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Silent Hill

For: Mobile

A real scream

Product: Silent Hill | Developer: Konami Paris | Publisher: Glu Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Shooter | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 470KB | Reviewed on: K750i other handsets | Version: Europe
Silent Hill Mobile, thumbnail 1
Apart from Resident Evil, there are few horror gaming franchises that come close to matching Silent Hill in terms of reputation and quality. It has been proudly disturbing scare-obsessed console gamers since the turn of the century, and now has finally made its way to mobile to give you the goosebumps whether you're on the lav, a bus or a train – whatever your preferred gaming locale may be, really.

If you've never had the pleasure, Silent Hill offers a breed of horror that's tinged with the psychological. Rather than just relying on cheap shocks, the series' allure is based on an oppressive and creepy atmosphere that keeps tensions high even if you haven't encountered an enemy for a while.

When you do face a baddie, though, you realise it's another factor that makes Silent Hill a little bit special. More than just a game of faceless zombies or psycho-killers, here the enemies are disturbing flesh sculptures that have more than a little artistry to them – they're certainly concepts way beyond those Dr Frankenstein ever conceived.

Thankfully, the Silent Hill atmosphere is something that has been translated perfectly to mobile. As Ben, you start the game by waking up in the orphanage you grew up in 30 years ago. You have no idea why you're there, but the last time you were, every kid in the place was killed apart from yourself and a half-handful of survivors.

About as nightmarish as it sounds, the orphanage is a great setting for a horror game. True to its heritage, Silent Hill is much more an adventure game than an action title – more concerned with puzzles than pistols – and you spend a lot of your time stalking around the murky corridors of the (mostly) abandoned building.

Your environment is viewed from a first-person perspective, and you control a cursor which is used to move between locations and manipulate objects. The locations are actually just static images, apart from the odd animated bit, but each one is larger than the phone screen, enabling you scroll around them using the cursor.

This makes the environment seem a lot more dynamic and indeed alive than it would otherwise have felt. Just as importantly, though, it makes searching for items a real active process, especially when some rooms in the game are pitch black, causing you to scan around the setting using the limited illumination provided by your cigarette lighter.

Visually, the game is perfectly pitched. Although the developer has deliberately restricted the colour palette, with the initial chunk of the game drawn entirely in muted sepia tones, the graphics never become dull. Rather, they further add to the atmosphere by making the orphanage seem feel like a truly cohesive gameworld – care has obviously been taken to make the building's design seem believable.

Whilst many of the game's puzzles require you to simply use objects together, there are also actual puzzles that need a specific combination of key presses in order to be solves. Thankfully, these generally aren't just randomly dropped into the game, but weaved in with some clever use of clues gathered earlier on.

Of course, this wouldn't be the complete Silent Hill experience without a spot of blasting fleshy mutants, too. You can pull out your pistol at any time with the '1' key, causing the cursor to turn into a crosshair. Cleverly, in order to ensure this aspect of the game offers some challenge, the cursor becomes a lot more wobbly at this point, and there's also a recoil effect upon shooting, forcing you to re-aim after each shot. Combat is fairly simple, but is accomplished and scarce enough to avoid becoming a chore.

In fact, we have only a few reservations about Silent Hill, but these can't be entirely ignored. During your travels, you'll have to do a fair bit of backtracking to previously visited locations. There's nothing wrong with this in itself, and it helps to reinforce the sense that you're in a real location, but the short load times between each location become irritating when you already know where you want to go but still have to spend a while trudging through blank corridors to get there.

The other reservation that holds back our unreserved adoration of this title a little is the sound. Any good horror film or game worth its salt knows how to whip its audience to that extra level of terror with a well-placed silence or orchestral stab. Silent Hill does offer some basic music and sound effects, but compared with the fairly impressive visuals, sonically things are a bit limp.

Still, despite just missing out on Pocket Gamer's coveted Gold Award, Silent Hill comes recommended whole-heartedly. It is an excellent, atmospheric and involving adventure that'll give you the chills in a way quite unlike anything we've seen on mobile in a long time.
Silent Hill
Reviewer photo
Andrew Williams | 2 October 2007
Silent Hill is a great, creepy adventure game that can sit proudly amongst the top titles in its genre
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