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Silent Hill Confessions

I love the Silent Hill series. I particularly enjoy trying to understand how the town interacts with a character's psyche. The logic can change a lot with each new character. For example, a religious symbol may be powerful in one game and completely useless in another. Add the residual impact of past events and emotions, as well as elements attributable to the town itself, and you have a lot of complexity to work with.

I've studied other people's analyses, particularly SilentPyramid's plot analysis on GameFAQs (long and spoiler-heavy), and Translated Memories (prettier but less in-depth, still heavy on spoilers). I've spent a lot of time trying to get my head around the parapsychology. By now I at least have my own basic understanding of how Silent Hill operates. I even started trying to create my own pencil-and-paper roleplaying game based on the same ideas, but that's been slow going.

But I have a confession to make: I've never actually played a Silent Hill game.

I've watched Silent Hill 2, 3 and most of 4 be played. I've seen the movie, and read some of the comics (maybe that was getting a bit desperate). I even own The Silent Hill Experience (promotional UMD). I never usually get this fanatical about anything. And still, I've never sat down and played a game.

I have decided it's high time I fixed this situation. Silent Hill 1, Origins and Shattered Memories have been sitting on my shelf egging me on. I expect this will be the first of several posts on the subject.

Mission: Silent Hill 1

Silent Hill Screenshot

A screenshot from the original Silent Hill, showing Harry Mason shooting at a flying enemy.

Starting with the original Silent Hill might have been a bad idea. I struggled to adapt back to a PS1 game. Harry Mason controls more like a car than a person, and freezes in place for a second or two every time he takes damage. I didn't get very far before becoming frustrated with the limited ammo and flying enemies. It is survival horror, I'll grant you, so running away rather than fighting everything makes a lot of sense. But the clunky movement really made it too much for me. I would like to be getting freaked out by the game itself rather than my own inability to, say, turn around.

So, I gave up and returned to backseat gaming to see SH1 to its conclusion. As someone who has studied so much about Silent Hill there were no particular surprises in the story, of course. And if I want to get analytical I'm much better off discussing Silent Hill 2, or even 3. Possibly some other time :)

So, mission failed on my first attempt at becoming a Silent Hill player. I am happy to have at least seen the original Silent Hill. It still has a lot of creepy atmosphere and enemy design, and the control issues would have been worth putting up with if I wasn't being so noobish. I'm a bit of an easy touch when it comes to survival horror games, so that may also have been a factor.