Matt Keller
10 Dec, 2007

Silent Hill Origins Review

PSP Review | Go back to where it all began.
After Silent Hill 4's rather dismal reception in 2004, one cannot blame Konami for attempting to take Silent Hill back to its roots with the latest entry in the series; Silent Hill: Origins. The first game to appear on the PSP in the Silent Hill series also happens to mark the first time that the game has not been developed by one of Konami’s internal development teams, with veteran UK developer Climax taking over. Origins is meant to serve as a starting point for the series, shedding light on the events of the first game and the mysteries surrounding the town of Silent Hill.

Truck driver Travis Grady serves as the hero for this adventure to the damned town. On a rainy night while attempting to take a detour, Travis almost runs over a young girl. He chases the girl to a house, only to find it on fire – and like the true champion he is, rushes inside and saves a badly burnt child. In a bizarre turn of events, he wakes up in a hospital in Silent Hill. As we all know by now, everyone who is summoned to Silent Hill goes there for a reason, and Travis’ reason turns out to be quite a doozy. Without spoiling too much of the plot, the clever subtext present in previous Silent Hill titles is presented in Origins in a way that seems blatantly obvious - the story never toys with the player's mind or feelings in the way it did in the first three titles.

Just like Kevin Coster, though Whitney Houston was burnt out on something else

Just like Kevin Coster, though Whitney Houston was burnt out on something else
Climax has done its best to ensure that Silent Hill: Origins measures up to the series’ legacy. It plays very similarly to the second and third games, though series veterans will notice quite early in the piece that the game features a larger emphasis on combat and throws many more enemies into the equation. The game sticks very closely to its predecessors on a visual level as well – not only is it one of the best looking PSP games, but it’s packing that grisly art style and creature design that the series is most noted for. Origins also has another chilling soundtrack from Akira Yamaoka, who has handled the score since the series inception – the introductory scene even recommends playing the game in a dark environment with headphones to get the most out of it.

Like always, Silent Hill: Origins is all about exploration; finding clues, checking the game’s thousands of locked/jammed doors and solving puzzles. Origins ups the ante by allowing the player to decide when to jump between the real world and the dark and rather grimy world. Of course in reality this is just a cheap knock off of the well worn out trend of light and dark worlds in games and just doesn’t cut it compared to the old system. In fact, early in the piece, players are going to have a hard time differentiating where the heck they are given that the first two major areas of the game are hospitals and look rather similar in either world. Fortunately the game’s overworld and the locations explored later in the piece are much more satisfying in their aesthetic and design. Origins also sports a number of clever puzzle designs; they’re as challenging as they are disturbing.

Travis doesn't take kindly to his yearly prostate checks

Travis doesn't take kindly to his yearly prostate checks
As mentioned earlier, Silent Hill: Origins has a much larger focus on combat than its predecessors. This doesn’t quite turn out as well as we’d have hoped, as previous Silent Hill games have been pretty cack when it comes to combat, and Origins isn’t really any different. In fact, for some bizarre reason, Climax decided to keep the weapon fatigue system from Silent Hill 4, so weapons will now break from being used. Now while there are more than enough weapons around the world to allow players to beat up every monster they come across, weapons break far too quickly, and it often happens in the middle of a fight. Honestly, players are best off trying to avoid fighting where possible, as the game’s enemies have a tendency to be a lot stronger than Travis, and they respawn. That’s at least until Travis is packing heat – the game has a number of different guns, but players will soon find out that in true survival horror style, there’s sod all ammo.

Silent Hill: Origins does not give players the option to tone down the difficulty of the puzzles or combat like previous games, instead opting for a one-size-fits-all approach. With the focus on melee combat, that might be a little disheartening to some players that preferred the game’s puzzling nature. The game is also quite unforgiving when it comes to save points, usually only providing them at the start of a new area and either side of a boss. Fortunately the PSP’s sleep function comes in handy if one is interrupted while playing, but for a more long-term saving solution, players will have to backtrack and face newly respawned monsters, which can be frustrating.

Luckily, this fog won't turn Travis inside out

Luckily, this fog won't turn Travis inside out
Perhaps the lack of save points was taken into account, possibly as an artificial means of extending the gameplay, as Silent Hill: Origins is quite short. Our intial playthrough of the game clocked in at just over 3 hours and 45 minutes; half the time it took to beat Silent Hill 2, and about two-thirds of the time needed to play through the third title. Now for the regular price of PSP games, that’s a little absurd. The game has three different endings (as opposed to five for its predecessors) and a number of bonuses to unlock, but that’s still going to work out to less than 10 hours. For a $79.95 handheld title, that’s a little much.

Now it might seem like we’ve painted a pretty dull picture with Silent Hill: Origins, but the game actually comes across as being greater than the sum of its parts. Sure, there might be a little too much emphasis on combat and some of the levels are a bit samey, but when you put all of the other elements into play; the clever visual design, the chilling musical score and the challenging, yet disturbing puzzles, the game really starts to shine. It’s just a pity that the experience is so short lived, because otherwise Silent Hill: Origins would have been an easy recommendation for any PSP owner.
The Score
Climax has delivered a title deserving of the Silent Hill name, but the experience may be a little too brief or frustrating for some players. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Silent Hill Origins Content

Silent Hill: Origins confirmed for PS2
23 Jan, 2008 The ports continue!
Silent Hill Origins for PS2?
09 Dec, 2007 Another PSP exclusive could be up for a port.
Silent Hill Origins screens/videos emerge
01 May, 2007 Handheld debut for horror franchise edging closer.
6 years ago
meh not bad its short but i'll buy it next year that is
6 years ago
^ apparently its already been discontinued
6 years ago
i really don't understand that
6 years ago
corder wrote
i really don't understand that
It's konami.
6 years ago
Finally picked up my copy today, really been enjoying it so far.
and isn't Atari the distributer in australia? so if it has been discontinued it would be their decision.
6 years ago
can someone bloody explain this because i don't understand.
6 years ago
Discontinued means that whatever is out there now, is all there is.
ie: once they've sold out, there's no more coming.

so if it's something you're interested in, picking it up sooner, rather than later, is advisable.

(i don't know if the rumour is true though, just giving a definition, as requested.)
6 years ago
i won't believe anything until a see a reliable source until then everything else is bullshit.
6 years ago
well, discontinuation is hardly reportable news, so really the only way you'll find out will be when you head to a store and are told you can't order it because it no longer exists.
6 years ago
corder wrote
i won't believe anything until a see a reliable source until then everything else is Bulls***.
thats why i said "apparently.."

but i live in melbourne, and heard this news from another palgn poster Cobla whom i've never met but also lives in melbourne. So thats good enough for me to spread the rumour icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
Silent Hill Origins is discontinued at EB Games. I double checked tonight.

6 years ago
Discontinuing news sucks, but the game is still readily available via import, and is quite cheap too. Not to advertise or anything but...

*gestures meaningfully towards Play-Asia*
$45 for Origins... $79 for limited edition with crystal Butcher statue... Those are damn delicious prices.

Or you could just wait for the PS2 version.
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