Problems With Silent Hill: Downpour
Silent Hill: Downpour seemed quite promising, but there are some serious problems with the game that prevented it from being more than it might have been. Herein I will explore some of the issues that prevented Downpour from being as good as the earlier Silent Hill Games by discussing how they might have been avoided.
Write What You Know
Arguably the most popular game in the series, Silent Hill 2, had a primary character with a typical everyman quality. The major benefit here is that the people writing the plot behind the game can easily get into the head of this character because he is not so different from them. Furthermore, the person playing the game can easily relate for just the same reason. Murphy Pendleton is not an easy character to write, particularly if you have not been to prison and it is a fair bet to assume the game developers have not. As a result the character and the psychological world in which he is placed make it very difficult for the players to get emotionally involved, including scared, because there is a slight feeling of a lacking authenticity.
The crime idea is not completely awful and most definitely leads to the some atmospheric and great moments, but overall it does not work so well for a close, psychological game as this one is intended to be.
There are sure to be people who disagree on this point of ‘writing what you know’, but it is a good practice to stick by and would have helped this game.
Water is notoriously hard to work with due to the way light interacts with it. For a big development study this might have worked out, but for a smaller one it was simply a suicidal move for a game that simply did not need water as a primary theme. This is not to say that water is a bad theme to use, in fact it would have been put to much better use than it was as water can very effectively conceal and hide things. The film Jaws shows very vividly how great water can truly be, and it might even have been a good tool to cut development time by using it in a similar way to how the earlier games used fog.
While it is obviously quite bad for a game on a modern console to have frame-rate issues, for an atmospheric horror game it is disastrous for the simple reason that it reminds the player they are playing. If this were Guitar Hero, it would not be such an issue, but for a game that depends so heavily on suspension of disbelief it is simply a killer.
Lack of Monsters
While the game does have more monsters than most fans discussing it on forums truly realize, part of the issue is that the monsters are just not introduced in truly effective ways. In previous games they would come marching out of the dark, cornering the player the first time they were met. This initial moment served the games well as just what they were and how they attacked, or even if they did attack, was in doubt. In Downpour the gamer simply gets too good a view of them too quickly. This combined with their less abstract designs makes them less intimidating.