The other night, I beat Silent Hill: Downpour. For those of you who are sitting back and scratching your head wondering, “Didn’t this game come out a few months ago?”, you would be right. But here’s what happened. I bought Silent Hill: Downpour and managed to squeeze in a few hours. Then, the following week, I bought Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, brought it home, popped it into my Xbox and BAM! Dead Xbox.
So, for a few months, I was without an Xbox 360 and was suffering every moment of this long and unexpected video game exile. It got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I caved, bought an Xbox, and dived immediately into the world of…..Minecraft. Yeah, I had to face some creepers to get my hands used to the 360 controller once again. And after building a badass world with TJ (and a little bit with Adam, even though he likes to destroy other people’s creations), I got my mitts all set again. I was ready to enter that foggy world once again!
I remembered enough of the story to feel comfortable continuing on without restarting. This was also compounded by the fact that I knew I’d be playing the game several times regardless if it was good or bad (I have every achievement in Homecoming), so I’d get a fresh view of the beginning several times over.
Now, one of the things that had me worried and apprehensive was the music and sound. After all, it was the first time that Akira Yamaoka wasn’t at the audio helm. Instead, we have Dexter composer Daniel Licht taking over as composer. As a huge fan of the franchise, the music and sound was something that I was paying very close attention to as I made my way through the game. And, I must say, I was beyond satisfied. Licht not only nailed it, he knocked it out of the park.
Running through the town, the ambient background music did something to me that I hadn’t felt since SH3: it frightened me. I actually felt uneasy and nervous as I walked the streets, enemies hiding behind a blanket of mist, the threat of thunder, lightning, and rain always looming. Like Lovecraftian tentacles, the music wrapped itself around me, making my skin crawl, the hairs on my arms raising as goosebumps the size of mountains dotted my arms.
Then there were the little winks and nods to the history of the sound and music. For instance, picking up an item brings about the same sound that is used in SH2. Then, at the radio station, DJ Bobby Ricks puts on two tracks from the SH1 soundtrack. Whether or not this was Licht’s decision is not known to me. In any case, it shows an appreciation for Yamaoka’s work but an acknowledgement that Licht is now the star.
Also, not since SH2 have I heard music in this franchise that is as emotional and gorgeous in the fear and terror it provides. Yes, the soundtrack to SH3 had some fantastic cues but it was, in my opinion, the beginning of the downward slope of the franchise soundtracks. Slowly fading were the terrifying industrial passages of the SH1 OST and the same with the beautifully haunting SH2 OST, replaced by more drum driven tracks with strong vocal presence. Do I still love the soundtracks from SH3 onward? Yes, absolutely. But, for me, the sublime mystery lessened with each soundtrack. Licht brought back that phantasmagorical emotion that I have been so desperately craving.
In my review of the soundtrack, I was convinced that the music, on its own, stood up to the test of Silent Hill. But experiencing it in the game was something else. I can truly say that, in the end, the music and sound of Silent Hill: Downpour was one of the highlights of the game.