Dan Birlew

Las Vegas Web Developer, Designer, Programmer, and Author

Silent Hill: A Love Story

Posted September 11th, 2009 at 9:46am by Dan Birlew in Game Reviews. 6 Comments on Silent Hill: A Love Story

The original Silent Hill is now available for download from the PlayStation Network Store. At a US price of merely $5.99, there’s really no reason not to purchase it again. Being able to play this great classic on a portable handlheld system is quite handy and entertaining.

The flashlight sometimes revealed lurking horrors all too late.

The flashlight sometimes revealed lurking horrors all too late.

Though the original game is showing its age a bit, it’s still fun to replay and remember how badly this game scared you. Using a flashlight to explore a dark, nightmarish world was a big innovation at the time this came out. Having a hard time seeing in the dark was part of the fun…and also the main ingredient of fear. The player has a radio which emits a static ringing sound whenever enemies are nearby. So when you enter a new area and the radio starts going off but you can’t see anything, your fear reflex kicks in automatically. The tension mounts as the game environments become more nightmarish and surrealistic the further you delve.

Silent Hill featured some truly nightmarish environments, with corpses hanging everywhere.

Silent Hill featured some truly nightmarish environments, with corpses hanging everywhere.

The original Silent Hill came out in the end-days of the original PlayStation system, so it passed under the radar for many players. The sequels on the PlayStation 2 were heralded as having some of the best and most disturbing graphics on that system as well. But even in the sequels, the developers felt the need to pull things back a bit graphics-wise by covering the screen with a layer of static, which the player could only remove after completing the game. Thus, the idea of not being able to see clearly as a fear factor was still very much on the developers’ minds.

Maps played a big part in helping the player navigate dark environments. Helpful marks appear as the player explores.

Maps played a big part in helping the player navigate dark environments. Helpful marks appear as the player explores.

I dove in to Silent Hill immediately. For me, it was better than the widely popular Resident Evil series. Back then, Resident Evil games were played on static 2D backgrounds that switched as you moved from one area to the next. So while Resident Evil graphics were supposedly “better,” Silent Hill’s environment was more immersive. Here was an entire town to explore, with streets, houses, buildings, schools, hospitals, tunnels and quite possibly Hell itself. And the story was very open-ended, which left a lot to the imagination. Many decried what they surmised as the plot’s gaping holes, so I wrote a plot summary that tried to show how the various scenes and clues found tied together to let you know what was happening. The summary was highly popular and you can still read a version of it here, though subsequent games in the series such as Silent Hill 3 and Silent Hill Origins have explained the story much better than I.

Anyone who’s played more recent games in the series without enjoying the hard-to-find original should definitely take advantage of this opportunity. The original game is set to receive a remake on the Nintendo Wii, but significant changes to the story and game mechanics may give you a very different impression of how the series started. Checking out the original as well as other sequels in the series before the Wii will probably afford a better appreciation.

Silent Hill is currently undergoing an icy remake for the Nintendo Wii, set for release November 3rd.

Silent Hill is currently undergoing an icy remake for the Nintendo Wii, set for release November 3rd.

Also available on PSN is the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Though lauded for its long load times, this is no longer a factor with fast loading on the PSP and PS3 systems. ย Kain is a Zelda-style adventure game where the anti-hero Kain sets out for revenge, to kill those responsible for murdering him and making him a vampire. Kain utilizes a variety of vampire abilities and spells, such as blood-sucking, changing forms, and warping. This original tale of a time-traveling vampire is a great precursor to the Soul Reaver and Legacy of Kain series, which was unfortunately sidelined when Crystal Dynamics dropped the property in order to start making Tomb Raider games. Still, when played for its own merits, the original Blood Omen is a fun game.

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6 Responses to “Silent Hill: A Love Story”

  1. Bought it, downloaded it, and now two hours in I’m halfway through it. Silent Hill 2 is easily my favorite of the series (and of the gaming world in general), but Silent Hill will always hold a special place in my heart. I anticipate the remake, but despite my appreciation for innovation, part of me wishes it was a full-fledged PS3 affair, with stunning visuals and a faithful recreation of the original game, with of course updated graphics, new tunes, and better voice acting. But for now I’ll settle for replaying the original, and crossing my fingers for the next title.

    • Halfway in two hours? Wow! The last time I played it was years ago, so I’m trying to “play it again for the first time,” without a walkthrough or any reminders of how to play. Had to figure out the piano puzzle over again, as well as the valve puzzle just before the lizard boss. Taking it slow, having fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. First off, I didn’t even know that you had a website. I have so many of your guides, way back since Chrono Cross. I seriously remember trying to get a certain character and when I finally found him, I was like “Thank God For Dan Birlew.”

    So yeah, after that creepy moment and onto another–I love Silent Hill. I’m so excited to play this, even though my favorite game is Silent Hill 3. (I also liked Homecoming!)

    • Oh, no problem. ๐Ÿ™‚ Unfortunately I can say I’ve had creepier. If you love Silent Hill 3 you’ll probably enjoy this classic very much, as SH3 was a direct sequel to this one.

      That Chrono Cross guide was tough! I remember juggling all those character recruitments, that was a lot of info to keep in mind. That was a fun game, I’d love to play it on PSP too so I hope PlayStation/Square-Enix makes it available.

      Yeah, I’ve had this website for years. I’m glad you visited and please come back soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Were they creepier than Silent Hill?

        I’ve played the first Silent HIll before, but I haven’t played it again for years, and this seems like a good importunity to do so. I don’t know if they’d put SH 3 on the PSP, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they ported SH2, considering it is the most popular in most circles.

        Also, the Chrono Cross game was really expansive had so many little things to do and interact with–especially when you factor in the New Game + features and the different paths you can choose while playing the game.

  3. […] Though just released on the PlayStation Network, Silent Hill originally came out ten years ago. Back then I was just a dork who liked to create free guides for fun. My idea of having fun with a game was to render a series of maps in preparation to create an online walkthrough. However, I soon became too busy to complete the walkthrough, and these maps never saw their proper use. […]