Silent Hill is a franchise I’ve watched but never played. It’s a popular subject for game commentators on Youtube, as it’s always more fun to watch someone else being scared. But in spite of the game being an icon, not just for Survival Horror but for videogames in general, I just never played it myself. However, with the HD re-release of Silent Hill 2 & 3, I decided I should suck it up & play a game that’s given joy to others through terror.
Now I’m not going to go into explaining what the game is about in this post. It’s Silent Hill. I’m sure most of you know the plot by now. So instead, I’m just going to talk about my experience with the game so far.
Let me just make one thing very clear: knowing what’s going to happen in the game doesn’t make it any less scary. Watching someone play this game on Youtube — with lower sound, commentary & on a much smaller screen — is definitely not the same as playing the game yourself. There have been several times when, even though I knew what was about the happen, I still jump. The best example I can think of is when James is on the roof of the hospital & Pyramid Head shows up. Now I knew what was going to happen, but that didn’t stop me from jumping when I first heard the sound of him dragging his sword towards me.
If I had to pick one word to describe my experience so far, it would be “tense.” Everything about this game feels tense. From the grainy visuals to the unwieldy camera, it’s impossible not to sit on the edge of your seat while playing. I think the biggest component of this feeling of dread is the sound design. The soundtrack of this game freaks me out more than any visual element. Hell, my first big scare came just after starting the game when I heard rustling following James as he ran to the cemetery. The music feels so dark & oppressive, but so does the silence. I keep expecting something to jump out at me, even if the radio isn’t doing anything. The worst is when the music suddenly changes, & I start freaking out trying to figure out what caused the change.
I will say that I had to change to control scheme from the default. I changed it from 3D to 2D. From what I can tell from the videos I’ve watched of the original game, the 3D control scheme was the original. But it just felt too weird. Although it was a more realistic control scheme, allowing you to back up & sidestep as well as being helpful in the sense that Up means Forward no matter what the camera angle, I just couldn’t get used to it. So I changed it to a more traditional layout.
I just finished with the hospital level today, so it shouldn’t take me too much longer to finish the game.