Let's Play Champions Online Pt. 1
In earlier posts I was careful to mark spoilers, but since this is the end of the game nearly everything will be spoilers. You can go here to skip to the conclusion without reading the rest of the story if you treasure your ignorance.
Throughout the game, there have been two plot threads: One is personal to Travis, where he lets a few of his skeletons out of his closet and gets to know them. The second is the plot where Travis is gathering up these mysterious magical gnib-nabs for the spooky little girl. The former is just tacked on – Travis is sort of working out his issues by running into his past by accident. The latter is a largish retcon where the writers are trying to add a new character and new events to the origin of Silent Hill.
This isn’t storytelling. It’s adding cruft to the plot.
The events at Riverside Motel wrap up the personal story for Travis. Through flashbacks we learn that Travis’ father brought him here as a boy. Mr. Grady was distraught over the loss of his wife, who was obviously insane. He brought Travis here and checked in to room 500. He gave the boy a little money to go play pinball, and then hung himself in the room. Evidently Mr. Grady wasn’t a forward thinker. Young Travis eventually came back and found his father hanging, which dealt 10d6 SAN damage to the poor boy.
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.
This seems to clear the bats out of Travis’ belfry so he can get on with the more important business of rehashing existing Silent Hill locations and events for fans of the earlier games.
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.
He ends up at the ceremony where the cult is trying to do their thing to Alessa. The girl is strapped to a table while the robe-clad cult members surround her and do their nasty cult stuff. (Always with the burlap robes, these cults. If I ever start a death cult our ceremonial garb will be sweatpants and black T-shirts that say “CULT MEMBER” on them.) This seems to be the ceremony where the town was first corrupted, the big moment that started it all. Except that we just saw her in some sort of spectral form, floating around the town and lowering property values at a record-breaking pace. Perhaps there is more to it than I’m seeing, but I’m suffering from Plot Comprehension Fatigue.
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.
In any case, I never fail to be amazed at how non-bulletproof demons are.
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’.
Let's Play Champions Online Pt. 1
A video Let's Play series I collaborated on from 2009 to 2017.
Grand Theft Auto Retrospective
This series began as a cheap little 2D overhead game and grew into the most profitable entertainment product ever made. I have a love / hate relationship with the series.
The Game That Ruined Me
Be careful what you learn with your muscle-memory, because it will be very hard to un-learn it.
Another PC Golden Age?
Is it real? Is PC gaming returning to its former glory? Sort of. It's complicated.
Why Google sucks, and what made me switch to crowdfunding for this site.