Okay, granted there is still the slim possibility that P.T. isn’t representative of the final product. It’s also possible that the TGS trailer is just a trailer, not meant to represent gameplay. So far though, all indications are that Silent Hills is going to be a first person fearfest.
I get it, Outlast surprised a lot of people, myself included. Running and crouching through corridors in dimly lit closed spaces with popup scares and plays on perception is a great way to freak some folks out. Maybe even adding extra-terrestrials to the main quest of the game is also a way to freak people out but that’s an editorial for a different day.
On the bright side we have Kojima and film director Guillermo Del Toro on board to make the transition smooth. Del Toro has a ton of horror juice built up after his game inSane and his movie based on H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness got cancelled. We also have the chance of this game being the flagship for the possible resurgence of horror as a viable genre. Hills looks like a definite step up from Downpour, which I enjoyed more than most but let’s face it it was no Silent Hill 2. On that front the first person perspective could help the series stay alive among a growing population of gamers who prefer everything in first person.
There’s one thing about Silent Hill that has never been aces and that is the combat. It always tried to walk that fine line between the slow and awkward movements of a normal person with an unusual bludgeon and the unpredictable nature of the horrible creatures that were hunting them. I think Homecoming was onto something but it was never realized. If it does become a first person game there’s the potential for better combat. The numerous whacking objects could be aimed at limbs for crippling, sharp objects at heads for severing, guns for stopping power. The possibilities open up the more you think about it.
First person games can also present a level of personal interaction that fits certain kinds of horror experiences better. You just don’t know what is behind you until you look, and that means paranoia. A third person perspective can give away a lot of what is coming after all. First person can be great for a horror game, but isn’t this supposed to be within the Silent Hill franchise or did I miss something?
On the not so bright side a first person perspective flies in the face of tradition. The Room doesn’t count a whole lot for any argument against this either. So far I don’t see a lot of outrage, hence the title, but as a long time fan of a franchise any big change really grates me. It feels like they are using a whole new game and just dragging the established name with it to get extra sales kind of like Final Fantasy.
Also, if it’s first person, is there a person? P.T. is just a demo so we can’t tell but if Silent Hills basically has you as in you as the protagonist that also ends the great tradition of having protagonists that we get a story about and can connect with since we play as them. In first person mode you ultimately get a story with a big hole in it that you’re supposed to put your face through even if the character does get a name.
Environment and atmosphere play an even bigger role in the series than a main character. The city is a character too. Moving about through Silent Hill, stepping lightly or running for your life, panning the camera around through the fog, listening, wondering what’s around each darkened corner, it was all part of living in that cursed area. Doing this in first person would be harder. Putting you on the ground of the town (which this game may not even do, hell it might not even include the town) means a lot less of it would be visible at any time. That would make the environment less of an overhanging, soul sucking horror star and more of a darkness you run past. Putting a rat in a maze like P.T. does just seems to fit this vision.
This vision just doesn’t seem to fit Silent Hill and I doubt we’re lucky enough for there to be a Silent Hill franchise that continues alongside Silent Hills.
Oh Team Silent, we hardly knew ye.