This Door Is Locked – Silent Hill 3

It might not be the best trip to Silent Hill but it's a fond one for This Door is Locked

Hello and welcome to This Door Is Locked, a horror game discussion show for all you horror gamers out there.

In this series we’ll be covering everything from indie gems and retro classics to modern masterpieces and blockbuster giants. So, if you love horror and you love gaming, this is the show for you.

This article is a companion piece to the recent radio show episode broadcasted on Bunkazilla. Don’t worry if you’ve missed it! You can listen to the episode right here.


Perhaps not the most critically acclaimed of the Silent Hill series, Silent Hill 3 holds a special place in my heart.

This was the first Silent Hill game I ever played, and one of the first survival horror games I managed to complete! I’ll admit that I was drawn to SH3 over its predecessor due to the cover art. The face of teenage Heather resonated with me more than James Sutherland, and the creepy box art sealed the deal.

History

Silent Hill 3 was released in 2003 and is a direct sequel to Silent Hill 1. You play as Heather, a teenager who starts the game off simply trying to get home from the shopping mall, and who quickly finds herself embroiled in a sinister cult’s grand plans.

There will be spoilers ahead for Silent Hill 3 so if you don’t want the ending of a 17-year-old game ruined for you – best head off to check out some of Bunkazilla’s other shows now, or head over to the Bunkazilla Stomping Grounds on Facebook.

The game was heavily influenced by the film Jacob’s Ladder and the works of Stephen King, with a strong emphasis put on sound design and the environments. 

Gameplay

Unlike the previous SH games, SH3 allowed you to change not only the difficulty of the gameplay, but also the difficulty of the puzzles. This allowed each player to tailor the game to their personal preference. Those who liked their horror games with a focus on combat could up the hardness of the monsters but keep the puzzles simple. I was at the other end of the scale, preferring easier combat and trickier puzzles.

The old favourites – the radio and the flashlight – make a welcome return, but Heather ets a few more tricks to use than either of the previous two protagonists. She has manoeuvrable capabilities that allow her to side-step charging enemies, and she could annotate her map to show notes and puzzles to come back to later.

I’d say that SH3’s first impression is that it doesn’t immediately feel like a SH game. Even the traditional dream sequence at the start feels different from what we’ve seen before. 

There’s no fog, or blaring alarm, and the amusement park setting is wildly different to what we’ve come across in the previous games.

Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad thing. If you repeat yourself too often, things can become stale, so I like the fact that the developers of SH3 were brave enough to try going in a different direction. It helps throw the player off their game from the start, adding to that feeling of the unknown throughout the game that previous SH entries did so well.

As for first impressions of SH town itself during SH3, that is actually the portion of the game that feels familiar., Once you step back onto those foggy streets and see the map of the town splayed out before you, it suddenly feels very homely.

I’m guessing that this was precisely what the developers were going for. By starting heather out in unfamiliar settings – to the player at least – they are able to instill that unsettled element of gameplay early on, just as the first games did when you first entered SH.

But the developers must have known that, by the third game, players would be expecting to see SH straight away and so attempted to throw them off their game by starting out somewhere new.

Then, when Heather returns to SH later on, it is not only a Homecoming for her character, but also for the player – returning to the familiar of SH. And once you realise that you consider SH familiar and homely, that really does add a whole new element of horror to the experience.

We continue with our Silent Hill series next month with Silent Hill 4: The Room but until then, stay safe out there!

Charlotte Brown


Charlotte loves horror in all its gory and, as her alter-ego The Cross Eyed Gamer, plays motion-sickness friendly horror games on her YouTube channel.

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