Ever since Silent Hill 3, the games in this series have taken a major turn for the worse. At best, since SH4 The Room, they have been mediocre at best. Origins, Shattered Memories, and Homecoming were okay at best. Now, we are having this game shoved down our throats. I have already read some previews for this game and they noted a lot of technical issues. I wish they made a silent hill game like the original three in the series.
I think the problem is the shift from Japanese developers to western ones. The early SH's especially SH2 were more about subtlety and building up a sense of dread through creepy atmosphere. Western devs don't get it. They think it's about fighting monsters and running out of ammo.
Look at Homecoming, the "nightmare world" sections just look like rusty boiler rooms. The original nightmare world had some aspects of that, but were blended with a lot more "what the hell is that? It look like... skin... is that a FACE?" that made it more bizarre and unsettling. They built up the feeling that you never knew what you were going to see next. (Homecoming did have a couple of pretty cool monster designs though.) I can't think of a single point in Homecoming where I was looking at a stain on the wall, or listening intently to the ambient sound, convinced there was something terrifying hidden in it. (Play SH2 with headphones and you'll understand ;)
I also think The Room is unfairly maligned. The first person aspect was actually nicely done and creepy as hell. I applaud the conceptual risk they took there and am actually sad that they'll probably never try it again. Where it failed was the weaksauce linear hallway sections outside the room (and the fact that they make you play through them all a second time to pad out the game! I suspect they ran out of money)
It's simple: nothing happened. The series had to evolve in some way, but the changes aren't to everyone's taste. I personally like most of the games a lot, but I'm conflicted when it comes to Origins. Shattered Memories, on the other hand, I felt was a nice little experiment that I enjoyed immensely. It should stay a one time thing, but I loved it nonetheless.
Mmm... I don't think I fully agree with that. Speaking only for myself, I don't think all the changes that have been made count as "evolution", I think to a noticeable degree the things I have a problem with have more to do with losing the focus on what SH "is" on a conceptual and stylistic level, not that play mechanics or camera angles were changed. I love that some of the games are experimental!
The Room is a perfect example; the first person parts, while a major departure from the "classic" SH design, still *feels* like SH, while all the crappy linear levels outside the room just feel like they're from a totally different and vastly inferior budget game. I wouldn't call those outdoor levels "evolution", I'd call them a total failure to capture the essence of SH. Same thing with the golfer monkeys and the Gilliam Baby head wraiths. They stuck out like a sore thumb, having no connection at all to the unique style of SH. I actually wondered if they were recycling assets from some other cancelled title.
By the same token, the major flaws of Homecoming aren't that they "tried something new", it's that they largely missed the point on what makes SH, SH. Again, their treatment of the nightmare world was totally weak and boring and their focus on combat made the game feel more generic. You could practically feel the producers trying to make the game more "mainstream" for action gamers.
I also think that the more Silent Hill is explained in the storylines, the less interesting it becomes. As each newer game more sharply focuses the story of what is behind everything, it immediately becomes more boring. I think that was the major advantage SH2 has had over the others, is that it isn't *about* Silent Hill, it's about the guy and his conscience and Silent Hill is the backdrop. For me it's just vastly more compelling leaving Silent Hill a mystery and focusing on the experience of the characters who find themselves there..
I think the problem, aside from the original Team Silent signing off, is that the mythos that's already been established isn't being respected. We have Alessa, we know she's a sacrifice, we know it pissed her off and set a whole bunch of crazy crap in motion, and that one by one the sinners come home to Silent Hill. I think when they start going outside of that, like with The Room's "Oh it's an apartment complex the next town over" and Homecoming's "Shepherd's Glen", they're not giving any reason for it except "We're trying to be exciting. ARE YOU EXCITED YET?!"
That and the characters...maybe it's just me, but I really haven't given a damn about anybody since Heather, with the exception of Cynthia because really, who doesn't love a saucy Latin hooker? Used to be, you had characters to adore, characters to despise, and you did it with real emotion. Lisa from the first Silent Hill? Still the saddest pseudo-death scene I've ever seen out of the whole blessed series. And Harry was a protagonist you could get behind, and once you found out James' motivations, you were like "holy crap, suddenly some things make sense and the story is richer for it".
The Room still had those classic WTH moments, mostly with any dialogue/cutscene involving Walter, and that for me rescues it from the garbage bin even if ithe game was padded with a second-replay before the end. Homecoming, on the other hand, just blew it. A couple of loud noises, and I'm supposed to be peeing myself? Silent Hill's a game where you shouldn't want to play in the dark because the dark is when it GETS you and that'swhat's missing from most of the later games.
I'll hold out hope for this one, but I won't shell out 60 bucks for it. Unless the folks working on it have gotten over the need to try and polish a Resident-Evil-shaped-turd into a Silent Hill game, then it's pretty much a toss.
You bring up some very good points. Expanding the "symptoms" of Silent Hill to other towns is clearly an effort to show that whatever is going on IS SPREADING. Which, I agree is a terrible RE-influenced idea that takes SH out of the creepy supernatural ghost town theme and turns it into a lame RE-style global epidemic of fog and monsters.
SH's unique feel is partly due to the fact that it is INTIMATE horror. It's about normal people getting caught up in a customized nightmare that preys upon their own guilty pasts and reflects them back in horrific ways as punishment (or enlightenment). My favorite installments are the ones that follow people who were not directly connected to the Alessa scenario. I prefer SH as a bizarre, fluid backdrop for small, personal stories rather than a convoluted epic continually attempting to bolt more details onto the Alessa saga and continuing to make SH less interesting by revealing it's secrets and reducing it's potential to surprise.
I do actually wish they'd try another installment along the lines of The Room, but with the team and budget required to flesh out a full first person exploration experience, rather than being forced to pad it out with weak third person gameplay bolt-ons. I really enjoyed the first person aspect of the game. It was creepy and refreshing after 3, which really just felt like a rehash of 2 with a few extra monsters and a new story.
I actually really like 4, I thought it was really good, and an interesting expansion on that case mentioned in SH2. Origins was good too, although not as creepy. Shattered Memories was terrible as a Silent Hill(great as a supernatural mystery though). Homecoming, however, was CRAP IN BAG MARKED "SILENT HILL 5".
Regardless, I'm still going to give Silent Hill 6(yes, It's sixth dammit!) a try. I think they may fix some of their mistakes in Shitcoming, from what I've seen it doesn't look bad.
Completely agree. I'm an American, and companies here just don't get it. Look at what passes for horro over here. it's just a bunch of teenagers that get into a situation, and then get killed off one by one in the most gruesome ways possible, for shock. I loved SH's 1, 2, and 3. 4 was ok, but I never wanted to play through the areas a second time, very lazy game design. I enjoyed Homecoming in a similar way as I enjoyed Resident Evil 4, by thinking of it as its own game instead of part of the series.
Have to agree. I loved Heather. And, Lisa's death.. Uh. That was sad.. I'm sure anyone who has kids now, I don't, but I'm guessing, who went back and replayed the first game would have even more of a connection with Harry.
Silent Hill 4 was actually originally being developed as a game that wasn't named Silent Hill or had anything to do with the franchise. It was supposed to be a stand alone horror game. Konami later decided to name it Silent Hill and had the devs toss in a few thin connections to the series so that it would sell more on name alone.
LOL So the message by "Me" that got deleted was something to the effect that "RE was also created in japan and is monster fighting and running out of ammo" followed by something suggesting that I'm just worshiping Japanese developers and also stupid for not noticing RE was also made in Japan. But he's missed my point.
I don't know where he'd get the idea that I'm somehow suggesting that monster fighting and running out of ammo is exclusively an American design motif. The fact is that RE was ALWAYS more focused on monster fighting and that's exactly my point. The problem is that American developers do not seem to comprehend and embrace the essence of what made SH unique from games like RE, and instead have decided to alter the flavor of the franchise by turning it into what it never was: an RE imitation.
What we're getting now are typical action games presented in a facsimile of SH's visual style. It's turning into a graphics mod for RE, with little understanding of what the point of the earlier games' approach to monster design really was. They're imitating surface and entirely missing substance, while transplanting an alien mentality into the gameplay design. With each new game, SH seems to be edging closer to a "secret government conspiracy" and "covert underground lab" kind of theme. I REALLY hated that aspect of Homecoming (yeah, they weren't "government" exactly, but an authoritarian organization with an army of hazmat-suited henchmen and an underground facility is close enough to ruin SH for me)
If I want monster fighting and running out of ammo, I'll play RE. SH used to offer something a bit different from that. So here's hoping that the new game will get us back on track and re-establish what makes SH a unique franchise.
Or, they can hammer the last nail into the coffin and introduce the Black-Ops government team who has been tracking Pyramid Head and his cult of insurgents who have been attempting to weaponize demons in a bid to conquer the world. LOL
Yeah Wik that is what I pretty much what I meant. you do worship japan. but this is ok if you accept who you are... now that is out of the way. Silent Hill games up to now (even the new one) besides the camera angle don't look anything like the action packed RE games. You have to change certain aspect of games because people get sick of the same old thing. it's the same way with final fantasy games.
What has happened is like everyone said, Team Silent in Japan, that did games 1-3 left, now American developers have been picking up the torch. Their idea of horror is monsters, fighting, weapons and boss battles. Homecoming was the exact outcome of American designers just not getting it. Sigh. I'm hoping Downpour is decent, just because I am jones-ing for a good survival horror game, but my expectations are low.
I have an idea. Tucker & Dale vs Silent Hill. Either a movie or game, but the world needs more T&D. If you haven't seen Tucker & Dale vs Evil, go check it out. I believe its available for streaming on Netflix, or at least it was recently.
You're a stronger man than I, Will M! I just can't resist anything SIlent Hill. Plus, I'm always afraid of spoilers, so I never look at reviews. I'll just have to risk it. ;))
@Adam: I agree that SH2 is still the best so far but as much as I loved RE2, I liked RE3 more but I actually consider the remake of RE1 on the GameCube to be the best in the series.
@M. Azar: I agree that SH has stayed closer to it's roots SO FAR, but I fear it's slipping toward losing it's identity the way RE has. It seems inevitable that some marketing exec is going to convince Konami that "Resident Evil is what the kids want" and then it's all over.
This game looks better with every new hands on preview. Read any of the new previews and they all state that the game feels much better since the last time the reviewers played it. Adding little touches like being able to turn the item sheen on and off, and having a little bit of free roam to discover side quests have me anticipating this game. Haters gonna hate, but I'm taking the dive cause this is a new Silent Hill game that actually looks great.
BTW gonna be picking up Book Of Memories and the HD collection too!
I'm staying positive about Downpour, but not getting my hopes up too high.
Book of Memories... ugh, I'd actually pushed that pain out of my mind. Talk about a franchise losing it's identity! Turning SH into a co-op Smash TV-style shooter is sacrilege. At that point you might as well just make a Silent Hill-themed Angry Birds ripoff. -Or do Super Mario as an RPG. ;)
I will probably have to pick up the HD collection at some point though.
Downpour definitely looks like a step in the right direction, and at least seems more original than the last three. I'm not overly concerned about Book of memories, since I don't plan on getting a Vita any time soon. It seems like a harmless enough spin off, and could be a decent hook to get new people interested in the series.
LOL I know Mario was done as an RPG, that just was me being a smartass. ;))
The way I see it, Downpour may or may not be what we SH purists would like to see, but I doubt it could be worse than the third-person sections of SH4, and as much as that aspect of the game was a terrible letdown I still don't feel any remorse about buying it at launch. Even as much as I thought Homecoming was not really a SH design, I still would've bought it even in hindsight.
So, until they completely ruin the franchise with something utterly wrong I'll continue to support it. Resident Evil lost me with 4, so we'll see if Silent Hill goes down the same path. I can tell you that if Book of Memories was actually the latest official core SH entry, I'd be done.