Silent Hill Origins Part 5: At The Movies

By Shamus
on Nov 4, 2008
Filed under:
Shamus Plays
Our hero, Travis Grady, has just escaped the horrors of the Silent Hill sanitarium. He leaves now, probably in search of even worse ones. That’s just the kind of guy he is. (Dumb.)

A working car? Hmmmm.  Nope.  Can’t think of how that could be useful.  Oh well.
A working car? Hmmmm. Nope. Can’t think of how that could be useful. Oh well.
Outside the sanitarium Travis finds a car with the engine running. He quickly realizes that using a car would be the coward’s way of getting around a city of lurching abominations. And we’ve already established that Travis is a magnificent dummy and not a coward. He won’t even try the door or make up some excuse about it being locked. Time for another hike across town.

(Also: Travis has quite a collection of tire irons tucked away in whatever dimensional pocket he keeps his inventory. The hospital and the sanitarium each had a rather perplexing number of them laying about. Strangely, there isn’t a tire iron in the trunk of this car.)

The town has been seasoned with a dash of new monsters. The carrion from the sanitarium are now milling about. I try starting another parade like the last time I hiked across town, but these things are having none of it. A couple of trips to Game Over Land convince me that these monsters just aren’t the playful sort of otherworldly abomination. Phooey. I’m still not going to fight them, though. Not for all the Pocky in Japan, where this game very obviously didn’t come from.

Travis is bringing us along on his ouroboros mystery: <em>We’re coming here to find out why we came here.</em>  Sigh. You <em>weren’t</em> “led” here, you ball-cap wearing doofus. You found some litter.
Travis is bringing us along on his ouroboros mystery: We’re coming here to find out why we came here. Sigh. You weren’t “led” here, you ball-cap wearing doofus. You found some litter.
Once we reach the theater we get another peek into Travis’ learning disability. I try to go back outside, and Travis says he doesn’t want to leave until he finds out why he was “led” here, by which I assume he means finding the theater ticket in the lobby at the sanitarium.

I was knocked unconscious at this point when my forehead struck my desk, but once I’d woken back up I realized the game had at last revealed his long-secret motivation. And now I wish I could go back to thinking he didn’t have one.

So this is how his mind works. Someone mentions a sanitarium, and so he goes in and endures a gauntlet of fear and misery just to see what’s inside. He finds a movie ticket and concludes that someone is “leading” him to the (no doubt deeply haunted) movie theater. He has no idea what he’ll find or who sent him, but he’s willing to go through all this just to find out. Travis, the things that are wrong with you are beyond the ability of me and my PS2 controller to fix.

What’s this? It looks like someone tossed this McDonald’s bag by the side of the road. Clearly this is a sign that I should go to the abandoned and thrice-cursed meat packing plant on the edge of town. Oh look! It’s a crushed soda can. This means I must travel to the boarded up chemical plant where all those people died. And here’s a cigarette butt. I’ll make a note to stop by the cancer ward in the condemned hospital.

In previous games, Harry Mason was trying to rescue his daughter. Henry Townshend was trying to escape his haunted apartment. Heather was the victim of a complex curse. (To put it mildly.) James Sunderland was deeply neurotic and looking for his dead wife. But Travis’ fatal flaw is that he’s just a great big silly.

Pardon ma’am, but I’m afraid I just don’t take a shine to you. You’re easy enough on the eyes and all, but you’re crazier than a jackknifed load of football bats.  And to tell the God’s honest, I’m already crazy enough for the both of us.
Pardon ma’am, but I’m afraid I just don’t take a shine to you. You’re easy enough on the eyes and all, but you’re crazier than a jackknifed load of football bats. And to tell the God’s honest, I’m already crazy enough for the both of us.
Now, I have no doubt that he’s right – I’m sure “someone” really is sending him all these places. But the game just isn’t selling it to me. Sure, Travis is curious, but he never says anything to make me curious, and since I’m doing the driving I really need to be on board with where we’re going. It all feels like justification, not motivation.

Travis runs into Lisa the nurse again. She acts disturbingly nutty. Travis counters with some of his more potent Dumb Look Techniques until she runs off. The game rides the line between strange and ridiculous again, but manages to stay just on this side of it.

When Travis goes through a door the camera is aimed at him and his flashlight is aimed at stuff that’s out of view.  You have to move him around a bit before you can work the camera into place so you can actually look at where you are.  Bonus points for the rooms where a monster ganks you as soon as you enter, before you can even see what you’re doing.
When Travis goes through a door the camera is aimed at him and his flashlight is aimed at stuff that’s out of view. You have to move him around a bit before you can work the camera into place so you can actually look at where you are. Bonus points for the rooms where a monster ganks you as soon as you enter, before you can even see what you’re doing.
Travis explores the theater. Like the sanitarium, it is dark. Too dark, really. I realize that this sounds crazy in the context of a survival horror game, but if you look at the titles of the past you’ll see that there aren’t all that many truly pitch-black rooms. You might need your flashlight to see what you’re fighting, but you can still make out walls and rooms and general shapes. Like I said in my Quake 4 review, “Going into a dark room is frightening. Being in a dark room is frustrating and boring.” This scenery isn’t all that unnerving because I hardly see it. Going to evil Silent Hill just changes the color of the stuff in my little flashlight beam. I never get the full effect of wow, this place is really messed up! Evidently the designer thinks that darker = more scarier. You can turn off your monitor to test that hypothesis yourself. Once again, a little restraint would have made the game both more suspenseful and more fun.

Travis does the puzzles, fights the monsters, and runs around in the pitch dark until I get a headache from my eyes straining. Eventually he gets to the boss and does what videogame protagonists do to videogame bosses.

When the little girl shows up again Travis waves his new pyramid piece at her, “You need these, don’t you?” <em>Yeah, I should hope so Travis.  <strong>You</strong> sure as hell don’t have any use for them, even though you’ve been killing yourself collecting them. So I hope <strong>someone</strong> in this gameworld wants these MacGuffins.</em>
When the little girl shows up again Travis waves his new pyramid piece at her, “You need these, don’t you?” Yeah, I should hope so Travis. You sure as hell don’t have any use for them, even though you’ve been killing yourself collecting them. So I hope someone in this gameworld wants these MacGuffins.
The game has a clear pattern to it. In all three of the locations so far – the hospital, sanitarium, and the theater, there has been a boss fight at the end. After the boss dies a pyramid piece appears. Travis picks it up and then the little girl shows up. Travis asks her questions which she ignores. Then he hears an air raid siren, passes out, and wakes up near the entrance with all the monsters gone and things back to normal.

Before he leaves the theater, he finds some keys for the motel. He has a flash of recollection and realizes he’s been there before… as a boy. Once again it seems like Travis is stumbling around, doing things at random, and by chance he’s running into fragments of his past. I keep pointing out his lack of brains, but I guess I can’t argue with results.

The next post will wrap this series up.

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

From the Archives:

  1. Strangeite says:

    I don’t play these type of games, but I have really enjoyed these posts.

    Off Topic: GO VOTE!!! Pennsylvania is crucial this year for both candidates, so do you duty as an American citizen and cast your vote.

  2. Burning says:

    I’ve got to stop reading these at work, where I strain something trying to keep from laughing out loud.

    Off topic followup: Go vote even if you don’t live in a “battleground state” (assuming you live in a country that’s having an election today ;) ). Whoever you support, vote. Whatever flaws you might think are in the system, they will be made worse if people don’t show up.

  3. Dev Null says:

    Go vote… for anyone but Travis Grady.

    (If you are Travis Grady, hold on a sec; I’ve got some eminently distracting fluff in my pocket here somewhere…)

  4. Viktor says:

    What I think is bugging me about this game is how easy it would have been to change minor things and make it much better. Running car? Very nice. Let the player discover it, get in, and start figuring the controls. Then have something start strangling them from the backseat as they gun it towards a pack of shamblers. It just went from odd and inane to freaky, and the only way to escape is to put yourself in more danger. All it would have taken to give him a reason to explore Silent Hill is for when he shows up to look at the sign slightly puzzled, pull out his wallet, and look at a picture of a woman with a baby next to the sign. If he found the ticket on the Sanitarium boss instead of just lying in the lobby, he would have had a reason to explore a bit more. Not a great one, but curiosity is a serial killer.

    As to voting:Does it count if I went through all of the trouble to vote early and absentee only to write in Cthulhu based on hatred of both?

  5. Jeremiah says:

    Wait, Travis is collecting pieces of the Tri-Force? :)

  6. MintSkittle says:

    Travis is a complete idiot. What with all the horrors and evil mirrors and crazy peoples, you’d think he’d take a hint and get the hell out of there. I wouldn’t want to stick around this place just to find out about my tortured past.

    Also, vote Lavos!

    http://www.chronocompendium.com/Term/Image:Votelavos08.png.html

  7. Kevin says:

    Oh… I get it now. EVERYTHING makes sense. Travis IS Pyramid Head, the frightening boss villain from all the previous games.

    One of the things that made ol’ triangle-head so scary was that for all his power and awfulness, he was utterly inscrutable. He never seemed to have any motivation for his violence and mayhem, upping the terror factor by not letting you understand what he was or why he did the things he did. You never knew when or why you were going to run afoul of him.

    Enter the protagonist.

    I think your problem is one of a misaligned point of view. You aren’t supposed to sympathize with Travis, you are supposed to be terrified of him!

  8. Illiterate says:

    Anyone else going back and re-watching yahtzee’s take on this game (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/20-Silent-Hill-Origins)

    ??

    I wouldn’t dream of saying you’re copying his work, but it’s amazing how many of the same points you’re hitting upon. It’s like his is a heavily accented and profane cliff notes of this article.

    The real problem with this and mr. Croshaw’s article is it’s making me want to actually play the other games, something which would be spectacularly hard to do without doing it in front of my four-year old

    “daddy why are they hitting you? Are they mean bad guys?” “Daddy why is his head a triangle?”

    Also I would probably get in some trouble with the missus if I did this.

  9. Mari says:

    Mission accomplished, Kevin. I am, in fact, terrified of Travis and I haven’t even played this game (and probably never will now). Personally I’m terrified that his crazy is catching. “Well, yeah, I caught the crazy from Silent Hill: Origins, but the doctor says just a few more years of basket weaving and I’ll be feeling much better…”

  10. Ben Orchard says:

    This (and the companion articles) is so full of WIN! that I’m busting a gut with laughter…

    It just goes to show that the one cardinal rule of character writing still applies: if you can’t figure out a sane reason the character would actually do what they are scripted to do within 30 seconds, then you’ve failed as a writer and need to start over. Travis here needs a lot of these do-overs in the scripts, apparently.

    As for voting: GO VOTE YOU IDIOT! YES YOU! I MEAN IT! I don’t even care who you vote for. Personally, I’ll say this: I didn’t vote for B. H. Obama OR J. McCain. In all good consciense I could not do it. I thought about and thought about and I COULD NOT DO IT! Sorry for the continued threadjack.

  11. Canadian says:

    @Ben Orchard
    HA! I voted 3 weeks ago! :P
    But the Conservative Party won… !@%”*&! Don’t do the same mistake by electing an ***hole like Harper.

    And in Quebec, we will soon have to vote again…

  12. Miako says:

    I’d like to gently remind everyone to steer clear of politics. Maiko here didn’t say anything unreasonable, but I just want to head off any potential arguments. No sense in spoiling our fun here by searching out all the stuff that will inevitably divide us. Thanks! – Shamus

  13. Kadea says:

    I agree with Strangeite, never played the games but am throughly enjoying these posts…
    @ Viktor-I was sooooo very tempted to write in Cthulhu this morning as well. I have been giving people Cthulhu as my anwser when asked who I was going to vote for. I got a lot of blank stares…I need cooler people to work with.

  14. Ferrous Buller says:

    Silent Hill Origins: Just Going Through the Motions

  15. Ben says:

    @Illiterate (number 8): Heavily accented? Yahtzee doesn’t have an accent…

    I want to play a Silent Hill game, probably 2 since it seems like everybody hails it as the god of fright.

  16. Alan De Smet says:

    Shamus: You might want to sign or something your text additions to the DELETED bits so it’s clear that you’re speaking, and not the person you deleted.

    And I’ll ignore your request and shamelessly plug for my candidate of choice. Cthulhu for President! Get out there and vote for being driven mad and devoured!

    • Rey d`Tutto says:

      “Cthulu for President! Get out there and vote for being driven mad and devoured!”

      And this is a different platform than the ones the Demicans and Republicrats are offering?

  17. Vacca says:

    If one of the candidates had taken an anti-DRM stand,they would have had my vote!!!

    As for Silent Hill, never played it I’m afraid, but I’ve seen some of the issues you raise, in other games.

  18. Shamus says:

    For those considering a Cthulhu vote, let me remind you of some of his stances on The Issues:

    The Economy: You Will Be Devoured
    Healthcare: You Will Be Driven Mad, Then Devoured
    Taxes: You Will Be Devoured
    Education: You and All Your Offspring Will Be Devoured

    But other than that he doesn’t have much in common with other candidates.

  19. Alex says:

    “@Illiterate (number 8): Heavily accented? Yahtzee doesn’t have an accent…”

    I think you’d have to try really hard to be a british-born man living in Australia and not have an accent. =P (Of course, technically -everyone- has an accent)

    My favourite part of this article is when Travis’ “motivation” for his continued adventures was so retarded it gave Shamus mild brain damage. The things one goes through to provide for his audience…

    EDIT: It’s probably a good idea that I’m not American, or registered to vote. I’d probably just go with Heath Ledger. I mean, one of the best things a president can do is -nothing-! (Oh shut up, it is not “too soon”)

  20. ZzzzSleep says:

    For everyone considering voting for Cthulhu, I strongly recommend you vote for The Allosaurus!

  21. Nabeshin says:

    Shamus-is the Escapist having issues or something? Every comic link you have to Stolen Pixels (for me anyway) are leading to a Escapist 404 error, stating the link is broken or cannot be found.
    Am I smoking the good stuff, or is something actually busted?

  22. mac says:

    Oh no. When you mentioned the cinema ticket at the end of the last piece, I thought the game was over and you were just making a joke about the lameness of the plot and the character.

  23. JKjoker says:

    you know, Travis’s response when you try to go out remainds me of the stupidest thing from mass effect, if you ask the big bad’s nº1 henchman or big bad’s old nemesis the “why does the big bad want to destroy the universe” question, you get told “you couldnt possibly understand it, its too alien for your puny mind” and the nemesis goes on to say “why do you care? all you should care about is kicking his ass”, dude … where do they find these writers ?

  24. Illiterate says:

    Mac,

    Don’t you get it? This is an american horror game. It won’t be over until there’s an excessively long and tough bossfight after which the town explodes for no apparent reason.

  25. Miako says:

    VOTE OPTIMUS PRIME! (he actually won elections at my college).

    and now for a nonpartisan note:
    ALL HAIL THE OBA! (thank poblano for the humor)

  26. Octal says:

    Well, clearly someone’s been going around stealing the tire irons from the trunks of all the cars… even leaving the trunks open, tsk tsk… and leaving them in the hostpital and sanitarium.

    I mean, it’s what anyone would do, really.

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