SHO: 7-27-2008: Good Wombs

But I will be coming back. And I’ll be bringing my new toys with me.”

-Mysterious Voice, P.T./Silent Hills

Video Game Journal #2

Silent Hill Origins

System: PS2

Developer: Climax Software, Inc.

Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment

Released: 2007 (PSP version; the PS2 version came out in ’08)

Purchased: 7/27/2008

I bought this game at Wal-Mart because it’s the first frickin’ Silent Hill game in nearly four years. Looking back, I perhaps took Silent Hill 4: The Room for granted since it came out barely a year after Silent Hill 3.

I’m one of those weirdos that actually reads manuals. I was surprised that Origins’ was in black and white.

Another surprise: The game has “accolades”! Reminds me of Xbox 360 Achievements.

Also, the Characters section confirmed a suspicion of mine: the dark-haired woman from SHO‘s 2006 E3 trailer is Dahlia Gillespie.

I had no idea just how little the final game had in common with that trailer at the time.

I can’t believe that the creators of the MotoGP series made this.

JULY 27th, 2008: The game started with Travis Grady, a trucker, 13 miles away from Brahams. As he drove along the road, a person in a yellow rain coat stumbled onto it. He stopped his truck and got out, but the person was already gone.

That was where the gameplay started as Travis walked down the road, after a brunette little girl in a blue dress.

This was where the game immediately struck me with a feel similar to the first game, which, embarrassingly enough, I didn’t have my own copy of until 2010.

Some credits played along with a song, a pretty song. One of those Silent Hill theme songs, sung by Melissa Williamson.

I didn’t know at the time, but the song is called “O.R.T.”, which stands for oxygenated rehydration therapy, a treatment for burn victims.

The vocal tracks in this game where composed and performed by Akira Yamaoka, with vocals by Williamson and lyrics by Joe Romersa. This same team did all of the theme songs for 3, 4, this game, Homecoming, and Shattered Memories.

Travis eventually came across a burning house. A dark-haired woman in a strange outfit popped up from behind the house, then ran away.

Travis heard a girl scream from inside the house, and he ran inside to look for her.

On the second floor, he stumbled upon a child in a red circle surrounded by white candles. Her (?) flesh had been charred to the point of unrecognizability.

Let me burn”, she told him, as a backdraft belched out from beneath her. He had none of that, and picked her up.

When they reached a point blocked off by flames, the Silent Hill cult symbol appeared, and they died out.

They left the house, but Travis passed out as the noise of sirens drew near.

He woke up in a bench in Silent Hill. His thoughts were of the girl, and he figured that she was taken to the hospital. The Alchemilla Hospital was nearby, on Koontz Street.

The town was foggy, and there wasn’t a soul to be found. And near the hospital, a giant gap kept one from crossing the next street over.

The music in this game seems pretty cool.

Before the east wing’s elevator, Travis met Michael Kaufmann. He said that no new patients had been brought in, and then, he went to the second floor.

Travis followed him. The elevator had a dirty gurney inside.

In the second floor’s east wing, Travis encountered a nurse with a mangled face.

Faceless Nurse

He had no choice but to defend himself as it drew closer. A sledgehammer was nearby, and he grabbed it to attack the nurse.

The combat in this game involves some button-mashing.

In room 205, there was a note titled Preliminary Diagnosis. It fit the description of the burned girl.

There was also a large mirror that ran the width of the wall. Its reflection showed a bloody, dirty, rusted version of the room.

When Travis tried to leave, the girl in the blue dress appeared in the mirror’s reflection. She put her hand up to the mirror and left a bloody handprint behind, even though her hand was not wounded.

Travis put his hand up to the handprint, and blood spread across the rest of the mirror.

And the world changed.

Travis found himself in the Other World, the world of the mirror’s reflection.

The hospital layout changed slightly, and he got back down to the first floor through the stairs.

On one door, there was a golden crest with an oval indentation. In another room, he found a Golden Egg to put in it, which unlocked the door and allowed him to enter the ladies’ bathroom.

The bathroom had a paper with a biology students’ mnemonic on it, a plastic liver, and a mirror. He used it to get back to the real world.

Well… that’s bit misleading, although I didn’t know it at the time. There are all sorts of interpretations on what is and isn’t the real world/s in Silent Hill, but it is generally accepted that once characters enter the town, they are in the Foggy World, and certain triggers that vary from game to game take them to Otherworld.

I’m sure the liver has to do with some puzzle later.

So far, the game reminds me of Silent Hill… the first one.

The game lets you equip weapons in real time… like in SH4. Weapons can break over time. These enhancements remind me of Dead Rising slightly. Then again, using unlikely weapons has always been a part of survival horror.

Travis has a lucky quarter. It’s one that he’s had from before his folks died. I wonder if it could have a direct effect on the game’s ending, just like Silent Hill 2.

The game hasn’t yet grabbed me like that one did. I was sold on SH2 long before I purchased it. It was serendipity!

That title reshaped my expectations for storytelling in games. Some of you have met them in the years since. ^_^

One of the my earliest, strongest memories of SH is reading the profile for Alessa Gillespie in the first game’s manual. I remember a distinct feeling of sadness.

That was still relatively new for me in games back then.

The E3 2K6 trailer convinced me that Origins was to be made by the same people behind SH4.

Little did I know just how much of a point of contention the Western-developed SH games would become.

I wouldn’t mind an SH game with real puzzles for a change.

This is a puzzling (ha) comment, giving my love-hate relationship with puzzles in general, and how difficult some of the puzzles in the series are. Isn’t that right, Professor?

We gotta stuff this plastic dude in the Exam Room full of organs.

NOT LIKE THAT

To acquire the plastic heart, we had to input a six-digit code derived from the ages of random women (presumably employed at the hospital): 312319.

After we put in the heart, the mannequin’s eyes opened. We needed these to open a door on the first floor west wing in the Other World.

From there, Travis was able to reach the doctor’s office. There was something waiting for him – a monster apparently wearing a straitjacket. It had a habit of spitting green acid at him.

Straightjacket

After Travis dealt with the creature, he found a rusty red triangle on the ground. A red symbol in a circle shape was drawn around it and apparently, it had “future” written on it.

Then Alessa appeared before him, and a siren sound filled his ears. He passed out again.

When he woke up, he was one the bench in the lobby. A pretty, young, blond nurse hovered over him.

The nurse, Lisa Garland, told Travis that the girl, Alessa Gillespie, died. Lisa also said that Doctor Kaufmann was waiting for her in the Cedar Grove Sanitarium.

Travis decided to go to the Sanitarium after Lisa. He had to pass through a butcher shop to get to the other side of Toluca Avenue.

In the butcher shop, Travis saw a burly man with a strange face mask wearing an apron. The man had a blunt-tipped sword, and he carved into a nurse monster with it. Then, he left.

Butcher and Nurse

Is that the predecessor to Pyramid Head?

In the Sanitarium, Travis found a note about a violent, 34-year-old patient that proved a danger to her husband when he visited her. She got angry over his being able to keep custody of their kid.

The Female Wing was open. In the hallway, Travis met her – Dahlia – again.

She told him that her house was the one that burned down. He chastised her: “You all left that girl to burn!”

The world is stranger than you think,” replied Dahlia. After they traded some more words, she left.

Dahlia may still be in the Sanitarium. And List and Michael must be there, too… For now, we shall explore the rest of the east wing.

The fleshjacket guys are a lot tougher in this game.

I recognized the object from the loading screen. It’s the Flauros from SH1. I remember it being important, but not its exact function. I think it helped Dahlia… which is not a good thing for the rest of us.

The first official piece of Origins promotional art I saw reminded me of the first-ever piece of BioShock promo art I ever saw.

Shes tend to be short. I’m going to take my time with this one. I would be comfortable with it lasting more than six hours.

The east wing that Dahlia entered was locked from the other side. Travis had no choice but to investigate the second floor…

In the T.B. Room, Travis found an iron lung. There was some metallic object – possibly a key – inside.

I was right. I managed to get the pressure just right, and it spat the Basement Key out. Poosh!

I encountered the game’s first truly inspired monster. In the basement… it’s rather difficult to describe.

Some fool left a key in a room tub in the Female Hydrotherapy Room. Travis had to drain the tub because the water was scalding. The key got sucked down the drain.

I know where I have to go to get it: the East Pipe Room in the basement.

…Or that’s what I thought I knew, when I went back there. Coming up empty, I returned to the Female Treatment Room and used the mirror there.

There was a very disturbing symbol on the floor to the Female Seclusion Room.

I think it’s the Jocasta symbol. This is a reference to the Jocasta complex, which is when a mother has a totally sick and wrong incestuous feeling towards her son.

I actually don’t think that the symbol itself is that disturbing, but in the context of an SH game, it’s creepy because you just KNOW that it has to have some greater meaning, even if it’s not immediately apparent.

There’s also a comic book character named Jocasta. She was in the Avengers.

There was a mirror in the Patient Belongings room

A Shotgun was one the door in the Other World version of the room! Sweet.

A note found in the Laundry Room said that Helen tried to set her and her son on fire to “kill the devil child”.

In the Other World East Pipe Room, the drainage hole was more like an… orifice. The Interview Archives Key was inside. Groovy.

There was another shadow conversation with Helen in the archives. She said that the people in the mirrors could see the devil in her son.

Good wombs can bear bad sons, they say.”

Advertisements