Even in the hustle and bustle of a busy convention centre, there's something unsettling about playing Silent Hill. From the creepy intro to the grainy look of the game overall, we had an enjoyably scary time playing it on the Xbox 360 at this year's Leipzig Games Convention.
The demo itself was similar to the one that we played at this year's E3, but we were able play a different level of the game in Germany. It started with us viewing through the eyes of the protagonist, who was strapped down to a medical stretcher that was being led through a hospital. As we looked around, we could see people being operated on (or tortured, as is probably more accurate) by the crazed creatures who had taken over the establishment. Shortly after, we were left in an operating room while a strange creature waited outside. Thankfully, we were able to tap the X button to escape from the shackles, allowing us more freedom to explore the world.
It's clear that Silent Hill has taken a few tips from Resident Evil in updating the franchise. The main character moves more quickly and freely than in previous games, and though it can still be difficult to move quickly enough when engaging an enemy, the controls feel much more nimble than before. The combat also feels more frenetic, and we were able to finish off some of the nurses by grabbing their heads and stabbing them in the neck. Needless to say, gushers of blood sprayed all over the place, some of it even hitting the camera.
In terms of puzzles, the game seems to be in more familiar Silent Hill territory. We encountered a door with an electronic lock, but in the adjacent room we found a clue: half of an X-ray sheet that had a number scrawled across it. With a little help from our Konami representative, we were able to find the other half of the sheet and put together the code. Shortly after, we entered the hospital toilets (and what Silent Hill game would be complete without toilets?), where we saw the game slip into the "alternate universe" state, which should be familiar to fans of the series. The walls stripped away to reveal a much grimier hospital than before.
This Silent Hill takes the series' traditional art style and filters it through the Xbox 360 to create an arresting new look. The flashlight looks particularly realistic, especially in casting shadows, and a lot of the medical equipment lying around would shake if we bumped into it. The characters and environments are detailed, but the intentionally grimy look makes the game feel as if it has been captured on old, decaying film. It won't be to everyone's taste, but it certainly adds to the atmosphere of the game.
We're encouraged by what we saw of the new Silent Hill, and we'll hopefully get to see more of it on the show floor in the coming days. The game launches on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 later in the year.