Solve the Terror
It wouldn’t be a Silent Hill game without locked doors, destroyed roads, and a map filled with red Xs. The map highlights areas when a puzzle, mirror, or key item is located. There’s maps for both the normal and other world. Apparently, I checked the various maps a total of 838 times. Yes, that’s the actual number. The map is going to become your best friend, especially in the asylum level.
The puzzles are well thought out. One of them involves placing colored pills into several different doll’s mouths, which all correlate to a patient’s room in a certain wing of the asylum.
Without collecting notes, some of the puzzles will be almost impossible to figure out on your own. There’s one involving a washing machine that you simply couldn’t figure out without the accompanied notes. If you don’t have the hints, the puzzles can be extremely frustrating. With the notes, the puzzles are still somewhat challenging, but they’re not too difficult. Besides the confusing final puzzle, the rest of them won’t drive you insane.
Setting the Mood
Origins boasts an excellent music score. Akira Yamaoka, the man behind the previous Silent Hill’s music, is responsible for the soundtrack. The song during the intro by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn is phenomenal. The music ranges from calmness to all-out terror. The piano playing will sooth your soul. The intense music will then make your heart ferociously pump out of your chest. It felt like each area had the perfect music to go along with it. The music is so good that you’ll want to set down your PSP for a few minutes to soak in the sounds.
When you’re near an enemy, the screen will sometimes go hazy. The enemies give off freaky sound effects. Sometimes when you open a door an enemy will immediately attack you, giving you quite a scare. After you kill an enemy, Travis will leave bloody footprints wherever he walks. These little details add depth to the terror on your PSP.
There’s a point where you find a note about a person dreaming about a butcher. It reads, “Since what happened to Tony. I’ve dreamt about HIM more and more! THE BUTCHER! Now I’ve seen him when I’m awake. He’s at my motel! It’s HIM I swear it!” Immediately after you close the note, you hear something that sounds like someone dragging a knife on the ground or chains breaking apart. It’s really loud, and perfectly timed, because you feel like that butcher is in the room with you. I had my headphones on at max volume and it was terrifying. I was scared to move Travis away from the desk he was facing and explore the room because I didn’t want to run into the butcher. This is just one of the ways Origins messes with your mind.
Throughout the game, there’s several flashback cut-scenes dealing with Travis’ dysfunctional parents and upbringing. Often these will pop up during gameplay, completely freaking you out. These purplish colored cut-scenes become more emotionally disturbing as the game continues. One scene happens where you’re looking through peep holes in the maintenance hallway of the motel. The scene starts when you don’t expect it to, taking you by surprise. There’s a few nice CG cut-scenes in the beginning and ending sequences as well.
A major issue I had is that immediately after the asylum level, the audio cut out. The music stopped playing, the radio stopped scratching, and the enemies went silent. When I pulled up the map, it didn’t make a noise. As I continued to play, various sounds would randomly return and disappear. I solved the problem by quitting back to the PSP XMB and restarting the game. After doing so I didn’t encounter the issue again.
This poses a huge problem for Origins. The entire premise of the Silent Hill games relies on its sound effects; the radio giving off a warning to an impending danger, or the creepy music driving you to paranoia. Fortunately it seemed to be an isolated incident only after the asylum stage.
A Troubled Mind
The asylum level takes up a good chunk of the game’s time. There’s so many rooms in its three different floors. Combine that with its alternative world and you can get lost pretty easily. It wasn’t spread out well enough, and the similar types of rooms wear thin. On the other hand, the motel level is excellent. The motel level has lots of interesting rooms and cut-scenes.
Suffice to say, Travis is one screwed up individual. Travis discovers horrific, repressed details about his past. He finally meets a nice girl in Lisa, and he witnesses her having a good time with another man. There’s a good angle between Travis and his parents. It escalates rather well through the game. The notes and flashbacks flush out the story, revealing just how sad a life Travis had to deal with as a child. Deeper than that, there is the possibility that Travis’ actions may have caused real blood on his hands.
For someone facing horrific flashbacks, Travis has a good sense of humor. He’ll routinely say something sarcastic when inspecting the environments. For example, he’ll say, “I only smoke when I’m happy” when you examine a cigarette machine. When examining one of the motel rooms Travis says, “Some white powder. I try to stay away from this type of thing.” I found these witty reflections to add a certain likability to Travis’ character.
The ending is straightforward. In Origins, you automatically get the “good” ending just by beating the game for the first time. You get the bad and UFO endings by meeting certain requirements on your second playthrough. The bad ending deals specifically with Travis and sheds some interesting light on who he is and what he becomes.
Silent Hill: Origins is a short nightmare. If you’re a pro of the series, you could possibly finish the game in 2-3 hours. I finished the game in less than five hours. This isn’t a huge problem though because they created Origins with a compelling story and fantastic atmosphere. The game isn’t particularly challenging either.
Since Origins is a prequel, they didn’t take a lot of liberties with the storyline. Those with fond memories of the original Silent Hill won’t feel that Climax Studios bastardized the story in any way. A lot of the focus is on Travis’ history, with the Silent Hill story as a backdrop. Origins doesn’t mess with the story or ruin it, but fills in the crevices with bloody details.
Return to Silent Hill
Once you beat the game, you can create a “Clear” save file. The game runs down your overall stats, like how many enemies you killed and how they met their end. You also get certain accolades and unlocks to use on your next playthrough like new costumes and weapons. For example, I unlocked a melee weapon called Moon Gauntlets. However, you don’t get to keep items, guns, notes, etc you accumulated on the next playthrough. There’s 14 total accolades to achieve depending on how play, such as killing a certain number of enemies, beating the game without saving, or the ending you receive.
Beating the game also unlocks an Extra Options menu. In this menu you can set run as the default moving speed, add extra blood, and bloody footprints every time you walk. The flashlight projection can also be changed to things like a smiley face, soccer ball, or a pumpkin.
All these bonuses give the player a good reason to face their demons one more time.
Got Another Quarter?
Origins delivers many scares during its short journey. Even though the combat quickly becomes tedious, the game’s overall package gives players a reason to experience the horror. The music in Origins is some of the best out there. Origins doesn’t ruin the original Silent Hill, and Travis’ story is well done.
- Excellent music
- Travis’ story
- Stays true to the original
- Simple combat
- Easy bosses
- Technical audio issues
- Short length
Silent Hill: Origins was purchased new for $12.99 on UMD. I completed Origins in 4:52:15.
Origins is a 724 MB download on the PlayStation Network Store.
Photos by Konami Europe