Friday, July 3, 2015

Video Game Review: Silent Hill (PS1)

Silent Hill (PS1/PSP)
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Genre: Psychological Horror
Platform Played For Review: PSP

"If you love horror games, this is a must-play."

The plot begins with Harry driving his daughter Cheryl to Silent Hill for a vacation. Before arriving, Harry is forced to swerve and dodge a young girl on the road. Consequently, the car crashes. Harry awakens in a diner without his daughter...

Silent Hill is a psychological survival-horror video game. The plot follows Harry in Silent Hill as he attempts to find his daughter. Harry immediately finds Silent Hill is a small, fog-covered town filled with malicious, nightmarish creatures. Along the way, he'll also meet a set of peculiar characters across the town. Off the bat, he'll met police officer Cybil Bennett in the diner, nurse Lisa Garland at the hospital, and Dahlia Gillespie at a church. The farther Harry delves into Silent Hill, the closer he gets to finding Cheryl – the more creatures and horrendous events he uncovers. Silent Hill is a game with multiple endings. I won't beat around the bush, I got the bad ending during my recent play-through – I actually liked it quite a bit, too. The story can be a little confusing and convoluted, but the sense of mystery is wonderful.

I played Silent Hill, which I purchased through PSN, on my PSP. The game is played in a third-person perspective using a following camera – there are only a few occasions where a fixed-camera angle is used. I believe I used the Type 2 control scheme, which allows me to center the camera with L and aim/prepare my weapons with R. X is your action button, Square allows you to run, Triangle brings up your map, Circle turns your light on and off, and Select brings up your inventory.

The game uses Tank controls. Personally, I've grown accustomed to them, especially as I recently played Dino Crisis and Resident Evil. They may be difficult to use if you're accustomed to modern gameplay, though. Combat can be difficult to grasp, but, after some practice, you'll find the best weapons and strategy for certain enemies. Again, managing your ammo is important. The puzzles can also be a little difficult, but it's incredibly satisfying when you solve one on your own. The balance between combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving is great, too. All-in-all, the game took me a little less than six hours to complete.

Visually, I love the setting. Silent Hill is very ominous and atmospheric. I loved running up-and-down the streets simply exploring, I loved these environments. Due to graphical limitations of the time, obviously it doesn't look so crisp. Also, the character models haven't aged well, especially Harry. The enemy designs are nightmarish, but not nearly as frightening or iconic as Silent Hill 2. Aside from the outdated graphics, though, the game's biggest flaw is the English voice acting. (I'm not sure if this is available in any other language, but I played it in English.) At first, I thought the bad voice acting was charming, but it eventually started to take me out of the experience – it made the story feel less effective. The music is fantastic, blending melancholic tones and industrialized sounds to create something absolutely terrifying — this is a soundtrack worth listening to even if you don't play the game.

Overall, Silent Hill is a great psychological horror game. The atmosphere is ominous and eerie, the plot is disturbing and frightening, and the environments are fantastic to traverse. The story can be difficult to fully comprehend, especially after a single play-through, but it's really something special when it all settles in. For those that haven't been pampered by modern gaming conventions, the gameplay still holds up. Some of the character models are bad, though, and the voice acting is atrocious. The game is only 6-7 hours long, which is relatively short. But, keep in mind, the game offers replay value through unlockables and multiple endings, and it's only $5.99. If you love horror games, this is a must-play.

Score: 8/10

Feel free to leave any game recommendations in the comments! I'm a big fan of Silent Hill, and I'm always looking for something new to play! Also, check out my reviews for the films: Silent Hill and Silent Hill: Revelation.

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