Product Type: Konami PSP games
Newest Review: ... this series (and if you've never played a Silent Hill game you've been missing out on some of the best videogame storytelling there's e... more
Horror on a handheld finally shows its potential
Silent Hill Origins (PSP)
Member Name: TimStain
Silent Hill Origins (PSP)
Advantages: Great atomosphere. Genuinely frightening. You can play it in a graveyard.
Disadvantages: Doesn't bring many new features to the series.
How can horror possibly work on a console with a screen barely the size of a credit card? Meet the game that finally shows the potential handheld gaming has to scare us.
You play as Travis; a truck driver who initially doesn't seem to have much reason to explore Silent Hill. However, as the story develops we learn Travis has a sinister link to the town of his own. The plot may seem weak at times, and takes a while to get going but once it picks up it's as good a story as you'd expect from this series (and if you've never played a Silent Hill game you've been missing out on some of the best videogame storytelling there's ever been). You have to explore the town, it's dismal (that's a good thing) locations and all while being shadowed by a mysterious serial killer. It's like living in [insert place name here to complete hack joke].
The biggest fault of Origins is that if you've played Silent Hill before, you'll find nothing new here. Deserted hospitals and prisons have been milked to death by this series and even most of the enemies are recycled. It's a shame, but what it lacks in innovation it makes up for in mastery. The horror is still there, the atmosphere is spot on (a credit to the fantastic graphics and aesthetics throughout) controls are solid with decent combat, and the game does have a few unique scares of its own. One sequence involving spying on several hotel rooms is one of the most chilling I've ever encountered in a game.
The game is available for the PlayStation 2 and a handheld, but there's a good reason I'm recommending the PSP version. Horror is more suited to a handheld than people realise. Play it in the dark, with a good set of headphones and I'd argue you get a scarier experience than you would playing it on a television. With television speakers you can still hear noises around you, but with headphones all you can hear is the game, thus you have no idea what's going on around you and you'd be surprised how effective that is for sucking you in.
At first Origins might seem like a pointless entry in the Silent Hill series, with a distinct lack of new ideas. But it merits its existence by being the first example of horror done effectively on a handheld. Let's hope it's not the last.
Summary: An underrated gem, worth playing just to see how effective handheld horror can be.
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