Silent Hill: Downpour is the eighth installment of the Silent Hill franchise, keeping the horror alive for Xbox 360 and PS3 gamers everywhere. With nods to past Silent Hill games as well as some charms of it’s own, it appeared to be an exciting ride.
The protagonist of this story is a convict named Murphy Pendleton. After stealing a police patrol car (and leading officers on a 10 hour chase), Murphy was incarcerated in Ryall State Corrections facility. He was being transferred to another prison when the bus drove off a cliff and landed in the happiest little town on Earth: Silent Hill. Now, he and officer Anne Cunningham must fight their way through their own little circles of Hell in order to escape their nightmare once and for all.
Before I popped in the game, I asked myself: “Why ‘Downpour’?” It seemed like a strange name, but I dismissed it until I had been playing the game for a few hours. Once out in the town, however, rain began to fall. My first thought was “Oh, big deal,” but I was wrong to be sarcastic. In the rain, hordes of monsters come out to hunt. They become more powerful, more aggressive, and more likely to stalk you than to allow you to run away. In order to escape, Murphy needs to find shelter in one of the abandoned buildings around town. Just entering and exiting will stop the rain and Murphy can continue on (mostly) unhindered.
Graphics and Gameplay
Graphics are one of the better qualities of the game. Whether it’s the slightest of hair movements or how wet Murphy’s hair and clothes look once it starts to rain. Everything moves smoothly and textures for the town really give the player a sense of being in the Silent Hill world. The rooms are dim and dusty, the streets are cracked and old, and water and blood actually look wet. Silent Hill: Downpour is a feast for the eyes.
Also, game difficulty affects more than just combat. Depending on your chosen difficulty, different items (mainly needed for side quests) may appear in different places, as well as safe combinations changing.
The combat system unfortunately left much to be desired. Along with some questionable weapon choices (“Back demon, I have a lamp and I’m not afraid to use it!”) the combat itself was heavy and unorganized. Dear Murphy may need glasses, as even when a monster was right in front of him, it seemed hard to land a chain of attacks. Monsters had a habit of leaping back at the last moment, which caused more aggravation than they were worth.
As seems to be the trend of games following Silent Hill: The Room, combat plays a very large part in Downpour—too much of a part for a game that used to rely on the atmosphere to cause anxiety and terror in the player. Instead of fear, I found myself growing more annoyed with the masses of monsters that appeared before me.
Over-the-shoulder view returns in Downpour, but really does little more than show you the monster gaining on your tail. It’s hardly ever necessary to use and shouldn’t be used for prolonged periods of time. (Murphy must have broken his nose ten times over after all the times where I’d run into a wall using the OTS cam.)
There are two parts of video games that I am an absolute sucker for: Backstories and exploration. Both of these things were available in Downpour and it immediately made the game more enjoyable for me. I spent hours wandering the streets of Silent Hill, poking my head into abandoned homes and sniffing out the random clues to Murphy’s past scattered around the town. The town itself had its own sense of dark beauty to it and sucked me in as though I were exploring an area such as Skyrim. But for those who don’t prefer such an open world it can prove to be more of a nuisance than a blessing. It is extremely easy to get lost in Silent Hill’s winding streets, even when you have a map handy. After a few hours of exploring the town, it took me at least another hour just to find where the next quest was waiting for me.
Side Quests and the End
There are fourteen side quests hidden throughout Silent Hill, unfortunately none of them have any effect on which ending you receive, giving the player little motivation to complete them all. Some quests will make the game easier (but only by stopping random ambushes around town), but again, the overall game completion is not at all affected.
There six endings available to unlock in Downpour. There are moments in the game when Murphy must make a choice, and each of these choices affect the ending the player receives, while some endings can only be acquired after a second playthrough.
Silent Hill: Downpour wasn’t entirely what I expected from a Silent Hill game, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I never put the controller down out of boredom, though it was far from the most amazing game I have ever played. I would say to rent Downpour for a weekend of playing rather than actually buying.