Release Date: 3/13/2012
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Silent Hill has been one of my favorite series of all time. I remember renting this as a kid and being so scared that I couldn’t finish it. The last great game was Origins which truly brought the game back to its roots on PSP and PS2. Homecoming was a surprisingly good entry into the next generation, but Downpour is an utter disaster. The team claimed they were going to bring the series back to its roots and redeem the series. They only made the series worse with so many things gone wrong that I can’t believe this game made it onto store shelves. Is there anything good about it? Sure, if you are a hardcore fan you will probably play it anyway, but it will leave a nasty taste in your mouth. If you have never played the series before, stay far away from this and pick up any other game in the series.
You play as a prisoner named Murphy Pendleton who gets into a shady deal to kill the supposed killer of his son. Murphy has been charged with the murder, but for some reason, he is being transferred. Upon this transfer, the bus crashes, and only you and one female officer survive. So far the game seems fine. You wander around a bit until you start finding clues on how to progress. Once you get out of the first area and into the “free-roaming world” that’s when things really fall apart.
Silent Hill is meant to be a linear story where you search a building and figure out what to do. The team tried putting in “side quests” here that are just absurdly cryptic and nearly impossible to solve without some sort of walkthrough. Even with a walkthrough, I gave up on a few because the world you wander around it is no fun to navigate! They put a convenient subway system into fast travel, but you need to do one of these hair-brained side quests to unlock the routes! Who’s brilliant idea was that? One side quest called “Shadow Play” has Murphy trying to find several different trinkets in cardboard boxes throughout town. In this huge confusing mess, how am I supposed to find tiny little trinkets in cardboard boxes? Then you have to figure out where to put them, then you have to use your UV light to get the shadow they cast just right. Then you use those clues to find a place to get stupid loot like pistol bullets or an axe. Not worth it.
The game is littered with these pointless and meaningless side quests that are nigh impossible to figure out. Even the main parts of the story are hard because these areas are huge and vast and confusing to navigate, even the traditional Silent Hill map system doesn’t work. In fact, the puzzles are even confusing and are broken. Sometimes they won’t activate or are so cryptic and confusing that you just give up on it. The only fun parts are the Otherworld sections, but even these have their problems.
In the Otherworld, you engage in chase sequences running from some sort of void that is never explained. Usually, you are running in labyrinthine paths that are confusing and will make you die often. Solving puzzles in the Otherworld is fun because they are like other Silent Hill games and the only puzzles that are. There’s some interesting art being used here, but in the rest of the game, it is not Silent Hill-ish at all. In fact, I’m ashamed to call this a Silent Hill game.
To make things even worse the combat is absolutely horrible. It makes exploring Silent Hill harder and makes you want to just quit the game. No matter how much you swing your weapon you will always have a hard time hitting these boring, non-scary monsters. All four of them. That’s right. Just four monster types in the whole game. The monsters always move faster than you and they can block. Their attacks are frustrating and blocking doesn’t do any good. Once you start swinging after a block they dodge and just hit you over and over again. The combat is clunky, frustrating, and there are way too many enemies thrown at you at once. It doesn’t help that when it rains enemy count is higher and they are harder to kill and do more damage. Firearms are scarce as it is, but even an axe breaks after a few swings.
It doesn’t help that the game just isn’t scary. There are a few moments that made me jump, but just a few. The enemy designs are stupid and lame (all of them are humanoid), and the atmosphere doesn’t hit home. The legendary music is even missing here with repeated sound effects. The graphics are ugly and outdated; this really looked like a good Xbox 1 game. The story isn’t even that great with some plot holes and stupid endings. There are framerate issues that abound, and the auto-save is unfair and will drop you back to a spot where you have to do entire levels over again.
Overall, Downpour is a complete disaster, and any Silent Hill fan will act like this game never existed. This is the worst Silent Hill game ever made, and it is just chock full of problems with very few redeeming qualities. The Otherworld parts are fun, but there are only four of them and they aren’t that long. There’s a cool end boss, but other than that this is nothing like a Silent Hill game should be.
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