Thursday, September 6, 2012

The only thing we have to fear...

I keep playing Silent Hill games because I hope to someday re-live the terror or the first two, and to a much lesser extent the third game. Every game since has been frightening not because of what was happening but because I remembered what had happened before and was worried it could get to that point again. I was scared of the new games because they just might live up to the earlier titles. Anyone who has played the series can attest to the fact that they never did.

Silent Hill was the first frightening game I had ever played, having missed out on System Shock 2 because I did not know that PC's could be used for more than anatomical 'research.' I played that game in the wee hour of the morning when I should have been sleeping and then couldn't sleep because I had been playing the game. Silent Hill 2 game me nightmares, specifically the sound of pyramid head's blade dragging against the ground is what did it. It woke me up screaming at least once.

Ever since I have played the games with the lights on and in short spurts just in case they moved from 'this is mildly uncomfortable' to 'oh my ever loving god I need a new pair of fucking pants.' They have also been surpassed by Fatal Frame 2 as the most frightening thing I have even put myself through, but still, I have hope.

Had hope, anyway.

Silent Hill Downpour reminds me more of The Suffering than its predecessors, and not just because it stars a grizzled prisoner who may or may not be guilty of what he was imprisoned for. The Suffering was never very frighting, just gross and unsettling. Downpour opens with the protagonist (?) dreaming about beating a fat man to death in the shower. That definitely qualifies as 'icky,' but it is not going to give me nightmares. The dark world, in spite of being augmented with a very cool fish eye lens effect, is too mechanized to be frightening. It feels like the game has given up on being scary and left that to the likes of Amnesia, opting to look cool and a little disturbing instead. Cool and a little disturbing is a crowded space (read that as most games that use the Unreal engine...) and Downpour has done nothing in its first hour or so to separate itself from the pack.

I quit about half an hour before I went to bed. I wasn't scared, I just wanted to play Rock Band Blitz. Still, after I had wandered up two flights of stairs in the dark and taken out my contacts I heard something from outside. It was far away, and I think it was coyotes yelling at each other. I think.

Fucking Silent Hill games...

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