I have been long overdue on writing any new reviews, really gaming at all. On one of many days I couldn’t get out of my house, I decided to put Fallout New Vegas down, or not even pick it up, and open Silent Hill Downpour. What transpired over the course of several days was a sort of nostalgia that I haven’t enjoyed in gaming in some time.
The first real horror game I played was Silent Hill 2 for the PS2. That game set the stage for nightmares on a whole new level for me. I had never been more terrified then when the ending credits rolled on a Sunday night and the following week I woke up seeing things after me, including a really tall guy with a pyramid where his head should be. I tried several other iterations of Silent Hill over the years and never reached that same level of terror and immersion. The only other horror genre that came close was Resident Evil, which has a very different look and feel, even though the two series are always interchanged when discussing horror.
In Silent Hill Downpour, what the gamer is treated to is some very frustrating game play and a story that harkens back to days that are long gone. The story starts off with a murder in a prison shower room. It doesn’t set the stage for what is to come, but Silent Hill was always known for the subtleties in the writing, as opposed to the heavy handed quality to many AAA games that come out today. The prisoner, Murphy Pendleton, is then moved to a different prison and the horror descends.
Without giving away any plot spoilers, Silent Hill Downpour manages to create an ambiance that is true to the series and true to what I expect from a Konami game. There are moments early on where you might want to give up, put the game down, but as the hours compounded, I found myself more and more invested in the story and the characters. The game mechanics, at times, can be frustrating. There are quite a few set pieces, and each one introduces you to new portions of the story. What drew me in the most was the second part of the story where Murphy is searching the city of Silent Hill and you are smart to use the provided maps, if you find them, to navigate. The look and feel of them was the same from SH2 and it kept me on the right track.
The story is why you should play this game. The game play isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either. Right now, the price of the game is an affordable $16, brand new, and that’s not too bad. I do realise the game is quite dated, though you wouldn’t guess it at first. The music and voice acting are decent, the environments reflecting the strange nature of the game.
The thing that stuck out for me was the morality choices that were given as the game went on. In SH2, I didn’t feel like the choices were obvious. In Downpour, it is obvious the moment that a set piece is coming up that you are making a choice that will have lasting effects. It pulled me out of the pacing for the game and I found it distracting.
All in all, I can’t complain at all about this game. The biggest regret I have now is that I didn’t play it sooner, and I expect many of you will feel that way too if you haven’t played it yet. For the price, this is one that you shouldn’t miss.