Sort of a sad review.
What makes this review a hard one to write is that Downpour represents the end of the Silent Hill series. Though I will be doing a review of P.T., we all know how that turned out. Unfortunately, the series ends on a bit of a sour note.
I will continue my trend of discussing gameplay first and then story. No spoilers will come before the warning later on.
The gameplay of the Silent Hill series has never been fully consistent. Homecoming represents probably the slickest combat in the series, but it was still bogged in mud. The gameplay here enjoys a nice graphical setting. This might be the prettiest of the series, and our protagonist moves decently about the world. A friend of mine stated the game was quite buggy. I did not experience these issues, but there are odd frame rate drops here and there.
The exploration is more of the same, but it seems dated this time around. Much of the game is hunt and peck for certain items. Why it seems more frustrating now as opposed to older iterations isn’t entirely clear. However, much of the gameplay feels stuck in the past. One thing I wish the series would have never attempted to integrate into the mix is breakable weapons. You won’t run from the monsters because they are scary, but because fighting them is a pain in the ass.
A positive aspect of the gameplay is that the series’ identity remains intact, but that could also be a negative. As videogames develop into more impressive mechanics ,more niche games like this will ultimately suffer. Much of the game, I found myself wanting to just get to the next cut scene. The exploration seemed more like a gateway that an experience. Perhaps this is just me, but I have a hard time with the gameplay.
One thing I have not mentioned much in the previous reviews is the importance of music to the series. This game simply lacks in this regard, and this might be something that pulls it down.
Further missing from the game is any truly interesting bosses. It is odd to overlook such an important aspect of the series in this one. With the broken weapons system, it would have been impossible to have a satisfying fight. The game does devolve into a combat-focus in the later stages, which is not only jarring, but unsatisfactory. A weak conclusion to the series.
In short, the gameplay lacks here in such a way that the entire experience is tainted. It would be hard to recommend such a frustrating game. I will now turn to the story, so spoilers are ahead.
We play as Murphy Pendleton, a hardened criminal who escapes jail after his transport bus crashes. Murphy is one of the more interesting characters, as we know real quick that he is a bad man. We as the player control him as he murders someone in protective custody. Making the sins of the man clearer from the beginning lets us question our motivations.
Murphy’s interactions with the world are interesting, and he does act appropriately (actually screaming when scary stuff happens). We learn that Patrick Napier, the man who we help Murphy murder was a pedophile and murderer. Further, it is strongly indicated that Napier killed Murphy’s son, so is the killing justified? The game forces us to ask these questions.
For the privilege of taking revenge, Murphy agreed to kill a correctional officer who was going to expose corruption. (Whether Murphy killed Coleridge or not is up to the player choices). Here we have the moral issue of the story, but it is one we have seen before. Sure, we get to have the question presented through the bizarre world of Silent Hill, but it’s nothing new. Coleridge’s crippled being torments Murphy throughout the game, and I enjoy the poetic justice of these haunting images. However, the series has gone further before. The issues here seem surface level compared to the traumatic manifestations present in Silent Hill 2.
In short, the series kept its identity but chose to wander into mediocrity. An unfortunate swan song for one of the most inventive series ever. 5/10.