Silent Hill Downpour takes a new direction in the grim horror series. They’ve turned to a new developer and this one promises to explore some new areas of the misty ghost town never seen before. You begin the game as convict Murphy Pendleton being transferred between prisons. You never would have guessed what happens next – the bus crashes near Silent Hill and you wander into the strange nightmarish town where you’re pursued by hellish beasts that all want to kill you. And it’s raining – just your luck eh!
If you’ve played a previous Silent Hill games, and I’ve played them all, things will feel very familiar. You hunt around areas for objects, use or combine them with other items to progress, solve rudimentary puzzles and ones where you must consult clues found in your journal and check your map for where to go next. There’s also melee combat and the odd gun to find here and there which may just help you despatch the creatures from a distance.
So what’s it like? Well….slow. You will spend a lot of the time wandering around looking for items you’ve missed so definitely turn on item highlights in the options menu if you don’t want to run back and forth all over the place until you find that rusty brown key on the brown table you failed to spot. Combat also isn’t much fun as some of these beasts seem to have ninja reactions and all you can do is flail wildly at them and block. If you’re hit you mostly get staggered which further makes combat frustrating. Most of the time it’s best to just run away which then just makes the monsters an annoyance as you make your way through the story. Murphy will meet others in the town and you can make decisions at set points. Do you talk a man down from jumping off a cliff or goad him to take the plunge? Either way it seems your choices have little effect on the outcome which is a big shame. It’s an illusion of choice that may change the ending but not that precise moment in time.
There are also moments when Murphy will enter the Otherworld and be chased by a big red light. At least during these scenes the action hots up a bit as you run for your life to avoid it turning you into mush.
Side quests are also an addition. These range from rescuing abandoned birds from cages or halting ghostly police cards. They’re not necessary to furthering the game’s main plot but do promote a bit more exploration and non-linear gameplay.
Technically the game’s not great either. There are many moments when the camera freezes and glitches and textures and items pop into view – things which shouldn’t really happen in games nowadays, especially ones which don’t seem to be pushing any technical boundaries in the first place! The game’s also not all that scary to begin with. Fortunately things do get a bit creepier once you’re actually in the town of Silent Hill – here’s a tip. Turn up your speakers if you want things to go BANG and make you jump.
It’s unfortunate that Silent Hill Downpour just left me feeling bored at first. It was a trudge to play to begin with and the game only goes up a gear about 2 hours in. Previous games have had me thinking about them long after I’d switched off the console but this one’s more easily forgotten. Silent Hill Downpour is more of a drizzle but does have some charm so it gets 6 out of 10.
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