SILENT HILL The Escape (US)

Konami's creepy survival horror game comes to the iPhone.


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Silent Hill The Escape Review

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.

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Silent Hill The Escape Hands-On Impressions

Konami’s freak-filled horrorshow, Silent Hill, has finally crept its way onto the US App Store. We spent a few minutes with the game to see how the survival horror gameplay translates to the iPhone.

Silent Hill The Escape may look like a first-person shooter, but that’s misleading. It’s really more of a static shooting gallery game. For example, you can only turn at right angles, and there’s no strafing. We’ve only encountered one weapon in our time with the game–the default pistol–but it’s possible there are others to be found.

The enemies we’ve seen so far, like the faceless nurse and the haunted wheelchair (!), approach deliberately, so you have plenty of time to tilt around and center your crosshair appropriately. A single shot to the head does it for the nurses.

The levels look about right: demented hospital wards smeared with blood. The soundtrack, consisting of freaky alien drones and ambient clanking, is appropriately strange as well. You go on a key hunt through each maze-like stage, and then proceed to unlock the exit and escape. You are then graded on your time and accuracy.

We’ll get our review up soon. Here’s some gameplay video to tide you over till then.