Silent Hill: Origins – Small screen, big fears.

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The manual’s cover art incroduces you to the mood of Silent hill better than box art.

I love Silent Hill franchise. The atmosphere the games have is unmatched and no other title even came close to what Silent Hill can do with your mind. I didn’t expected a lot from a horror game made for a handheld console and oh boy… I got positively surprised.

Silent Hill: Origins will tell you a story of how it all began and about Travis’ past, which obviously is tragic, but the way it is told is marvelous. Right at the start there’s a warm welcome with a great song, which you can tell is from a Silent Hill game without even playing the game. A great start to the great game.
I think developers served us a first popper right on the beginning, by telling us about mirrors in the manual and tips inside the game. Mirrors lets you jump between normal world and the other world. I think, that if there was nothing said about this feature, the first contact with the mirror would create a much stronger emotions. Anyway this feature is put to a good use later.

Talking about emotions, Silent Hill’s developers reached perfection in making the player disturbed, uneasy and terrified. Even the riddles are made in this way. Along the way, one place can awake fears in you only to force you to face this place later, because riddle demands it. The game slowly feeds your fear, just to make you face it once it is build up. The environment, the letters, the story, everything is crafted to make your imagination run wild and do the rest. Turning your imagination against you is what Silent Hill series does better than any other horror.

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Night, no lights and headphones. Am I brave now?

Ok, so this is a third person perspective game on the PSP, where we don’t have the second analog stick, just one. How does the camera and overall controls work? Camera works fine most of the time. Sometimes there are strange decisions, such as after entering some doors the camera is from behind you and other times it is facing you and you can’t see anything. The L button is for camera centering, which comes in handy very often and works well. D-pad is for quick weapon management, which I find comfortable. R is for battle stand and you have good control over Travis. The major complaint is for walking after camera shifts. Sometimes the character changes a direction too fast after camera shifts, resulting in going in circles if you run. The analog stick is surprisingly sensitive and keeping your direction after camera shift may be difficult.
The fight in the game is well made. Some monsters attack can result in a quick time event, while other simply charge at you. It keeps encounters interesting. There are a lot of melee weapons and they can be destroyed with use. There are also single use weapons. You will get a lot of them and using melee weapons early in the game will be unavoidable due to ammo for firearms shortage. However, in last parts you will find tons of stuff to shoot with.

Graphically the game is outstanding for the PSP. If it wasn’t for facial details, I’d say it looks like on a PS2. Sceneries do a great job in keeping Silent Hill’s atmosphere. The only technical complaint I have is about frequent loading, but I guess that’s just the PSP’s nature. They aren’t long most of the time but when you summarize everything, there is a lot of waiting.

When I look around the internet I see that Silent Hill: Origins pretty much opens the list of good games of the series. While the game has all variety of Silent Hill’s tricks, it has one major issue. It is the length. I beat the game in about 6 hours of easy going without a haste. That’s really short. It would be nice if there were multiple ending, but there are only three including infamous UFO ending. I also couldn’t get used to Travis’ behavior at some times. It felt awkward in some places. In the end the game is great and I think, the Sanatorium part of the game makes up for those flaws. Definitely worth picking up for those few terrifying hours in Silent Hill.

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