Independent and alternative video game coverage

Review: Silent Hill: Origins (PSP)

Developer: Climax Studios
Publisher: Konami
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Rating: M (Mature)
Release Date: Nov. 6, 2007
Current MSRP: $9.99

 

Silent Hill: Origins is the prequel to the original 1999 nightmare. Take control of Travis Grady and explore the hellish beginnings of Silent Hill.

Time to Burn

The story starts off in a somewhat ridiculous fashion. Travis is a truck driver trying to make up time on a rainy night by passing through Silent Hill. As he begins to have flashbacks from his childhood, someone collapses in the middle of the road and he swerves to avoid them. When he leaves his truck, he notices a small, devilish looking girl run away from him. Instead of getting back into his truck to finish his route, Travis chases after her. As Travis enters Silent Hill, he notices a house blazing on fire. A mysterious woman watches him from the corner of the house. Travis decides to play hero and quickly rushes inside.

He finds a girl there on the second floor. She’s cooked to a crisp. There’s no possible way she could have survived. Travis tells her, “You’re coming with me!” and rescues her from the burning home. As he places her on the ground outside, Travis tells her that she’s safe now. The classic air raid sirens play and Travis blacks out. When he awakes, he’s on a bench in the middle of Silent Hill. He decides to discover what happened to the girl, but in doing so unlocks the truth about his dark past.

Travis’ unwilling goal is to collect triangle pieces to complete the Flauros, a mystical piece that is the key to achieving Silent Hill’s destiny. Each time you beat a boss, you gain a piece of the Flauros.

Some of the characters from Silent Hill 1 appear in Origins. Lisa, the nurse, plays like she wants you and shows up at the most random times. Dahlia Gillespie and Dr. Kaufmann both try to prevent you from completing the Flauros.

Enter the Other World

There are four or five different stages in Origins, depending on how you count. Each has their own unique theme, ranging from a hospital to a motel.

Unlike the other Silent Hill games, in Origins you purposely enter the alternate world. In certain rooms, there’s a mirror you can interact with that puts you into the other world.

What you do in one world affects the other. For example, one level takes place in a theater. The play is about Shakespeare’s The Tempest. You can set a couple different props on stage, which manifests in the other world once you travel through the mirror. Most of the time the changes you make aren’t this elaborate though. Usually the goal is to get a key or item that you couldn’t access in the real world.

There’s not a lot of exploration in the other world. The game puts you on a certain path. Doors that would be open in the real world are closed in the other world. Some areas are completely blocked off as well. It’s interesting to see the differences between the two worlds. The other world is nothing short of demonic.

Melee Massacre

A new feature to Origins is the ability to find and use a variety of melee weapons. The melee weapons are everywhere. I even found a huge spear in a toilet on the hotel level. Here’s some examples of the weapons you can inflict pain with:

  • wrench
  • toaster
  • typewriter
  • portable TV
  • katana
  • screwdriver

The melee weapons don’t last long. Most will break after only killing one or two enemies. Some will even break after a single use. In the menus, you can see the condition of the weapon and how close it is to breaking. There’s an abundance of weapons. I must have had 10-15 weapons in my inventory by the end of the game. A lot of the time you’re picking up lame weapons like portable TVs, but there’s weapons like the hammer or meat cleaver that are fun to use.

Fight the Darkness

Combat boils down to standing in the same position repeatedly bashing your melee weapon. You can also use your bare hands or unload bullets into the monsters. The guns put down enemies in only a handful of hits. Like melee weapons, there’s a serious stash of various ammo in Silent Hill.

There’s two different control schemes, “Combat” and “Explore.” The Combat scheme is much easier to use. Instead of only going to the menu, you can also select melee weapons and guns in-game with the directional pad.

Some enemies will put you in a small quick-time event to escape them. These events aren’t  that detailed and usually involve only one or two buttons. When an enemy is down on the ground, you can’t continue hitting them with your melee weapon or even kick them. You have hit a button to finish them off, which sometimes doesn’t work properly. There’s no dodging either, so you either take the hits or quickly attack them and run away. One enemy’s attack is that it barfs everywhere. Most of the time you’re going to get hit by the attack since there’s no sort of dodge mechanism.

When Travis gets beat down, you can see the signs of combat. His heart beats rapidly the more he’s hurt and the screen does the same. To heal, you access the game menu by hitting Select. Combined with the music, these combat effects make you feel like you’re on the brink of death even if you’re only slightly damaged.

The biggest issue with combat is the game’s camera. Its not terrible, but it can be wonky at times. You center the camera using the L shoulder button. In close quarters it doesn’t adjust. Fighting enemies in these areas can be troublesome because you can’t see where they’re attacking. The camera hurts you if you’re in the middle of a hallway surrounded by enemies on both sides. It can be hard to tell where the enemies are coming from, especially if they attack you off-screen.

Since the combat is so simple, you’re going to want to avoid fighting every enemy you come across. The game isn’t meant to be played killing every enemy anyway. There’s only a handful of different enemies. Monsters can respawn, such as when you go from one world to the other. Eventually towards the end of the game the stages become littered with enemies. Sometimes there’s five or six at a time on the screen. There’s no use fighting them because you’ll just get demolished.

One enemy in particular has a ram attack that can kill you in two or three hits. These are incredibly annoying because sometimes they appear in tight corridors or alleyways where you really have no room to maneuver. There’s no shame in running away from combat, especially since it’s not particularly good.

For the most part, the bosses in Silent Hill have been seriously messed up. Origin’s bosses are one of the game’s biggest let downs. While the back stories behind them are good, their designs aren’t. They’re also chumps. If you have any sort of gun, the bosses can be defeated in less than a minute.  It doesn’t matter what gun you use; pistol, shotgun, hunting rifle. The only boss where this wasn’t the case happens in the kitchen on the motel level. I’d hate to see what the guests ate!

The last boss is the most disappointing. I have no idea if it was supposed to be a demon or a giant insect. Either way, it’s a stupid design. For being a final boss, it didn’t pose any challenge. I killed it in around 30 seconds. I don’t even think it inflicted damage on me.

The bosses also become regular enemies you’ll encounter until you beat the game. This partly ruins their appeal as well.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Review: Silent Hill: Origins (PSP)”

  1. F-Bomb

    Cool review. I think you might have spread the topics off a little bit to much making it longer than it should have been but very good nonetheless. I’ve always liked the silent hill games but they started getting too repetitive for my tastes but it looks like I need to pick this up.

Comments are closed.