Silent Hill: Downpour Review
A decent attempt which doesn't quite manage to reach its full potential
Posted by Annie H (Flux88) on Jul 31, 2012 - 10:34pm EST (Jul 31, 2012 22:34)
As in previous games of the series, the player will come across a few puzzles they need to solve in order to progress; the puzzles are rather on the easy side and will not be any trouble to most players, additionally they are interesting enough so they will not bore. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the game’s side quests, which mostly feel like errands with no significant purpose and add nothing to the game. Further, the game’s battle system is frustrating to say the least. Murphy’s movements feel ‘heavy’ and at times the character seems to not be responding to the player’s commands. Murphy can use a big range of melee weapons from knives and axes to a fire extinguisher, though these weapons get broken and become unusable after a while. Players can only carry one melee weapon and one firearm at a time, which doesn’t make things any easier. When the melee weapon brakes in the middle of a fight it can become pretty annoying, as even if the player enters the menu in order to equip their other weapon the game does not freeze and Murphy remains vulnerable to enemy attacks.
In the visual department, Silent Hill and all of the other locations look quite polished. The designers’ efforts to make the town look abandoned and gloomy are obvious. In other words, a lot of attention has been paid to the little details making Silent Hill feel as creepy and horrifying as ever. The character models though do not show the same level of detail, and most of the monsters – with the clear exception of the Bogeyman - seem a bit uninspired. Sadly the game also suffers from a serious case of screen tearing and framerate drops, which become more than obvious at times. Another new feature of Downpour is the 3D option, which isn’t anything special and does not add much to the gameplay experience.
Silent Hill: Downpour is the first game in the franchise not to feature Akira Yamaoka as a composer. which was one of the major concerns among Silent Hill fans. Many were disappointed by Korn creating the main song for the game, even before Downpour was released; there was even an online petition in attempt to have it removed. Fortunately, Daniel Licht – known mainly as the composer of the soundtrack of the TV series Dexter – manages to hold his own and creates a decent soundtrack for the game. Nevertheless, the music in Downpour lacks Yamaoka’s touch and his absence is unavoidably noticeable.
In conclusion, it is always difficult to judge a game which is a part of a well-liked series, as one has to keep a balance between seeing Downpour as a Silent Hill game and also as an individual title. It is obvious that Vatra Games tried to give us a worthwhile sequel, but unfortunately this attempt was not entirely successful. Downpour looks like a Silent Hill game, but in the end it does not feel like one. Even though the story is interesting enough, there are a couple of exciting twists, and the town of Silent Hill is very well designed, the frustrating controls and battle system make the game difficult to enjoy. Additionally, no matter how much slack one is willing to cut Downpour, the tearing issues are too noticeable not to mention; and apart from the multiple endings, there is little incentive for the player to try a second playthrough. Even so, if one keeps their expectations low and they are a die-hard fan of the series, or if they are a survival horror fan in general, Downpour – after a significant price drop - is at least worth a try.