Silent Hill: Origins, known as Silent Hill: Zero in Japan, is the fifth installment in the Silent Hill survival horror series. It is a prequel to the original Silent Hill game. It was developed by Climax Studios and published by Konami. It debuted on PlayStation Portable in November 2007, with a port to the PlayStation 2 released in March 2008.
Set seven years prior to the events of Silent Hill, Origins expands the backstory on which the series built itself. However, the canonicity of the game is often taken loosely by some fans who consider the game to be an "unauthorized prequel", as Team Silent was not heavily involved in the game's production.
Travis Grady, a trucker who suffers from visions that are somehow familiar to him, is running late for a delivery one night. He decides to make up for lost time by taking a detour through Silent Hill on his way to Brahms. On the outskirts of Silent Hill, a cloaked figure darts into the road in front of him; Travis slams on the brakes and exits his truck to check on their condition.
Outside his truck, Travis sees a brown-haired girl in a blue uniform. Chasing after her, Travis finds a house caught in a raging fire. He sees a woman outside of the house, but before he can talk to her, Travis hears a girl's scream from inside and enters the house to find her. After making his way through the burning house, Travis discovers a severely burned young girl lying on top of an apparent sacrificial marking, and carries her outside with the safety of a seal. Upon exiting the house, he hears sirens in the distance and loses consciousness.
The next day Travis wakes up on a bench in Central Silent Hill. After recalling the events of the previous night, he travels to Alchemilla Hospital in hopes of finding the girl's condition. At the hospital, Travis briefly meets Dr. Michael Kaufmann, but is unable to find out any information, as Kaufmann claims that the hospital has received no new patients. On the second floor of the hospital, Travis is attacked by a nurse. After battling with the nurse and continuing his search in the hospital, Travis is confronted by a large mirror with an unusual reflection. On the other side of the mirror which reveals the Otherworld, the brown-haired girl appears and Travis is transported to the hospital's Otherworld. Later on, Travis encounters a convulsing monster and, after its defeat, finds a strange triangular piece belonging to an object known as the Flauros. The brown-haired girl appears, and Travis again loses consciousness to the siren. Back in the Fog World, Travis wakes up in the hospital lobby and meets Lisa Garland, a nurse who informs him about the sanitarium and tells him that Alessa died in the fire. Travis doesn't tell Lisa about the monsters because he believes it was all a nightmare, however, when Travis exits the hospital, the town is still infested with monsters.
Making his way through Silent Hill, Travis passes through the town's butcher shop, where he witnesses the murder and mutilation of a nurse by a large monster called the Butcher. Once Travis arrives at Cedar Grove Sanitarium, he runs into Dahlia Gillespie, the woman he spotted at the fire. He questions her, and she gives convoluted and confusing answers, revealing that her daughter is Alessa Gillespie, the girl burned in the fire. During the exploration of the sanitarium, it is revealed that Travis's mother, Helen Grady, attempted to kill him when he was a child, and that she was held in the female isolation ward. Voice recordings in the sanitarium tell of how Helen claimed she was "all better now" and wanted to see her son. Travis reaches his mother's cell and finds her Otherworld counterpart trapped in a large gibbet cage. After defeating her, he finds another triangular piece and Alessa appears as Travis passes out again. Upon waking, Travis finds a theater ticket and insinuates that he should check out Artaud Theater.
In the theater's main auditorium, he finds Lisa, who describes her dream of being an actress and teases Travis, displaying her "acting skills," before leaving. Searching the theater, Travis encounters new monsters and learns that Alessa used to visit the theater when the actors were rehearsing their rendition of Shakespeare's The Tempest. The character costume of Caliban frightened Alessa, and she quietly retaliated by psychokinetically giving the actor a headache and nosebleed. Travis discovers that he can change the theater stage's props and scenery to create different Otherworlds. The final scene change reveals the dark and dreary home of the Caliban. Defeating the creature, Travis picks up another Flauros piece. By now, Travis has caught on to Alessa's patterns, but he still has a great many unanswered questions. Alessa calls the siren and Travis once again falls unconscious. Travis wakes up in the Fog World theater and discovers the mutilated body of an Ariel. The corpse contains a key to the motel where Travis and his father Richard stayed while visiting his mother. Travis makes his final trek through the streets of Silent Hill, passing through a bookstore and a general store, and arrives at the Riverside Motel.
Travis struggles through a long and dangerous stay at the Riverside Motel, involving many monsters previously unseen in Silent Hill, numerous transitions between the Fog World and the Otherworld, and various puzzles and searches. Travis eventually battles the Butcher, slaying it and using its blade to impale its corpse. Travis continues to seek answers regarding his family, and finds Dr. Kaufmann and Lisa Garland in a room with drugs and sexual tension between them; Lisa irritatedly leaves the room, and Dr. Kaufmann follows her after threatening Travis and locking the exit. Travis escapes using a mirror in the bathroom and finally finds the key to the room in which he and Richard stayed many years ago.
After opening the door to Room 500 and walking down a long diagonal shaft to another doorway, a flashback reveals that his father hanged himself from a noose here. Richard's reanimated corpse tells Travis it's time he "faced up to what happened," and morphs into a screaming, tubular monster trapped in a box hanging from the ceiling. Travis painfully defeats the memory of his father and receives yet another piece of the Flauros. This time, Travis is visibly shaken and turns on Alessa when she inevitably appears. Once again, sirens ring out and Travis collapses. Travis awakens in the basement of the hospital. Inside, he finds the center piece of the Flauros, and reconstructs the mystical item.
Exiting the hospital, Travis is accosted by Dahlia, who accuses him of freeing Alessa. Turning back, Travis sees Alessa has regained her powers as she distorts the town into a burning, nightmarish state. He escapes into the streets of Otherworld Silent Hill, otherwise referred to as "Nowhere". Using a child's scribbled map, Travis escapes an overwhelming number of monsters and makes his way to the Green Lion Antiques shop, labeled on the map as "Go Here."
At the shop, Travis finds members of the Order performing another ritual on the burned Alessa. Travis is sedated with sleeping gas and drawn into a strange, nightmarish reality in which he faces the entity within the Flauros. Travis defeats the demon, and back in the antiques shop, a light shoots out of the Flauros and hits Alessa, creating a glowing, infant-like form on top of her body. This is when the various endings occur.
- Good Ending - Travis has successfully moved on from his past and finds himself back in the Real World. While walking down the highway out of town, Travis sees his truck; gets in, and notices Alessa holding a baby, Cheryl Mason, in his rear-view mirror. Travis smiles, taps his speedometer to reset it, indicating a fresh start, and drives away. Based on the events of the original Silent Hill and Travis's cameo in Silent Hill: Homecoming, this is the canon ending for the game.
- Bad Ending - This ending is obtained by killing over 200 enemies in the game. Travis wakes up tied to a hospital bed, still in the Otherworld. A flickering light swings overhead, and there is evidence that Travis has been drugged, possibly with PTV. As Travis struggles with his restraints, dialogue is audible in the background of people meeting Travis, and then screaming. Among those speaking are a woman who insists she isn't his mother, his father, and the owner of Riverside Motel. There are also cuts to horrendous things, such as the Butcher's cleaver stuck in a bloody block, Travis covered in blood in a room at the motel, and shots of the Butcher. Though Travis struggles, he can't free himself, and the camera zooms out to behind a two-way mirror, revealing what appears to be a cult member looking on.
- Based on a note found in the library Otherworld in the theater, it comes to light that Travis may have been on a killing spree, and yet still mentally shields himself from his crimes. This makes him a perfect subject for brainwashing into the cult. This could also mean that the various "Cause of Death Photos" photos of naked women who have different means of death (by shotgun, stabbing, snake bite, overdose, etc.) located throughout Riverside Motel may have all been committed by Travis.
- UFO Ending - After completing the game once, the player is given the option to climb the stairs opposite Alchemilla Hospital and obtain the key to room 502. This key is used in the Otherworld Riverside Motel. In a cartoon/anime style, Travis tries to open the door but it won't open, even with the key. To Travis's surprise, a UFO comes down from the sky and opens up, revealing an alien and the dog from Silent Hill 2's Dog ending wearing a space helmet. They greet him and the alien reveals that his truck is on their planet. Joyfully, Travis asks if he could drive the UFO, to which the alien replies, "You drive stick?" Travis joins them in their UFO and they fly away.
The game features significant changes and additions to the gameplay, some of them being used for the first time in the series.
Travis comes across a wide variety of power tools, household appliances and other commonplace objects, which he can stash unlimitedly in his inventory and from which he selects by cycling through them without actually pausing the game. With the exception of firearms, all weapons have durability, meaning that they will disappear after long periods of use. These include hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, scalpels, batons, pokers, meat hooks, drip stands, etc. Rarer objects, such as portable TVs, filing cabinets, crates, toolboxes and toasters can only be used once before breaking, and deal considerably larger damage to enemies. Additionally, Travis can charge his attacks by holding 'X' for a large period of time before releasing it.
Another significant addition is the use of the "grapple system" when fighting monsters. Some of them will grapple with Travis and lead to a "quick-time event", where the player must either tap a certain button repeatedly or press certain buttons at a time to avoid taking damage. Should the player miss the buttons too many times, or not press the corresponding button quickly enough, Travis will die.
Origins is the first game to allow the use of bare fists for fighting. This is very useful if the player does not have any weapons ready.
The energy drink item is also introduced into the game. Travis cannot run very quickly and will tire soon enough; should the player be in possession of an energy drink, Travis's stamina replenishes for a large period of time, allowing him to run freely for a while.
- Main article: Silent Hill: Zero Original Soundtracks
The game's soundtrack, titled Silent Hill: Zero Original Soundtracks, was released in Japan on January 1, 2008, by Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. The soundtrack contains music from Silent Hill: Origins, composed by Akira Yamaoka.
After Silent Hill 4: The Room, the team which was in charge of the series, Team Silent, disbanded for various reasons, one of which is the desire from Konami to give the games a "different feeling", according to Silent Hill: Homecoming artist Kenzie LaMar. Konami released The Silent Hill Experience and wanted to follow it up with a Silent Hill game. Development for the Silent Hill franchise was then moved on from Japan to the United States, with Origins being developed as a prequel to the series by Climax Los Angeles in Santa Monica. The game was revealed around E3 2006, with a first trailer presenting the general tone of the game, set for a release in winter.
The development team took a more action-oriented approach, with over-the-shoulder camera (apparently inspired by Resident Evil 4) and the possibility to use many objects as weapons, as revealed in gameplay footage released at the time. The project was actually quite troubled. The game engine encountered technical issues, and the vision of the team did not seem appropriate for the series by producers.
Development was transferred to the British team of Climax Studios, with Sam Barlow directing the game. Barlow commented on the state of the project at that time: “It was bizarre. It was supposed to be a dark comedy and, at some point, someone said Scrubs was [the inspiration]! We pushed back and said, ‘Look, if this goes out, it will be a disaster. There’s a hardcore fanbase [of Silent Hill players].’ Konami said, ‘You can change everything, but you’ve got to do it in the same time and budget.’”
In another interview, Sam Barlow said, "Unfortunately there were some problems there and the game they were making was not in the best shape. We hadn't done anything to deserve to work on Silent Hill, but we worked very well as a team, had strong skill sets and, well... we were available. At that point there wasn't a huge amount of time to get the game done. But we insisted that we needed to re-do a lot of the game in order to make it something that wouldn't embarrass the franchise. The game we shipped wasn't perfect — and I'd personally question even the idea of a prequel to Silent Hill — but it was much, much better than what might have been."
Climax UK almost had to start from scratch, with the game and creatures being remade, and the script rewritten by Barlow, to make the game more relevant to the universe of the series. The game eventually released in November 2007, and was ported to PlayStation 2 in March 2008.
Silent Hill: Origins earned positive critiques by many reviewers, and received an award from GamePro as an Editor's Choice.
General consensus states that the game offered a unique look at the backstory of Silent Hill, providing eager fans the chance to expand their grasp on Silent Hill as a series.
On the other hand, it met criticism by fans and critics alike, revolving around the storyline, straightforward gameplay, and the reuse of existing monsters. Some fans felt the Butcher was too similar to Pyramid Head, and that the Straightjacket was too similar to the Lying Figure, and that the Faceless Nurse too similar to the Bubble Head Nurse. Many fans dislike the sanitarium level because of its length. Some fans dislike the fact that Travis can control the Otherworld shifts via mirrors, feeling it lessens the scariness.
Some fans were also displeased by Lisa Garland's characterization and portrayal, which made her less "innocent", regarding the sex scene with Kaufmann.
Retcons, discrepancies and inconsistencies
Origins seems to have some minor canon retcons, discrepancies and inconsistencies:
- In Origins, Alessa's eyes are blue while in the first game, they appeared dark, almost black or brown at times. Alessa has a red tie instead of a red ribbon. In addition, her bangs are inconsistent. She also has a ponytail which she shouldn't have (14-year-old Alessa has a ponytail but 7-year-old Alessa should not).
- The location of Alessa's burning. The guidebook for the first game states that Dahlia did the ritual in the basement, while Origins depicts it on the second floor.
- An Altered Police Report in Origins blames the fire on an "old boiler" that was in the basement, "[causing] a fire that spread to the rest of the building." Whether or not if the boiler is the true cause of the fire, or if the boiler was simply a cover up by the Order, is unknown.
- There's a document in Origins referring to the Order's god as Samael. The Order is never seen calling the god that (except for Dahlia vaguely mentioning a "Mark of Samael" in the first game), but it's speculated that it was written by an outsider. According to a memo Silent Hill 3, opposers of the cult, and other outside groups gave Order gods various names not used by the Order itself, so it is plausible.
- The function of Flauros seems to have a different function that it did in Silent Hill. In Silent Hill, it is shown to neutralize Alessa's powers when Harry activates it in Lakeside Amusement Park. In Origins, it is literally used to trap a demon. The full functions of the Flauros is never really clarified so it is not necessarily a retcon, but something to be acknowledged.
- Origins adds a new street (Canyon St.) east of Alchemilla Hospital, despite there being no Canyon St. depicted on the map in the original game. Canyon St. would have to be filled with buildings in between the two games in order for it to not be a retcon.
- Origins depicts an insane asylum (Cedar Grove Sanitarium) located literally to the east of a shopping district (Central Silent Hill). Although technically not a retcon, this makes no sense logically.
- Homecoming goes even further with this silliness, adding a maximum security prison (Overlook Penitentiary) in the middle of the shopping district, although since Downpour, it has been confirmed that Overlook's location in Homecoming is just the effects of Silent Hill warping locations.
- Origins is the first Silent Hill game in the series that was developed by a non-Japanese team.
- "Konami Burger", the restaurant seen in the first Silent Hill, can also be seen in the game.
- The roof of the post office has cocoons on it. When examined, Travis says "Moths". This could be a reference to the Floatstinger boss in Silent Hill.
- The pinball machine with the token on it has a "Big Rig" theme to it. This pertains to Travis being the driver of a big rig. In the PS2 version of the game, this machine also features a picture of Farrah Fawcett.
- Silent Hill: Origins has the largest amount of unlockables in the whole series.
- Silent Hill: Origins, along with Silent Hill 3 and Downpour, is the only canon game that allows the player to take the control of the protagonist while in the Real World. In this game, it is during the opening sequence, where Travis is looking for Alessa.
- While the majority of locations seen from previous games do more or less keep the same map layout in Origins, Alchemilla Hospital's first floor does differ in that what was a Storeroom & Office in Silent Hill has been turned into an extra hallway leading to an exit. This is the first time in the series a recurring locale has had its map/layout changed.
- Unlike most other video games in general, the corpses of monsters killed in Origins do not dissipate with time; instead, they will always be located precisely where Travis killed them.
- The "good ending" appears to reveal how Cheryl was adopted by Harry Mason and his wife, which would make the ending canon.
- Travis appears briefly in Silent Hill: Homecoming, giving Alex Shepherd a ride to Shepherd's Glen, which would also make the "good ending" canon.
|Silent Hill games|
|Main series||Silent Hill · 2 · 3 · 4 · Origins · Homecoming · Shattered Memories · Downpour|
|Ports / Adaptations||Play Novel · Mobile · HD Collection|
|Spin-offs||The Arcade · Orphan · 2 · 3 · The Escape · Book of Memories|
|Cancelled||Silent Hills (P.T.)|
|Production||Konami · Team Silent · Climax Studios · Double Helix · Vatra Games · WayForward Technologies|
|Extras||Inspirations · Features|