Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – Playstation, Dreamcast, Game Cube, MS Windows

RE3 - Logo

I think I remember him…he sat behind me in 10th grade Geometry.

 

Hah…sweet. I got Resident Evil 3 out on Valentine’s Day.

Five full games into the series, and I’ve reached a limit for the number of buildings I can reasonably believe have self-destruct mechanisms. A top-secret laboratory working on unethical experiments, maybe. A mansion with a similar laboratory underneath? You’re pushing it, but I guess I’ll give you that one. A municipal water-treatment-slash-weapons-factory? Nope. Not even you, Umbrella. Hell, the FBI launches an investigation every time someone buys fertilizer in large quantities. How is it that a drug company can buy self-destruct detonators by what I can only assume is the gross and no one suspects a think until someone’s brain gets eaten?

Or am I wrong about this? Are self-destruct mechanisms common? Is my house not up to code without one? Does my school have one? Should I ask where the button is and run self-destruct drills with my students? What if I have to trigger it? How do I know what emergencies demand the destruction of my place of work?

…meh.

RE3 - Jill Fashion

I think Jill is looking to make herself a sandwich…preferably with Lara Croft.

Resident Evil 3 follows Jill Valentine after she ditched the uniform of a high-class Bond villain’s henchman and dressed in something more sporty, more casual, better suited for picking up dashing young Hispanic mercenaries in a lively night club currently burning to the ground and filled with the living dead. But oh, someone else has a crush on her—or at least wants to crush her—and this charming bachelor just won’t take “no” and a grenade to the crotch for an answer! Yes, Umbrella gave Hodor their new line of flesh-eating-bacteria shaving cream and sent him out the door. Meanwhile, there’s also Russian Guyovich Villainski, who broadcasts the fact that he’s evil so strongly that every TV in Racoon City is only picking up silent movies of men tying women to railroad tracks. Seriously, I thought we left the anti-Russian sentiments in the rubble of the Berlin Wall.

RE3 - Nemesis

And listen to the music of the night!

Aside from the simultaneous outbreaks of both the T-virus and G-virus, we learn that Nemesis is a new model of tyrant caused by the NE-T virus. There are so many letters running wild around town that I think it would be reasonable to assume that Umbrella’s stockholders are likewise the sponsors of Sesame Street. (Ever wonder about Cookie monster’s insatiable hunger? That’s right: the C-virus. Or why Claire Redfield sounds suspiciously like the star of the Big Comfy Couch? Right again: competition for children’s television can get fierce.)

Still, I’m beginning to question the wisdom behind Umbrella’s bioweapons. I know it seems like inflicting your own soldiers with plague-level infectious disease seems like a sure-fire way to victory, and Nemesis does seem unstoppable, but if you have to create ten thousand zombies just for the off chance of creating a tyrant or super-powered mad scientist, maybe take a moment and ask yourself if you weren’t just doing fine with traditional guns and bullets. And who thought that the best medium for this would be a viral infection? Not cyborg implants? Not genetic engineering? Your first thought was to make a bunch of people sick? Typical American pharmaceutical philosophy: there’s money to be made in prolonging the problem.

RE3 - Goin to work

I often feel like this when I go to work.

What? The gameplay? Fuck, it’s like every other Resident Evil game to this point. Except the zombies move a little quicker, Jill has figured out how to walk up stairs on her own, and Nemesis reaches velociraptor intelligence by learning how to open doors. Here, Capcom further stretches the definition of “Resident.” Maybe they realized that no one actually resides in a police station, so they decided to make up for that by using an entire city—albeit a city that, for whatever reason, seems to connect all its streets and alleyways with doorways. By RE5, they’ll just assume Africa counts as a place people reside, and by RE6 they just drop all pretense completely and decide we’re all residents of the entire planet.

Results:

5:10:42

Grade E

Seriously? I played on hard mode and got a lower score than ever before? I guess that’s what you get when you save before anything difficult and after anything unpleasant.

OneWord

Stars

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Resident Evil 2 – PS1, N64

 

RE2 Eye Shoulder

So…Birkin has an eye…in his shoulder. How does that work? Can he actually see out of his shoulder?

When I began this every-Resident-Evil project, I swear I honestly didn’t plan for it to line up this way! Still, while everyone is driving the sleek, new model of Resident Evil 2, complete with hybrid engine, GPS Navigation, MP3 Player, and back-seat jacuzzi, I’m still booting up my Playstation with a crank. Yeah, but following the pattern, I’ll do the remake next, right? Guess again, Kreskin! As a guy who devotes his time to retro games—and having started this blog after the announcement of the PS4—I still don’t have anything that can play the remake! But I’m working on it.

RE2 - Crank Start

Actual photo of me trying to start my PS2.

I don’t like playing on easy mode. According to my ten-year-old save files, I didn’t the last time. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t make it to the police station. The point of Resident Evil has always been to conserve ammo and avoid monsters, but when the game throws an undead football team—including their mascot—at you in a corridor about as wide as your average toilet stall before the game’s first healing item, it’s hard to limp to the end without ending up like a communal pig roast. Easy mode makes the game condescendingly pointless. You still have over 40 zombies and a licker before it stops bogarting the herbs, but you get to walk around like you’re hoping to supply an NRA convention with ammo.

re2 Healing

Oh, it’s simple. Just get by these six zombies with whatever’s left of the 30 bullets you started with and there’s an herb for you. Just nudge your way past them, right?

With four unique scenarios (that tell essentially the same story), Resident Evil 2 adds some interesting ideas to the series. There’s a surprising attention to detail. Claire carries her survival knife on her shoulder, but if you stash it in the item box—say, because it’s like fighting zombies with a toothpick—you can see that the sheath is empty. Although, since the knife takes up a precious spot in your inventory, I’d expect to see that sheath stuffed full of herbs or bullets or at least a grenade launcher. They also removed the auto-aim function . . .

RE2 Disturbing Stuff

I know the writers are bad, but this is just downright lazy.

As usual, the writing is right up there with the likes of Shakespeare, Tolkien and the menu at McDonald’s. Leon chases around a hot Asian femme fatale that he just met in the worst unreciprocated crush since my junior year of high school, and Claire immediately drops her search for her brother to indulge her motherly instincts chasing around a ten-year-old girl. It always amused me how any random person wandering through the Umbrella labs could easily use scientific equipment, but RE2 tops all the other games by giving a ten-year-old a fluent knowledge of how to operate municipal water supply filtration plants.

As we’d see later in Resident Evil 3, this game introduces a giant terminator monster who chases you relentlessly throughout the map—unless, of course, you go through a door, in which case he’ll take a break for a little while. (Umbrella must be a deceptively progressive corporation if it allows its products to join their labor union.) You can stand and fight or prey on the eight-foot-tall monsters’ fear of messing up his snazzy bowler hat trying to fit through a door, or you can dump all your grenades into him until he passes out—it makes no difference. He’ll still be up and much healthier than he should be for a genetic freak literally powered by a virus.

RE2 - Alyson Court

The always lovely Claire Redfield.

I might laugh at him for his inability to overcome the concept of a slab of wood with hinges, but every time you knock him down and rush off in search of the next shiny object, you pass up an excellent opportunity to saw off his head or set him on fire or something. Even worse is blasting the mad scientist a few times, then sitting back to watch him transform. Hey Leon, you know what might be a good idea? Taking down the giant, aggressive abomination while he’s currently undergoing a crippling physical transformation. (Ah, Dr. Birkin, I, too, had a difficult adolescence.) And it’s not just bosses! Silent Hill lets you go all American History X on the monsters, but in RE2, you can’t curb stomp them unless they start digging into you like a porterhouse steak.

Still, when one major boss shrugs off a terminator-style plunge into a vat of liquid steel like a lukewarm bubble bath, and another catches his second wind after a swift, heavy decomposition, it becomes clear that the primary symptom of the G-virus is a wicked case of plot-contingent immortality. Leon, Claire and the monster are all fine with pulling their punches until conditions are just right for a thrilling climactic showdown.

Leon A – Rank C, 3:46:46

Claire B – Rank D, 3:37:20

(How the hell did my rank fall?)

Claire A – D, 3:15:33

Leon B – D 3:08:44

“Ada, Wait!” – 6

Resident Evil – Game Cube, PS4

 

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Jill and the zombie are actually big Simpsons fans, and are just recreating a scene between Homer and Bart

Yeah, there’s no way Chris and Rebecca aren’t fucking like porn stars after this game. This remake turns the frantic-yet-spunky kid-sister type into an all-business, straight-talking Stars team medic. Except whenever she turns to Chris and asks, “Do you want me to treat your wounds?” At which point she sounds like a wanton anime girl ready to cream her panties so much she could churn butter from it. You have to wonder what went on in the recording booth to get such a severe character disconnect.

resident evil - rebecca

Oh, Chris-kun!

Anyway, the Resident Evil remake for the game cube is like playing the original game hammered off your ass; it’s a lot more attractive than you remember, but you’re quite disoriented and don’t really remember where your keys are or which one goes to your front door. Also, you remember you weren’t supposed to say something about Jill sandwiches or a master of unlocking, but that really doesn’t stop you from saying any other stupid shit that comes to mind:

re remake - sandwich

…you know. If you were interested. I mean, my wife is cool with it…

“You’re alive!”
“That’s what I was going to say!”

You changed TWO lines! That doesn’t count as a revision! If a student turned in this script, it would still be a failing grade! I’ve heard better dialogue from cockatiels!

re remake - giant sink

Personally it seems like a sink that’s eight feet high and the size of a Volkswagen would not be useful for someone of Jill’s stature. Maybe Umbrella employs giants.

They also dressed up the set a bit so it doesn’t look like Umbrella is in the process of moving out. But running with the alcohol metaphor, there are quite a few blackouts. I know it’s supposed to be uncertain and scary, but it just feels like they didn’t finish drawing the backgrounds. The scary thing about the dark is it forces you to rely on senses that most people only use once in a while (You know…like the Rush Marine from Mega Man). But in a video game, with the only other sense being stimulated by a speaker coming from straight in front of you, turning the brightness down only results in the player awkwardly glancing around their brightly lit reality while their character runs headlong into a wall and just keeps going.

re remake - bee

Because it just wouldn’t be Resident Evil if your character didn’t just randomly shove disgusting objects into their pockets.

They actually revised the gameplay quite a bit. Certain enemies can now follow you from room to room. All the puzzles were revamped, and they added some random subplot about a special needs child roaming the mansion grounds.

All in all, it’s a worthwhile remake, even if the full-on panic attack I had while playing it actually came from a side-effect of a medication I was taking, and not from being swallowed whole by a shark that previously didn’t have enough power to rival a fifteen-year-old girl’s first attempt at a blow job.

Final results:

Jill 8:35:39

Chris: 6:18:05

Resident Evil – PS1, Sega Saturn, NDS

re dc rebecca shark

You have to give it to Rebecca: she finds an underground industrial complex with sharks flopping around on the concrete and doesn’t even flinch.

In 2010, I worked as a tour guide for the Split-Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota. In the lighthouse keeper’s house, they kept an old typewriter with a little card saying, “Please don’t type on the typewriter.” Bored with my job and with no fucks left to give, one day I changed that card with one that said, “An old typewriter. If you had an ink ribbon, you could save your progress.”

However, despite what you’d think, the kind of person who gets their kicks slaughtering zombies and running around abandoned buildings collecting junk doesn’t really overlap much with the kind of person who wants to see phallic buildings with giant flashlights in the Minnesota wilderness. I even witnessed a mom read the card to a six-year-old girl without so much as a twinge of confusion, as though it made perfect sense given the context. I guess a lot of people just glaze over in any setting that’s even remotely educational.

re crows

These crows have little tolerance for the unwashed masses who don’t appreciate art.

One of the big decisions I had in reviewing “every” Resident Evil game is just how many different versions of this game I’m willing to slog through in a row. Seriously, there’s the original, the directors cut, the directors cut Dual Shock Ver, the game cube remake, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, as well as a battle version for the Sega Saturn. Apparently there was even a game boy color port in the works before Capcom realized that was pure fucking stupidity. So naturally the ROM leaked and plenty of fans were willing to pay a literal ransom in order to play a 32-bit game on an 8-bit system with a 166×144 display.

Short answer: I’ll post about the original and the Game Cube remake. I’ve done Deadly Silence already, and the others just don’t seem different enough not to drive me crazy with repetition.

re dc chris shoots plant

Chris shoots a plant, the prequil to Chris Punches a Rock

You have your choice of playable characters. Some of you know Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5. It’s worth noting that before he was a hulked-out Call-of-Duty wanna-be who punched boulders, he was a terrible actor in an ill-fitting cop costume who shot plants. Jill, on the other hand, before adopting her femme fatal look for Resident Evil 3, went into life-and-death situations dressed like she was on loan from the French Foreign Legion. The major difference between them—which will become a trend in the world of Resident Evil—is that boys have more life, while girls have more pockets. You know: exactly the opposite of the real world.

re dc poe shoots plant

Seriously…you want me to shoot a plant?

re dogs

Fortunately, launching itself head-first through the window gave it a concussion, and he’s rather easy to avoid after that.

Resident Evil is just an escape room where you get to shoot things. Focus is less on combat, more on conserving bullets while you solve puzzles to proceed. It is frustrating at times that, by the game’s logic, a grenade launcher and an herb both take up the same amount of space in your pockets, but I think to how many things slide out of my grip when I’m just walking from the couch to the kitchen. I suppose I don’t really need to leave a trail of junk that I’ve tried to stuff in my pockets to feed my kleptomania. On those occasions when one must do battle with a monster, I doubt they’d wait for me just a minute while I pick something up.

Final Score:

Jill – 5:47
You’d think for as many times as I played this game, I wouldn’t suck quite so much.

Chris – 4:20 “What a tough guy! You’ve closed this case completely!”
God, even the congratulatory text somehow manages to come across as a terrible actor.

Resident Evil Zero – Game Cube, Wii, PS3, PS4

re0 billy rebecca

Rebecca’s hot, but you have to take Billy too if you want the handcuffs.

“Traaaainnsss! TRRRAAAAIIINNNS!” God…a zombie game that starts on a train. What’s next? Fighting ghouls in an open field of grains? Perhaps being stalked through a hospital full of the creatures hungry for sprains. Oh! I got a good one: Resident Evil 8, opening on the Raccoon City Stock Exchange, where the living dead are on the move for capital gains.

Hey, Capcom took my idea for Resident Evil 6 starring a grown-up Sherry Birkin.

reo train

Zoinks! I sure hope we don’t get lost in this creepy train, Scoob!

My favorite thing about the first section of this game has got to be picking up a map for the train. I mean, it’s a train. Who maps a fucking train? It’s practically a one-dimensional vehicle. You know what? Let me draw a map of the train right now: ————— Mischief managed, there, Harry Potter. You know where everyone is? On the train. Right there. Look, not to be judgmental, but if you’re the kind of person who needs a map for a train, maybe we should just chalk up your being slaughtered by leeches as nature taking its course. Survival of the fittest.

Anyway, Resident Evil Zero: Aptly named because that’s how much ammo I had by the end of the first section. Have you ever tried going after a shambling hoard of corpses in one of the old-school RE games with just the crappy knife they give you? I’ve never felt so much like a post-op hernia patient than when I’m systematically trying to plunge my arm into those fetid, rotting garbage disposals.

reo train 2

Step one: work together to find a way around a train. Step two: team up to fight leeches.

Here’s an idea, guys: everyone on the planet has seen zombie movies—they’re not going to bleed out if you slash them enough. GO FOR THE GODDAMNED HEAD! They’re zombies! For the love of all that is Rebecca Chambers fan hentai, they TELL YOU WHERE TO AIM! “Braaains! Braaains!” (You ever see a zombie movie where they actually, specifically eat brains? No!)

Knife combat seems to be less a thoughtful inclusion in the game and more some rogue coder’s attempt to overcome the deep-seated scars after a childhood encounter with a drunken mohel.

re0 ammo

The innovative partner system allows you to waste ammo at an all new rate as your dumb-ass partner blasts a bird with a grenade launcher you forgot you had equipped.

Ahem. Anyway, I suppose if I’m going to play through all the RE games (give or take), I ought to say something about each one specifically. Okay, “Resident Evil Zero is Capcom’s first attempt to introduce a partner mechanic that no one ever asked for or wanted.”

The plot follows Rebecca, the hot, kid-sister type who serves as Chris’s sidekick in the original, as she works her way to the Spencer Mansion. She teams up with Billy, the mistaken-criminal with the heart of gold. He pulls a daring jailbreak, cleverly spying his chance to escape when his guards are devoured by monsters. It turns out Umbrella was pulling experiments on prisoners and he was likely on h is way to be given the full Albert Wesker beauty makeover. That was kind of a cool element.

re0 leeches

Ah hell yeah! Who could say no to free leeches?

The villain is obviously auditioning for a better role in a Final Fantasy game. Picture the standard disgruntled employee type. Except when you work for a grocery store and your boss shortchanges your time card, you steal a few grapes and walk out with a few office supplies. When you work for Umbrella, they assassinate you, and you get revenge by stuffing a few dozen genetically engineered leeches into your pockets and wreak bloody havoc with a biblical-style plauge.

Seriously…I wish I could wreak bloody havoc when I was mad.

The game follows the series’ usual formula in Capcom’s unerring, Mega-Man-style manner. However, they do get rid of the magic boxes to store extraneous items. Instead you just scatter your junk on the floor like some redneck family’s lawn.

Final Rank:

Wait…what? Did I miss something? I didn’t get a grade. What the hell!

Kuon – PS2

Kuon0

Hey! Eyes up here, mister!

Any connoisseur of horror might get the impression that the Japanese have as much variety a a nun’s sex life. It seems like everything coming out of Japan involves young girls, hair flipped forward, emaciated and wet like a St. Bernard that just jumped into the bathtub. This is the genre that gives us the Ring, the Grudge, and Silent Hill. Does nothing scare these people save for thought’s of Cousin It’s prepubescent daughter? As it turns out, yes. There’s a sub-genre of Japanese horror called Kwaidan, which as best I can describe is two parts fairy tale, two parts urban legend, and one part Weird Al Yankovic album. Roughly translating to “strange story,” kwaidan deals with the tough subjects that the faint of heart don’t have the guts to tackle, like flying heads that detach from their bodies, monsters who have re-purposed their anuses as eye sockets, and in the case of Kuon, evil incarnations of mulberry trees who use silkworms to practice human sacrifices.

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Forget Cousin It’s daughter. I’ve always had a huge crush on Cthulu’s little sister.

Kuon’s main storyline follows two characters. First, Utsuki is the disappointment child of Doman, a priest so cheerful and approachable that he looks on altar boy rape as being too kind-hearted. Doman gives Utsuki one job: take care of her sister Kureha, who hasn’t been feeling well on account of having died and begun to decompose. But Kureha runs off and, as luck would have it, darts straight into a haunted house like a bomb-sniffing dog navigating a field of land mines to get to a plate of snausages. Meanwhile, Doman sends the second character, Sukuya, into the manor with a team of paranormal investigators, most of whom meet the end we all hope for any time we see a team of paranormal investigators. Sukuya, however, keeps her wits about her and begins to piece together that Doman has taken a page from Albert Wesker’s playbook and sent them in as an unwitting buffet. Both Utsuki and Sukuya periodically run into the Japanese Shining Twins, inexplicably following the commands of these creepy little girls whose hands say, “Go investigate that room,” but whose eyes say, “We’re going to strip the flesh from your bones like a piranha with a tape worm.”

Kuon1

Jinkies!

Kuon is neither a long game nor a difficult one. However, since each characters’ phase can be played in either order, they feel the need to run me through the tutorial twice. Sukuya’s tutorial was even delivered by one of the other investigators, a 13-year-old Buddhist monk who sounds like he studied in a remote mountaintop temple just outside of Houston. This boy has all the grace and poise we would expect from Feudal Japanese clergy, right down to his comment, “Can’t you just stick it in any old way?” when it comes to solving a puzzle. I presume. But the repetition doesn’t stop at the tutorial. The first have of both scenarios require the player to open the same locked doors, solve the same puzzles, and fight the same monsters. It’s as if taking priority over unique and thrilling game play, Kuon really wanted you to learn something, so it’s like an episode of Dora the Explorer. But with human sacrifice. (“House…underground…ritual chamber. House…underground…ritual chamber!”)

Kuon3

Gakis be pimpin’

But that isn’t to say it’s a bad game. It does follow the pages of the survival horror playbook rather well, right up to scattering those pages halfway across the bloody country for you to find and assemble. Instead of zombies, you fight gaki. Instead of guns and bullets, you get cards that cast magic spells. And instead of keys you…wipe bloody rags on doors you want to open? I gotta be honest—that seems a little unsanitary. Not a lot of survival horror games culminate in an epic battle against hepatitis. It makes it all the worse by the seals on the doors being named after planets. I’m sorry, but nobody wants to carry around a bloody rag from Uranus, especially considering no one had yet discovered the planet during the story’s era, so the seal has to be either a butt joke or a reference to sailor scouts (none of which had been discovered yet either).

Kuon2

Just casually wandering through the aftermath of a lynching.

Unfortunately, for all that Kuon gets right about the genre, it also suffers from the same tropes as every other survival horror game. “Oh no! There’s a corpse blocking my path? If only I could lift my feet up higher than ten centimeters! Between this and the paper screen in the other hallway, how will I ever progress?” Or even, “A silk web stretches across the tunnel? If only I had a tool to get rid of it, but all I have is a magic dagger and a collection of magical fireballs! I guess I have to go back and search!” It almost feels like the developers got lazy and skimped on certain key details. Characters don’t move their mouths to talk, but they still hear each other just fine, apparently communicating like animals in a Garfield strip. That and the inexplicable repetition of certain events but not others pulled me out of the story a bit. They obviously wanted some sort of Resident Evil 2 scenario mash-up, but pulled it off like a sixth grader giving a report on a book he hasn’t read, so he just copies the plot of another book and hope his teacher won’t notice.

The game certainly isn’t winning any awards, except maybe “rarest” and “most overpriced” PS2 game, but it’s worth playing. It’s short enough that the repetition isn’t tedious, the atmosphere perfectly captures the feeling of a kwaidan tale, and the story is unique and eerie. I’ll even give the game bonus points for voicing Doman with the same actor who played Mojo Jojo. I guess that makes you the Feudal Japanese Power Puff Girls.

Silent Hill – PS1

SH What is it

It’s a Western deity worshipped by over 2 billion people.

One of the unfortunate byproducts of writing humor is that often times, I have a tendency to shout out scathing remarks which your average high school student would follow up with, “What? I’m just telling the truth.” However, there’s a limit for mean, a point where the fruit of ridicule hangs so low that it’s slowly cooked by the geothermal heat of the earth’s crust, the kind of mean-spirited taunting usually reserved for major GOP candidates who feel that those poverty-stricken, unemployed, single teen moms have it too good and ought to be taken down a peg. And such is my problem with Silent Hill. After glancing at my notes and realizing that I’ve just copied lines of dialogue verbatim, I can’t help but feel a bit sleazy for going after the video game version of that girl who wanders around a frat party in various stages of undress loudly repeating “I’m so hammered!” in hopes that someone will take her to bed to fix all her self-esteem and daddy issues. I know the game was popular when it came out, but Silent Hill has aged so poorly that it has a permanent spot in the back of the fridge because you’d rather let its primordial soup run its course than get near it to clean it out. But, damn it! I swear I’m going to keep writing these things until someone gives me a job writing comedy, so…on with the show!

SH Boomstick

Where’s a boomstick when you need one?

Harry Mason is your standard survival horror everyman with a personality slightly less impressive than an avocado. He comes to Silent Hill for vacation-slash-finding-his-missing-daughter, but after getting lost in an alley designed by Pac Man, three sloth monsters try to stab him to death. He wakes up in a cafe with the NRA’s wet dream: a 22-year-old police girl who tosses Harry a gun without so much as a perfunctory “Are you a criminal?” She merely leaves him with the instructions, “Don’t shoot me” (indicating the near certainty that she’ll become a boss fight) and “Know what you’re shooting before you pull the trigger.” Three seconds later, an unidentifiable monster attacks and Harry blasts it without thinking, much less a scientific analysis of its genus and species. And thus begins a long and rambling plot full of unexplained events and vague motivations in which Harry spends more time chasing after a cult than looking for his daughter.

Let me get this out of the way; I liked the game. I enjoyed playing it in that way that you sometimes can’t stop fantasizing about girls your brain tells you are unattractive. And in the end, fun gameplay is what counts. But don’t get me wrong—my brain was telling me this game is very unattractive. Something about a fun game that has a character utter the phrase, “Rather than shifting from reality to nightmare, it feels like reality is becoming the nightmare,” creates a mental friction not unlike receiving a hand job from a belt sander. Half the time the game doesn’t trust players to have any sort of thought process running, forcing Harry to narrate out loud and shout out “What is that?” (or another favorite, “Cheryl?”) at so many obvious objects and events that turning it into a drinking game would prove fatal after thirty minutes of game play. I also noticed that the dialogue often spends copious amounts of time reiterating simple ideas. Here’s a line from the script:

This may sound really off the wall, but listen to me. You’ve got to believe me. I haven’t gone crazy and I’m not fooling around. At first, I thought I was losing my mind. But now I know I’m not. It’s not me.

Midvale

Harry Mason, ca. 1982

I honestly can’t tell what’s more off-putting: when a character gets stuck in a loop and you have to give them a good whack to move on to the next thought, or listening to the voice actors say things like, “Devoured by darkness” and “My daughter is missing” with all the passion of a geometry lecture delivered by a narcoleptic. And the other half of the time, the writers rely on the fact that the player’s brain has a shorter draw distance than the town. Early on, Harry finds a scrap of paper with the words “to school” scrawled in Crayola, and like the junior Scooby Doo detective that he is, assumes that Cheryl has simply ditched him to hang out at the school in a strange town. I like to picture this guy in the same graduating class as Rick Grimes and the guy from Heavy Rain.

No Dog

But Cheryl could be in there. Or Carl. Jason? Janet? Brad? Janet? Dr. Scott? Rocky?

Game play is all right, I guess. Not exactly a stunning endorsement, I know,. But being one of the early balls to explode forth from the canon of survival horror, I can’t really fault them for abiding by things that weren’t tropes yet when the game came out. You wander through an environment full of obstructions, trying to find multiple keys for single doors which the owners have cleverly scattered halfway across town in some drunken fit of reverse-kleptomania. You solve puzzles. You dodge and fight monsters. The control scheme offers the greatest challenge though, as not only was “Push the direction you want to move” as terrifying, foreign and quite obviously much easier to use as the metric system, the tank controls would glitch out every so often, making it impossible for Harry to step around and avoid monsters. The one saving grace is that it was often rather fun to build up a head of steam and then ram Harry into immobile objects for the satisfying “thwack” it would make, even if I did do this accidentally while being chased, leading to several eviscerations.

I’ve always thought Silent Hill puzzles were a bit contrived. My first time playing Silent Hill 2, I had spent a good half hour whacking monsters with a stick with a nail in it, but then I came to a key that was just out of reach beyond a barred doorway. Oh, if only I had some long, hooked tool that might be able to extend my reach! Woe is me! In the original, I picked up an axe halfway through the game, but still needed keys to get through wooden doors for some reason.

SH - Sloths

Harry faces down one of the seven deadly sins.

One of the bigger annoyances are the sloth monsters encountered in the school level. Despite the fact that you’ll find more bullets than textbooks, there’s absolutely no reason to use them as the sloths are invincible. Personally, I find that this defeats the main decision that makes survival horror fun to play—do you want to eliminate monsters permanently, or conserve ammo and risk a mad dash around the enemy every time? Silent Hill’s school makes that decision for you. Shooting them incapacitates them briefly, but three bullets to the face don’t affect them any more than the recoil of the gun does to Harry, so while he stands there waiting for his pants to dry, the sloths grab on to your legs like murderous toddlers looking for a ride. Not surprisingly, the monsters are actually supposed to be children, but censors felt that in a game littered with corpses and stocked full of monsters, cultists and blood, the idea of killing a violent hell-spawned creature of evil and darkness crossed a line, so long as said demon was only a meter tall.

SH Corpse

Oh! Thank god it’s not a kid. Otherwise this might have been tragic and gruesome.

But the game is tolerable, if not good. I had originally planned some jokes about Harry breathing like an obscene phone call when he’s wounded, and how the fog filling the town made it seem like the design team based their whole concept on the game having a low draw-distance. However, not having a life meter is one of the things that contributes to the uncertainty of survival horror (challenging when you think your health items are best spent), and upon reading that the design team introduced the fog for exactly that reason, I started thinking of it as a rather clever solution to a problem. Furthermore, Silent Hill moved away from horror based on jump scares and other things that make people like Markiplier scream like a drunken frat boy overstimulated by a football game. Even considering the control issues and the fact that tutorial tips display when loading after a game over—you know, approximately ten seconds after they would have been useful—I thought the challenge was well-balanced.

Don’t ask me about the weird Animal House style dance video they play after the credits, though. That’s probably the scariest thing about the game.