The real silent Hill Experience




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ROSSETER

Also spread throughout Origins are various memos explaining Alessa's power, as well as messages between Dahlia and Kaufmann about the plans to keep Alessa in the hospital. All of these memos are just restating old information. I guess they wanted to remind people who forgot, or an intro for people who haven't played the games yet, or for people who just started playing halfway through..? But, where were the reminders and intros in Silent Hill(s) 2-4? Do you see any? A quote from William Oertel:


"One of the charms of SH is that it doesn't go out of its way to explain the storyline."

- William Oertel


Well, Mr. Oertel, the game was made to explain the story, so it looks like you're going out of your way...
FUNGO

The game's core story revolves around the flauros. The cult trapped Alessa's power inside of it and then spread the pieces across...


DERFUZHWAR

... the Otherworld.


FUNGO

Alessa is forcing Travis to collect the pieces of the flauros and reassemble them, thus returning Alessa's power to her. But, the problem with this is that the flauros is no such object. Silent Hill's story has always been based on real occult practices and demonology. The cult itself may be fake, but it's based off of real-world occultism. In demonology, Flauros is a great duke of Hell. A conjurer can call him into a magic triangle, where he will converse with the conjurer, as well as destroy his enemies or break their power.


ROSSETER

This very thing happens in Silent Hill. Dahlia gives Harry an item called the flauros, which later breaks through Alessa's power and allows Dahlia to capture her. Origins breaks the tradition of basing Silent Hill's storyline on real-world occult practices by imbuing the flauros with the power to contain Alessa's power, as well as split her soul in two. The demon himself even comes out and attacks Travis, which is very unlike the demon of the occult.


In the original Silent Hill Alessa splits her soul in twain to lessen her power and make it impossible for the cult to carry on birthing their God. So, we've got Alessa, who splits her own soul to create Cheryl. There are now two Alessa's; the physical body and the mental projection aspect. So who the frick-a-dick frick is this?
The soul split happens at the end of Origins, so who is this person running around Silent Hill? Are we saying that there are three Alessa's now? Sure, they try to create a little excuse in their astral projection memo, but given that Alessa can't mentally project herself without first splitting her soul, as in the first game, this third iteration is an unforgivable fallacy.
FUNGO

But, the biggest problem in Origins is the way...


DERFUZHWAR

... the Otherworld...


FUNGO

... is presented. Travis may go to any mirror in Silent Hill and touch it, thereby transporting himself to the alternate version of whatever environment he's in. He must do this to solve puzzles, sometimes going into the nightmare world to collect items that he can use in the normal world, other times so that he can bypass obstacles that may be in one world but not the other. The problem with this is that it gives players control over when they want to be in the nightmare world, thereby killing all of the horror in the process. Killing all of the horror. It also implies that the nightmare world is an ever-present world that resides alongside our own.


ROSSETER

Kind of like another dimension?


FUNGO

Yeah, just like that. We know that's false. As we've already stated, the nightmare world is the physical manifestation of Alessa's nightmare, directly changing...


BOTH

... this world for reals.


FUNGO

So traveling into the nightmare isn't exactly possible.


ROSSETER

It's also kind of a funny notion considering that it doesn't even exist yet!


FUNGO

It doesn't!


ROSSETER

What!? The manifestations are a result of Alessa being tortured by the demon god's nightmare endlessly for seven years. The nightmare was never projected onto the town until Cheryl returned. This is when Alessa began using her Cheryl aspect to spread Metatron's talisman, and thereby accidentally project the nightmare. This is evident in that Kaufmann sees the nightmare as a brand new phenomenon. This also makes it impossible for Travis' mother to be able to see the nightmare in the mirror years before Alessa was even born!
FUNGO

Broken game.


ROSSETER

Broken. Busted Game.


FUNGO

We took it... broke it.


ROSSETER

Game: BOOM.


FUNGO

It's gone. The plot of Silent Hill: Origins has so many problems and so many points of confusion that it can't be considered authentic. How?


ROSSETER

It can't.


FUNGO

No. The game set out to inform players of the events that led up to Silent Hill 1, but instead only restated information that we already knew and made a simple story so much more complicated. It would seem that the only things this game tries to explain are how the ritual took place and how Alessa's soul was split. But, these things don't require explanation. The creators didn't fully understand what they were making.


ROSSETER

Yep.
FUNGO

So ,the game can't be accepted as a real Silent Hill game.
ROSSETER

Nope.
FUNGO

If you want to play a game that goes back to the roots of Silent Hill to explain the events that led up to the first game, then play Silent Hill.
ROSSETER

What!?
FUNGO

It already explains...


BOTH

All of it!


FUNGO

All the stuff explained, right in this area.


ROSSETER

Things: explained. After Climax studios did what they do best, which was create a PSP game, Konami went on another hunt to find a company that could further develop Silent Hill games. The Collective, creators of such masterpieces as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Da Vinci Code, jumped at the chance, as stated in this clip of an interview with 1up.com:


"Really, we attacked it like we've never attacked a presentation before in our life. So, we actually put together — we spent about a week-and-a-half putting together a real-time demo, and once we did that, we actually cut it into a video, put some of Akira's music to it, and said, "We think we understand Silent Hill, and this is what we we're going to do with it."

- Brian Horton


The demo they speak of is this video here. Silent Hill: Homecoming was announced for development by The Collective on July 11th, 2007. During development, The Collective, Inc merged with Backbone Entertainment and then Shiny Entertainment to create Double Helix Games. Homecoming stayed with the new company as it's first high profile project.

09: HOMECOMING
FUNGO

In case you didn't already know, Homecoming is about Nick Lachey, a veteran returning from a war to his home in Shepherd's Glen. It starts with Nick having a Jacob's Ladder nightmare, as stated in the game save before the nightmare is even over. Thanks, game! Thanks for ruining it! Thanks, game!


After you are given control of Nick, you immediately notice the disorienting controls. Rather than the Silent Hill-style tank controls, we are presented with over-the-shoulder third person gameplay with a standard first-person control style. Playing with first-person controls in the third-person feels strange; e.g. looking to the right rotates the character right. In other games this might be great, but in Silent Hill it's unexpected and very unnatural. We are not sure why the controls were changed, but it may have something to do with many critics saying that the original Silent Hill tank controls and combat were bad.
ROSSETER

What!?
FUNGO

Silent Hill's control scheme and combat were intentionally designed.
ROSSETER

Yeah!
FUNGO

The people responsible made a conscious decision and stuck with it until the end.
ROSSETER

That's how the game plays!


FUNGO

If you don't like the controls, get used to them or just don't play Silent Hill.


ROSSETER

1 through 3.


Combat in Homecoming is as follows: You either mash a three hit combo and glitch the AI into never being able to attack, you try to get the enemies hung up on obstacles or in doorways, or you hack and dodge away to no avail. Unless you have a gun, in which case it's a frantic rush to get the squirrely targeting reticle over the weak spot before you fall down again. And you will fall down again.
We have a huge problem with the way the interface works. It looks like the developers have assumed that fans of the series have gotten stupider between Silent Hill 4 and Homecoming and now need on-screen instructions as to which button to press to complete actions. You'd think after playing games for years players would know that the "action button" performs actions. And, we can't tell you how many times we accidentally used up all our health items or switched weapons while fumbling around with this horrible menu system.
Rosseter and Fungo flashback to a time when they were playing Homecoming. Rosseter struggles with the controls while Fungo offers support. Dialogue is improvised.
ROSSETER

After wandering around getting used to the controls for awhile, we are introduced to the game's only plot device: Nick is looking for his emo brother Josh, who runs away again and again and again and again and again.


Interaction with the other characters consists of a "Branching Dialog System". Every conversation has a few choice phrases your character can say which will illicit the appropriate one-line response, but will eventually lead to the same outcome every time. Most of the time you have the ability to select all of the options anyway. The BDS is like watching a movie that keeps pausing itself, waiting for you to hit "play".
Rosseter and Fungo sit watching the Silent Hill movie. The movie pauses after every line of dialogue, forcing Fungo to press play on the remote to keep the movie going.
Almost all of this dialogue consists of:
Clips of Alex Shepherd asking where his brother is.
... with a common response of:
People telling Alex they don't know.
FUNGO

The characters Nick meets throughout are his stoned mother, Travis O'Grady (you know, our fist-fighting, TV-chucking friend), Judge Halloway, her daughter, Elle, Mayor Fred Thompson, Forrest Whitaker, and some hillbilly. Through various flashbacks we see Nick's father, John Locke. Unfortunately, the character interactions are few and far between as there are countless hours of running. We would be willing to approximate that about 75% of the game is just running with nothing else happening. We are not kidding, we have never played a game that was this boring.


... Boring!
Rosseter and Fungo flashback to a time when they were playing Homecoming. Fungo holds the controller. Both look extremely bored.
FUNGO

Do you want to play for awhile?


ROSSETER

That's okay.


FUNGO

Are you sure? It's really easy. You just hold up on the left stick and wiggle the other one around.


Rosseter shakes his head. Gameplay footage is shown, followed by a shot of the two asleep on each other while gameplay is heard continuing on in the background.
There are occasional breaks in the mind-numbing running sequences where Nick must duck under, hop over, jump across, squeeze through, drop down, and climb up. Plus, the God of War-style rapid button pressing is back to perform such complicated tasks as tearing a hole in a sheet. Then he has to solve infantile puzzles (except for the puzzle at the end, which ramps up the difficulty drastically. It's like a Myst friggin' puzzle). These alongside a surplus of levers and valves. All item-related puzzles either place the items right next to where they are used or put them on such a linear path that there is no backtracking to use them.
The game has no personality for a good three-and-a-half hours, and then it turns into Saw: The Game.
The cutscene where Alex's mother is torn in half plays with the following dialogue spoken over it in the style of the jigsaw killer from the movie Saw:
"Hello, Alex. I want to play a game. This is a test to save yourself. Your mother, however, is beyond saving. In just a few seconds, she will be torn in half by the machine. Pick up the gun and shoot your mother. Shoot her or watch her die painfully. Time is running out, Alex. Make your choice."
Alex's mother dies.
"Game over, Alex."
FUNGO

We should note that a lot of people were a little nervous before the release seeing that development shifted from Japan to the United States. The concern was that an American team would not understand the Japanese horror aspect of the games and it would just turn into a splatterhouse camp festival. Fans were also worried that the game would become cliché and full of jump scares. That is exactly what happened.


"A lot of things we saw seemed a little cliché, like a little kid leaving crayon drawings, and the nurses... being strapped to a gurney. But, in a way, that's what people want from Silent Hill."

- Douchebag Bettenhausen


ROSSETER

What is he even talking about? ... What? ... What?


FUNGO

Homecoming is not a scary game.


ROSSETER

No!
FUNGO

It doesn't even make you jump, but it really tries. We don't even get to see anything, except for some Half-Life 2 dead bodies here and there. And then, "Oh no, here comes the same monster I've been fighting for the past four hours again!"
Oh yeah, the monsters. There are six of them (CORRECTION: 7½). These include Faceginas, Movie Nurses, Sharkmen, Skinned Dogs, the Infamous Bondage Monster, and Don't-Fight-These. The main enemies you will fight are Scissorfeet and Bug's-on-your-face. Nick starts off fighting Movie Nurses with the greatest of ease. The Faceginas and dogs also prove to be laughably easy. Then they throw this thing with smog coming out at you and all of the sudden it's like the hardest game you've ever played.
When you arrive at the hotel, the Scissorfeet are introduced, and they are just as difficult. But, then you see a nurse, and you're thinking, "I know how to take care of this," but then when you approach her she starts swinging at you like a crackhead. The difficulty curve in this game is like no other. The boss battles test your patience because not only is it difficult, but there are a few "phases" you must fight.
FUNGO

Taking the trend of movie "clicheing" even further, toward the end the game turns into Hostel: The Game. In the Hostel portion of the game there is a nice little "Bond villain" plot wrap-up delivered by Judge Halloway right before she tries to kill Nick. Silent Hill's style of storytelling, traditionally, is that they show you rather than tell you. In Homecoming, they show nothing, and then Judge Halloway tells you everything. She explains this:


Some years ago...
DERFUZHWAR

... The Order...


FUNGO

... moved from Silent Hill to Shepard's Glen. Every fifty years, they must sacrifice children to protect the townspeople from God's wrath. Nick was quite evidently mistreated growing up because he was a sacrifice, but he and Josh fought over a ring and Josh died, so Josh ended up being the town's sacrifice. And that's it. That's all we hear for the entire plot. That's the plot.


ROSSETER

The whole in it's entirety.


FUNGO

That's all we hear for the entire game.


ROSSETER

The whole thing.


FUNGO

Up until this point, Nick is just running aimlessly. Running and running, and looking for his brother, and running some more.


ROSSETER

For hours. Just running.


FUNGO

Hours. At some point, it is revealed that Nick wasn't really in a war at all!
ROSSETER

What!?
FUNGO

Buddy was playing dress-up in a mental institution and he had amnesia! And it was also said he was going to have a lobotomy!
Rosseter looks shocked.
ROSSETER

Contrary to what many critics have claimed, Homecoming's graphics are not next-gen. They are barely even last-gen. The last time we saw texture work this good, we were playing Shenmue. The noise filter in the game is unlike the past, going from video noise to bad video noise with film scratches. The first time we played, our eyes hurt trying to get used to it. Unlike past games, you can't turn it off, which is a real annoyance. Not that it matters, anyway, because you can't see anything half the time. We played the game on the maximum brightness, just like in Origins, and couldn't see much, even with the weak flashlight they give you. We see people commenting on the "realistic" battle wounds enemies get, but we think it just looks like Nick is drawing on them with a red magic marker. This is realistic?


The color palette of the game is gray or orange. Running into the endless gray, or pulling levers in a steel mill-looking orange nightmare world. Gray, orange, gray, orange, then gray. Then orange. Then gray. Then orange. Then gray. Then orange.
Silent Hill 3, a game made five years before this, had better graphics.
FUNGO

Contributing to the graphical fiasco are some huge glitches. Occasionally, the insect models would flip out after killing them. Sometimes whole areas wouldn't load just walking into them normally. If you skip cutscenes, models disappear. The most annoying would be the game freezing just after Nick's arrival by boat in Silent Hill. In this particular area of the game, there hasn't been a save point for about an hour. We had to play this part three times, until we learned not to turn a specific corner.


ROSSETER

The game has five separate endings. Nick and Elle hug and leave, Nick is back in the hospital getting electroshock therapy, John Locke drowns Nick in a bathtub, the UFO ending, and two "Bogeymen" turn Nick into a "Bogeyman".


FUNGO

Besides the name, there really isn't much to do with Silent Hill. Sure, you go there, but then again it doesn't look like it, does it? The design of the town is such that any part of the game can take place in any town. If you took Silent Hill out of the title and just called it "Homecoming", or better yet, call it "Shepherd's Glen: The Homecoming Story", it would work as a game on its own, though not as successful.


ROSSETER

Not as successful.


FUNGO

You got me right on the button.



10: SHATTERED MEMORIES
ROSSETER

Let's take a trip way back in time... all the way back to April of 2009...


A clichéd flashback "ripple" effect transports Rosseter and DerFuzhwar back in time. When the transition is complete, nothing is different.
In the April, 2009 issue of Nintendo Power (which is still around), Konami showed plans to release a Silent Hill game for the Nintendo Wii. We see this as nothing more than Konami making sure that a Silent Hill game is released on every console possible.
Only one left. Watch your back, DS. Your stylus is not safe.
DERFUZHWAR

The game was being developed by Climax. You know, those Origins guys.


ROSSETER

Hey, Origins guys.


DERFUZHWAR

Since the article was in the April issue of Nintendo Power, we could only hope that the news wasn't any more than a sick April fool's joke. On April 6th, Konami released the "official" announcement.


ROSSETER

So, the real April fool's joke was that the game was actually being made. The release date was set for "sketchy". First it was just "Fall, 2009", and then it was "Winter, 2009", and then it was exactly Oct. 8th, 2009, and then it was some time in November, 2009, and then, on December 8th, 2009, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was released.


BOTH

SHAZAM!
Rosseter speaks to someone off-camera.


ROSSETER

...Can we go back to normal time now?


DERFUZHWAR

Who are you talking to?


Rosseter points off camera. DerFuzhwar looks as if he doesn't see anyone. A time warp effect transitions them back to the present day. As before, nothing is different after the transition.
ROSSETER

If someone forced us to pick the three best looking games on the Wii right this second, we would have to say... what, Metroid 3?


DERFUZHWAR

Yeah... uh, Darkside Chronicles? No...


ROSSETER

Dead Space...


DERFUZHWAR

Dead Space, yup... and, uh...


BOTH

SHAZAM!
ROSSETER

The character models are just swell, though there is a little bit of animatronic movement. Each building you explore is well furnished and items are well modeled. Also, nice effects in the ice! The water is not so good... The in-game video noise is supposed to represent VHS tape noise. This continues the theme of the main menu, which is not only a menu but a VHS tape simulator, which is strange because it controls like a DVD player. Once again, the noise can't be turned off. It's a cool effect, but we don't appreciate being forced to look at it. Most notable of the graphical attributes is the flashlight interacting with the falling snow.
DERFUZHWAR

You know, each one is special, right?


ROSSETER

The graphics aren't as good as Silent Hill 3, but then we didn't expect them to be good in the first place, so this is a nice surprise.


DERFUZHWAR

Yeah. So, you know what the game looks like. You want to know what the game sounds like? Here is an example.


Their faces contort with pain as static plays loudly.
It's either that or nothing. The static noise in previous games was more of an accompaniment to the creatures' moaning and the sounds of combat. In SHAZAM, the static has moved to the foreground and become the loudest thing in the game. Sometimes there might be music, but it's completely unmemorable. Pretty much the only two songs of note play during the credits. At least they are sung by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and not Joe Romersa.
ROSSETER

She's the lesser of two evils.


DERFUZHWAR

The voice acting is good overall but not as good as Silent Hill twice and thrice (and that doesn't include Heather).


ROSSETER

The first playable sequence in the game has you in a therapy session with "Dr. K". These sessions are interspersed throughout the game at key moments, and in each one you are answering questions that he asks, as well as completing mental tests. Your performance in these psychiatry sessions changes the way you experience the game in the main sections. We'll talk about how the game changes a little later. What does not change is the way you play the main portion of the game.


DERFUZHWAR

You look at stuff, and then you get a phone call, and then you look at stuff, and then you make a phone call, and then you look at stuff, and then you get another phone call. That's mainly the objective. In addition, you waste unprecedented amounts of time looking for items that aren't there, collecting items that have no significance, taking useless pictures, and reading text messages that have no relevance.


ROSSETER

Of course, you don't realize this at the time. It is only after you beat the game you come to realize how important all that information was, and consequently how much time you actually wasted. At the very least, the game is only interrupted by the psychiatry sections, as there are no loading screens intruding on your exploration. The game is extremely linear most of the time, except for the few areas you are tricked into running in circles.

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