Silent Hill: Origins PSP
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Climax
Release Date: Out Now
We've reviewed quite a few blood-chilling games over the years but the Silent Hill games have to be some of the most disturbing we've ever played. That's not to say they haven't been enjoyable games, in fact they've been very enjoyable and they are as equally thrilling as they are blood-chilling. Of course playing a Silent Hill game on the TV with the lights out is one thing but do you really want to be sat up in bed playing the game in the dark on your PSP? We opted to play the game in a lit room and were pleasantly surprised at how atmospheric a PSP version of Silent Hill can be.
As the title suggests, Silent Hill: Origins is set before the events of the first game which appeared on the PlayStation. The game tells the story of how Silent Hill went from being a sleepy hollow to a town of pure terror. You play as truck driver Travis Grady, who's just about to take a short cut past Silent Hill. It's night time and the rain is pouring down. After some radio chatter Travis sees what appears to be a young person on the road. Travis manages to brake in time and gets out of the truck to see if the person is alright. There's no one there though aside from an apparition that makes straight for Travis before disappearing. Travis walks around the back of the truck and sees a young girl standing there. She runs off and Travis follows after her only to come across a burning house. He enters, rescues a young girl who has been badly burnt and is lying on a pentagram that has been marked out on the floor. No sooner as he takes the person outside of the house, he passes out to awaken on a bench in Silent Hill.
Silent Hill: Origins does a good job of keeping the suspense high and fear factor at an uncomfortable level. There seems to be more emphasis on combat than in previous games in the series but the combat never comes thick and fast and the game always allows plenty of time for the suspense to build. Travis begins without a weapon but he soon gets his hands on a sledgehammer and a scalpel but there are quite a few things he can use as weapons. Most weapons aren't that durable however so you'll lose them after taking out a few enemies. Travis can also handle a gun quite well and you'll find more ammunition in Origins than you would have in previous Silent Hill games, which means of course that you'll get to use the gun more making the combat a little less challenging. To use a weapon you'll hold down the R button and press the X button. The combat works well and feels true to previous Silent Hill games.
The game retains the same visual style that the Silent Hill series is known for. The film grain effect has been used once more to add that extra eerie touch to the experience. The game is filled with dark and foggy environments that do nothing but heighten the tension. The character models are on a par with those that featured in the PlayStation 2 Silent Hill games. The various enemies all have that terrifyingly distorted look to them. Travis and the other 'human' character models all look quite good. The frame rate mostly hold ups well but some minor dips are noticeable on occasion. With the PSP having only one analogue stick the camera is automatically controlled. For the most part it does a good job but there are times when you're stuck with a tricky view of the action. Pressing the L button pulls the camera behind Travis but there are some occasions when this is not possible.
Deaf gamers will be pleased to learn that Silent Hill: Origins is subtitled. The subtitles are disabled by default but you do get a chance to enable them before beginning a new game. Thanks to the subtitles, you'll be able to enjoy the game's storyline and any conversations that Travis has. There are no character names or portraits with the subtitles but it's almost always obvious who is saying what. Tutorial messages are in text and can be accessed at any time from the main menu. Like most of the previous Silent Hill games there are certain noises that alert you to dangerous situations and an enemy presence. Hearing gamers will therefore be forewarned of an impending attack or other potentially hazardous situation. The game has no visual clues for these noises and deaf gamers will be taken by surprise (and therefore disadvantaged) because of this. Thankfully most enemies are slow moving and you usually get to chance to ready your weapon of choice.
Fans of the Silent Hill series should definitely consider Silent Hill: Origins a must purchase. Those who also want a blood-chilling game to play on their PSP should put the game down on their wish list. Climax have done a good job with Silent Hill: Origins and it manages to retain much of what has made the Silent Hill series so popular.