on Nov 6, 2008
|How to make a really scary monster: Take an existing scary monster and make it bigger! Of course, if the original monster wasn’t all that scary to begin with…|
This isn’t storytelling. It’s adding cruft to the plot.
|Travis seems to remember everything in black and white. And in third person. Here he is with dad, checking in to the Riverside Motel.|
Back to the present. Travis makes his way to room 500. This is about a hundred times more difficult and convoluted than I make it sound. There he confronts this memory of his father. He has a conversation with his dad as the old man swings, and then (because this is Silent Hill) the old man turns into a big freaky boss monster with devastating attacks and a slight susceptibility to bullets.
|Reaching and entering room 500 is a task of ridiculous complexity. I’ve seen movies about casino heists that were less complicated than what Travis has to do to travel a hundred yards and open a door.|
As far as I’ve been able to figure out (and I am by no means an expert on Silent Hill lore and am likely missing or misunderstanding details) the town is ultimately corrupted by a death cult. They have it in their heads that they can bring about the existence of a new god, who will bring them paradise on Earth. In order to birth this god, they need an appropriate vessel: a young girl who has been, basically, tormented her entire life. Alessa Gillespie is their chosen victim, and that’s who Travis has been seeing on his sightseeing tour through the cursed realm of Silent Hill. I’ve never been clear on whether or not their plan “worked”. Certainly the town is not paradise, but is that due to the faustian nature of the bargain, or were their plans actually thwarted? (You could also argue that their plans worked and that Silent Hill is now the conduit to a world where your dreams become real – but flawed human beings keep dragging their own personal baggage into the place and inadvertently crafting themselves their own custom-built version of hell. Since each person sees the cursed Silent Hill differently, this actually makes sense to me.)
But whatever. Any group that will torture a little girl for her whole life to bring about paradise cannot be the good guys. Alessa Gillespie now haunts / rules / controls the spooky version of Silent Hill. Travis’ efforts seem to have unleashed her, and she begins transforming the town into the super-evil version. (It’s a very cool cutscene, very much in the style of the transformation as portrayed in the movie.) Travis runs to escape the town and is hounded by monsters along the way.
|Travis Grady. A man. A legend. A clueless boob.|
When Travis enters the room one of the cult members addresses him, “I’m surprised to see you. We had assumed you’d just leave.” Which was kind of what I thought as well. His personal problems are sorted, but Travis just can’t get enough of this place.
We’re now embroiled in a four-way conflict: Travis vs. Cult vs. Alessa vs. Summoned Demon God. Guess who ends up doing all the heavy lifting.
A bunch of freaky stuff happens that’s really too abstract to explain. He visits some locations from the original Silent Hill game and eventually fights the Demon Guy. The thing looks more like something from Doom than Silent Hill. It’s just horned demon thing. Seven feet tall. Bipedal, two arms, three attacks. Fire, brimstone, roaring, etc. Pretty standard stuff for a videogame, and sort of unimaginative compared to the freakish stuff we fought earlier. I can’t fault the game too much for this, though. Final boss fights have never been a strong suit of Silent Hill.
But we can fault the game for the weapons. By now Travis has an unbelievable collection of guns. A couple of pistols, a shotgun, a hunting rifle, and an assault rife. This is in addition to his half-dozen typewriters and TV sets, as well as the (hang on let me count) twenty-four blunt weapons. No I am not kidding. It’s enough of a load to make Gordon Freeman stagger. This is a ridiculous armory for any game, and completely bonkers for a survival horror game that’s otherwise trying so hard to be taken seriously.
|I know I made fun of the plot, but the game did squeeze a smile out of me when I saw the truck again.|
The battle ends and Travis wakes up outside, in the daylight. Travis manages to dust himself off and amble out of town without ever understanding what was really going on. He walks back to his truck and drives out of town with a smile on his face. Roll credits.
Origins is the runt of the Silent Hill litter, but after an awkward start it did manage to deliver some thrills before it devolved into tedium and frustration. It’s not a bad survival horror game, it’s just bad compared to what it could have been in the hands of someone less ham-fisted in their approach. I can’t help but wish they would
fine tune it a bit let me write one of these things.
Thanks again* to Kevin for sending it along. It was not the crowning jewel of the Silent Hill franchise, but this series more than made up for that. This was a lot of fun.
* It wasn’t until I typed those words that I realized I never actually thanked him in the first place. So I’ll do it now: Thanks Kevin! Also, did you know Kevin has a fantasy roleplaying comic? I’m just sayin’.