Silent Hill (Konami)
System: Playstation Release Date: Jan 31st, 1999
ESRB rating: M
Do you remember when Resident Evil was more about being scary and the atmospheric survival horror that made the series famous? Me too, back when Resident evil was still bringing the scares a new challenger appeared to attempt to take the title of scariest consol game ever. This game was Silent Hill.
Set in a sleepy mid west town enshrouded in a mysterious fog, silent hill took some of the basic game play mechanics from resident evil and applied them into a darker, more disturbing atmosphere. Gone were the well lit rooms, zombies, and police. Instead you played a father looking for his little girl in the dense fog, unknowing of the horrors that crept just beyond your vision.
Atmosphere plays the biggest part in silent hill’s master formula for fear. The silence is deafening as you wander through the fog in the ‘real’ world sections of the game only to be replaced by the unsettling musical style of Akira Yamaoka with industrial tracks that set your nerves on edge as normal settings turn into grotesque panoramas of rust and gore in the ‘otherworld’ that the main protagonist Harry Mason finds himself wandering into time and time again.
The choice to ditch zombies for lovecraftian style horror easily set silent hill apart from capcom’s Resident Evil, the sense that the town wants you dead grows with each location you visit in the thick fog and the monsters are terrifying. Skinned dogs, flying beasts, and faceless children with knives along with a few other nasty surprises chase you through each terrifying set piece as you are driven further and further into the town and to your daughter.
Graphically Silent Hill isn’t anything to look at. The day time sections of the game while covered in fog are crisp and the town is well laid out. But during the otherworld sections the environment can sometimes blend together in the warped mix of rust browns and crimson reds. The characters are about on par with most other third person games at the time and are pretty expressionless. But the darkness and the fog are really well done and leave you in fear of what might walk out of that darkness.
Story wise Silent Hill one leaves something to be desired as it is fairly bare bones, five different endings and one joke ending make up for the lack of solid storytelling with plenty of replay value. And it wasn’t until other games in the series released did Silent Hill one’s story really come into its own.
Over all a heavy contender for scariest game on ps1, and easily holds its own on atmosphere alone. Clunky controls might turn off new gamers and the graphics haven’t aged well, a good alternative is the reimagining ‘Silent Hill: Shattered Memories” which shares some of the basic story elements but does them somewhat better.
I rate Silent Hill 3/5 Kupo!