Release Date: March 13th, 2012
Developer: Vatra Studios
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], PlayStation 3
Genre: Survival Horror / Action Adventure
Rated: M for Mature
It’s been quite some time since Komani has brought the Silent Hill series to the table. Fans will also be able to pick up the HD Collection of the last three installments in one week. Vatra Studios is new to the Silent Hill series, but plans to keep the classic survival horror feel to the game. Can Silent Hill reproduce its yesteryears and redefine their seires?
Downpour kicks off with Murphy Pendleton, getting ready to transfer from Ryall State Prison after spending several years being incarcerated and extending his sentence while inside. Gameplay starts on a bit if a revenge note, then slows the pace down to prepare you for the story itself. While on your way to the bus to be moved to Wayside Maximum Security Penitentiary, Officer A. Cunningham, stops you with a dead stare.
In route to Wayside Maximum, another inmate questions Murphy’s past. Cunningham tries to deflate the situation, along with the bus driver. Unfortunately the driver turned away right before noticing an end to the road, driving off and flipping down into a forest. Murphy regains consciousness, and proceeds to find a way out the area, which begins full interactions.
Throughout gameplay you are presented with different scenarios, something changing the effects with Murphy within the story. For example, Cunningham finds you at the beginning of your flee. While attempting to apprehend you, she slips off a cliff and barely grips the edge, asking you for your help. Your choices are you either help her or leave her.
Sadly this doesn’t always appear to work, or matter, as you’ll notice some decisions will equally cause the same outcome.
Expect to run into a few people at the weirdest times and listen to what they have to say. You’ll never know how helpful a mailman like Howard or a radio broadcaster can be. There isn’t a compass guiding you along the way, just a map of the immediate area. This is the retro feel of the earlier series or Capcom’s Resident Evil. Camera angles are sometimes fixed as well, only giving you one view to watch Murphy walk around.
When in combat with enemies, more Screamers than anything, your surrounding will be helpful. Rocks, bricks, chairs, fire axe and a few guns will be your sense of protection against your enemies. Some weapons will break apart quite easily, and the gun’s melee system is at times more supportive than the bullets it hold, making the combat system mildly sufficient.
There are plenty of side quest that can performed or avoided in Downpour. While trying to get the heck out of Silent Hill, there are interesting side missions. For example, when roaming the streets, there’s one mission where a neighbor is a thief, stealing from people within his complex. Whether it’s World War II medals, jewelry or candy from a baby (more like their piggy bank), he’s taken it all. The side mission is to restore all valuables to their rightful owners (spirits). On different floors you hear specific related themes, like a woman crying, or pilots shooting for survival. Entering the apartments and placing the valuables in their respective locations will change the theme you hear and earn you an achievement upon completion.
This goes to say and show the amount of effort Vatra Studios placed in to the creation of this installment. Stories inside the story which gain one’s interest and are completely optional objectives, nor do they affect the overall gameplay experience. This alone begins to pick up the replay value to see exactly what all exsist in Silent Hill.
The story also stick with what it’s best at, puzzles. Within the story and all of the side quest, there are many intriguing puzzles and mysteries to unravel, being by far Downpour biggest strong point.
Unreal Engine 3 can make a world of a difference, and it does just that in Silent Hill. Character models and the environments get that extra push. Sadly, the graphics are a bit too choppy and very noticeable. In mid gameplay, Murphy freezes up or stutters in motion. The rear view overlook is an impressive camera angle. A quick press of your left bumper, will show you a camera directly behind Murphy.
Dan Licht brilliance in scoring enhanced the overall experience. The music in Silent Hill Downpour is a 10 within itself as it genuinely captivates and intensify every moment of gameplay. Voiceovers were evenly on point as well, giving the story the life it needed.
The biggest disappointment with Downpour however is that the game doesn’t feel like a survival horror. You have the monsters, screamers, and the effects needed to scare the wits out of someone; but as the story progress, you’ll feel like you already played it to its full potential.
It’s honestly disappointing that the different type of enemies can almost be counted on one hand. Furthermore, there’s never a legit increase in difficulty unless it rains. Either way, it’s the same: block, slash and fatality. After a while, it goes from being an amazing experience to a repetitive sequence looking to have nothing more to offer.
Fans of the Silent Hill series can hold off on the thought of Downpour reminding you of the glory days. Silent Hill has lost its ground and has yet to pick back up. The survival piece feels more like a suspense with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in to make it work; but it just doesn’t. There are plenty of puzzles that keeps you intrigued though. So respectively, that’s well worth the purchase.
Overall Rating: 4/5