Im about 2 hours into the game, so certainly there are no spoilers to report in this thread yet - but I have found an eerie feeling of returning to something very familiar when the game proper started.
The opening scene is brutal - and is that way because there is no context - you have no reason to do what you do. There is some throw away dialogue that doesnt go far enough to explain your action, so I will assume that more about this scene gets explained later on in the game. Hopefully it also goes along way to explain why your character, Murphy, is in prison.
Murphy, along with some other inmates, are being moved to another prison (I assume, its very vague) and are involved in a bus accident. Everyone is missing and for some reason your handcuffs are gone. For a while I was thinking "plot hole" but then this detail was acknowledged by another character, and while it wasnt explained, it at least made me feel better that the writers hadnt overlooked it.
Your first task - find a way across the tram car and get some new clothes. I've made it as far as getting across the tram car - navigating through a garage and an abandoned motel/diner.
I've met a few interesting characters - the mailman who talks in riddles and the amusement ride worker who laments the 'good old days'. The only enemy I've seen so far is "The Screamer" - a banshee style female character who uses a scream to paralyse, then attacks with a windmill-style swinging action. Easy to counter, easy to kill. I admit, the hair on my arm stands up when I see them - they are creepy and they fit into the universe really well.
The water motif is something that I really hope is explored. Usually, games use "fire" as their element - something seen to be cleansing and creating a new hope. So far in SH:D, the water is being used to clean, but not to cleanse. A few times the game has used water to indicate that things are being "washed away" - there is nothing here to indicate a new beginning, there is no redemption here. Murphy doesnt seem to want to be free of his past, but he does want to wash it away (we see that when he decides to change his clothes, not to clean ones, but ones covered in blood - and when he takes an interest in a vintage car). The water is a strong element, especially during a scene in the cafe where the water pressure is used to open up a new door.
The 'otherworld' is also awesomely realised. The fantastic effect of changing to the otherworld is handled really well - it still has that metal and steam feel to it, that industrial look, but now there is water in places adding to the elements. The chase sequences are also quite good and add to the atmosphere. They are new to the SH franchise, and I think they are welcome. Also, now this might just be the cafe scene, but the otherworld location didnt follow the map of the real world - for example long stair cases and massive rooms that dont make sense if you look at the map. I like what Varta did here.
Another new addition, which is very subtle, is the fact that Murphy looks frightened when he is in otherworld. If you move the camera to close up on his face, you can see a look of fear and confusion. Excellent detail there Varta, well done.
So far none of the puzzles have been challenging. Grab a key from there for that lock. Use the kettle to steam a window for the combination for safe - that kind of thing. The 'free ticket' mini game is done quite well, however I am not a fan of the balance sections - I'm just thanking god that Varta decided against using six-axis for that bit!
There is also a few nice fan service bits in the game - in the cafe section, for example, putting a coin in the jukebox plays the music from the movie/first game.
But there are some annoying bits too. Save points are now at certain locations in the game, and the thing is they cause some serious lag as the game is saving while you are still playing. At times the frame rate takes an absolute hit (to 0 in some sections) as the game seems to be 'loading' the section. This pause in the game completely threw my orientation off a few times to the point where I started going back the way I came! And some mild screen tearing too! For a PS3 game this is unforgivable, especially after witnessing things like Uncharted 2 - I'm wondering (not really) if the X360 version is better.
This has a very Alan Wake feel to it, which so far is good enough for me. But I think the real game, the guts of the story if you will, will start when I reach Silent Hill. I cant wait to get there, I'll send you guys a postcard.
Loving every second of this. Welcome home my friend.
Edited by DansDans, 28 March 2012 - 08:51 AM.