Silent hill, probably my favorite horror franchise. I recently was thinking back on Downpour and how I felt about it retrospectively. It’s quite a mixed bag series. Silent Hill 1 is great, 2 is an all time classic, 3 is very very good, 4 I’ve only played once and didn’t finish it, I really need to go back to it, Homecoming I thought was good but need to play again, Origins is just ok and Shattered Memories is a really fun and different experience.
I was hyped for Downpour. I heard mixed things going into this game, then I enjoyed the game so much when I got it and eventually got the platinum trophy, and retrospectively I love it, but I think you have to devote a lot of time to see that it’s a classic.
Downpour has good combat, very unusual for this franchise! Usually your Everyman status forces you to be crap at combat but I think here they did well. Blocking enemy attacks works well, even the limitations on weapons works. You can have one melee weapon and two ranged.
The game has the usual call to action, something happens and a person is drawn to silent hill, this time it’s a prison transfer which goes wrong and leaves your protagonist stranded on foot, and his journey to freedom forces him to silent hill, Murphy Pendleton the protagonist like always has a troubled past, Murphy is in jail to get revenge on the pedophile who killed his son and while in there does some favors for a guard, which are of course quite bad.
The game starts off really weird, the first piece of gameplay is beating and seemingly killing a fat helpless man in the showers of the prison. It makes you feel like the bad guy, you’re this guys neighbor, this is as you later find out, the pedophile who killed your son, and you get this beating for doing favors to corrupt guard Sewell.
As you would expect the game plays with
Murphy facing all his demons, the ending depends on a morality score and choices, you have two good/evil choices early in the game, the rest is dependent on whether to kill or spare enemies and this leads to getting one of the 6 endings, this so changes the story, your actions decide whether Murphy kills the pedophile in the shower or not and whether or not he or Sewell kills Annes dad, frank.
The beauty of this game is the subtlety. There’s a side quest that is about a mother killing her autistic child but you wouldn’t know this unless you paid attention, if you don’t then it just looks like following markers to a destination, the story with the pedophile is explained via the notes you find in that game, in tradition the bosses represent the things in Murphy’s life, the use of his son in flashbacks and mental breakdowns is well done.
There’s fun characters to interact with, a DJ also drawn to silent hill and decides instead of taking the journey the protagonists always do, that he’s just going to sit around and do nothing and the best character being Anne a prison guard chasing Murphy and who hates him to an unusual degree, it’s turns out she sees Murphy as responsible for killing her father (and this as stated changes). Everyone has a backstory, except the mysterious mailman, and the notes provide history to everything. You need to read them.
It’s weird to play a silent hill game with side quests, and there’s a lot! In the past it’s been one or two. There’s the bird cage side quest that is about escaping from imprisonment, the aforementioned quest which deals with the autism, fixing mirrors reflections and then reviewing a suicide, releasing ashes, finding a mans heart which mirrors Walter Sullivan in silent hill 4, stopping police cars chasing Murphy (obvious symbolism) returning stolen goods from an apartment building thief, finding paintings that turned a woman mad searching for the meaning, unlocking the extra ending via trinkets from previous games, helping the homeless (and the man ends up dead later due to your interference) collecting film and using it to enter a house that resembles Murphy’s own house, robbing a bank, activating a gramophone that re-enacts a murder and finally finding placing relics on pedestals around town giving out a great weapon.
Doing these quests gives great rewards and if you pay attention they add a lot of details and flavor to the game. It’s well worth doing them all, going slow and paying attention.
The use of the otherworld I didn’t like, there’s a void chasing you and you run, that’s it. The symbolism is Murphy is an escapes con and his history is finally catching up with him but it’s just weird, I prefer the otherworld from the first games where it’s a twisted version if where you are.
The monster designs are average, some good, some average. They don’t have the psychological like to Murphy as some previous games. The wheelchair man is good, but the screamers seem too much like The Ring.
I enjoyed this game immensely, is it an all time classic? We’ll find out in the future but for now it’s really good if you go looking for its brilliance. Much better then the last four efforts from this series!
This ending RULES