To make things worse, the game still relies heavily on long corridors with mostly locked doors, long stretches where you have to go from the east wing to pick up object X and then travel to the west wing to use it, and it still hasn’t learnt to place save points sensibly or add checkpoints where they might be useful. I agree that saving anywhere kills this sort of game, but would it really kill to add a quick restart point when you enter a new building or before you start a potentially fatal encounter? I spent large portions of the game backtracking to use an old save point just because I couldn’t risk waiting to find a new one. This doesn’t help you immerse yourself in the game world – it’s the sort of thing that constantly drags you out of it.
In short, we’re left with a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand, the game gets the authentic Silent Hill atmosphere so right. At its best it is an unnerving experience and occasionally deeply scary. There’s also something undeniably addictive about the whole process of piecing together the fragments of the past and finding the next stage in the story. The game length – around six or seven hours – is a worry, but it’s one I’m willing to overlook because there really isn’t anything else out there like this on the PSP, or indeed any other handheld console. Technically, too, Origins is an accomplished title, with some of the best graphics and shortest load times on the system.
But on the other hand, this still isn’t the must-have PSP game it could have been. It’s too clunky, too irritating and too old-school for that. It feels like Climax has held onto the Silent Hill baby, but left it floating in that dirty old Silent Hill bathwater. In a way, I’m hoping that Silent Hill: Origins is a capstone to the old-school Silent Hill, and that it sets the stage for a Silent Hill V that can retain the series’ atmosphere but do away with its dated mechanics – an opportunity Origins has missed.
The atmosphere is chilling, but it’s the game mechanics, not the floorboards, that are creaking. A terrifying treat for the Silent Hill fanbase, but a slight disappointment for anyone hoping for a Grade A PSP title.
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