Platform Reviewed: Playstation
This one comes second ONLY because Resident Evil just celebrated its anniversary and technically founded the survival horror genre on the consoles. But I’ll be straight up honest, right off the bat – I like Silent Hill more. There will be several comparisons to Capcom’s game, so please bear with me.
Since its release, Konami’s Silent Hill has always been the “rival” to Capcom’s blockbuster series. Yet ironically enough, Silent Hill does a lot more towards setting a survival horror tone than the so-called “founding father”. In the first game, you are Harry Mason, an everyday guy who wakes up from a car crash to find his daughter, Cheryl, missing. He enters the quiet and foggy namesake town in order to search for her. He soon finds all is not right in this abandoned village – an air raid siren sounds, followed by a permeating darkness, from which twisted creatures emerge, hell-bent on ending Mason. Harry’s only hope is a flashlight (and thank the gods there’s no battery to deal with) and a radio that emits static whenever monsters are near. This is the aspect that Resident Evil fails to address. Mason is an average Joe. He’s not a member of a special police unit; therefore, he has no practical firearms or weapons training. Swinging a stick or a knife around to defend from the roaming beasts adds an urgent sense of survival to the game that Resident Evil just can’t match.
The visuals (although rough by today’s standards) are all rendered in real-time, unlike the pre-rendered backgrounds of Resident Evil. This works for and against the game. While you have more control over the camera, some of the buildings can look downright ugly (and not in the dilapidated, creepy sort of way). What it may lack in graphics, it more than makes up for in pure atmosphere. The Mansion was, for the most part, well lit. In Silent Hill, darkness is an actual symptom of the evil. Whenever that air-raid siren starts to wail and that blanket of black starts to descend, my stomach clenches up ever so slightly. From roaming around town, to heading into an elementary school (oh gods, the school…) and even a hospital (of course), the locals are creepy and fitting, populated by more and more disturbing creatures. The game’s controls are a lot less restrictive than its rival, as you can move and shoot at the same time, as well as control the camera in certain instances (Side note: Control-wise, the way I look at it, a trained special-forces member would stand his or her ground to fight an enemy. The rest of us would run away firing blindly just to get to safety). There are four possible endings plus one joke ending, yet only one canonically leads into Silent Hill 3. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.
Just like its rival, the Silent Hill franchise shows little signs of slowing down. It releases its newest addition this year (this month, actually) including an HD collection of Silent Hill 2 and 3. The atmosphere, creatures, almost everything about Silent Hill will creep you out, spook you, make you jump and just straight up unnerve you. If you tire of mowing down wave after wave of zombie fodder and are looking for an actual survival horror experience, look no further than the quaint little town of Silent Hill.
The latest installment, Silent Hill Downpour, hits shelves this Tuesday March 13th.