Silent Hill: Origins Review

Silent Hill: Origins could just as easily have been called Silent Hill Jr. It is a portable rendition of the series’ horror-styled gameplay, and is inferior to the other games in the series in most ways. This is not to say that the game is horrible, because it will certainly offer at least some entertainment value while, say, waiting for a bus or flying from Myrtle Beach to San Francisco. It just lacks that special something that previous Silent Hill games have had to offer – it’s bland.

The game takes place in the lovely town of Silent Hill, where a trucker named Travis Grady is waylaid by the sight of a burning house after almost hitting a pedestrian with all 7 tons of his 18-wheeler. He rescues a young girl from inside of the inferno and takes her to, of all places, the Silent Hill hospital. Sucks to be him.

From there, the game follows a rudimentary and predictable path around the town, through various locations such as the hospital, sanitarium, theater, and motel. Actually, that’s all of the major sections of the game, right there. The game is unusually short, clocking in at just under 4 hours, and players are led from one portion to the next as if on a leash.

Each area is set up as an isolated “level” of the game, with no freedom to leave once entrapped by the madness within. Remembering that this is a portable game, and may not be played all in one sitting, however, that may not be a bad thing. It keeps players focused on the task at hand, which must be completed in order to progress.

Otherwise, the game feels very much like the older Silent Hill games, but with a weaker story. It does little to up the ante in terms of narrative and underlying meaning, which is very unlike the most recent games in the series. Until Origins, each game has been an improvement in that area.

Origins features the usual third-person perspective with semi-static camera angles and camera-relative controls, which, in this case, is more frustrating than before. The camera shifts cause an endless battle between the game, the player, and the control stick. On multiple occasions, players will find themselves walking back and forth between two screens, struggling to move in the proper direction. This is not necessarily a problem with the system, but more with the specific sequences of camera angles.

The combat system is the same familiar setup, featuring a protagonist that remains stationary to attack, and then runs away when enemies draw near. For the less-than-impressive boss fights, the strategy is shoot, turn, run, turn, shoot, etc.

There are a few new features, however, such as a button-prompt mechanic that is triggered when Travis is grabbed by an enemy, and breakable melee weapons. The button-prompts resemble a watered-down version of the God of War style, and add a bit more excitement to the combat. It’d be nice if they were more prevalent, though. As for the weapons, they are really just an annoyance. Players end up collecting dozens of blunt and bladed objects that are very weak and break much too quickly. I understand the desire to create a more in-depth inventory and combat system, but this particular method just doesn’t work. The melee weapons in older Silent Hill games were much more enjoyable to use, and Origins players are somewhat forced to stick to firearms once they’re available.

The game’s strongest points are in its presentation. Origins is a beautiful PSP game, full of real-time dynamic lighting and shadows, large and detailed character models, and interestingly designed environments. The only thing I would ask for is a greater variety of enemies to fight. The sound design is excellent, and creates a perfect atmosphere for this type of game. Music kicks in and ramps up at just the right moments, sound effects act as clues to certain goings-on in Travis’ immediate environment, and ambient noise is just plain creepy. Even the voice acting is good.

Despite its attractive veneer, Silent Hill: Origins doesn’t have a whole lot to offer. It is short, cumbersome, and fails to engage the player as he or she might like it to. It seems somewhat dated, but isn’t necessarily bad. I think the term “blah” aptly describes it.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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