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Game Review: Silent Hill Origins

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Silent Hill Origins was first released for the PSP and later ported to the PS2. The game was developed by Climax and is a prequel to the original Silent Hill game.

The game follows Travis Grady a trucker who comes across a burning building while on his route and enters to save a badly burned girl. Before the authorities come, he passes out from the smoke and wakes up in the nearby town of Silent Hill. Here, Alessa, the burned girl guides Travis through the town uncovering pieces of the Flauros device while rediscovering his own past.

There are a lot of similarities between Travis and Alessa that come out as the story develops, and like previous Silent Hill games, a lot of the monsters are representations of Travis’ tortured past. The monster design is excellent and Origins features the Butcher, a Pyramid Head like monster.

Overall the graphics are well done, but the visual noise effects do get kind of annoying. Based on how many monsters are around the grain effect over the screen gets worse and worse. When you beat the game you can turn off the effect so that helps a little.

The game plays like the previous Silent Hill games, with a couple of new elements tossed in.

The first is a change to the combat system. The enemies are also still attracted to light, and most of the time you can sneak by them in the dark. This feature works really well in this version.

Also instead of the typical approach of finding a couple weapons to use, Origins has plenty of objects that can be used as weapons found throughout the game. All weapons have their own status and break easily. These objects can be melee items like wooden planks, knives, or crowbars that wear down as you attack enemies with them, or items that break after one hit like TVs, Crates, Typewriters or jars. You can charge your attacks to do more damage, and for a better chance to knock enemies down.

While this is an interesting approach to combat it’s a very annoying part of the game. The large one hit items are pretty much useless. Nearly all the monsters can hit you from further away than you’d be able to hit them with one of those so unless you sneak up on their backs in the dark you’ll rarely use these. Also the other melee items break extremely easy, you’d be lucky if you get to kill 2 with each weapons. Because of that you’ll end up just using your fists and guns most of the time.

Also some enemies will grab onto Travis, you can repel their attacks and prevent taking damage by pressing the correct button.

Another change is limited stamina. By running for a short period of time Travis will get tired and will not be able to run any longer. You can drink some energy drink to restore your stamina. This happens quite a bit and gets annoying very fast. I can understand how it could be an interesting element if when you are trying to escape from enemies, but when you are just running around areas looking for items it really hurts the flow of the game.

One change that works really well is a gameplay mechanic that allows certain mirrors to transport you between the real world and otherworld. Usually if a path is blocked or an item unreachable in the real world, you have to switch back and fourth to advanced.

Another new addition to the series is the accolades achievement system, which rewards you for how you’ve played through the game. There are 14 accolades each one will unlock a costume, weapon, or skill. Some really handy ones are unbreakable melee weapons, or unlimited ammo guns, or unlimited energy so you can run without getting tired. These rewards also provide more of a reason to replay the game, and to play it in different ways.

The PS2 port of the PSP version is very well done. Usually that isn’t the case, but I prefer the PS2 version only because it’s the same experience on a bigger screen. The PSP version looks a little better, but that’s only because the screen is smaller, output it to an HDTV and it’s about the same. Both versions have some small visual bugs (try reloading your weapons from the status screen), but nothing game breaking.

All in all, Origins is a good survival horror game and an excellent entry in the Silent Hill series. The gameplay is a bit dated, and some would stay stale, but Silent Hill was never really known for its gameplay. It was known for it’s psychological horror and story elements, and Origins delivers on those.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Monojit Mandal

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