Content at a glance:
<p>Although your attacks don't ever produce much blood, the areas you go though are covered in it, along with skinless people hanging on barbed wire in cages.</p> <p>Hell is used, but in the literal sense, not as an expletive. The game is full of supernatural and spiritual content, but the lines between good and evil are very clear.</p>
“The fear of blood tends to create fear for the flesh.”
Silent Hill is Konami’s first entry in the horror genre, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the creepiest games of all time.
Plot: Ah, where to begin. How can one possibly summarize a plot as complex and deep as Silent Hill’s? Well, I’ll just keep it simple then:
Seven years ago, Harry Mason and his wife found a baby by the road. The couple adopted her as their own, naming her Cheryl. Following his wife’s illness and death, Harry has continued to look after Cheryl. At the start of the game, Harry is driving Cheryl to the resort town Silent Hill for a vacation. A cop on a motorbike drives past his jeep. Moments later, Harry spots the same motorbike lying unattended by the side of the road. Not long after that, the jeep crashes when Harry swerves to avoid hitting the ghostly apparition of a little girl. When he regains consciousness, Harry discovers that Cheryl is missing and the streets are engulfed in fog. There is also snow falling from the sky, which is strange considering the time of year.
I can’t go much deeper than that without spoiling anything, but to put it simply, the story is extremely good, and full of interesting symbolism.
Gameplay: The goal of the game is to safely guide Harry (you), through the abandoned town of Silent Hill. A major threat to Harry’s survival are the hostile demons wandering along the streets and inside buildings. Another problem is poor visibility; Harry will almost always be surrounded by thick fog or total blackness. You locate a pocket-size flashlight early in the game, but the light beam only illuminates for a few feet. Although the light makes it easier to see, it also attracts the monsters.
Silent Hill is shown entirely from a third-person perspective. In pre-scripted areas, the camera occasionally switches to other angles for dramatic effect (it’s more annoying than dramatic, but luckily you can press L2 and switch the camera back to behind Harry). Because Silent Hill does not feature a heads-up display, your current status is determined by a portrait of Harry in the pause screen. If Harry’s picture is framed in green, his health is at maximum. If the image is red, then Harry is wounded and will die if he suffers further damage.
In order to navigate through a given area, you need to locate a map (well you don’t need to, but trust me, you want to), which is collected like any other item. Once found, you can switch to the map screen at any time. The map interface is stylistically similar to a tourist map. Whenever Harry encounters a point of interest, he will automatically highlight it on the map with a red pen. Maps can be read while outdoors only if you has the flashlight turned “On”. Otherwise, you will be unable to cue up the map in any place with an absence of light (as is the case in most areas).
You can defend yourself with a number of melee weapons and firearms, including a steel pipe, a handaxe, a pistol, a sawn-off shotgun, and a hunting rifle. If the flashlight is off, then it will be almost impossible to hit anything with a gun. And even with it on, Harry is a really bad shot. There is no aim function, so you just have to hope you’ll hit something when you pull the trigger. Fortunately, pistol ammo is abundant (at least on easy, and I don’t think there is a difference).
Another big part of Silent Hill is the switch to the “alternate” world. Basically, Silent Hill likes to take an extremely creepy place, and multiply that creepiness by 1000. Whenever the siren sounds, everything goes dark, the floor become metal, the walls are rotting a have blood all over them, and it’s just plain freaky. The gameplay remains the same, but the enemies to switch around.
Graphics: Decent…..for 1999. The fog keeps everything from looking too bad, but really, it’s just not very good. The monsters look good, but the characters are just meh.
Controls: If you were thinking that all horror games on the PSX had Resident Evil controls (in other words, horrible controls), you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good Silent Hill’s are. Running around is easy, and you can make a 360 degree turn at the push of a button. The combat controls are simple: Hold R2 and use X to shoot (or swing) your weapon. Also, the camera angles are quite good and don’t get in the way (usually).
Sexual Content: It is implied that a man abused a nurse, which is why she hates him.
Language: I think I heard one D**n and a few Hells; and saw both written once.
Violence: Disturbing is probably the only accurate word. While the combat is relatively bloodless, there are a LOT of disturbing images (Most of which take place in the alternate Silent Hill). These consist of blood on the floors and walls, disemboweled corpses strung up on razor wire (this is seen quite often) and stuck in cages.
Spiritual Content: The monsters you fight are referred to as “Demons”. There is mention of a god being birthed by a woman. I also can’t go into much detail about this without spoiling the story. But what you really need to know is that there is a lot of evil spirituality, but it is portrayed as being evil, and you are fighting it.
Sound: C-R-E-E-P-Y! The soundtrack is excellent, and the sound effect are almost perfect. You radio emits static whenever demons are near, which can be incredibly scary when your in a dark area with the radio going like crazy, but you can’t see anything.
Conclusion: Silent Hill is the creepiest and most disturbing I have ever played, but in a good way. Unfortunately, due to the violent images and spiritual content, I can’t recommend it to anyone under 16.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
About this game
- Adventure Horror
- ERSB Rating:
- M (Mature)
- Review Published:
- April 23, 2008 / 12:58 pm
- PS 1
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