Silent Hill Origins Review
Silent Hill: Origins is the first of two Silent Hill installments that is not developed by Team Silent. For those that don't know, Origins was developed by Climax and the upcoming Silent Hill V is being developed by The Collective. Thankfully, gamers have nothing to fear from this first non-Team Silent installment in the main series of Silent Hill because Climax has delivered quite a survival horror experience on the PSP handheld.
A lonely trucker with a shadowy past by the name of Travis Grady is on one of his normal delivery courses that takes him through the town of Silent Hill. He slams on his brakes as a figure runs across the road in front of his truck while on his path into Silent Hill. Once he gets out of his vehicle to investigate, a mysterious girl steps into view then quickly runs off. Travis follows her to see if she is ok as she runs toward the town of Silent Hill and thereby starts a journey in which Travis must face his own personal demons.
Origins takes place before the original Silent Hill game and tells the tale of how the town was consumed in darkness. Travis interacts with many characters from the original Silent Hill throughout the game's cutscenes while dealing with his own dark past. The town once again has a foggy appearance and Otherworld (the Dark World) still looks just as grim as it always does in Silent Hill.
This time, the protagonist has control over which world he is in. By touching a mirror, Travis can travel in between the normal world and Otherworld. This leads to many challenges where one will have to switch between both worlds in order to get to a certain destination. For instance, you may have to enter a certain room in the real world, then use the room's mirror to travel to Otherworld in order to find a certain item that is blocked off in the normal world but is completely open to retrieval in Otherworld.
It's very hard to believe that this a PSP game since Origins has some of the best lighting effects and overall graphics that I have ever seen for a PSP game. The flashlight produces shadows that stretch along walls and floors just like in the PS2 releases and enemies have a shiny appearance from up close that helps to make their grotesque form even more horrific. The only portion of the graphics engine that has a PSP appearance is the character model for each character. A few jagged edges can be noticed on each character while they move. The filter effect (grainy details) helps to hide the environmental jagged edges well - you have to actually look for them if you want to view them.
The camera angles focus in on particular portions of the environment to build tension just like in other Silent Hill titles. With the Silent Hill 4 control scheme that this game carries, some of the camera angle switches can lead to some control issues. Run toward a certain area and the camera will suddenly change and you'll be heading in the wrong direction. Problems like this can get annoying while running from a group of enemies on the streets of Silent Hill. I also has a few problems with the camera not showing me what was in front of my character which lead to some unwanted damage. A player can press the L button to center the camera behind Travis, but while Travis is up against a wall or door, the camera will remain fixed in whatever direction it is currently in.