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Posted on Oct 30th 2009 at 01:26:09 PM by (Ack)
Posted under Silent Hill, Classic Gaming, PlayStation, Survival Horror

Silent Hill

I figured for the first one of these, I'd post a mainstay to the horror genre.  If you're a fan of survival horror, I feel that you must try this game.  I'm not going to say it's perfect(no game is), but what Silent Hill did was absolutely phenomenal.  I've seen it referred to as "the scariest game of all time", and I feel this title still holds true today.  Even if one absolutely detests the game, it should be easy to see the positive impact on the genre.  Today the Silent Hill series is one of the two most easily recognized series in survival horror(the other being Resident Evil, of course).

Here's a very brief plot analysis:

"The plot focuses on Harry Mason as he searches for his daughter, Cheryl, who has disappeared following a car accident which left Harry unconscious. He finds Silent Hill to be largely abandoned, shrouded in a thick fog, snowing out of season, filled with monsters and being over taken by a hellish otherworld. As Harry scours the town, he begins learning about the history of Silent Hill and stumbles upon a cult ritual undertaken to bring a God to Earth."

Silent Hill plays entirely from a third-person perspective, with a mix of pre-set and controllable camera angles, depending on the location.  Through certain sections of the game, Harry's flashlight is the only lighting, but this has a double effect of also attracting monsters.  A radio that Harry has emits static whenever a monster is near, serving as the only means to know when something is approaching.

And then there's the other world.  The only real way to describe it is Hell on Earth.  There's all kinds of disturbing imagery and audio.  To add to it, the developers were influenced and made reference to many other works of horror, fantasy, music, literature, film, and so on.  Here's Wikipedia's list of influences and references:

    * The surname of Lisa Garland is taken from the actress Judy Garland, Cheryl Mason's first name is based on Twin Peakss actress Sheryl Lee, Michael Kaufmann is a combination of Troma Studios producers' Lloyd Kaufmann and Michael Herz and both Alessa (originally named Asia) and Dahlia (originally named Daria) are names derived from relatives (daughter and former wife respectively) of Italian filmmaker Dario Argento.

    * On the side of a garage door near the gas station is painted in blood with the word "REDRUM" painted on it in reference to The Shining.

    * Some of the creatures and puzzles were named or designed with the books Alessa was fond of in mind, such as The Lost World and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

    * The names originally intended for the characters of Harry and Cheryl were "Humbert" and "Dolores," the narrator and title character of Lolita. The American staff altered the names, given that the names were uncommon.

    * At the beginning of the game there is a sign that says Bates Motel, which is a reference to Norman Bates' motel from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho.

    * In "normal" version of the Midwich Elementary School one can find a list of teachers. The teachers listed are K.Gordon, T. Moore, L. Ranaldo, and S. Shelley. These names all refer to Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Steve Shelley of the rock band Sonic Youth.

    * The names of the streets are taken from various science fiction and horror novels or writers, such as Bradbury Street, Bachman Road, Matheson Street, and Midwich Street. These refer to Ray Bradbury, Richard Bachman, Richard Matheson, and The Midwich Cuckoos.

Not bad for a game that was labeled a "Resident Evil clone" before its release.  And while it did borrow a few things from Resident Evil in terms of gameplay(which had in turn borrowed from Alone in the Dark), its themes were its own and what it added to the Resident Evil formula helped distance it from the pack of RE-wannabes.  Gone were the days of playing a well-trained police officer fighting with superior firepower against an enemy that has, frankly, become campy and overused.  Instead, you play an everyman character, someone not proficient with a gun, or able to sprint long distances.  Just an average guy.

Also gone was the setting, a plague of science run amok in the real world, something that could be blown away to restore the normal order.  In Silent Hill we begin questioning what normal really meant.  The trouble in Silent Hill couldn't be shot, stabbed, or beaten to death, because the trouble was with reality.  This was normalcy in Silent Hill, at least in our heads.  And while the creatures Harry encountered could be killed, there's some suggestion in the series that they weren't monsters at all, depending on who looked at them.  And perhaps that's the biggest difference between the two:

Resident Evil gets in your blood.  Silent Hill violates your mind.

Please, take a moment and check out the intro:

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This game looks amazing. For whatever reason I never played it when it first came out, and now I can't find it locally at all. I'll eventually get around to picking it up, especially after reading this.
Fantastic game!
I have never played it, but am looking forward to the new version of this game on Wii
I'm also eagerly awaiting the updated Wii version. Thanks for getting my psyched for its release!!
That makes three of us.  The Wii's actually doing pretty well in terms of horror releases.  They're not all *good* horror games, per se, but there's quite a bit either already out or in the works.

But both will be a different experience.  Even if you play through the new version, I'd still suggest going back and trying the original.  Just watch out for that price tag.
Is it a bad thing that I've never played any Silent Hill game?

Nice article Ack. So what kind of horror games do you like? Have you tried Siren Blood Curse or Dead Space? They're probably my two favorite current gen horror games.
Ah, you should definitely try a Silent Hill then!  I'd say try out the earlier titles of course, or wait and see how the remake goes, though.  I know a lot of folks who weren't thrilled with Silent Hill: Homecoming(though I thought it was ok).

Unfortunately I haven't gotten a chance to play some of the more recent ones.  The only current gen console I own is an Xbox 360, which is currently sitting in pieces after it RRODed on me.  When I have the money, I'm planning on picking up a PS3 and those titles(and a few others).  Siren Blood Curse looks really good to me, and I wonder how it will compare with the original, and Dead Space reminds me a lot of The Thing, which is one of my favorite horror films.

As far as what I like...I'd actually say I enjoy lots of titles.  Most of the well-known titles are 3rd-person action games, but I've enjoyed some of the first-person games as well, like Echo Night: Beyond.  I really couldn't say there's one definitive type of survival horror I like, it's more of a case by case basis.

I will say that the worst horror game I've ever played was The Ring: Terror's Realm, but...well, anybody who's played that game tends to hate it.
I have heard good things about the new horror game Cursed Mountain on Wii. Ack what have you heard of this game?
From what I hear, Cursed Mountain reminds folks a lot of Fatal Frame, so if you've played that, you have an idea of what it will be like.  I think the Buddhist hand motions to dispel ghosts is an interesting touch, though I haven't gotten my hands on it yet.  I hate being poor...

None of the critics seemed to like the controls.  As for folks I've spoken to, one issue I've heard of is a checkpoint saving system(personally not a fan of checkpoint saving), and a few cheap fights that quickly turn frustrating, so be advised.  I like what I've heard, so I'll definitely be looking into picking it up, especially since I enjoyed Fatal Frame.
Great article dude. I've played all the Silent Hill except for Origins and Homecoming, yet I never knew about those little factoids scattered throughout the first game.
This looks cool.  I'm definately gonna have to check out a Silent Hill game.  Ack, do you recommend any others besides the first one?  Its a little too expensive for me right now online.
holy shit!     * In "normal" version of the Midwich Elementary School one can find a list of teachers. The teachers listed are K.Gordon, T. Moore, L. Ranaldo, and S. Shelley. These names all refer to Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Steve Shelley of the rock band Sonic Youth.  ....I never knew that!!
Hey blcklblskt, I would say to definitely try out Silent Hill 2, as it is usually considered the best in the series.  I'm a big fan of the third, but it's directly related to the first in terms of story(though you don't have to play it).  Silent Hill 4 generates mixed feelings, and while I thought Origins was ok, it's nowhere near as good as the beginnings of the series.  A lot of folks felt Homecoming was a disaster, though I don't feel it's as bad as they say.  But then again, the story appeals to me since one of the characters reminds me of my youngest brother.
the first silent hill left me quite surprised as i didnt expect so much from it.  when i first got the game i got all the way to the first boss.....and stoped for around half a year.  the sound of the sirens, the dark and gory imagry was just so frightening.  Ok, it was 3am and I was alone in the house.  Still, it was a great game.  None of the Silent Hill games after have done the same sense.

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