Silent Hill Downpour Review
It can’t be any worse than where I am now.
Konami must know something we don’t because they’ve handed this entry in the Silent Hill series over to fledgling studio Vatra, out of the Czech Republic. It strikes me as strange that Konami would trust a studio who has yet to actually ship a game with resurrecting their, once great, series. Alas, here we are with Silent Hill Downpour in our hands and ready to return to everybody’s favorite, mist-shrouded town so let’s see just what these guys can do.
Silent Hill Downpour follows the story of Murphy Pendleton, a prisoner who just may be the first person ever to say he was in a fortuitous bus crash. You see, Pendleton was being transferred to a higher security prison when the prison bus he was on crashes just outside of Silent Hill. Though I’m willing to bet he doesn’t consider himself very lucky after the first few minutes of the game. The first two, or so, hours of Downpour will be spent in a fairly linear sequence that involves getting Pendleton into Silent Hill proper. I didn’t find this section of the game very entertaining or engaging but I urge you to stick it out until after this section as things pick up once you get into town.
You’ll notice quickly that Vatra have simplified the inventory and weapon system. No longer will you have a pile of guns with their respective ammo to manage and, in fact, firearms and ammo will be few and far between. Instead, Pendleton will improvise most of his weapons by picking up shovels, axes, boards and pipes to beat down most of his enemies. Melee weapons are disposable and plentiful, which some of you may not like as you can’t stockpile the more powerful ones. You’ll simply have to look around for a new weapon if yours breaks.
Combat hasn’t changed much since the start of the series and it’s new developers don’t see any reason to rock the boat now. In fact, Downpour’s combat might even be clunkier than the last few entries in the series. Melee attacks often don’t land, though you think they should have and enemies can block without appearing to be blocking. The combat system doesn’t make the game unplayable, there are just a hundred, or so, games that do it much better.
It is a Silent Hill game though, so you’re here for the atmosphere and the monsters aren’t you? Well, the atmosphere doesn’t disappoint but the monsters sort of do. They are mostly horror movie/game tropes like ‘screaming lady with black eyes and too-wide mouth’ or ‘guy with a demon face who twitches really fast’ but they will scare the crap out of you at times. I’ve had more than a few enemies sneak up on me only to wait until I turned around to attack. Downpour will actually scare you, not just with the enemies but some of the environments as well.
The actual town of Silent Hill, once you get there, is much more open than in previous games. Rather than spending huge portions of the game inside buildings you’ll be running the streets of Silent Hill more often, searching open back yards, houses and other ruined buildings. The creep factor is still there and this adventure is made even more enjoyable by the almost open world you’ll be exploring.
There are no multiplayer modes in Silent Hill Downpour.
It’s been a very long time since a horror game actually scared me, but Silent Hill Downpour actually manages to literally give you the chills at times. The combat is still the worst part of the game but ends up being far less tedious than previous games in the series (looking at you Homecoming). Once I was out of the starting zone and able to explore the much more open streets of Silent Hill I realized there was a lot to like about Downpour, it was just hidden by some dated mechanics. I don’t know how many new fans this entry will win over, but every fan of the series should check this one out.