After testing several Silent Hill games for my Youtube channel, I got compelled to play the first game in the franchise. It’s strange, I actually like survival horror games but haven’t played any of the Silent Hill titles until this one.
Let’s talk about this game today!
Silent Hill is a survival horror game developed by Team Silent and published by Konami. While driving to Silent Hill with his daughter, Harry Mason accidentally crashes his car and passes out. After coming to, his daughter is nowhere to be found. You’ll play as Harry and help him on his quest to find his daughter.
In searching for your daughter, you’ll need to explore what’s left of Silent Hill and attempt to find clues and solve puzzles that will let you explore further. You will face strange creatures that will try to kill you on sight. Occasionally, you’ll find yourself in a warped version of the town with even stranger monsters.
You’ve got a health meter in this game, which comes in the form of your portrait’s background in the menu (green at full, red when near death). There are several health items scattered across town which you can use to fill up your health. You only have one life in this game so when you get killed, it’s game over.
However, the game has a save system and true to Playstation 1 games, you are only limited to the available free space on your memory card. You can have multiple saves and can restart from any of them. You can’t save your game any time though. You’ll need to find these little notepads that are scattered across the town in order to save.
Visuals, Sound, and Presentation
To be honest, the gameplay of Silent Hill is really nothing to write home about. It’s a standard 3D adventure game without any real innovations in the game mechanics. What sets this game apart from the rest is how it makes use of visuals and sound to tell its story. First off, the decision to cover the game’s technical limitations with fog is such a brilliant idea.
It fits well with the idea of the town being abandoned and reinforces the thought that something supernatural is causing these mysterious events. The town’s locations look lived in and then abandoned. Houses look real, both from the outside and inside. And the other structures also feel quite real: the school, the hospital, the mall, and so on.
The sound design also perfectly reinforces this game’s horror theme. The music can go from silence to creepy ambient music or to unsettling themes depending on the situation. I felt chills down my spine more than once whenever the game would play a sound effect that would serve as a jump scare. Also related to sound is the game’s voice acting, which was actually quite decent. In an era when voice acting was terrible, this game surprised me with it’s voice actors. They did a great job, considering that voice acting in video games was still quite new.
The game also makes use of FMV for the handful of cutscenes that it has. While not as good as Square’s 3D graphics, this game’s FMVs were still quite good. Silent Hill was quite a polished game in all aspects of presentation.
Enemies and Boss Battles
Usually, I complain whenever a game doesn’t have enough enemy variety. But for Silent Hill, I think having a limited enemy variety is quite fitting. The game is based on the real world, so there are only a few believable enemies that you could come up with. Early in the game, all you’ll face are these mutated dogs and flying creatures. They’re more than enough to keep you on your toes as you investigate.
Later on, you’ll encounter other enemy types, like these creepy humanoids that react to your flashlight. You’ll be able to fight them off using various melee and ranged weapons, all based on real world items. You’ll also have to learn when to fight and when to use stealth to sneak past these monsters.
The few bosses that this game has are quite memorable too, thanks to brilliant creature design. Split Head is a giant mutated monster that looks almost like a dinosaur, but with a mouth that opens horizontally instead of up-and-down. Twinfeeler looks like a mutated giant centipede that burrows in and out of the ground.
I won’t spoil the rest of the bosses. All I’ll say further is that I was quite satisfied with this game’s menagerie of creatures. Each type and boss was quite satisfying to fight and defeat.
I still can’t believe that I missed out on Silent Hill and never bothered trying it out all these years. I’m a big fan of the Resident Evil franchise but I enjoyed playing this game more than any of the Resident Evil games that came out on the Playstation 1. The game has a compelling storyline that will keep you going forward. It’s use of visuals and sound to depict an unsettling experience is a masterclass.
Even with dated graphics, this game managed to get my heart racing several times as I was playing it. Small things like partial camera control, drawing fog to limit visibility, and good voice acting all help in making this game a timeless classic. I definitely recommend Silent Hill to anyone who likes survival horror games, especially if you can play it on a device that allows for resolution upscaling. I had such a good experience with this game, I’m already considering doing a playthrough of the sequel.
If you want to check out the other Playstation 1 video games that I’ve played, click here!