Welcome back to the fog-shrouded town of Silent Hill.
Silent Hill: Downpour is a new entry in the Silent Hill series developed at Vatra Games, a company based in the Czech Republic. This is the third studio to take the reins of the franchise since development duties were shifted away from Konami's internal Team Silent. The game was released for the PS3, and Xbox 360.
Gameplay for Downpour is highly reminiscent of previous games in the series, mixing in puzzles, exploration, and combat. Though exploration is given a significantly larger focus, forcing the player to scour a much more open interpretation of Silent Hill during the story, and the combat promotes the idea to go with flight rather than fight, potentially even more so than prior entries. Both the radio and flashlight also return, though this time around the radio emits inaudible police chatter rather than plain static whenever enemies are close by. The flashlight functions the same, and can now be fitted with a UV light to pick out hidden messages and clues.
Downpour features a larger, more open Silent Hill than previous titles. Due to the size of the southeastern portion of the town (previously unexplored in the series), players use the subway tunnels as a means of travelling between different locations quickly. Though the subway key must first be acquired by finding food for a homeless person called Homer. One feature not seen since Silent Hill 3 was reintroduced in Downpour; the ability to adjust separate difficulty levels for the combat and puzzle aspects of the game.
Murphy in the Centennial building car park.
The combat is somewhat similar to how it was handled in Silent Hill: Homecoming; Murphy can attack from a neutral stance or go into a more battle-ready stance to help focus his attacks on a singular enemy. Murphy can block, but he cannot dodge nor counter attacks like Alex Shepherd. Weapons also degrade as well, limiting their use. Fortunately any item that can realistically be used as a weapon can, such as baseball bats, wrenches, rakes and wooden chairs - though Murphy can only hold a single melee weapon at a time. Guns are also still available and Murphy is able to holster a single firearm whilst equipped with another weapon; ammunition is terribly scarce, however. Ordinarily because of the unreliable combat mechanics and limited supplies, running away from enemies is the most profitable strategy. Enemies will give chase, but not for long, and Murphy is usually able to outrun most enemies.
Downpour does feature an inventory system, though it is sorted in real time and is formatted as a list the player must scroll through from left to right. Murphy also doesn't have a health bar like previous Silent Hill protagonists, instead displaying his condition through his own body; cuts and blood marks will begin to appear, and Murphy will start to limp, giving the player a clear and more organic indication of how much damage Murphy has taken. Health will regenerate to a point should Murphy become severely close to death, though first-aid kits are required to bring Murphy up to full health.
For the first time in the series, side-missions can be undertaken across the town. Strewn about in abandoned houses and all throughout the town are mysteries and clues. They vary from using red and yellow ribbons that have been placed all around Silent Hill to trail a lost little girl, to using a gramophone to rewind time and uncover the truth behind a family massacre. Each side-mission encapsulates its own self-contained story and upon completion will often reward the player with ammunition, first-aid kits or a rare weapon.
Water plays an important role in the game, both in theme and in gameplay. Silent Hill will periodically go through a temporary downpour of rain, which increases the chances that enemies will spawn and their overall ferocity. To escape the rain, players can enter a building and take shelter; once the player leaves the building, no matter how much time has transpired, the rain will have subsided.
The endless stairway in the Otherworld.
The Otherworld once again returns. Carrying on from the style seen in Homecoming, the Otherworld is brought forth during scripted segments in the story as the 'normal' world peels away. Rust, grime and optical illusions await Murphy, as do multiple chase sequences, which force Murphy to keep on the move while throwing down obstacles to slow the shapeless red light that stalks him. Overall, the Otherworld is much more so linear and scripted than when playing through the normal world, prioritising peculiar puzzles and psychological set-pieces over combat and exploration. Though the final few Otherworld stages mix all of the aspects together, compiling puzzles, exploration and combat to go along with the environmental oddities and tricks.
Murphy Pendleton is trapped in Silent Hill after the prison bus he was in crashed.
The protagonist of Downpour is a convict named Murphy Pendleton, who is in prison for an as yet unknown crime. At the game's start, he is on board a prison transport that crashes, and subsequently manages to escape. As he flees, he inadvertently comes to the town of Silent Hill. One of the first characters he meets is a mysterious postman who details the history of the forsaken town. Murphy is also being pursued by a prison officer called Anne Cunningham who aims to capture and return him to prison.
A comic book miniseries entitled Silent Hill: Past Life was published as a tie-in with Downpour. In the first issue, it was revealed that Silent Hill postmaster Howard Blackwood would play a significant role in both the game and the comic, despite their stories taking place a century apart from each other.
Akira Yamaoka, the traditional composer of the Silent Hill series, left Konami in 2010. As a result, Downpour's soundtrack was composed by Dan Licht, best known for scoring TV's Dexter series. Nathan McCree was in charge of the overall sound design.