When it comes to the survival horror genre, Konami’s Silent Hill series is second only to the Resident Evil games in popularity, especially in Japan. That’s why Silent Hill The Escape first appeared on Japanese mobile phones in 2007, and then transitioned to the Japanese App Store earlier this year before winding up on this side of the Pacific. Silent Hill The Escape certainly has the brooding, alien atmosphere of the series down pat, but we expected more than a glorified maze game for $7.99.
For those that don’t know, Silent Hill is a town located somewhere in New England that has some rather… unusual inhabitants. At various points in the series mythology, it’s been established that Silent Hill was built on an Indian burial ground, is infested by death cultists, and is haunted by beings from other dimensions. That’s a triple whammy of weirdness, and it means that something strange is always stalking you from the shadows.
But Silent Hill The Escape doesn’t take place in the town proper. Instead, you wake up in a big, labyrinthine building with no idea of how you got there. All you have is a five-shot pistol, a handful of bullets, a flashlight, and an overwhelming desire to leave as soon as possible. This involves finding a key somewhere on each level, and then making it to the exit, which is marked on your map with a green dot. The game’s corridors are patrolled by faceless nurses, sentient wheelchairs, and other grotesque hopping and flying creatures that want you to stay a while. Perhaps forever.
Most of these things totter around the levels on set tracks, meaning you will occasionally see them move right past you. A single hit kills you, so you have to blast them before they (ever so slowly) run into you. The controls for this work well. You tilt to aim the crosshairs, and then tap to shoot’”preferably at the enemy’s weak spot, which will take them down with a single shot. Moving around is handled with a touch d-pad and finger swipes, and we had no complaints here, either.
We do have a major bone to pick with the game’s incredibly dull pacing, though. Assuming that you reload judiciously and keep an eye on the proximity threat meter, you are rarely in any real physical danger. You are far more likely to succumb to a deadly case of boredom as you wander through the increasingly convoluted (but featureless) corridors on a key hunt. We ended up retracing our steps frequently, because everything looks more or less the same.
The game’s presentation is suitably spooky. The walls and floors are spattered with gore, and the enemies are nicely modeled as well. The Silent Hill games are known for superb sound design, and Silent Hill The Escape is no exception’”you can listen carefully for faint, directional scrapes and clacks to hone in on an enemy’s location.
Unfortunately, the action is so lethargic that none of it really packs a fright. We kept hoping for a puzzle or a challenging fight to break up the monotony, but it never happened. In our opinion, this isn’t a very good use of $7.99.