As a series, Silent Hill hasn’t fared too well for the better part of the last decade. Opinion on the games are relative to the person you’re asking but it’s hard to argue that the quality of the games hasn’t dropped since Silent Hill 3 back in 2003. Since then we’ve had The Room, which wasn’t even originally conceived as a Silent Hill game (and it showed), followed by the clunky Origins, the subpar Homecoming and the forgettable (albeit a step in the right direction) Wii-exclusive Shattered Memories.
Downpour could be the series’ last chance at regaining the favor of not only the hardcore horror enthusiasts that will undoubtedly give this game a chance but newcomers as well. Thanks to games like Dead Space and Left 4 Dead the horror genre is bigger than ever, it’s just changed quite a bit from its survival horror roots. Recently TJ and I prematurely evaluated Downpour and we both agreed this is a game each of us would like to have a threesome with. But in case you’re still not sold on how great this game will be, here are ten reasons this game will be rock our wet and filthy socks.
As its name teases, Downpour will have a strong emphasis on weather, and water specifically, as a theme. It will play a part in the atmosphere and the way the world transitions into the dreaded Otherworld as well. I don’t know about you but I’m always up for turning off the lights for a wet night of fun. I’ve always had what a few of my friends call a “Storm Fetish” so I think it’s safe to say the idea of weather being more prominent in this game has my naughty bits more than a little tingly.
Filling Yamaoka’s shoes is a rather impressive feat as I hear Akira wears size 12′s (and you know what they say about big feet, right? Right?) When I heard this game was going to be in the unproven hands of Vatra Games and Akira Yamaoka, the composer on every other Silent Hill game had left, I realized I was more anxious about the latter. You see, any new developer can create a surprise hit, just look at Gearbox and their mega-hit Borderlands that made them one of the most talked about companies in the industry. Vatra could easily wow us all with a great game that looks and plays great. Akira Yamaoka however, had a large influence on not only what the games sounded like but the way they felt as well.
Now I’m happy to say that these worries have been properly decapitated and fed to starving infants because as an avid fan of the Dexter series I’d very much like to have Dan Licht’s musical babies. We’ve already been given a brief taste of what the game’s score will sound like but it was great enough to soothe my worries away better than any bottle of Jagermeister ever could.
Far too many games tack on some sort of multiplayer so it can be included as an option on the back of the box. Look at Condemned 2 for example, it was an incredibly cool game but the multiplayer was unbalanced and, for lack of a better word, just sucked. There’s also the issue that adding co-op to a horror game can take away from the experience since it’s very difficult to be terrified when you have someone else to rely on. Resident Evil 5 would be a fantastic example of this. Luckily for us, Downpour will not have any sort of multiplayer which gives the developer more time to focus on crafting a compelling and satisfying single-player story. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Most horror games are known for their linear experiences. You need to do this to get here where you’ll find a red key that unlocks that door you passed early on where you’ll have to solve a puzzle, scream like a little girl when the monsters jump out of the closet before proceeding to the next area. That’s lame. So instead of taking a single route through the story there will be multiple routes, side quests and, of course, multiple endings depending on the decisions you made in the game.
A Silent Hill game is only as strong as the enemies that inhabit it, and despite the confirmation that Pyramid Head will not be returning in this sequel, Vatra has cooked up a healthy dose of new foes to destroy in Downpour. Shattered Memories had essentially variations of the same exact enemy and the last couple games have recycled several familiar foes from previous games in the series. In Downpour, the baddies are all spawned from Murphy Pendleton and his undoubtedly rocky past. Here’s hoping for saucy stripper mannequins. Are you with me?!
One of the more exciting changes to the series are the steps Vatra is taking to make the Otherworld feel more alive. Usually, the only things you have to fear when the air horns start blowing or the paint on the walls flutter away is the danger that at any second an enemy could come right up behind you and go BOO! Apologies, I didn’t mean to scare you. In this game the Otherworld feels like an entity unto itself as it will harass Murphy with hallucinations, endless hallways and other tricks to keep you from reaching your goal. There will also be more puzzles, including a variety of puzzle difficulties, so I you might want to limber your mind before diving back into Silent Hill.
Speaking of making the world you live in feel more alive, the town of Silent Hill should feel more realistic as well with more people to run into and a subway system. For the most part these games are largely a lonely experience, meant to get inside your head and think about what a naughty boy or girl you’ve been. In Downpour the game will feel more like the vacation retreat it’s supposed to be in real life. Plus, Vatra is putting more effort into making Murphy act and react like a real person would in these bizarre situations. That should be interesting. Hopefully it doesn’t pull a Homecoming and border on the comical.
In this game Silent Hill is the enemy, it takes the spotlight, will haunt your wherever you go and will feel more real. This isn’t about Alessa, Dalia, The Order or the things they worshipped. This is about the town, its rich history and how it affects the people inside it. It’s also important to note that we’ll be exploring completely new areas of Silent Hill that we’ve seen on maps in previous games but never had the opportunity to step foot in. This is probably going to feel like going home after being away for a long time only to see how much its changed, and I’m looking forward to it.
Really, Homecoming was the only game that gave you the weapons and abilities to make it possible to take out a handful of enemies without getting scratched. But Silent Hill isn’t about that, you should never feel too capable because it’s at that point when the terror evaporates completely. This game aims to change all that with the removal of a weapons inventory, breakable weapons and a focus on melee defense (as opposed to guns). Add to that a focus on flight versus flight where you’ll want to incapacitate your foe and run instead of wasting valuable time and weapon durability to completely kill it. In Downpour, it’s alright to be a bit of a pansy and that might very well be the reason I’m looking forward to playing it. So I can embrace my inner pansy.
Originally, the thing that made me the most anxious about how this game would turn out is the unproven team behind it. As a new developer, Vatra doesn’t have too much experience so the thought of them putting their hands all over the series that introduced me to the horror genre in the first place was initially a little nerve wracking. However, they obviously haven’t taken this responsibility too lightly as the game looks incredible and the idea to bring on such an excellent composer like Dan Licht was a rather fantastic idea.