31
Jul
12

Impressions: Silent Hill: Downpour

After 7 previous entries in a series that made its mark by keeping the player completely in the dark, Silent Hill has settled into a comfortable rhythm where Konami banks on the player knowing exactly what to expect.  The current games industry climate isn’t exactly the most conducive to the survival horror genre.  AAA games are expensive to produce, expensive to consume, and publishers are increasingly wary of risk and there’s nothing but risk when the goal of a genre is to upset your audiences.  Resident Evil fans have lamented the transition of their series from a slowly paced zombie survival game to a fast paced, biceps-and-bazookas vs. monster formula that’s more comfortable with Gears of War.  And fans of even more recent series such as Dead Space are now afraid that the series is moving away from its frightening formula in favor of cooperative play and “broad” appeal.  So now Silent Hill finds itself in a position where Downpour is ostensibly the same type of game that it’s always been but Konami wants to make sure you know that out front.

So here you are, playing as Murphy Pendleton, a man with a Dark Secret™ (you start off the game in a flashback where Murphy gruesomely murders someone in a prison shower) that’s going to be drawn into Silent Hill – a town sized bug zapper for bad people of the world.  I might be selling the game short.  I’ve spent a few hours with it but quickly finding myself losing my patience with the puzzles and combat.  There’s not a whole lot to the game’s story so far outside of generic murder-mystery/thriller elements, and the supernatural elements of the game are lackluster.  Playing Downpour is like watching a puppet show where part of the point of the show is to see the strings so that there’s no doubt in your mind that you’re watching a puppet show (because otherwise how would you know you’re getting the real puppet experience?)  I might have been able to put up with nonsensical puzzles in earlier Silent Hill games but that was in anticipation of finding out What’s Going On Here?™ rather than “let’s listen to Korn (see above trailer) and think about how we’re all slowly dying.”  The game can be clunky and uninspired but I don’t really hold the developer Vatra as being responsible for it.  I feel pretty comfortable just blaming Konami at this point.  Who knows, maybe Konami made certain that the Silent Hill HD collection was a broken, incomplete mess so that when you put it side by side with Downpour you might not think it’s so bad.

I’ll keep playing for now, but please tell me something that I can start looking forward to because I’m running out of energy for stuff like this.

If you want to see me go on and on about what I liked about the first and second games in the series, then check out these posts:
destructoid cblog: aaamaazing: the otherworld
happy halloween: silent hill 2′s deception

You can also check out Lone Survivor, my go-to game for a dose of “What’s Going On Here?”

And finally, here are my earlier thoughts about Downpour.

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