Silent Hill: Downpour (Review)
Survival Horror has been a festering corpse for a while now. Resident Evil and Dead Space have mutated in shooting games with limited ammo and we’re left with the Silent Hill series that’s been struggling since SH3. Nowadays we have Demon’s Souls (ish) and Amy, the later being my frontrunner for worst game of the year.
I’m all for giving Silent Hill: Downpour a shot as it has to be better than SH: Homecoming at least. And I’m glad to say it is. Thankfully, the new developers, Vatra have at least played Alan Wake, one of the rare gems the genre has produced in recent times. Hold it; I should probably put a hold on the semi-optimistic slant this review was heading. This game’s no Alan Wake beater, just so you know.
For this visit to Silent Hill, you play as an escaped convict, Murphy Pendleton. The introduction sees him boarding a transfer bus to be moved to a different facility, with a fantastically atmospheric walk through the prison setting up a tense start, in large thanks to the music more than anything else.
Soon enough the bus crashes with everyone having disappeared by the time you come to. You’re not quite at Silent Hill yet, you’re at the tourist attraction of a giant sinkhole called the Devil’s Pit, a nearby American mountain town. Wait a minute, exactly how much of Alan Wake has inspired this game? For many parts of the game it’s like reading the homework of two kids that copied off each but changed a few names and words here and there. Of course, if we took these accusations to the developers it would turn into a giant ‘they copied off me sir, I isn’t copied nothing.’ Sure, Alan Wake wasn’t a new dawn of originality, but it was more subtle in showing its influences.
There’s not an original bone in Downpour’s body. Scares are ripped from the poorest of modern horror films with Paranormal Activity’s slamming doors and scraping noises, or we get the typical crying/laughing/scampering children. Even the way the local radio DJ keeps talking at you over the air has been lifted from Alan Wake. Moral choices are a rare occurrence but the game usually ignores you, and you end up with the same result anyway.