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Silent Hill

Review By: Siou Choy

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
# of Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror
ESRB: Mature
Date Posted: 12-5-00

Using a visually dull but extremely effective motif of rusted iron and blood, the corridors and hallways of the "hidden" halves of the school, hospital, and later, town are filled with an omnipresent feeling of menace and the sensation that some new terror, even imminent death lay just around the corner (a definite possibility, given Harry's pathetic office worker constitution - somebody put this guy on an exercise program, quick!). The music (and lack thereof) is subtle and ambient, and really adds to the atmosphere - if you really want to find yourself on the edge of your seat, with your hair standing on end, try playing this one while hooked up through a home speaker system at 4 or 5 in the morning, alone - trust me, you'll be a nervous wreck, and that's presupposing you're a swaggering tough guy type! The subtle, muted soundtrack is enhanced in unexpectedly complementary ways by the patter of footsteps, the steady beating of Harry's nervous heart, the ambient sounds of the various environments (and the complete absence of sound in others, which often provides the most tense minutes of the Silent Hill experience), and the eerie crackling of your radio, which seems to burst into increasingly loud static every time danger is near.

Unless you're great at puzzles (and great at simple jobs like keeping wimps alive in the middle of a warzone), you'll probably need a strategy guide to get through this game; but that tends to be par for the course with most survival horror/RPG games. Health and items are few and far between, so be sure to conserve whenever possible - but doing that and staying alive at the same time are next to impossible sometimes! This is an extremely challenging game, but well worth the time and effort. Need I mention that this one is NOT for the kiddies? There may not be a lot of explicit "violence" (i.e., you won't be kicking the heads off zombies here), and this is certainly no splatterfest, but the game does deal extensively with (and in fact, revolves around ) the occult, and is extremely frightening, even for the hardiest of adults. Any kid playing this one would be doomed to weeks of nightmares, and possible emotional scarring! This game is all about FEAR, at a very primal level. While the "shocks" are decidedly few and far between (you won't have zombies crashing through windows at unexpected times), the atmosphere is so preternaturally WRONG somehow, that you will definitely find yourself on the edge of your seat jumping at shadows, particularly if you're playing this alone, late at night.

In short, this is probably (in my own personal and decidedly subjective opinion) THE greatest of ALL survival horror games currently released (and yes, I own the entire Resident Evil series, and am a huge fan of at least the first Parasite Eve, among other games of greater or lesser quality in the genre), and well worth a purchase. This is what horror is supposed to be about. And the way it sucks you in and gets you involved, excited, thrilled, and engrossed in its own little imaginary, computer generated world is what GAMING is supposed to be all about. Perhaps a few more game designers should take their cues from Konami. The world could definitely do with more games of this level of quality, whatever their genre or focus.


THE scariest game out there today, period. Extremely engrossing gameplay, perfect atmospherics and use of music as well as other, more subtle embellishments to draw the player into the world of Silent Hill. There is an actual storyline in the game (and not one that takes 4 separate releases to make up a page or two of plot). Returns the horror genre to a more basic and instinctive level of fear of the unknown, as opposed to the shock of the visceral (something the horror genre per se seems to have forgotten since the mid 1970s).


Typically difficult survival horror game controls. Harry is a complete wimp, making it nearly impossible to get through more than one "fight" without finding yourself on the verge of death; and Konami was far too skimpy in distribution of health restoratives and bullets throughout the game, making Silent Hill more difficult than necessary (and resulting in several repeat sequences). 


Silent Hill is definitely not one for the kids or the faint of heart, but for anyone seeking a challenging, engrossing several hours of gameplay in a frightening, dreamlike setting, it is HIGHLY recommended. Despite its few flaws in design (the initial difficulty of mastering Harry's movements, the matter of his health and combat worthiness), the discriminating gamer (i.e., anyone who won't be pouting that "I'm bored" after spending 2 consecutive minutes without getting chomped on by a zombie) will find the Silent Hill experience more than just a little rewarding, and may very well find themselves wondering just what everyone sees in that "other" survival horror series, after all.

Overall Score: 9.5

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