopes weren’t high, but it was still Silent Hill. Perhaps due to my reservations, though, I could not get myself interested in the game after bringing it home. While it was similar to the first three games, there were differences. For one, I had issues with the developers deciding to make melee weapons break. It’s not that this was a horrible idea, but whatever realism this might have introduced was overshadowed when a sturdy weapon like a sledgehammer would be rendered useless after fighting one or two enemies. Plus, since weapons broke, I relied less on them, and soon my inventory was overflowing with melee weapons, making finding a particular one when I did need to use it a very big chore.

Another issue I had with the game was the character models. This game used many of the characters we met in Silent Hill 1 . . . except they looked entirely different. The worst is Lisa, who also acts much, much differently than she did in Silent Hill 1. Gone is the scared, pretty nurse who comes to a tragic end. Instead we get . . . well, a character who does not really garner much sympathy from the player. With her flirtatious and unbalanced nature, she seems more like Maria from Silent Hill 2 than the frightened nurse Harry runs across in Silent Hill 1. Given that Lisa is a fan favorite, it will be disappointing to many that her presentation is so off in this game.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a difficult time getting into this game, up until I forced myself to play through it so I could write this review. What I discovered as I spent more time with the game is that it actually isn’t as bad as what I was making it out to be. Certainly, it doesn’t match the first three games in the series, but it does do a good job of capturing much of the look of those games and expanding on the story of Alessa, the cult, and the town. Also, I began to realize that part of the reason I wasn’t having fun was because I was being too stingy with my resources. I think the fact that the melee weapons broke made me want to avoid using any at all, which made the game more cumbersome to play (though it did win me the brawler achievement for taking out so many enemies with my bare hands). When I finally finished the game, I still had tons of health supplies, ammo, and melee weapons. I could have made the experience more enjoyable if I hadn’t held back so much.

So, what can I ultimately say about this game? Well, it’s Silent Hill. Sure, there may be certain departures, but it is still a Silent Hill game and actually feels more like a part of the series than Silent Hill 4. It ranks among the least of the Silent Hill games and is not a particularly remarkable entry into the survival horror genre, but Silent Hill fans will still be able to enjoy this game and what it has to offer. Those who are not will probably find their time and money spent better elsewhere.

Recommended, but only for Silent Hill fans

Note: the video below is of the battle with the Butcher. Not really much here in terms of spoilers, but you may not want to watch if you’ve yet to fight this battle.

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