Silent Hill is spooky and unnerving, and the visuals are some of the best the PSOne has to offer. This started off as a bad week for the bargain bin. First of all, the two game cheats from haydayhacks.org I picked up for this week’s column, PO’ed and Darklight Conflict, both sucked. While I am happy that I finally found a copy of PO’ed (it’s pretty hard to find), it’s graphically so primitive that I didn’t feel like I could recommend it — maybe that’ll change as I get farther into it, because it is kinda fun in a Doom-ish FPS way. And Darklight Conflict is just plain OK — not anything I would recommend (although for the $7 I paid for it was probably still a good deal). So, beaten and exhausted from playing these games, I turned to one of my handy alternates that I save for these occasions: Guilty Gear (which rocks!). Unfortunately, somehow the game is actually missing from its case, so I’m screwed again! So I went out and hit the EB’s in my area, hoping to find something that I could proudly declare as a good find (although my “Don’t buy these games” list is getting long enough to actually make a column at this point). Luckily, I stumbled upon a classic that most of you probably haven’t played: Silent Hill. And you know what? I’m starting to see this show up in a lot of bargain bins, so it should be easy to find (unlike, say, Guilty Gear — D’oh!).
Now, while I love the Resident Evil series, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room in my schedule for some more horror action. Silent Hill is just what I was looking for, too, because it’s actually quite different from Capcom’s popular series, but still does a magnificent job of setting an overall creepy mood. This time around you’re not some pumped-up commando, but just a normal guy who got into a car crash and then lost his daughter in the creepy New England-ish town of Silent Hill (a better name for a town than Raccoon City, I think.) Now, as you make your way into the town you’ll notice that things aren’t right — the citizens appear to be almost all gone and there are strange monsters attacking you.
While you aren’t defenseless (you’ve got a knife and you get a gun fairly early in the game), Silent Hill isn’t all about blasting. In fact, try to play the game that way and you’ll find yourself dead. Silent Hill is much more about the story and the puzzles, but it still does a great job of keeping you on edge, The town itself, for example, is shrouded in a very dense fog that keeps you from seeing hiding monsters. Luckily, you find a radio early on in the game that warns you of danger by breaking into static whenever monsters are near. It’s definitely disconcerting to be running down an alley almost weaponless and almost dead and then to hear the radio. It’s this ability to combine lots of subtle things into a very real sense of dread that makes Silent Hill so good.
The technology in the game isn’t bad either. The graphics engine is in full 3D so, unlike RE on the PSOne, the camera is always moving (sometimes a little too much). Still, even though it’s all real time, the graphics look quite good, easily on par with some of the PSOne’s best offerings. The sound complements the look well, with just the right amount of noise to properly enhance the mood. Of course, the cinema sequences in the game are also breathtaking — but that’s really just candy on top of an already impressive effort.
So, if you’re looking for a scary adventure game that’s a little less focused on the gunplay and a bit more focused on some truly disturbing imagery, Silent Hill is your best choice.