Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Silent Hill (PSX)
So today I'm finally getting around to another requested game: the original Silent Hill on the original PlayStation, one of the original survival horror games. Honestly I'm not expecting to like this much as survival horror isn't really my thing, but I will try to give it a fair shot. You can all laugh at me as I get hopelessly lost and fail to solve basic puzzles.
I suppose I should "start" the "game" then.
And so I was sent chasing after the mysterious Cheryl through the foggy abandoned streets of Silent Hill. I guess everyone must have left town when the volcanic ash started raining down, wisely heeding the lessons of Dante's Peak. Actually I'm sure it's probably meant to be snowing, but you wouldn't know it looking at the roads.
He seems to control more or less the same as the heroes in Resident Evil: using only one stick for movement, with left and right rotating the character. There are side-step buttons but he steps so slowly that they're entirely useless. It's a shame really as the game has a full 3D world, no fixed pre-rendered backgrounds here, and it came out well into the DualShock era so they could have easily used the two sticks for movement and camera like... every third person game that's come out in the last decade.
Well she hasn't lured me into a alley full of monsters yet, so she's still the most helpful person I've met all day.
Maybe after you two have fought side by side against overwhelming odds for a bit, then you can start trusting the complete stranger with your gun, but not two minutes after meeting him.
Combat in this seems more or less identical to Resident Evil (I'm glad I played that last week now, seeing as I'm mentioning it under every other picture), where I try to rotate Harry to face the right direction, hold R1 to raise my weapon, then keep tapping X to swipe/shoot. If I'm lucky a few of my attacks will even connect.
This time however I found this piece of paper lying at the end of the alleyway, with a cryptic message on it saying "To school". 'Cheryl's hiding out at the school' Harry reasons, managing to completely ignore the fact that it makes absolutely no sense. How would she even know where the school in this town is?
I like how the radio starts picking up static when enemies are getting close, like a creepy warning system, because I can't see the bastards coming in this fog. I can't see a damn thing out here actually and that's not really a complaint, as it is only a humble PlayStation game, and I can't help but be impressed how they managed to use the hardware's weaknesses as a strength.
I tried going north and taking the bridge from Finney St. across to Central Silent Hill, but that was a total failure as well. I guess I'm not actually meant to be going to the school just yet, though I haven't got a clue what the game wants me to do instead
You know, there's something really familiar about these street names. Bradbury and Bachman are both horror writers for sure (Richard Bachman is Steven King's pen name.), and Midwich sounds a lot like Dunwich (as in The Dunwich Horror, which is a story by Lovecraft.)
Oh one thing I should mention that doesn't come across at all in these screenshots, is that the camera generally turns to face the direction I'm heading in as I'm walking around, which feels like a revolutionary innovation after playing Resident Evil. Of course the fog ensures I still can't see a damn thing, but Harry can't see a damn thing either so at least that makes sense. Not like RE forcing me to walk blind into enemies that the character was clearly looking straight at.
Right, I guess I'm going back down to the broken bridge again then.
It wouldn't bring me any joy though, not really. As far as I can tell, developers have decided that combat in survival horror games can't be any fun, as that'd encourage the player to fight instead of running, so actually shooting one of these things down is more hassle than it's worth.
Or at least I was until I got mauled by a monster. Back to the title screen! Now I've got to load up my save and walk back to the bridge to collect the first key again.
Inside the first area of the school I found a notepad to save on, a map, and three messages scrawled in blood. You know who I didn't find though? Cheryl. She's long gone, again.
Annoyingly this toilet turned out to be entirely devoid of anything useful (or otherwise), so I just wasted a third of magazine for zero gain. This guy will probably even respawn in here eventually. I'll have to be more careful with my shots.
I've used up half my ammo stash on these creatures so far and I still keep finding them everywhere. They're not hard to kill (thank fuck) but I really can't afford to waste any more of my precious ammo on them. Fortunately I just happened to have a large metal pole with me, which is a reasonable substitute to bullets.
My reward is a gold medallion and I have to mention again just how incredibly grateful I am that the game doesn't have a limited inventory. I can carry crap like this around everywhere until I finally find a slot for it, no need to make trips back and forth from the storage box.
Okay I've solved the 'statue of hand', the piano's locked, and I can't see anything to do in the ? room. I'm a bit stuck really. I don't like using walkthroughs, but maybe I can have a glance at where to go next, just a quick look to point me in the right direction.
Inserting the medallion turned the clock to 12:00, which I believe means it's time for a music puzzle! Hopefully that has unlocked the piano for me. Though I can't remember what the clue was, and the game doesn't store notes for you, so I'll have to go and check again.
LATER, IN THE PIANO ROOM.
Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty" by Moonriders today.
Alright so the white pelican comes first, then a dove flies beyond the pelican, a raven flies higher than a dove, a swan glides in next to another bird, and finally a lazy crow comes in and lands the first chance it gets. I'd be lying if I said this made the slightest bit of sense to me.
But of course nothing I try works. Yes it turns out I'm even worse at puzzles than I am at killing monsters. Alright fine, I'll check a let's play on youtube just to see where I'm going wrong...
Oh shit I really am a fucking idiot! How did I not get the most obvious clue? I only needed to play the youtube video long enough to hear a single sentence from the player and that was all I need to solve the puzzle immediately: "A Tale of Birds WITHOUT A VOICE".
I'd been pressing the wrong set of keys entirely.
Then I managed to get caught by them the next time around as well! I'm kicked back to the title screen and have to do the piano puzzle again. Looks like I'm bringing out the pistol next time.
If I've learned anything from this, it's that I should save after everything. Well okay I couldn't save in this case as the door to the save room is after these monsters, but in the future I should save after everything. There's no limited ink ribbon bullshit in this, I can save as many times and as often as I want. I hope.
Alright I'll check a walkthrough one last time, just to get the school over with. Then I can quit the game in shame.
A QUICK SCAN OF A WALKTHROUGH LATER.
In my defence its on a basement floor that I didn't know existed, as I assumed both staircases ended on the ground floor. But the staircases are not quite alike it seems.
Undying, only drawn by an 8 year old.
Anyway I managed to get four rooms into the alternate school before being ganged up on by a group of monsters and beaten up again. GAME OVER.
I didn't actually hate Silent Hill, though I didn't exactly enjoy it either. It definitely appears to be a well made game that builds upon earlier survival horror titles while fixing a lot of the frustrations, and I can't really find much to complain about so far. But the joyless irritating combat combined with a total lack of any reward for killing anything makes me kinda wish the enemies weren't even in the game at all, and that can't be a good thing. I suppose that's just the nature of the genre though.
I will say that it's probably the best survival horror game I've played all year, though it's still January and I've only played two so far, so that really only means I liked it more than Resident Evil. But hey, there are worse games to be better than.
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