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Horror Game Weekend – Silent Hill HD Collection and Dead Island [Game On]

Alright, a few weeks ago I went to Horrorhound Weekend (video recap of that right here if you’re curious).  After running around a convention centered solely around all things terrifying, it got me thinking that I hadn’t really played a good survival horror game in a while.  After hitting a local game store with my friends, we ended up picking up Dead Island and the Silent Hill HD Collection which includes Silent Hill 2 and 3 with updated graphics.

So how did each fare as I dived back into the world of horror? Read on.

Dead Island

Dead Island was released in September 2011 as a zombie-fest that takes place on a fictional island of Banoi at a resort hotel not too far from Papua New Guinea. It’s an action-RPG with a focus on melee combat rather than firearms, or at least it would seem that way considering that out of the four characters you can choose at the onset only one is devoted to firearms while the other three specialize in blade weapons, blunt weapons, and thrown.  Locked in a safe room with a handful of other survivors, it’s your job to work together and find out what’s going on and stay alive in the process.

From a presentation standpoint Dead Island‘s environments are immersive and beautiful.  The island locale is refreshing considering most zombie games put you in dank, derelict locations- but it’s not all sunsets and margaritas either; There are plenty of dark and foreboding locations to explore around the island and I’ll admit, even being a veteran to the genre Dead Island left me with chills in spots.

Combat can feel a bit disjointed when using melee weapons, but for the most part the action doesn’t miss a beat.  Throw in a fairly well-done multiplayer system that allows drop-in, drop-out zombie slaying with friends and strangers and at $29.99 Dead Island delivers in a big way.  In fact, I’m slapping myself for waiting so long to check it out because it turned out far better than I could have expected.

But the polar opposite of a serene, island setting for your terror fix can be found in…

The Silent Hill HD Collection

Released in March, the Silent Hill HD Collection offers remakes of Silent Hill 2 and 3 with the added bonus of the Born from a Wish sub-scenario that centered around Maria’s character before meeting James in Silent Hill 2.

I’ve raved about the Silent Hill series often and with good reason- it was a bold series that pushed the boundaries of what the video game narrative was capable of from very early on by tackling more adult content.  Now, when I say ‘adult’ I don’t simply mean violence or sex, but more complex themes including (but not limited to) rape, spousal abuse, euthanasia and a variety of other topics that are still a bit taboo for the industry.

So how does the re-imagining stack up with the rest of the series?  Fairly well, but if you’ve played these before there’s not a massive draw for its purchase unless you’re a die-hard Silent Hill fan.  Newcomers may be frustrated at the oft-clunky controls that characterized earlier offerings in the series, but those of us that refused to hate on Konami’s survival horror superstar will still find a lot to enjoy on account of the nostalgia of its early limitations.

Graphically speaking it’s certainly an upgrade from the original games that are now more than long in the tooth, but don’t expect anything jaw-dropping either.  It’s sharper certainly, but there’s not going to be any dramatic lighting or anything of the sort.  In addition to the graphics, new voiceovers were recorded but thankfully you have the option to play with the original voice actors or the upgraded version.  However, whichever you choose the dialog is still delivered a bit robotically but the content is still fascinating.

While it’s definitely convenient having both 2 and 3 on a single disk, it’s also disheartening that we haven’t had a truly gripping Silent Hill in a very long time.  Still though, at $29.99 as well it’s got tons to offer someone looking for a depressing, dilapidated romp though the most horrifying town in video games.

What survival horror games are you looking forward to?

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