Review: Silent Hill Downpour

It’s raining, it’s pouring, Pendleton is mourning…

Silent Hill: Downpour, the eighth in the series, follows convict Murphy Pendleton as he makes his way through the only hell worse than prison, the town of Silent Hill.

The game opens with an officer escorting Murphy to the showers, where the player is encouraged to savagely beat a sequestered prisoner.  At the moment, we don’t know who this man is or why Murphy hates him so much.  Once he is finished, the next scene finds Murphy in transit to another facility, but on the way there, the bus takes a massive off road detour, and Murphy is stranded on the outskirts of Silent Hill.

While the player tries to figure out Murphy’s story, Murphy tries to piece together the mysteries of the town.  Murphy runs across a few humans along the way, most notably Anne Cunningham, a police officer from another facility that seems to really hate Murphy.  But mostly it’s just him, the monsters and his own dark past.

The story is fantastic, one of the best Silent Hill games to emerge in recent years, and spoiling any of it would ruin the experience.  I achieved the forgiveness ending on my first playthrough, which of all the endings I’ve seen, seems to explain the opening sequence the best.  The game is also aided by several small sidequests (actually, some of them are quite time consuming).  Some of the sidequests shed further light on Murphy himself, while others just give the player a glimpse into what life in Silent Hill is like.  Since apparently no one wants to live there anymore, but they still have a DJ and a Postman.  The town becomes its own character, much more than in some of the older games.  It’s nice that the town itself becomes a monster, as the monster designs themselves are fairly weak when compared to other games.  And there were no demon dogs.  There is absolutely no excuse for a convict not to have some sort of hang-up with dogs, thank you very much.  The weeping bats worked wonders for me, however, as they always managed to get me from the ceiling.

Some people are quick to point out the games flaws, and I don’t want to gloss over them.  The fact is, they are there, and it would be nice to be aware of them going into the game.  Especially if deciding if you want to buy it now or wait for the price to drop.  The biggest issue I noticed was with framerates dropping, especially in between sections of the town and when the game was saving.  It generally only happens outside, and I believe the cause is the environment being too large for whatever engine they were using to build it.  While annoying at times, it’s hardly game breaking, so if you’re looking for a good horror game, Downpour is still one of your best bets among the recent crop.  Honestly, if you used to play games on the NES, then you can handle a few dropped framerates.  It’s hardly the end of the world.

Oh, and I will fully admit to being a terrible person.   Every time Murphy happened upon the shower, I was waiting for a soap comment.  And I blame my coworker, who still has a hold of his soap.

 

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