Review Summary: An uninspired attempt at a new future.
The Silent Hill series gets more analytical autopsies than most gaming franchises – and with good reason. If you’re new to the world of Silent Hill, you’re in for a few wild yarn spinning’s that go beyond the complexities and intricacies of its unique storytelling. A divisive and passionate fanbase: one side holds adulated worship for Team Silent’s masterpieces; the other side tries to either condone the series’ misfires with blind fandom or the individual has been brought up on latter day works. The first four Team Silent games were meticulously planned out, subtle and intelligent masterpieces that pushed the case on videogames being just as much an artform as any other medium. Regardless of your stance on post-Team Silent games, it cannot be overlooked a fundamental understanding of the series has long been forgotten; obscured by a half-decent adaptation in film and Western developer’s incomprehension of the series’ core themes and values. What we got after Silent Hill 4: The Room was a bastardized reconstruction that used the film as a visual inspiration, while the gameplay and structuring of future titles fell set on Westerner’s more comfortable understanding of the genre: Jump scares. This approach was, of course, ill suited to the series – and the polar opposite of what Silent Hill is all about – but in Silent Hill: Origins we got our first glimpse into where the franchise was headed.
By 2006 Yamaoka was now the sole beneficiary of a broken development team, entrusted to keep the heart of Silent Hill alive. The problem was that Yamaoka was a composer whose passions resided in the music and sound design of the games, he didn’t have the skill set nor the understanding needed to maintain what Silent Hill was all about. So, it makes sense in a lot of ways why the sound design and music for anything after Silent Hill 4: The Room remains a consistent positive to these fickle in quality attempts. However, Silent Hill: Origins
would set the groundwork for a much narrower mindset in Yamaoka’s approach to Silent Hill’s music. The solitary, reverb effect-laden guitar ring’s that echo in the vacant spaces of “Meltdown”; the stripped-down drum patters and celerity high-hat taps embrace the role of background support; and the emitted feeling of abandonment from the piano keys usher in the washings of sterile electronic ambiences. All of these things have been used previously, but when you look at Akira’s works collectively from here on out, there’s a familiar feeling and handling being used for the songs. Silent Hill: Origins
has a couple of standout moments of course: the Spanish influences for his guitar playing on “Don’t Abuse Me” is certainly one of them; or the creeping bassline that scuttles through the muffled drum beats and ethereal electronics of “Wrong Is Right”. But overall these nuanced highlights can’t mask the feeling of a composer culling ideas from previous projects.
This is still a well-made soundtrack, but the problem stems from its lack of distinction. For the first time in the series, the score doesn’t explore the spectrum to uncover its own
sound and personality. The OST as a whole is absent of the danger and claustrophobia of previous attempts. “Insecticide” and “Raw Power” tries to rectify this niggling thought but doesn’t feel completely developed and thus lacks the staying power and disturbing, skin-crawling architypes a typical Silent Hill OST would embrace. As the years have passed, Yamaoka’s angle on songwriting has shifted into a clearer vision involving rock music. The once unconventional industrial ambience – clanks and screeches that kept the player/listener up at night – is put to the wayside for structure and focus, made possible via Akira’s melancholic guitar licks and drums, as well as achieving his goals with a selection of organic instruments and sounds. Games 2-4 got the balance perfectly – and some future projects get the formula right as well – but here it’s not as cohesive and streamlined. Where earlier attempts felt menacing, disconnected and alien to our world, Silent Hill: Origins
comes across like a spooky ghost house ride than an actual haunted house. Mary’s vocal performances are frequent and redundant, lacking quality hooks and memorability, and as a whole the soundtrack struggles to keep you immersed in its whopping 26 tracks. This OST doesn’t quite suffer the same stagnation Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
does, but it’s not far behind it. It’s bloated with mundane instrumental tracks that fail to differentiate themselves from one another most of the time, while the vocal tracks forsake the engagement needed in keeping this long-winded album together. It’s not a bad record, just a formulaic one that’s offering a familiar sound you’ve heard on the last couple of SH projects, just executed in an uninspired way.
FORMAT/EDITION: SILENT HILL: SOUNDBOX///̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶D̶I̶G̶I̶T̶A̶L̶
PACKAGING: Housed in a hard-cardboard box with 10 slimline CD cases and 1-page artwork for each.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A