Let me explain. The streets, rooms and corridors of Silent Hill are crawling with grisly, flayed-looking monsters, disfigured nurse-like creatures and lumbering beasts. You slowly gather a small selection of ranged weapons, but as ammo is scarce you’re best saving these for key boss battles. Doing so means that for the majority of the game you’re restricted to melee weapons, pressing the right shoulder button to lock on and then bashing X to take a swipe. Unfortunately, most of the creatures need to be whacked repeatedly before they go down, and even then they will get up several times before they have the good grace to lie still.
Three things make this even more annoying. First, melee weapons only last for a limited number of hits before suddenly breaking or dissolving, requiring you to rapidly switch to another weapon in mid-smackdown. Secondly, creatures frequently attack en masse, and dealing with more than one at a time is a nightmare unless they’re kind enough to line up neatly in front of your swinging wrench or 2×4 plank. Thirdly, creatures in some areas seem to respawn or get periodically replaced, which makes beating them down utterly pointless.
As a result, you soon learn to avoid combat altogether. It appears that the poor photo-sensitive denizens of Silent Hill are alerted by the shine of your flashlight, so you realise that one of Silent Hill’s signature features is actually best switched off. Having done so, you spend most of your time comically sprinting past every last ghoul and revenant in order to get to your next objective without having to waste time fighting them. This isn’t a new thing to Silent Hill by any means, but where once the idea of fleeing from demons seemed a part of the whole scary experience, you now feel more like you’re just avoiding a source of prolonged hassle. On an emotional level, it’s less the stuff of nightmares than the stuff of avoiding clipboard-carrying charity workers on your way down the high street. And isn’t it slightly ridiculous that you end up – apparently – with a coat bulging full of portable televisions, jumbo bottles of alcohol, metal drip-hangers, cleavers, meat-hooks and sledgehammers just because you can never have too many highly breakable melee weapons in such a monster infested town?