E3 2011: Silent Hill Downpour Preview Hands-On

We return to the Otherworld in the eerie Silent Hill: Downpour.

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Rain. Fog. Cops. The Silent Hill series has no shortage of these things. Silent Hill: Downpour continues this grand tradition in style, and we were able to play a short demo on the E3 2011 show floor. If the title is any indication, water will play an important part in this survival horror action game, and indeed, the demo features plenty of it. It also features a new protagonist, Murphy. (Murphy Pendleton, to be more exact.) Murphy is a prisoner aboard a bus full of inmates that crashes in an eerie forest. The demo opens with brief shots of the bus speeding down a road as rain floods from the darkness above. We see a few choice shots of the bearded Murphy and a police officer fall to her death, before the game deposits us, as Murphy, onto the road--shaken but definitely not dead.

The demo starts slowly, setting the mood. We explore a filling station, using a crowbar we find in a nearby toolbox to break open a padlock and ascend to the roof. On the roof, we look down to marvel at the cop-swallowing canyon below. We then drop to the ground beneath, lift the garage door, and make our way back to the street. We move on to a tram station, where we find some game tokens--but unfortunately, the machine that allows tram access has been removed, forcing us to head back to the street to continue our exploration. Of course, this being Silent Hill, our travels are always accompanied by dark ambient music, and heavy shadows and gritty textures communicate--clearly--that scary things lie in wait.

We make our way toward a diner, called the Pit Stop, where a classic but decrepit automobile catches Murphy's eye. He peeks inside, and when pulling his gaze away, he is caught unawares by a postal carrier who introduces himself as Howard. He tells us of the tram, and putting two and two together, surmises that Murphy is an escaped convict. Howard does not seem a friendly presence in spite of his gentle reminder that he is "just trying to be helpful." We don't buy it, and neither does Murphy, after he glances toward a window above to see a lanky figure there. The figure disappears, and Howard mentions, almost too casually, that the roads out of town all happen to be out. Murphy asks where he is, but the mailman remains coy. But of course, we all know what town Murphy is about to wander into: the infamous Silent Hill.

Howard leaves, and we make our way into the diner, searching for a change of clothes. We grab a fire extinguisher as a weapon (just in case) and head into the kitchen. Murphy remarks that "the gas is on," and a few moments later, a blaze erupts. We hurry to the fire alarm and pull, which sets off the sprinklers. Water pours forth--but that's not the only effect the alarm has. As the water flows, everything changes: the walls turn slimy, and the entire fabric of reality takes on a rusty hue. This is the alternate dimension of Silent Hill, called the Otherworld. Murphy must get over his initial surprise to turn off a nearby circuit breaker and run up a staircase. In the room at the top of the stairs, we turn a portrait on a wall by rotating a thumbstick, at which point a dead caged demon descends from a compartment above and another door slides open.

From here, things get sticky. After heading through the doorway, the room becomes awash with red light. An evil presence has arrived. You don't see a figure, only blinding light, and you have but one option: run. And so we run down the hallway, which keeps elongating as we sprint. We finally reach the end, turn the corner, and slide down to the main floor. The nightmarish light continues to give chase until we reach an exit, which initiates another slide down into… well… we don't know, for the demo then ends. It also leaves us a bit shaken, meaning the game succeeded in doing its job: scaring the pants off of us, even on a crowded E3 floor.

Is Silent Hill: Downpour creepy? For sure. Was the demo entertaining and atmospheric? Absolutely. Downpour feels and plays like Silent Hill, from the onscreen fonts to the vague sense of dread permeating every step. The game is coming to the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. We don't yet know when Silent Hill: Downpour will be released, but keep your eyeballs glued to the otherworldly GameSpot for more information as it bleeds out.

Discussion

40 comments
head_holder
head_holder

i hope it wont end like 'HomeComing'

VilandasUK
VilandasUK

It better doesn't end, with Murphy being a ghost in the silent hill, trapped forever because if that happens than the story will be crap for me, cause I've seen it before. But still I'm waiting for this.

evaneself
evaneself

I want all in one, a Complete Collection

Jimbowesker
Jimbowesker

Hope it is more like SH 1 2 & 3 than Homecoming. Homecoming was not even scary

Larouche911
Larouche911

Homecoming bored me to death. This better be way better.

never-named
never-named

Silent Hill received a shot in the arm since 'Shattered Memories' (which, in my opinion, should be considered a modern classic), expecting 'Downpour' to continue this re-ascension...!

jekyll
jekyll

This is looking more amazing each time I see new footage/screen shots.

Hugo_Fahkov
Hugo_Fahkov

Silent Hill 2 was best so far. That damn prison under the lake, had me stressed BIGTIME, before I finally made my way out of it. Pyramid Head going to be in this one??

Hugo_Fahkov
Hugo_Fahkov

Silent Hill 2 was best so far. That damn prison under the lake, had me stressed BIGTIME, before I finally made my way out of it. Pyramid Head going to be in this one??

frasierfreak666
frasierfreak666

Good stuff. Recently played through Silent Hill 2 again and was reminded how much I love this series.

chyng85
chyng85

The storyline and graphic are great as well~

archvile_78
archvile_78

Looks like a big step up from Homecoming (which i enjoyed btw despite the criticism)

termadoyle
termadoyle

So this is taking more of a Dead Space "Panic Tactics" approach than the usual "Psychologically creepy" method Silent Hill is known for. Shattered Memories also tried that and it actually worked to some extent. But I'm still not so sure about this.

LeoLex_
LeoLex_

The only one i ever really played was the first one, which was s*** your pants scary back in the day, great game. This looks to have a great story, love the whole transporting from prison thing, looks very dark, ill be picking this up..

ZeroChance79
ZeroChance79

@Kevin-V Bummer. Come on Gamespot, use some o' that industry pull and get some footage.

Evanrocknuma
Evanrocknuma

This, skyrim, and infinite are all on the top of my list

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@ZeroChance79 -- At E3, on-floor demos are just that: on-floor demos. Most are meant for people to play on the show floor but not to be filmed, and we are not to take direct feed.

ZeroChance79
ZeroChance79

Also, thanks for not putting a video of said Demo on here :I

ZeroChance79
ZeroChance79

Cant wait to pick this up. Homecoming was pretty good, but this looks like it could be much better.

montblanc512
montblanc512

Please god, let this be like real silent hill, and not homecoming. I- I don't think I could take that kind of disappointment again.

Green_Chaos
Green_Chaos

Glad to hear news about Silent Hill...Hope this game is good.

amroto
amroto

silent hill is awesome..can't w8 for this one

mooseifer69
mooseifer69

@KoRniTo Glad to see another Homecoming fan. I don't' think it deserves all the hate it gets. SUUURE some Silent Hill's are scarier/better than others, but it is by no means a disgrace as more purists think it is. Haven't been disappointed by a single Silent Hill yet, hopefully Downpour doesn't change that!

AcousticSoul20
AcousticSoul20

very excited for this AND the silent hill collection!

yixingtpot
yixingtpot

@mutley89 you're the worst type of cattle revisionist... it's the other way around. Silent Hill is the original Alan Wake the clone. Typical Monopolysoft revisionism. Anyway, this looks decent, i will probably get it since i skipped the last console SH game completely. I did like Origins on PSP though.

calvinsora
calvinsora

Look's cool, and scary. That's all that matters.

KoRniTo
KoRniTo

I know I'm gonna love this. Homecoming was already a great game for me. Still waiting for the HD collection also. Gotta love this series.

Shakezulah
Shakezulah

Really can't wait for this. This is a big year for the SH series, with Downpour and the HD collection coming out.

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

I am really looking forward to this! Hope that it is good, like "Homecoming," was? It will probably not be released until Q1 2012?

pooyanh
pooyanh

Can't wait for this. Been itching for a proper Silent Hill since Silent Hill 4: The Room. Not sure how would an inmate fit into the setting though. We'll see how that works out.