Silent Hill Origins Part 2: Hello Nurse!

By Shamus
on Oct 28, 2008
Filed under:
Shamus Plays

27 comments

We resume our nonsensical journey with Travis Grady, a trucker turned ADHD firefighting paramedic ghostbuster. Part one is back that way. When we last left our hero special-needs truckdriver, he’d rescued a girl from certain death by helping her to escape to a different certain death. Then he passed out.

Before we resume the verbal scourging of this game, let me make it clear that I know I’m being kind of hard on poor Silent Hill: Origins. This is not a horrible game, but Konami and Climax studios had the audacity to put the name Silent Hill on this sucker, and so I’m going to hold them to it. I would have given the same cruel treatment to ObsCure if they’d tried to pass that off as a Silent Hill title.

Besides, this is fun. More fun than playing the game, anyway.

Welcome to our haunted town, which is beset by pagan devilry and ancient curses borne of unspeakable acts of bloodshed.  Please take a brochure.
Welcome to our haunted town, which is beset by pagan devilry and ancient curses borne of unspeakable acts of bloodshed. Please take a brochure.
Travis awakens and it’s daytime. He’s on a bench in Silent Hill. He remembers the girl and decides to go to the hospital and see if he can annoy her some more. (He wants to know if she’s all right.)

No she’s not all right you bumbling, dim-witted, lamebrain. She was doomed before you scooped her up and loped outside with her. She was cooked. The best hospital in the world would be hard-pressed to coax a day or two out of her. You drool-soaked, cross-eyed, dunce.

Having failed to present the player with a compelling protagonist or mystery, the game sends you off to the hospital. Now, the hospital is an iconic place in Silent Hill. Everyone remembers their first trip to the hospital. It’s arguably the signature area of the series. It was a major part of almost all the other titles in the series, as well as the movie. But it’s something you build up to. It’s the headlining band, not the opening act. This game just has no patience. It hasn’t even bought me a drink yet and already it’s trying to get my pants off. And I’m really sorry for that metaphor.

Travis keeps looking for her, even after he arrives at the hospital and finds the place is bereft of life and brimming with decay. He’s attacked by one of the once-inspired-but-now-required zombie nurses. And he still keeps looking for the girl. Why? The game hasn’t filled in his backstory yet, but I’m pretty sure Med School isn’t a part of it. I didn’t see a medical degree hanging in the cab during the opening sequence. There’s nothing he could do for her, even if she was here and even if the place wasn’t infested with the malignant manifestations of the Otherworld. Come on, Trav. The place is deserted, man. Why don’t you go and see what’s going on with your truck? It has a CB, remember? Is this your big plan? To wander around a haunted hospital bludgeoning nurses with a sledgehammer looking for someone who is either dead or Not Here?

And as Yahtzee pointed out, the original nurses where part of James Sunderland’s Silent Hill. All of the monsters in SH2 were either feminine (symbolizing his not unattractive but sadly deceased wife) or Pyramid Head. (Who acted as a reflection of James himself.) It was all very deep and psychological.

Here? It’s just monsters recycled from other iterations of Silent Hill. Travis is a man so dull he has other people’s nightmares.

Oh my, this nurse looks evil and kind of scary, maybe I should- HA YOU ARE PLAYING A VIDEOGAME AND ITS TIME TO PRESS A BUTTON A LOT NOW! PRESS FAST SO YOU DON’T LOSE! PRESS PRESS PRESS!
Oh my, this nurse looks evil and kind of scary, maybe I should- HA YOU ARE PLAYING A VIDEOGAME AND ITS TIME TO PRESS A BUTTON A LOT NOW! PRESS FAST SO YOU DON’T LOSE! PRESS PRESS PRESS!
Combat falls somewhere between tedious and exceptionally tedious. Weapons degrade. Some weapons (like typewriters or televisions) are single-use. Travis can lug around an entire municipal building worth of office supplies in his puffy jacket, but once he chucks something at a foe it vanishes and he can’t pick it up again. Weapons shatter after just a few hits. As soon as a weapon is thrown, or it breaks, Travis reverts to bare-knuckled combat. You need another weapon at this point, which is easily accomplished by:

  1. Press inventory
  2. Cycle through the different classes of items using R1 and L1 until you reach “weapons”.
  3. Cycle through the weapons until you find the one you want.
  4. Select it.
  5. Now scroll down and select “equip”.
  6. Press circle to back out of inventory selection.
  7. Press circle again to dismiss the inventory screen and return to the fight.

Then three swings later your weapon breaks and you get to do it all again. This is not fun, it’s not intuitive, and most importantly it’s not scary. Fighting horrors can be a thrill, but not if the game keeps yanking me out of the experience so I can screw around with the menu system two or three times during every fight. (You can select weapons without going to the menu, but then the game keeps running and the foes get in a few cheap shots while you try to decide between the cardboard tire iron or the balsa wood crowbar.)

Well lookie here! The doc’s got some ‘o them “health drinks”.  Still no sign of a “plot drink”, “character drink”, “dialog drink” or, “non-sucky combat drink”.
Well lookie here! The doc’s got some ‘o them “health drinks”. Still no sign of a “plot drink”, “character drink”, “dialog drink” or, “non-sucky combat drink”.
I really don’t see the point of the breaking weapons. The game hands you blunt instruments by the wheelbarrow load, so you don’t have to worry about running out. This isn’t a resource to manage, like “health drinks”. It’s just a needless annoyance. Travis can carry three dozen clubs and hammers, they fit in his jacket, and they snap after a few swings, necessitating another trip through the inventory screen obstacle course. You could make the gameplay more realistic and more interesting and less annoying by just making objects more durable. In particular, a sledgehammer should be more or less unbreakable in the hands of a human, no matter what you’re hitting. I mean, that’s its job.

The usual excuse offered up is that survival horror combat is supposed to be difficult. But you want it to feel difficult because it’s desperate, panicked, primal, and chaotic. Here combat is fumbling, silly, tedious, time-consuming, and annoying. Hit detection is dodgy at best, and when it malfunctions it seems to go against Travis. I managed to get behind a nurse and take a free swing at her. My attack passed right through her. Still facing away from me, she attacked the empty air in front of her, and injured me. (And don’t even get me started on fighting two foes at a time, which is like trying to juggle bricks while handcuffed.)

Shee-it, she’s a fine lookin’ lady. Bit thin fer my tastes, but Truckers like me can’t be too particular. I done beat the juice out of a whole mess of nurses back there. Would that impress her?  Should I tell her about it or not?  Shucks, I’m just no good at talkin’ to womenfolk.
Shee-it, she’s a fine lookin’ lady. Bit thin fer my tastes, but Truckers like me can’t be too particular. I done beat the juice out of a whole mess of nurses back there. Would that impress her? Should I tell her about it or not? Shucks, I’m just no good at talkin’ to womenfolk.
The deeper he goes, the more corrupted the hospital becomes. Eventually he goes through a mirror and finds himself in a world of blood and rusty metal. All is black on the other side, and he sees the world and his foes through the swinging cone of his flashlight beam. The walls seem to scream at him as he drags himself from one dreadful metal cage to the next.

Travis crawls down into the insane core of the hospital and then fights his way back out into daylight and sanity. A boss fight is involved, if you didn’t see that coming. He awakens in the lobby and meets a nurse (a normal human one) who tells him in no uncertain terms that the little girl is dead, for sure.

Since Travis no longer has any reason to hang around the town, he dashes back to his truck and high-tails it to safety before anything else unnatural happens. He stops at the first chain hotel he sees and checks in. It’s the middle of the day and he probably can’t even afford the place, but he throws down a credit card and nearly runs over the cleaning lady on the way to his room. He showers for an hour and a half and then calls room service and orders one of everything. That goes double for booze. He slams down a hot meal and falls asleep with the TV on and the curtains open.

Wait. Actually, that is incorrect. Travis does not attempt to leave Silent Hill. Instead he heads for Cedar Grove Sanitarium. He has absolutely no motivation or justification for doing so, but the nurse mentioned it in passing during their conversation. Damn the main character and his will to live, we have cutscenes to unlock! Onward to the Sanitarium!

We’ll find out how that goes in part 3.

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Footnotes:



20727 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Kel'Thuzad says:

    I think your ending is probably better than whatever ending they’re going to give you.

    Are there any good points about the game that you would like to mention, or are you saving that for later?

    Also, I believe you meant to say “blunt” not “bunt”.

  2. ZeroByte says:

    But beating enemies to death with bunt cakes == best thing evar! Certainly would make the game more entertaining than how Shamus has described it so far.

  3. Sam says:

    ZeroByte: those would actually be bundt cakes. And yes, it does sound more entertaining than fighting with a disintegrating crowbar.

    This game is sounding more and more ridiculous by the word. One of these days I’m going to have to dig out my copy of Silent Hill 2 and marvel in its greatness. For now, I’ll laugh at these posts about how American game designers ruin another series.

  4. Arthur says:

    Minor quibble with part of this:

    And as Yahtzee pointed out, the original nurses where part of James Sunderland’s Silent Hill. All of the monsters in SH2 were either feminine (symbolizing his not unattractive but sadly deceased wife) or Pyramid Head. (Who acted as a reflection of James himself.) It was all very deep and psychological.

    To be fair, the original nurses were part of the little girl’s Silent Hill – all the monsters in the 1st game got their shapes from Alyssa/Heather/whatever’s nightmares. The second game’s stroke of genius was having them come from you (and to a lesser extent the other people you stumble across), which played on the first game’s interesting quirk where you were never sure whether you and Cheryl and any of the other NPCs you met were quite seeing the same thing.

    Anyway: as far as I’m aware Origins, like 1 and 3, sticks pretty closely to 1’s original cult-sacrifice storyline, so it’s not surprising that the nurses are back – the monsters all come from essentially the same source as in 1, after all.

    Homecoming, though? There they’re reaching.

  5. Merle says:

    I haven’t seen enough of Homecoming yet to tell if it makes sense or not, but having “busty nurses” in an Alessa-line game is just rather silly. What would have been a stroke of genius would have been to have them “parasite nurses” as in the first game, but perhaps less obviously so – monstrous but mostly human, to hint at the coming degeneration over the years before Harry unwittingly brings Cheryl to the town.

  6. Arthur says:

    Hmmm. I don’t recall what the nurses in 3 looked like – they did have nurses in 3, right? That’s arguably an Alessa-line one, since Heather and Alessa are the same person.

    But yeah, using the “busty nurse” design was lazy.

  7. Burning says:

    I’m not a big horror fan. I’m not the biggest horror hater in the world (that would be my wife) but I usually don’t have much interest in something that is designed to scare me.

    I’m enjoying this review so much I almost (almost, mind you) want to get the game so I can laugh as I recognize the various idiot points mentioned here.

  8. K says:

    I will have to play SH1 at some point. Luckily the story you tell in a hilarious way here does not include any spoilers I could understand. :)

  9. Hal says:

    I miss Eternal Darkness.

  10. apotheos says:

    Just a correction that the best way to equip weapons is the dpad – left and right to switch weapons, up to switch between melee and ranged, down to reload, I think.

    The game has some interesting content, but the lack of motivation is really frustrating.

  11. The Claw says:

    Shamus, the “Literacy is not a Superpower” article with the Stolen Pixel comic was great. Forced illiteracy is almost as condemnable as DRM. I’d love to see more Twenty Sided articles on the subject, if possible.

  12. Illiterate says:

    At some point I should really find me a copy of silent hill 2, eh?

    I played SH3 at one point, as a tester. It wasn’t remotely scary, it was a little annoying wandering through fog, then looking for missing mcguffins in a rusted wasteland, but then my shift ended and I didn’t play anymore.

    I was struck with this urge to make a video that goes something like this:

    “We spent three years creating the most detailed and exhaustively researched setting ever. Shifts of graphics artists worked around the clock to make the world immersive, genuine in every way. Five good men gave their lives to make an environment which could have been shown in a museum as a testament to the greatness of game design. Then we covered it in a thick obscuring fog…

    Coming this fall, ‘Foggy Hill’… ”

    open to shot of character running through fog, grunting sounds as he runs in place trying to go through an invisible object

    “We dare you to look at what you’ll never actually see”

  13. Oleyo says:

    “…firefighting paramedic ghostbuster”

    Man! Where do I sign up?

  14. karln says:

    I’m slogging through the original Silent Hill just now and I’m disappointed to find it suffering from quite a few of the problems I’d imagined from Shamus & Yahtzee’s reviews would be restricted to the later games :( I’m constantly tripping into the inventory to switch to a melee weapon so I can kick fallen enemies to death, for example, because if I hold a gun I’ll waste a bullet on them instead of kicking. I’m just after the antique shop at the moment and have had to take a break and cool down, as I’m getting pretty damn annoyed at having to stop and fight all the time. I’m trying to explore here; I’ve got no real guidance on where to go (‘toward the lake’ but all the possible routes seem to be blocked) so I’m wandering a lot, but wandering is a very, very slow process when you get attacked every few feet, and running away doesn’t really work when you’re trying to examine the landscape in detail. Radio static now makes me think ‘oh gods how many more of these before I’m allowed to get on with the bloody game’ rather than scaring me at all. And as in too many games, my greatest enemy in combat is frequently the camera, which often objects to showing me what my character is looking at (this is why I gave up on the first RE all those years ago).

    I’m really feeling like any puzzles & exploration at all might be a mistake in a horror game. Either the player is swarmed with enemies so they become an annoyance while he’s trying to look around carefully, or else (as happened to me in the hospital) he clears them all out and ends up wandering aimlessly for hours (or until he gives up and goes to gamefaqs) in a spooky-looking but safely deserted environment, which then makes the ‘spooky’ textures get associated with tedious wanderings. I don’t think I’d really mind just walking from one bit of story to the next, using my one item on the one obvious frobbable. Huh, maybe I would. But I think I’m getting stuck far too often for this game to immerse me.

    Am I doing something fundamentally wrong?

    OK. I’m off to gamefaqs to find out the quickest way out of this midge-swarm.

  15. GeneralBob says:

    Clearly he’s going to the sanitarium to check himself in.

  16. SteveDJ says:

    I’ve never played any of the series. But, this definitely sounds like you are having way too much fun with this game!

    Question: From how you described Travis jumping out of his truck to chase after some girl (in Part 1) – surely he left the truck running. Do you think it is out of gas by now? :-)

  17. Jeff says:

    I read the Silent Hill LPs, which is probably more enjoyable than me actually playing the series, as everything is already all spoiled to heck and I’m disinclined to horror anyways.

    http://fromearth.net/LetsPlay/#S

    That site amuses me, and idles away the hours at work.

  18. krud says:

    In the last picture, is that just some odd texturing or is there something hanging out of the front of Travis’ trousers?

  19. ClearWater says:

    Krud: I was wondering the same thing. The caption doesn’t help either.

  20. William says:

    Get your minds out of the gutter, that’s his hand dammit.

  21. Illiterate says:

    Gah! now I’m seeing it too!

    “Sausage time!”

  22. Shamus says:

    Hand. Sheesh. Now I’m doing it too.

    Hand Hand Hand Hand Hand Hand Hand…

  23. Kevin says:

    Illiterate: I loved me some Silent Hill 2. SH1 was an awesome game because it was so different… it might pale a little in comparison today… but SH2 took that new look at gaming and threaded an incredibly deep and emotional story throughout it. I really enjoyed it a lot.

    Karln: I played SH1 when it first came out, so I don’t really remember everything, but here’s what I do recall. The game is much more fun and challenging if you “act” scared of the monsters. Instead of fighting everything, hide from them and let them pass by. Also, if you’ll pay attention to the map, you’ll start to figure out where the monsters usually hang out. (Generally speaking. They do wander around a bit in their own areas.) Lastly, I remember having at one point going door-to-door along a certain street to find a house where I could enter from the front and leave from the back. That solved my problem of being blocked off at all the street endings.

    Shamus: At first I was a little concerned about this review. After all I sent you the game in order for you to have fun, as well as my getting to read the review and deciding if I wanted to play or not. From this vantage point however, I have decided that I am enjoying the review so much that it matters much less to me if you’re having fun playing the game. (LOL! Well, I DO care, but you take my meaning.)

    I hope you are willing to cover the whole game with the same verve with which you’ve tackled the first two parts. I am looking forward to the next installment!

  24. karln says:

    Kevin, thanks for the advice. I actually ran out of healthstuff around the point where I meet Cybil in the amusement park, and gave up. I guess I must have been fighting too much, like you said. Turns out in the area I was stuck and going around looking carefully at all the scenery (and plugging every monster that tried to distract me from that), I was actually supposed to go back to the hospital. The clue was Harry saying to himself ‘Lisa would probably know how to get to the lake’, but I kind of ignored it at the time. I’d got the impression that the whole game was just a nightmare or something (based on all the weird random stuff, like who left those keys around town and made a map of their locations, who left the clues in blood around the school etc.) with people appearing at random times and places, so it didn’t occur to me I could go look for her where she was last seen.

    As for acting scared of the monsters, I was actually doing that; I felt Harry wouldn’t feel safe with live monsters hanging around, he’d want to make sure any monster he sees or hears is finished off. I would. Better to keep them in sight and smash them up until they don’t move any more, than move on and risk being ambushed later. My roleplaying doomed me :( I guess I’d feel more scared leaving them alive though; it always did make me uneasy when I could hear radio static but couldn’t track down the source and had to move on.

  25. Kevin says:

    Glad to have been of help.

    As for the roleplaying… well, you might be right. I’d just say, think more scared! (Like, too scared to fight!) They really are easier to run away from anyway.

  26. Sydney says:

    Hit detection is dodgy at best, and when it malfunctions it seems to go against Travis.

    This isn’t actually a hit-detection issue, it’s a hitbox issue. There’s a glitch where the models leave their hitboxes behind momentarily. We see Travis behind the nurse, but his hitbox is still in front of her. So what really happened is, Travis stayed in front of the nurse, pivoted 180 degrees, swung at air, and got clowned in the back.

    Sometimes this happens to enemies too, but since we can’t tell that it’s happened, we never get to capitalize and it looks like the game is cheating.

  27. Mr Compassionate says:

    You are kidding me, so he just sort of… goes there? Because somebody mentioned its a place? Great.

    Also I wish I hadn’t read that comment about the hand now. Cant unsee.

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