Genre: Survival Horror
Release Date: 2007
It’s still difficult to say much of anything about Silent Hill: Origins, except that I’ve played it at this point… or rather, I’ve played an extremely early build, at the recent Konami barbecue at the Firehouse Building in San Francisco.
At E3, Konami was talking about how they’d come up with a new camera system that solves the usual problem you run into on the PSP, where people keep making 3D games that require a second thumbstick, which is of course not there.
Origins circumvents this by using a gameplay system similar to that of Resident Evil 4, where the camera is usually set behind and to the right of the game’s main character. In other words, you’ll spend most of your time looking at the back of Travis O’Grady’s head. In certain circumstances, such as when you enter narrow alleyways, the camera will veer around to present a different, slightly skewed angle.
Silent Hill: Origins is set slightly before the original Silent Hill. Travis O’Grady is an ordinary truck driver who’s making a delivery to Silent Hill, and gets caught up in the events surrounding the beginning of the first game.
His goal is, simply, to get back to his truck so he can escape Silent Hill, but that’ll take him across the entire town. One-third of Origins’s version of Silent Hill is taken from the past games in the series, while two-thirds of it is brand new. One addition is a movie theater on Crichton Street, which is a bit of set design from the movie.
Travis will visit familiar locations like Alchemilla Hospital as well as brand-new areas such as an asylum. Along the way, he’ll meet characters like Michael Kaufmann and Dahlia and Alessa Gillespie, all from the original Silent Hill. There are eight brand-new enemies in Origins, such as the bizarre zombie-esque Affected (that’s them in the screenshots), as well as three bosses. Apparently, these enemies have less to do with the cult’s activities in Silent Hill than they have to do with Travis’s troubled past.
In this build, Travis was equipped with a sledgehammer, a pistol, and a flashlight. Unlike past Silent Hill games, he didn’t have to switch between one or the other; the sledgehammer could be swung by pressing a button, and had a fairly devastating three-hit combo, while the pistol could be readied on the fly just by pushing the R button. He even had a laser sight on the handgun to make aiming it easier, although Konami’s crew says the laser sight may be removed in the final game.
One new feature of Origins that wasn’t revealed in the build I played is the Barricade System, which’ll apparently let you fortify a room to help keep monsters out. Given how much damage the Affected did with a single swing, taking off maybe 25% of Travis’s lifebar, I can see how this would be helpful.
Arguably most importantly, Origins features a full soundtrack by Akira Yamaoka, the sound director for every other game in the Silent Hill series. There’ll be fourteen new musical tracks by Yamaoka in the final game, four of which are voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. It’s her who sang on past tracks like “You’re Not Here” and “Waiting For You” (from Silent Hill 3 and Silent Hill 4: The Room, respectively).
It’s hard to say much of anything else about Origins. The game looks okay at this point, and Konami seems to be returning to the series’s roots in a big way after Silent Hill 4. I’ll be waiting to see how it shapes up in the months to come.
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