Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Silent Hill 3 (Spoilers)

namaskāraṁ ToriJ vīḍiyēā geyiṁ viśakalanaṅṅaḷ svāgataṁ. We've come to the end of Women's Month and there's only one more place left to visit before we move on to April, Silent Hill! This time a teenaged girl named Heather traverse the strange town as she finds herself in the middle of a cult's plot to bring back Paradise. This also marks the first game in the franchise where you play as a female protagonist. Funny how they keep waiting until 3 to do that. Now, I must admit I actually played the HD version on Xbox but since I'm only reviewing one of the games it didn't feel right to use the HD cover. Let's dive right in!

  The service here is so terrible I actually fell asleep waiting for the food.

The game starts off in similar fashion to the first game with splices of footage mixed in with our main character riding in a car. After that Heather arrives at an amusement park wondering just where the hell she is and how to get out. If you're the player at this point you're probably wondering the same thing. Hi, Bunny!

Right off the bat and already the camera angles are nauseating. You have your fixed camera angles that were the norm for survival horror at the time, but it jumps around while you're moving. Not in the same style as Resident Evil, it will start doing it when you're in one part of the room. There's a button to move the camera behind you but that just makes it worse. Is one of Silent Hill powers to make you seasick?

Just like the first game there's a scene where you think you're dead, but you just wake up at a cafe safe and sound. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I have to say the voice acting has significantly improved since the first game. It still has that undertone of amateurish style to it, but it isn't so distracting this time around. Heather sounds genuine, the detective is passable, and the crazy cult lady sounds like a crazy cult lady.

  Not like any sermon I've ever heard before.

Heather is likeable from the start and comes across as a regular teenager being pulled into crazy situations by the nature of Silent Hill. I especially enjoy her inner monologs when you're looking through items in the game. That's another thing I like about Silent Hill, instead of just giving you a description of objects like in Resident Evil or Devil May Cry, you get a lot more personality since it's the character commenting on them.

Unlike SH2 which has no connection to the first game whatsoever, SH3 continues the cult plot established in the first game and our protagonist is revealed to be the adoptive daughter of Harry from the first game, and the reincarnation of Alessa Gillespie. “Just when I finally get out, they PULL me back in!”

The girl is quick to anger when she's frustrated (who isn't at that age?) and can be pretty sarcastic, which comes in handy surprisingly well when dealing with the monsters of Silent Hill. Her personality takes a notable shift with the loss of her father and she fills that void with Douglas. The detective that was hired by Claudia to find her, but upon finding out she sent all those monsters after her decides he wants nothing to do with her and takes Heather to Silent Hill supporting her throughout the rest of the game.

Claudia's character is actually pretty tragic. Almost as much as Alessa. Raised up in a crazy cult, beaten by her own father, and her closest friend was hospitalized after a house fire. Claudia views the world as corrupt and needing to be cleansed in order to bring about Paradise where all can be forgiven. Hence her plan to revive God through Heather. If you thought Heather had a temper, this woman will fucking cut you if you get on her bad side. While she serves as the game's antagonist, you can understand her motivations. Claudia, like Alessa, knows pain better than anyone, and believes that a god born from that same pain is more likely to create a better Paradise than one who isn't. Her mindset is one that believes it's better to destroy and start over from scratch than try to repair the corruption that's already present.

  You're one ugly mother fucker!

Monsters will sneak up on you in a heartbeat. The worse thing is you can be running from them trying to find another room only for EVERY SINGLE DOOR to have a broken lock. How many locks are broken in this mall? Do they not have a guy to fix them? On the plus side there's a block button. Yeah, I know, the game actually has a block button. I'm shocked, too.

The gameplay hasn't changed all that much from the first two games. You can choose difficulty for the combat and puzzles separately before starting your game. The puzzles get pretty creative on the hardest difficulties and requires actual knowledge to solve. Save areas this time around are symbols you can find throughout the areas you explore that Heather recognizes from her past life, instead of the notes in the first game. I like how even the save areas are changed to reflect the character.

Unlike the last two games you don't start out in Silent Hill. You actually start in a mall outside of the town building up to the entrance into the city. It's actually kind of creepy that the monsters from Silent Hill can appear in a different town. Before you just thought they were limited to the city. I know, it's because the cult leader is after her, but still. That's pretty freaking terrifying! You know what that reminds me of? That lady from the Grudge who follows you after you enter her house. That's just creepy.

  Like looking into a mirror. A really bloody mirror.

I feel like I'm stating the obvious here, but this game is scary as hell. SH3 builds the suspense up so great that the slightest thing can make you jump if you're not expecting it. The horror is subtle as I feel good horror should be. You enter a room, and turn the camera around just in time to see a monster slowly approaching and your only option is to run. Ammunition is sacred so you'd want to save them as much as possible. Unfortunately for me when I get scared I shoot things. I should probably work on that.

While the town in Silent Hill 1 was shaped around the nightmare of Alessa, Silent Hill 2 changed it to where the town shaped around the psychology of the player character which changed the course of the series forever. Here the central themes are maternity and femininity since the cult leader wants to impregnates Heather to birth their god. As such we have monsters who may represent the fear women have about their bodies when they get pregnant, repressed memories of being abused, and even problematic pregnancies. Wow... I picked a good game to review for Women's Month, huh?

Even some of the monsters appearances, like the Closer I showed two pictures up, and the sounds they make can be linked to the female body. It's crazy thinking about just how much imagination and thought went into the symbolism in these games. Like any good symbolism they're open to interpretation which can lead to a lot of interesting discussion. A game that gives you something to think about afterwords? Didn't know those existed.

  Hey, my mirror joke just came around full circle. GET ME OUT OF HERE!

What more can I say about Silent Hill 3? The game is a worthy sequel to SH1 and I won't be forgetting it any time soon. If you haven't picked it up then I'd highly recommend doing so now.

And that's the end of Women's Month. I hoped you enjoy this month as much as I have and I'll see you next week as we jump on the road to WrestleMania, and I have just the game in honor of the occasion. Catch you soon.

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