One of the greatest strengths of the early Silent Hill games - developed by internal Konami studio Team Silent - is their exceptional character design. The characters presented in these games are among the best in all of gaming history at illiciting emotional responses from the players - both positive and negative.
It all starts at the top, as the protagonists of all three games stand tall and proud as paragons of game character design. This blog will contain major plot spoilers for Silent Hill 1-3. Read at your own risk!
Having relatable and likable characters is essential to the success of just about any horror story (whether in the form of a book, movie, game, or any other medium). It's hard to feel afraid for a character that you just don't care for.
Harry Mason of Silent Hill is a great example of a relatable "Joe Everyman" protagonist. Harry is a simple writer trying to take his daughter on a vacation. He wrecks his car and wakes up to find his daughter is missing in a seemingly deserted and haunted town that is closed off from the outside world. Harry isn't a superhero or elite special forces operative. He's just a guy. He could be anybody. This makes him instantly relatable to an audience. [More]
Fathers in video games don't typically turn out to be very good role models or successful parental figures. Often, they end up being surprise villains, or they turn out to have been neglectful or abusive (physically or emotionally). A lot of times, parents in video games turn into cannon fodder, dying early in the game in order to push the protagonist into his or her heroic role.
Very rarely do you have a father character in a video game who sticks around and actually gives his children any amount of love or support. That's why I think Harry Mason is such a special character in video games, and quite possibly the best video game dad of all time. So this Father's Day, I'd like to take a moment to pay tribute to this wonderfully-designed gold-standard of video game parenting.
Harry Mason goes through hell and puts his life on the line to protect his seven-year-old adopted daughter in quite possibly the most fatherly display of love and dedication that you will find in a video game.
I recently had conversations with an old friend of mine from high school (screenname Hey?Mr.Box!) who had recently played the Silent Hill games for the first time. I expected to hear that his favorite game was Silent Hill 2, and that his favorite character would be James or Pyramid Head. I mean, that's what every Silent Hill fanboy says, right? Personally, I'm fond of Heather from Silent Hill 3, but that's only because I had a huge crush on her when I played the game for the first time. And before you start calling me a perv, I was 17 when that game released!
I was surprised, however, when my friend's favorite character ended up not being James, or Pyramid Head, or even Heather, but rather Heather's father: Harry.
I guess with all the crazy characters that the Silent Hill series is known for, Harry kind of gets lost in the shuffle as being too "normal". But when asked why he liked Harry so much, my friend eloquently responded: "because he's such an awesome dad!"
And you know what, Harry is an awesome dad!... [More]
Much ado has already been made about the re-recorded dialogue that is to be used in the Silent Hill HD Collection. Critics like myself have already been accused of being “haters” and “unwilling to accept change”. Fortunately (or is it unfortunately?), Konami has given “haters” like me plenty of reason to hate the Silent Hill HD Collection.
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I have extra copies of the original games. If you want to play them (and you know me personally), you can borrow them!
With the Silent Hill HD Collection being lambasted by fans and critics (my review now available here!), I thought I’d take a moment to discuss exactly why I feel it was so important for the original voice acting of the games (Silent Hill 2 specifically) to be retained. And it isn't just a matter of personal preference based on my familiarity with the original actors; although, that is definitely a contributing factor.
Critics tend to make a simple equivocation fallacy when describing the voice acting of Silent Hill as "awkward" and then calling it "bad". But "awkward" does not necessarily mean "bad". In fact, the awkward voice acting of Silent Hill 2 is actually a benefit to the game's narrative and mood. This is something that should be apparent to anybody who is actually paying attention to what's happening in the game.
Let us first take a step back and look at the design principles that went into Silent Hill 2.
James begins to doubt his own mental stability
Silent Hill 2 is a particular kind of horror game. It differs from other horror games at the time - such as Resident Evil and even its own predecessor Silent Hill - in that it is a very emotional brand of horror. The horror doesn't come so much from being "afraid", but rather, from being depressed, confused, and unsure of what is going on around you. Silent Hill 2 is a very dark and gloomy game, and definitely deserves its "M for Mature" rating with its story and themes alone. Team Silent accomplishes this by immersing the player in decrepit environments and introducing elements of surrealism to the game's reality. They then supplement this by slowing breaking down the foundational pillars of what the main character thinks is real, and then forcing the character and the player to wonder whether their own senses can be trusted. [More]
I didn’t have high hopes for Silent Hill Downpour. As such, I didn’t buy it new. I waited two weeks, bought it used off ebay, and finished it over a weekend. Sadly, pretty much all of my pre-release expectations turned out to be true.
Upon booting up the game, I was immediately given mixed opinions about the game. There was a mandatory install, which fortunately only took a few minutes, but which is always an annoying thing to sit through (except for Metal Gear Solid 4, which managed to make it somewhat amusing). After the install though, I was treated to a stylish title screen with new composer Daniel Licht’s enjoyable title track.
Then the game starts, and the very first thing you do as the new main character, prison inmate Murphy Pendleton, is murder a defenseless fellow inmate during a combat tutorial that takes place in the prison showers. Murphy clearly has some beef with this fellow inmate (named Napier), and it seems like Napier probably deserved it, but murdering a defenseless person in cold blood is hardly what I’d expect from a Silent Hill game.
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