I wrapped up Silent Hill Origins a few days ago (thanks to my brother graciously letting me borrow his PSP). I should mention that I’m a huge fan of Silent Hill. I should think that’s quite obvious. I am also a big fan of survival horror. I don’t know why, but some part of me just loves the macabre, the psychologically disturbing. It’s weird, because it honestly gives me nightmares, yet I persist. It doesn’t hurt that survival horror games tend to have some of the most interesting stories in video games.
Anywho, Origins. I’m going to say that the Zero Punctuation review of Origins was more or less right on the money. It’s not bad, but it’s not exactly Silent Hill. As a quick setup, the game starts as Travis Grady, a trucker, decides to take a shortcut by Silent Hill. He encounters a burning house and saves the girl inside. Before long he’s in Silent Hill on something of a wild goose chase looking for the girl.
That’s basically the problem. Travis has no reason to stay in Silent Hill. He’s not taking his daughter there on vacation. He didn’t receive a letter from his dead wife. He stays for no particular reason at all, for a girl he doesn’t know. Oh sure, you find out that Travis’ past is tied to Silent Hill, but it’s completely disconnected with his reason for being there.
Another issue is that the transitions between the normal, creepy Silent Hill to the nightmarish, even more creepy Silent Hill, are performed by the player. Anytime you find a mirror, it can be used to transition between the two different versions of Silent Hill. It’s kind of a neat idea at first, but eventually it essentially diminishes how scary the “Other World” is. It’s still creepy, that’s for sure, but it loses something.
Finally, the monsters leave something to be desired too. For the most part they just seem generic (except for one monster that I can only describe as the “intercourse monster”).
Still, the overall story isn’t bad, and it’s nice to put some backstory on the original Silent Hill (Origins is a prequel). The ending in particular makes the game worth it. I’m also amazed that the PSP’s tiny screen can still convey the sense of fear that Silent Hill brings to the table. With a pair of headphones on, the atmosphere is surprisingly good. It’s worth playing through, though I think I’d avoid paying full price.
All of serves as a precursor to my plan to play through Silent Hill 2 again while my wife’s cousins are in town. Now that is the scariest game I’ve ever played.