"He wakes up in hospital [ah, the good old Silent Hill hospital... - Ed] and sees a female apparition in the mirror, and she draws something on inside of it. Now, he's not a guy to be scared. If anything he's almost numbed to life; it's why has he chosen to become this person.
"But he's not a superhero. He's an average person. He has problems. That trauma that damages you is internal. As a truck driver he's already a physical force, and we use that bulk in the gameplay. He sees these creatures and he doesnt need an explanation to what's going on," Oertel says cryptically. "After you play the game and know what he does, it will make sense," he assures.
In a departure for the series, Origins favours a more Resident Evil 4-style over-the-shoulder camera viewpoint and a heavier focus on action, though he's quick to clarify that "we're not going FPS".
"By its nature this will be a bit more action oriented Silent Hill. Sure, the camera placement will remind you of another survival horror game, but because it's a handheld game you can't have the cam pushed back because you don't see any detail that way. We needed to maximise tension."
Block the bloody door
Apparently. Origins will introduce "several gameplay mechanics" that intensify the sense of isolation, such as the new barricade system. Players will be able to use whatever junk that comes to hand to build mini sanctuaries to block out the approaching evil, and well as as-yet-unspecified "updated control system for improved combat"
Meanwhile, regarding audio Oertel acknowledges the PSP presents interesting challenges: "We know how important sound is [in Silent Hill titles], but things need to be visually oriented in case they don't have the sound on during their journeys or have good headphones etc. As a result there's a couple of mechanics we're putting in to make that happen," he adds without offering further detail. He went on to say that despite this, with headphones Origins has the potential to really immerse players. "I'm like 'Hey, why don't I just hop in my car and drive to the woods and play it when it's dark and cold!' People will find ways to enhance it. There's no magic pill," he admits.
In terms of where the game takes place, Oertel reveals that one third will be spent roaming around Silent Hill itself, and the other two thirds in four all-new areas including an asylum and a butchers shop. The project's producers says it's "too early to give estimates" on the gameplay length, but we live in hope that it won't be a brief affair.
Origin of the species
Regarding the infamous malformed creatures that we all know and love, Oertel had this to say: "One thing to keep in mind is that Origins is set before Silent Hill 1. The approach we wanted to take is that you've known the creatures - but where did they originate from? Take the straightjacket monster. Whether that's real or psychological is for the player to decide. One of the charms of SH is that it doesn't go out of its way to explain the storyline."
Does the world need another Silent Hill title that merely prompts more questions than answers? Frankly, yes. As Oertel notes, part of its enduring charm is its ability to make the player question what's really going on, and as long as Climax can stay true to the original vision and not make it too combat heavy for its own good, this looks set to be one of the most interesting releases coming to the PSP.
Silent Hill Origins is due for release this Christmas from Konami. In the meantime, be sure to check out the trailer on EGTV