Silent Hill: Origins is the fifth instalment of the Silent Hill series and the first Silent Hill game not developed in Japan. This game, known as Silent Hill Zero in Japan, is a prequel to the first Silent Hill and was developed by Climax Action and first published for the PlayStation Portable by Konami in 2007.
Origins follows the story of a trucker, called Travis Grady, who becomes trapped in Silent Hill after rescuing a girl from a burning house. The gameplay follows the original Silent Hill games closely, with third-person exploration, combat and puzzle-solving.
Unfortunately Konami/Climax decided to bring back the dreaded “analogue noise” to the visuals of this game, and – try as I might – I couldn’t figure out how to turn this horrible effect off, so the screenshots are blighted with it.
Control of Travis is via the analogue stick and begins when he’s forced to hit the brakes on his truck when he sees a figure in the road one rainy night*. He gets out of his truck and sees a young girl in front of him, then notices another girl in his rear view mirror. The first girl runs off, so Travis gives chase and the opening credits play out while you struggle with the controls (just as in Silent Hill 4: The Room, Origins uses directional controls that cause confusion when the camera angle changes – shoulda used ‘tank’ controls!).
*= A quick note about the game’s continuity… During the game’s opening cut sequence it clearly shows that it’s raining hard when Travis is driving the truck and first notices the figure in the road. Seconds later – after slamming on the breaks – he gets out and it’s no longer raining… No evidence of rain at all. Which is bad continuity and nothing to do with supernatural occurrences (and if you argue that I’ll just call BS on it). You’re given control of Travis about six seconds later and – once again – you walk along a bone dry-looking road with no evidence of rain at all. There are two ways to describe this: one is “a bad mistake” and the other is “poor attention to detail”.
Eventually you come to a burning house, notice a suspicious woman running away from it, and run inside because you heard a girl shouting for help. Then you casually walk through the inferno (I guess you could run if you like, but it’s not necessary) until you come to a strange-looking occult symbol drawn on the ground with a burnt-to-a-cinder little girl lying in the middle of it. She says to you “let me burn!” but you decide to pick her up and slowly make your way out of the house. On the way out weird occult symbols put portions of the fire out for you. Outside you carefully lay the girl on the ground, then pass out. And when you wake up you’re in the foggy town of Silent Hill, wondering what the hell just happened…
Hold on, hold on. If you think I’m being facetious with my descriptions here – you ain’t heard nothing yet… I have to say that everything about Silent Hill: Origins is poorly conceptualised, thought-out and executed. The story is trite; the scenes play out poorly; breakable weapons are a bad idea; the music isn’t very good; the game is like a bad clone of the original Silent Hill games, made by a developer who seems to have just played it by the numbers – and not very imaginative numbers at that. Climax Action actually prove with Silent Hill: Origins that Team Silent and KCET were a brilliant development team, creating games way above the pay grade of most other developers. It’s just a very disappointing game overall.
You’re entitled to love Silent Hill: Origins if you want to, but if you do then you probably don’t really understand either the Silent Hill games or what makes a game good or bad. In my view: Silent Hill: Origins is a poor game and a blot on the Silent Hill landscape. The game was re-made for the PlayStation 2 in 2008 and I’m going to play that one next to see if it’s any better (spoiler: it is, but not significantly).