By Sackmanjones 13 Comments
Welcome back fellow bombers to "I need a vacation". If you missed part 1 I will link it here for your convenience! In part 2 I will be talking about my experiences with Silent Hill 3, but first I'd like to give an update on where I'm at in the series. So since Silent Hill 4 was not included (for some crazy reason) in the HD collection, I moved straight to "Silent Hill Homecoming". In fact, I just finished up the game last night and I was a bit surprised. I started out pretty cold on the game, the combat was hit or miss and the story was just meh at best. However, about 1/2 way in the story started to pick up and I was starting to get the combat. Overall, I ended up enjoying the game much more than I thought, but thats for part 3 =)
I will be starting Downpour tonight.
So, without further ado lets jump into:
SILENT HILL 3FAIR WARNING: SPOILS OF SPOILERS
Silent Hill 3 had high expectations to live up too, following up to the excellent Silent Hill 2 is no easy task. I was extremely glad to find out that not only did it live up to those expectations, but in many ways is better than 2 (in my opinion). I enjoyed the insane story of Heather and the twisted cult behind Silent Hill. On the topic of horror, I'd have to say overall, Silent Hill 2 is scarier, although there are many moments in Silent Hill 3 that surpass anything Silent Hill 2 dishes out. So again, Im gonna be jumping around in points that really stood out to me during my playthrough.
We start out in some damned amusement park, its dark, the walls and floors are caked with blood and worst of all... dead mascots. I already have a thing for people in giant costumes whether it be Mickey Mouse or a cute bear. Now when you add an already creepy looking rabbit and cover it with blood is just downright cruel. Walking through this nasty park with little to no context makes everything that much worse. What should I be doing? Where do I go, and what the fuck is that noise that has been following me since I started. The game starts you with so many questions and absolutely no answers, and it was awesome. Making my way further into the park I ran into the first creautures, the double headed dogs and closers. I noticed how truly disturbing and unique each sound the creatures made, which is a taunting way of telling you what is coming to feed on your bones. I got to a point where I met the pendulums, which made such a horrifying first sound I believe I ran around in circles for a few minutes trying to avoid them before I found the entrance to the roller coaster. I thought this would end up in a load screen, and it didn't which made me continue to run until I couldn't anymore and lead me to being run over by a roller coaster.
Thank god, we see Heather wake up and get some plot and character development happen. It then hits me that I'm probably not going to like Heather as a character, and it turns out I was right. I just never really felt the same connection I did with James and many times she just got on my nerves. I will say Heather does turn out better towards the end and some of the inside jokes (like the toilet gag) did put a nice smile on my face. Unfortunately, this is kinda how I felt for most of the characters in the game. I was truly interested in every person I met during Silent Hill 2 and wanted to know what made them tick. While I thought a few characters did shine (and maybe some monsters) I'd have to say the cast of characters was much weaker in 3. Anyway, during this scene we meet detective Cartland, a man hired to find Heather ( and eventually admits to being hired by Claudia, but we aren't there yet)
Moving forward, we end up quickly getting caught up inside the other world at the Central Square Shopping Mall. Man, monsters are EVERYWHERE and I finally got to meet the numb bodies. I'm not sure whether it was their grotesque shape, or horrible humming noise they made, but I was always nervous to run into them. Again, I cant stress enough how well the sound design works to the games advantage of trying to tense you up and scare the shit out of you. This is also thanks to the always excellent music done by Akira Yamaoka. To be honest, other than those numb bodies, this was probably the least scariest part in the game. We are then introduced to Claudia Wolf, who is obviously a part of the cult that has been deeply rooted into Silent Hill's past. We don't find out much about her but she is definitely a rather menacing presence.
Heading down to the Subway Station brings back the terror that I have gotten to know from the series. The incredible restraint the developers show in this section is phenomenal and definitely reminded me just how scary these games are. For about 20 minutes there is nothing but you walking, and the sound of your footsteps. No music, no enemies, nothing. This plays terrible tricks on your mind and lets YOUR own brain turn against you. Finally, we end up at the bottom of the subways station and finally encounter our first enemies that are accompanied by the most ear piercing noise I've ever heard. If you remember this section of the game you know what I mean, the best I can describe it is if someone blew high pitched whistle in your ear and didn't stop. To be honest, I ran out of there as fast as I could and waited until I was prepared to return, which wasn't for awhile.
So I decided "Hey lets check the other platform just across here!" To my surprise there was nothing there so I continued forward and I was introduced into a cutscene. It was in first person of someone or something breathing extremely heavily and slowly walking behind Heather and eventually pushes her onto the tracks. Naturally, I was yelling at Heather to turn around and she didn't listen so I needed to scramble quickly to get back on the platform. Directly after that I read an article about the same thing happening to another passenger waiting for a train. This really stood out to me because it makes you feel like this isn't just RANDOMLY happening to the person your playing as, its been happening to people as long as the town has been there. We eventually get on board the train and I expected yet again to go into a cutscene but there was none. I had to walk through this damn train with no choice but to move forward which really made me claustrophobic and a bit worried combat wise. In Silent Hill 2, while still a survival horror game never really restrained you with ammo. In 3, they strike a great balance between health items, melee items, and ammo. You always tend to have ammo, but just enough that you don't want to use it unless absolutely necessary.
Before we jump to the Hilltop Center I would like to note that YET AGAIN, during the construction site we see that restraint of having no enemies and letting your mind do the work for the developers. While it was shorter than the subway, it was just as effective and was a great lead up to the Hilltop Center. Let me tell you a thing or two about the Hilltop Center, this is the scariest part of either games. There is one scene, just one that beats out almost anything in any game or movie ever ever ever. As I move around the Hilltop Center I am in desperate need of supplies and I'm in luck to find a small room open that may have some.
Turns out this room is filled with a bunch of mannequins (anyone know where I'm leading too). Anyway, Im no fool, I know as many do that mannequins are trouble, always have been. While most of the room is filled with a mannequin pieces, there is one that has a torso, arms and a head (as seen to the right). I really really tried to draw this out, I went to one side of the room, I went right up to the mannequin and pressed X, I went out of the room and back in... nothin. Feeling a little better I went to grab the two health drinks. At this point a horrifying scream filled the room, the lights flickered and I just about pissed my pants. Of course being the curious man I am, I go to see whats up and notice half of the mannequins head gone and in a pool of blood. Writing it out like this makes me feel kinda stupid but when it happened it was fucking terrifying. I stopped playing the game for 2 days, 2 DAYS until I could return to the game. The worst part of it all was I had to relive it again because I didn't save, genius. Oh but this isn't the end for this hell hole, no its got more tricks up its sleeve once we enter the other world.
Of course, the first thing I do is head to the 1st floor and what happens to be there? A massive monster blocking the exit that is just stained with blood. Naturally, the right thing to do is to get back on the elevator and for the love of god avoid the 1st floor at all cost! We also get to meet Vincent Smith here, which is one of my favorite characters in the game. He is a sly snake who tries to control all the angles he possibly can, and for the most part he does an excellent job. As I keep moving forward, I stumble into a room that is basically a giant mirror. This is a sign things are about to go terrible. Red vines start to creep on the walls, but only in the mirror and start to stalk Heather as I frantically run around to avoid it. We then get to see a bit of foreshadowing as we see something disgusting happen in the mirror version of Heather.
Luckily, we escape and head over to our apartment where Claudia shows up again, and sadly see a dead Harry Manson. This is kinda where I start to sympathize with Heather and turns from the bratty 18 year old to a more mature character. After we kinda get some more interesting insight that Heather probably isn't who she thinks she is, we begin the journey to Silent Hill. WOW, the drive up with Cartland was a huge info dump and turned the story of this game upside-down. I'm still not sure if I got it straight but from what we know as of now: Heather is actually Alessa who was killed in the first one but gets reborn as a baby and is given to Harry....by herself before she again dies in her adult form? Ya, it turned for the crazy, but in a good mind-bending way.
We have now arrived at Silent Hill, and thanks(?) to Vincent we have a lead on a man named Leonard Wolf. We don't know much but its our only option to find him in the hospital. We say goodbye to ole'Cartland and head on our journey. This is where familiarity kind of hurt the horror for me. While I know the hospital could be slightly different (different unlocked doors and such) I knew what to expect and it kinda suppressed the scare factor. I have to say though, all the small notes and an insane phone call from one Stanley Coleman really did make me worried about moving forward; expecting to run into this psycho at any corner. Again, the anticipation of this meeting really did a number on me and we never get to meet this strange character. However, we do get to have a number of interesting conversations with Leonard himself. He seems like someone we can trust, which made the fact that he was some creature that much more impactful, as well has him being Claudia's father.
Once we dispose of him and take his medallion we get to go to my favorite place... the damned amusement park again! It is nearly exactly the same, which isn't good since the place is crawling with monsters and is all around a horrible place to be. Once I enter the souvenir shop things start to change from the dream, we find a key to the roller coaster. This should come in handy so I don't get run over yet again. After we dodge the roller coaster (because the key didn't work??), we get led to the Haunted Mansion (which was so awesome). If they were trying to mimic Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, then bravo Silent Hill 3, bravo. They do an impeccable job of making it seem a bit cute and cartoony and then when you least expect it a brilliantly laid jump scare. It was the first time in my life I was laughing while also being scared shitless.
The last thing we do is is fight...well ourselves, well to be more descriptive, Alessa. A strange fight, but fitting with the twisty story of Silent Hill. After, we find Cartland in a rough spot and decide to leave him be and finish this without him.
We are on the homestretch now and have reached the church. We now know that "god" is impregnated inside of Heather/Alessa and is feeding off her anger for Claudia. We also figure out that Vincent (that sly sly man) has basically used us to eventually kill Claudia, and he throws in this line that really got me thinking. "Is that what they look like to you?! Monsters?" Now I realize he says he's joking directly after this but was he really? Has Heather been killing innocent people, has the "god" inside her driven her insane? It's something that is never answered but I'm still asking this even now, a week out from the game. To add further to the mystery, we find a confession box, with someone in it and Heather goes to talk on the other side. Its obviously a person is great distress, but who is it? Why are they here and how long have they been here? Mysterious are never in short supply in the town of Silent Hill. Oh, in case anyone is curious, I did forgive the woman inside.
Its finally time, we have caught up to Claudia and have witnessed her murdering Vincent. Heather quickly becomes incapacitated as the "gods" birth is near. Thank goodness Harry has prepared us with a red powder get rid of that nasty evil soul inside of Heather. She actually throws up the fetus of the "god", which is gross alone but is then followed by Claudia swallowing it (fantastic). The last boss fight was a struggle. I had low health and nearly no ammo, while I can appreciate how disgusting they made "the god" look (which is what Claudia visioned it to be) but I really really hated this fight. After a few attempts we kill the "god" and save the world from being consumed by the paradise (which the other world, and that is most definitely not a paradise) and head out of the church.
I got the ending where Heather (now going by Cheryl) plays a quick joke on Cartland and they ride off into the sunset. While I felt ok with this ending, the possessed one really sounded kinda interesting and made me further think about what Vincent said earlier in the game. I really really liked Silent Hill 3, I think I may even prefer it over 2. It's insane story is just what I expected from Silent Hill times 10 and I really enjoyed it. While no characters nearly matched James or Eddie, they did just enough and developed enough for me to warm up to them. This is a SCARY GAME, it took me much longer to beat this than 2 thanks to the massive peaks the game had. I still stand that overall 2 is more scary but the highs of 3 are just unmatched by any game.