Silent Hill Origins Review

 

Title: Silent Hill: Origins
Developer: Konami, Climax Studios
Game Type: PlayStation Portable
Download: 724 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download | PS3 Transfer Required
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable

Survival Horror is a genre of games that some think is a dying breed of games.  The horror genre has been around for a long time, though many of the horror franchises have strayed from the roots of the series.  Resident Evil is a good example of this.  Since Resident Evil 4, the series has strayed and has adopted more of a Third-Person Shooter style of gameplay, rather than primarily being a horror game filled with jumpy scares and limited saves and ammo.

From back in the days of the PS1 and PS2, there were two major franchises of horror games.  One was Resident Evil.  The other was Silent Hill, bringing a more psychological horror element into the games.  Silent Hill was known not only for jump scares, but creepy, dark environments that made your heart pound, worrying you about what may be lurking around the next corner, just waiting to freak you out.  Silent Hill has strayed as well, testing out some different genres with their newer games.

However, the PS Vita has access to one fairly recent Silent Hill game that kept true to the older games of the series, with the creepy atmospheres, and the scares that the series is well-known for.  While it may not be on the same level as games like Silent Hill 2, handheld gaming did get its own Silent Hill entry.  Connected to the original Silent Hill, here is our official review of the PSP game, Silent Hill: Origins.

Story

The story of Silent Hill Origins follows the travels of a truck driver by the name of Travis Grady.  As he is running late on a delivery with his truck, he is passing around the Silent Hill area, on his way to the town of Brahms.  After being abruptly stopped and rescuing a small child from a burning building (someone series veterans know very well), Travis find himself stuck in Silent Hill, his truck nowhere to be found, and following the trails of the girl he rescued.

The plot of the game stays true to how the plot unfolds in games like Silent Hill 2.  There is a deeper plot at work as you play through the game (which directly links into the first Silent Hill), but as you go across the game, you will discover and see the horrors of Travis’ own past that comes back to haunt him, much like how James’ does in Silent Hill 2, giving you a couple things to look at as you play through the game.

The plot of Silent Hill Origins isn’t a great one, but also isn’t a bad one.  Travis’ past isn’t incredibly deep, but the game does do a nice job at linking into and explaining a few things about the first Silent Hill and how things are the way they are in that game.

Gameplay

While many of the newer Silent Hill games have deviated from the traditional gameplay of the series, Origins maintains gameplay very similar to games like Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3, giving the game a more classic feel and a horror feel, rather than games like Silent Hill: Book of Memories, that gives it a more Diablo feel.  You will be exploring the city of Silent Hill and various locations as well as fighting off hideous monsters that are in your path.

Equipped with a flashlight and anything you find as you go along, you will be exploring the town of Silent Hill all over again as you uncover the secrets of the town as well as Travis’s past.  Once the introduction is done, you will be on the streets and tasked with finding various locations to explore to find your way out of the town.  This is very similar to how most Silent Hill games are, as if you go the wrong way, you will meet roads that have been broken apart, making your path that way impossible.  You will also have a map with key points on it to help you find where you need to go.

The map is nostalgic as the game takes you to a lot of the same locations that you explore in the first Silent Hill game.  Streets and buildings are named the same, and there are even some references thrown into the mix, such as finding Moth Coccoons on a fire escape, which references a specific part of the first game, and Alchemilla Hospital, where you visit in both the first game and Origins.

Once you get inside each major area of the game, you can find a map of the location and navigate it to find clues to getting further into each area and finding out what’s going on and how to escape the town.  Navigating the areas is the tricky part.  Like in previous entries of the series, most doors are locked and those that need to be opened need to be by using key items that you can find around the area or by solving puzzles.

These two were elements in past games, but Origins adds another to the mix: Mirrors.  The “Otherworld” was always a part of Silent Hill, when all of the dark forces morph everything and bring out monsters to attack you.  In Origins, you can find mirrors and use them to freely travel between the normal world and the otherworld.  This is used to allow access to certain rooms in the otherworld that are normally locked or barricaded in the normal world.

As you travel, you’ll have to fight off monsters and bosses, and you will need weapons for that.  As you travel the locations, you will come across weapons that you can pick up.  Unlike weapons in previous games, melee weapons will not last forever.  Use them enough and they will break and disappear, leaving you only to equip something else or attack enemies with your fists.  Melee Weapons are plentiful, but they don’t last forever.

Actual puzzles that you have to solve can be simple, or can be brain-melting.  Some areas only need you to put a key item into a door slot and you can proceed.  Others require you to give specific drugs to statues of specific types of patients, requiring you to read through notes you find around the area as well as the rooms around where the puzzle resides.  You won’t be able to solve every puzzle without having to stop and think quite a lot, if you’re playing without a guide.

All in all, Silent Hill Origins should last you about 5-6 hours to complete.  If you’re a veteran of the series, it may take a little less than that for a single walkthrough.  It’s relatively short, for a Silent Hill game, but also has multiple accolades and endings to achieve, which will unlock costumes and an arsenal of bonus weapons for you to use.  As I would of any Silent Hill game, I suggest you play the game at least twice.  Once to experience the normal ending and another to experience the comical “UFO” Ending.

Controls

Controls for Silent Hill: Origins do use most of the buttons on the PS Vita, aside from the Right Analog Stick, and you probably won’t be using it, as the camera controls of the original game don’t really give any options to move it to that area of the Vita.  It doesn’t have an incredibly difficult control scheme, but it does use a lot of the buttons available to you.

You move Travis around with the Left Analog Stick, and the D-Pad is used to quickly change your currently-equipped weapon.  The L Button is used to center the camera behind Travis, and the R Button is used to enter the “Battle” stance, enabling you to start aiming and fighting off enemies that are in your way.  You can also use Start to pause the game, or Select to open up your menu to change equipment, options, costumes, and more.

The rest of the controls are handled by the Face Buttons.  You can hold down the Square Button while you’re walking to start running and use the X Button to interact with objects or doors.  You can also use the X Button to fire or attack with a weapon when you’re in the Battle Stance.  The Circle button is used for the flashlight, turning it on to help you see or off to help you avoid unwanted attention from enemies in the area.

Presentation

Silent Hill: Origins was a decent-looking PSP title.  It had the creepy atmostphere and detailed character models, though the visuals weren’t up to some of the later PSP titles, like Dissidia.  The visuals of the game are still decent on the Vita, but stretching it on the Vita’s screen has made the game look a lot more grainy.  The imperfect character models for Travis and other NPCs are very apparent in this version of the game.  While environments and enemies look fine, Travis and other human characters do not.

As far as the gameplay goes, things are good.  As you go from area to area, the game will only take a few seconds to go through the load screens, which is a little faster than it was on the PSP.  The game also doesn’t feature any lag and many areas feature very smooth, flowing frames.  Apart from the visuals, the presentation is still pretty decent.

Overall

Silent Hill: Origins was the first attempt at bringing the iconic gameplay of the series to the handheld market and, coincidentally, the most recent.  While the visuals look grainy on the Vita’s screen, this is still classic Silent Hill gameplay that is sure to give you a few scares and a look into the events that led up to the original game.  If you’re a fan of horror games and haven’t played it, now’s a good time to start.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Silent Hill: Origins a 7.5/10  

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