Review: Silent Hill Downpour

March 29, 2012

Downpour begins with a rather gratuitous sequence in which you’re forced to stab a naked prison inmate to death (a paedophile, you assume). After that it’s back to classic Silent Hill territory, with your character lost in a ghostly town – this one pissing with rain 24/7 – where you’re forever catching glimpses of figures in windows, and where people have a habit of vanishing into swirling mists.

While this isn’t a superlative instalment of the 13-year-old horror franchise, neither is it a disaster. The beauty of Downpour is that not a great deal happens: like all good horror, the scares mostly come from the possibility of something happening.

It borrows heavily from the book of horror cliches – creeping through basements with only the light from a cigarette lighter; the distant sound of ghostly children laughing – and uses them to chilling effect. There’s nothing startlingly original here but it’ll still scare the bezeesus out of you. The ability to look over your shoulder, allowing you to catch sight of whatever might be creeping up behind you, is a nice touch.

Alas, it falls down on the gameplay. Fighting is a clunky affair, with the game’s insistence on locking onto a single opponent making tackling multiple enemies nigh-on impossible.

The terrifying town is just about enough to compensate, though. After a few minutes playing in the dark, I got up to switch the light on. Job done, Konami.

First published in City A.M.