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December 14, 2007D. Riley

After Silent Hill 4 I pretty much lost all hope for the series. Then Silent Hill: Origins, the prequel game for the Playstation Portable was handed over to an American company I'd never heard of. After that the Resident Evil 4-type combat mechanics started popping up. The list just got longer and longer. I started to regret having jumped the gun on my purchase of a PSP.

Then, like a miracle, the original team was scrapped and all that post-RE4 hooey was flushed right down the drain. Previews confirmed that the up and coming Origins had a tone quite similar to the Silent Hill games we all love so very much. No longer were there on screen ammo indicators and desert eagles in every screenshot. We were back to rusty orange hallways and dark lighting and creepy wheelchairs.

What I didn't realize is how seriously, how clinically, they'd try to match the atmosphere. Series tropes, mostly from the second game, are there in full force. In Origins there are no shortage of dark holes to jump down. We’re quickly introduced to a Pyramid Head knock-off. And those damned "patient demons" – fresh from their other cameo in the Silent Hill movie – are back to make another inexplicable appearance in a Silent Hill that doesn’t involve James Sunderland.

You can not call Origins a bad game. It borrows so frequently and so unashamedly from the series, and in doing so it gets most of the same things right that the other games did. The atmosphere is creepy. Sometimes creepier. In a dark enough room your flashlight will barely light up the floor right in front of you. The monsters are scary. And the plot is baroque as ever. In all these and more Origins succeeds, and because of that it is a game worth your time.

But it’s a game that you will continually scratch your head over. You'll feel like it's a rehash of a game you've already played. There are too many elements that should’ve been left in earlier games. Like the fanfiction writer, they know they like the scenery and style of Silent Hill 2, but they don't understand the deeper meaning behind the imagery. There is a reason Pyramid Head was in that game. And there’s a reason why this game shouldn’t have an almost carbon copy clone of him. There exist too many things in Origins that are only there because they were so loved in other games. There is an entity meant to represent the protagonist's bad side. There are notes from an unknown person uttering cryptic warnings to Travis. The Silent Hill checklist is complete, but it's done with such precision that it loses all of its heart. Its copies are accurate. Like many Silent Hill main characters, Travis has a dark past. The difference being that in Silent Hill 2 you approached the ending with a serious sense of dread, having been given just enough clues to know what waited for you beyond that door. Travis's dark deeds are so obscured and poorly related that you might not even realize they exist until your second playthrough.

After Silent Hill 4 we needed hope that the series hadn’t gone completely down the gutter. Origins is that hope, but only just barely. It’s a clone game. It’s something a ten year old dreams up on graph paper after playing an especially good Doom level. It apes every convention it can get its hands on, and that’s what makes it so good, but it’s also what denies it any kind of spark of its own.

Origins gives me that hope. Hope that somewhere out there a group of people are working on a really smashing Silent Hill 5. I just hope this time it’s a little different.

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3 comments for ‘Silent Hill: Origins’

#1 Daniel Purvis Dec 19, 2007 10:19am

Ahh, it's good to read an honest review from someone that understands the Silent Hill series. I've yet to purchase Silent Hill Origins because I'm currently bogged down with other titles for review but i've been meaning to get to it. Though, after reading this review, I'm not sure if I should really bother or go back through Silent Hill 2, which was much loved.

So where does the game fall in regards to the series? I know that it's supposed to precede the events of Silent Hill 1 but does it help fill in the blanks or continue to raise more questions?

#2 Glenn Turner Dec 20, 2007 11:45am


I can't speak for Mr. Riley but I'd say that it's worth your time. It helps that it's pretty short (4-5 hours for an initial playthrough), and it does tie into the SH1 mythos, but it's nothing terribly essential and kinda just muddles SH1 a bit more. It's certainly more playable than SH4, although I think SH4 is a more thrilling experience, if not a better game.

That said, I prefer the enigma of Silent Hill as opposed to the cult behind the town, so your mileage may vary.

#3 D. Riley Dec 20, 2007 05:36pm

It's weird because the game copies Silent Hill 2, but its story is more of a "cult" game, like G. Turn said. That being: there's a whole lot of stuff about Dahlia and Kaufmann in this game... buuuuut... not nearly enough to really explain/change anything that happened in SH1.

If you have $30 to burn, why not? It's a knock-off, but it's a pretty well done knock-off. Still, you wouldn't really be missing anything if you never played it, and I probably won't be replaying it in years to come.