Thursday, October 13, 2011

Video Game Assessment: Silent Hill: Ørigins (2008)

Silent Hill: Ørigins is yet another title from the Silent Hill series of video games. While nowhere near as good as some of the great titles of the series, it does deliver some interesting set-pieces to the series and the genre. It is also the first game of the franchise developed by an American company rather than Team Silent, which were a team of game designers and writers working for Konami Japan. This being a game developed in America after the successful franchise had always been developed in Japan created many criticisms... to say the least. Yes, certainly to say the least.

This game was originally released on the PSP system, but I never had a PSP, instead playing it on the PlayStation 2 port of the game. It's a short game, arguably shorter than the other games in the franchise, to the point where the game is over in a relatively quick time. This game also saw a release fairly close to the Silent Hill movie, which heightened expectations from the audience who liked that movie, and certainly lowered expectations from the die-hard fans... well, probably did. This game remains controversial in the fan community, with some seeing it as a solid attempt at a Silent Hill  game with some holes in it to utter fecal matter that should have never existed in the first place. I have heard a few mention that it is one of the best games since Silent Hill 2, but those people also happen to be clinically insane (says the man who's second favorite game in the franchise is the one everybody hates, Silent Hill 4).

The controls are good, almost too good. Combat is fairly easy and fairly streamlined, somewhat cutting down the tension. Also being able to fit weapons upon weapons in Travis Grady's (the protagonist) pants is somewhat silly, although I never even cared to notice it until I heard others point it out. I think people like complaining. I think that's really the problem here. This game was intended as a prequel to the first game, Silent Hill from the PlayStation, and with that... well, I think it succeeded. There may be holes in the story, but who really follows the story of Harry and Alessa enough to care? Okay... okay... that was mean. I guess the story never interested me all that much. I liked the horror, hated the silliness of the cult and the drugs and the what-the-hell-is-even-happening-anymore? I liked Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 4 because they really are insane and terrifying. I mean, things happen for no real reason, making no real sense. And I love that. And to me, this game is better than the first and arguably on par with the third.

Parts of Silent Hill: Ørigins are absolutely fantastic. The giant maps and set-pieces are great. I loved, absolutely freaking loved, the theater. It was fantastic all the way through. It was scary and introduced some of the creepiest enemies in all of the Silent Hill games. I thought it was dark and... maybe this is my bias as a theater guy, but auditoriums and theaters can be absolutely terrifying in the dark. I've done that before, seen it before, and yeah... my memories settled back on that and I was sold to the terror. Special mention goes out to one of the puzzles of the theater as well with the mirror and the freaking library and props... oh, man... I get shivers just thinking about it. So much like Borges, and I obviously love Jorge Luis Borges and his amazing stories of all kinds of weirdness.

The plot also, besides following the "canon" of Silent Hill is eerily reminiscent of House of Leaves which is easily the greatest book ever written, and this series has already been proven to take some aspects from that stupendous novel.

The movement to the "dark" world from the "other" world using mirrors somewhat diminishes the tautness at the unknown taking the protagonist and the player whenever it wants. Thus it makes the terror controllable, but the terror still exists. This game, for a freaking handheld game, is fantastic. I know there are a lot of people who hate this game, and yes, it is not as good as some of the other games in the franchise, but it does not actively steal from the movie like Silent Hill: Homecoming or feature flopping enemies and no attacks like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and I guess I can look upon this game with something similar to liking it a lot. 

I sounded a little stupid there, but I do like this game. It's fun, enjoyable, and scary enough to fill my requirements.

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