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Forums > Next-Gen Gaming > EmP's Silent Hill Downpour diary.

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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: August 11, 2013 (05:09 AM)
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It's fair to say I didn't expect much from Downpour, so that I genuinely enjoyed the first, say, hour or so is somewhat of a surprise. The game opens with a brutal bit of prison violence a minute or so after you learn that protagonist, Murphy Pendleton, is serving time for unexplained reasons. He's shipped off to a high security prison after this, but there's a familiar looking chasm in the road, the bus crashes. He wakes up alone near the smashed vehicle.

Stuff that rocks -- there's a cool option to look over your shoulder which should prove for a good few natural jump scares.

Stuff that sucks -- awkward balance beam sections where you have to adjust your balance like a Wii mini game. An early moral choice (if to save a police office from a fall) that makes zero difference to the game no matter what you choose.

First trip to Otherwold happens quite early compared to the other games, and has some good segments where you just have to run the hell away from this reality tearing effect monster you never really see. If it gets close enough to you, chunks of you simply cease to exist until you're able to get away again. While you run, doors and walls can sometimes move or slam shut, and you can knock over things in your path to try and slow the thing chasing you.

Then combat hits, and everything starts to suck. Rather cleverly, Downpour has you actually rush to the aid of the game's first monster after a fellow convict is seen kicking the crap out of it, and it sobs like a brutalised girl. Then you have to fight it, and, for some many reasons, you wish you'd left the bloody thing to get pummelled.

Thus far, the game has presented me with four million different types of weapons, ranging from stones to wrenches to hatchets to bottles of wine. These all have lifespans and can only be used so much before they break, and you have to grab up something new. I'm thus far indifferent to this; I was annoyed by the system in games like Kouldelka, but it could work here because there's just so much to pick up and bludgeon people with. For my first fight, I had a frying pan.

So, yeah, combat. It's awful. The first couple of Silent Hills made combat frantic slices of panicked survival, but developers seem to think that passťe. Homecoming made combat overly easy but manageable with a dodge command -- that's gone too. There's now a block button that blocks seemingly anything. Therefore, combat boils down to hiding behind your block until your attacker finishes their pre-set combo, then wailing at them yourself until they block, rinse repeat. The banshee enemy that stars as your first handful of enemies are more or less adult version's of FEAR's Alma with Freddy Kruger hand blades. If they get annoyed at your blocking, they windmill their arms like a frustrated toddler.

The coolest thing they've done thus far is a disorienting scream attack you need to try and recover from while three of the buggers bear down on you (I ran the hell away). The lamest is the Resi Evil-like jump-out-on-you-and-say-boo crap this series used to take pride in staying away from.

Currently in some water works place where I have to solve a puzzles using water chutes and water wheels and streams of water. So, yeah, the game is based a lot around water. Will update after my next sizeable stint in.


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: August 11, 2013 (12:53 PM)
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This is a neat post, and an interesting way to learn about the game before any eventual review you might write. I do wish the Silent Hill developers Konami partners with--they're different every time--would be forced to take a test proving that the get what Silent Hill has always been about. There's a lot of potential still to do amazing things with the familiar core concepts explored in the first two or maybe even the first three games, I think, so why does the series insist on copying everything that's newer and less interesting?


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: August 13, 2013 (09:05 AM)
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Session two:

Iím starting to have very real doubts Iíll be able to play this game to completion.

Whatís most annoying about One of the many things thatís really bloody annoying about Downpour is how it manages to have one particular moment of absolute brilliance that convinces you that the cornerís been turned and that the game starts now. Then gives you sections that makes SH4 feel like a world beater. Escaping the cave I was last in means, first off, more awful combat with large pale bat-humanoids that routinely punch you in the head, then jump out of your range and onto the ceilings to troll you. Then I solve a typical SH puzzle, watch an NPC die, and strap myself in to a roller-coater-esque train thatís supposed to ship me out of the cave complex. And it does; not before making the ride trippy as hell. As a nice change of pace, itís not easy jump-scares, either. With your character strapped into place and unable to move, Downpour takes advantage of your inability to run the hell away. Itís an excellent segment, and, for the first time, I felt twangs of optimism.

Then you get into the town proper andÖ oh god, here we go.

Silent Hill, the sleepy resort town from Hell, is now the hub for a miniscule and pointless sandbox. Here, you can chase the main story onwards or partake in numerous side quests that range from opening bird cages on abandoned porches to returning stolen property to abandoned flats, for the reward of a dirty blue hoodie.

Letís throw off the pink glasses for a sec, folks; exploring Silent Hill itself was always kind of crap. You ran about to find the chasms in the road, avoided the monsters in the fog, and hoped youíd stumble upon the odd healing item. Now, the town is bigger, less linear and therein injects the extra excitement of nothing of note at all. Thereís also a complete lack of monsters. Donít get me wrong Ė combat in Downpour is equal measures frustrating (awful camera angles pose much more threat than the boring monsters that attack you) or dull (I block your attack, getting in some hits until you block, then I block again, etc) so not getting caught up in that shit is a plus, but that just leaves pointless meandering. Unless it rains, monsters will actually back away from you, leading to one satirical moment where some human-looking thing with a metal face brace would stand a few feet away doing Y2J poses, then backtrack like crazy when I got near. I had to chase a bat creature down a series of alleyways until he was cornered before I could get close enough to land a blow. As I was near some walls the camera, of course, had a huge fit and I more or less bludgeoned the thing to death with blind panic attacking.

Just made it to a tower block housing a radio station where the DJ seems to name drop me in between of playing older Silent Hill BGM tracks that remind you that the new OST isnít made by someone as downright brilliant as Akira Yamaoka. Two things have happed thus:

  • Easy water puzzle containing a flooded staircase and a fire truck complete with hose four feet away.


  • Bastard bat creatures killed mah dog!


  • Thatís as much as I can take for now.


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    Author: EmP (Mod)
    Posted: August 17, 2013 (08:29 AM)
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    Session Three:

    AAARRRRGGGHHHHHHH!


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    Author: EmP (Mod)
    Posted: August 19, 2013 (06:15 AM)
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    Session three - Fo realz:

    This is going to be a short one, because I honest to god rage quite after about half an hour.

    So, one rant Iíve not gotten around to yet is how Downpour, unlike every Silent Hill game ever made ever, uses an auto save function. This isnít going to be a rant against that system, which works brilliantly in other games Ė itís just a stupid idea for a survival horror where, should you waste too many valuable resources in a battle, youíll want to slip back to your last save and redo. Thatís a huge problem here as the awful combat paired with the awful camera make it so that enemies can effortlessly pummel you. Through no fault of your own, you may need to eat an entire dungeonís worth of healing items on one fight. Then, you win the fight, and the game promptly autosaves, meaning youíre stuck with it with no way of falling back on an earlier save.

    So, you start the new level in a low-ceiling multi-story car park where two bat creatures roam. They are perfect trolls who take three swipes at you (which you easily block) then leap on the ceiling and interrupt your counter attack by either a/ not being there (because theyíre now on the ceiling) or b/ swiping at you from a non-defendable location (did I mention? Theyíre now on the ceiling.). Not a big deal: you can more or less run past them, and running from combat has long been the better option in Silent Hill games, anyway. You then have to use your new forensic flashlight to search for clues on where to go next. As such, you have to follow what the game clearly wants you to believe is a blood trail except this blood is bright white and only shows up under a UV light. This led me to believe I would not find a corpse at the end of my search, but a heavily masturbating monster. What I found was worse: a series of tight corridors with low ceilings, an awful attempt at a cheap jump scare, and bat creatures that literally block to way forward and back that battered me from both sides while the camera did its best to ensure both monsters were always off screen by focusing obsessively on a corner.

    I quit so I could play some Gain Ground instead. It's scarier.


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    Author: EmP (Mod)
    Posted: September 17, 2013 (07:05 AM)
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    So, I limped through the tower block stage I was talking about almost a month ago (because thatís how long I needed to get over the last rage quit) cursing and swearing along the way. At its core, Downpour is just dull exploration interspersed with aggravating combat, forcing the gamer to trudge around drab environments hoping to spy an exit sign. Previous Silent Hill games have been built upon similarly shaky foundations, save the handicap of sheer dullness. In its efforts to be the stand out new-gen Silent Hill, Downpourís answer seems to be to highlight the long standing negatives, then add brand new negatives to pile on top. I checked my progress around the five hour mark (as the game keeps a list of your activities throughout) and found I had spent 24 minutes or so browsing my notebook for clues and information. That sounded about right. What was damning was that I had spent stingingly weak 17 or so minutes on Otherworld.

    Donít get me wrong; the game shouldnít be all about the dimension shift, but itís never been needed more. The other games have all managed to make places before slipping into otherworld appropriately macabre, but in Downfall, the worst that can be said about them is theyíre dirty and in disrepair. When Otherworld eventually (and briefly) hits, it literally burns away reality, leaves the rusty industrial world of pain we all know and love (plus 450% more water this time around Ė itís a theme!) then has you run the hell away from the ball of energy monster I mentioned in the first post. Donít get me wrong Ė these chases are often pretty cool, and the game even manages to show some creativity in how it tries to catch you while you flee, but they last five or so minutes at best. You escape, Otherworld fades, and youíre back in a razed building and stuff looks damp.

    The block stage was a low point. It made SH3ís subway stage look like a Lovecraftian nightmare made interactive. To be fair to the game, it then shepherds you towards the next plot point, but you didnít have to go there. You could explore the town more and try to tick off some of the side quests but, really, why would you want to?

    The next stage is an orphanage, which is much, much better. Thereís one bit where a childrenís stage for a play is slowly turned into a wooden cabin in the woods, held under siege by a frantic storm thatís all being housed inside a large hall. Even though youíve seen that you should be able to walk across the entire room in a few strides, every step takes you deeper into a forest that has no real right to exist while you get drenched in rain seemingly falling from the ceiling. Itís surreal and quickly ruined by combat.

    Thing is, I canít even be angry at the combat anymore. Itís become a parody of itself, and just strikes me as silly. Besieged by a small group of monsters, I naturally back myself into a corner so my back is protected, and the camera canít deal with this, so will start spinning around the protagonist haphazardly. Itís hard not to laugh and you have to try and fight things trying to claw off your face, and a viewpoint that wantís to focus on your characterís forehead and ignore the things trying to cleave it off. Itís funny, and in being so, effortlessly dispels the entire atmosphere it manages to sometimes build up.

    Beat the orphanage, had a boss fight against The Boogyman. Heís a big fellow in a gas mask that chases you through the entire stage with a huge hammer. To kill him, you literally hit him half a dozen times until he falls over and then take his hammer (by pressing A!) Small cut scene, and heís dead.

    I have absolutely no idea where I am supposed to go next. I though the way forward was through a sewer I'd found, but that was just a dead end with a fishing pole leant up against the wall because.... I don't know.


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    Author: EmP (Mod)
    Posted: October 19, 2013 (03:40 PM)
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    Game's beaten. Going to chew this over for a while.


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