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Bloody horrible. The original Silent Hill was bloody horrible in every way when released. It got inside my head, messed me up. So why did I keep on going back to the video shop to rent it that summer until I had completed it? And why had I bought this PSP copy of Silent Hill Origins when I knew I would more than likely struggle to play it through fear of soiling my pants?
I know myself better than anyone. Silent Hill: Origins sat in the corner of my cupboard gathering dust for nigh on two months. It wasnít a case of not having time to play it, or that I was busy finishing off another game. I had played the entire series concurrently on other consoles and the experience had turned me inside out. In fact, it took me four months to complete Silent Hill: The Room because I could only play it in quick ten-minute bursts.
After slapping myself around a bit and reminding myself I was 22-years-old, I booted up Origins and played it in a well-lit room with my family around me watching Eastenders. And I played it again the next night. And I finished it the third night without a break. And I felt terribly deflated.
There was no doubt about it. This visit to Silent Hill wasnít as engrossing as the others.
Silent Hill is one of those things that hits you when you arenít looking. Over the years, I had read conspiracy theories on the net, drawn myself into this little sleepy town and become an unashamedly queer little fan boy. But all of that completely escaped me when playing Origins.
I couldnít evaluate why. It was the same setting as the other games, the same creepy buildings were revisited, and there were some pretty gruesome monsters. So why was I constantly being distracted by whether Phil had bumped off Archie or not? Why did I put the PSP down for small periods to watch Billy Mitchell gurn at Honey? There was no doubt about it. This visit to Silent Hill wasnít as engrossing as the others.
I put that down to me being older and wiser, but quickly dismissed it. Alton Towers gets more fun every time I go - age is certainly a factor there. Also, this is a game; a well established series. Why I was so disappointed drove me as far as the first time I dipped my toe into the series and explored why I liked it so much. The only explanation was that the developers had botched it up. They had let me down.
Well, botched is maybe too strong a word. It sounds like surgery gone wrong. But something felt decidedly blunt about Origins. I couldnít put my finger on it. I felt bad; I usually go back to a Silent Hill game after Iíve completed it as Iím less timid, I know what to expect. But I didnít feel like replaying Origins. It seemed like a straight-forward brawler with run-of-the-mill puzzles and a threadbare character I didnít much care about.
Maybe that was half of it. Lead character Travis was typecast from the first cutscene. A redneck trucker in a plaid shirt with a southern hyuck-hyuck drawl. Sure he had underlying mental issues - who doesnít in Silent Hill after all? - but they seemed rather tame in comparison to what Iíve seen before. He wasnít searching for anyone, or anything. He just turned up to Silent Hill in his van to make up the numbers. AND he was adept at throwing a punch or too. There was no running around like a scared child for Travis. Look at him the wrong way and youíd more likely loose a tooth than your marbles.
It seemed like a straight-forward brawler with run-of-the-mill puzzles and a threadbare character I didnít much care about.
Which is when it hit me. Everything about this whole package was wrong. The lead character was wrong, the design was wrong, and most of all, Silent Hill on the PSP was wrong. From the off, it had no chance of sucking me into its world on such a tiny screen and limited resources. So maybe it should be hailed as an achievement that the developers did so well to fit it onto Sonyís black baby?
No chance. I canít give it the plaudits it so probably and possibly deserves. Because, like looking forward to a camping holiday with friends and having it rain all weekend, Silent Hill Origins was nothing more to me than a damp washout. I put it back in its case in the corner of the cupboard to gather dust. This time though, for all the wrong reasons.
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