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Traipsing Through Silent Hill
Artwork Graciously Provided by the Incredibe Steven Luna

Part Eleven, or Freedom! Foggy, Foggy Freedom!

  Greetings, guest of the gallivanting ghouls and ghosts of the gangrenous gangland of Silent Hill! It is I, your honorable and alliterative host, and you are you, my lovely and charming wards! When last we left Travis, he had finally completed the obnoxious Sanitarium level and I made a joke about how he died for the third time, because I think it’s funny and that’s all that matters. In actuality, he just passed the fuck out after murdering his demon-mom and now it’s up to us to wait patiently for him to knock that shit off.

  The unconsciousness part. Not the killing his demon-mother part.

  And knock it off he does when he comes to in the Sanitarium lobby! All the doors we spent the last year unlocking are locked up again, just like with Alchemilla when we passed out there, too. So there’s no choice but to march out the front door like a new man! Or, at least, we would if Travis didn’t have magical eyesight and hadn’t managed to spot a clue on the waiting room table.

  Literally. I just wanted to leave, and he wouldn’t let me go because he saw something on a table. And just what is this item of importance that Travis demands I pick up before we head on out?

  A theater ticket. A totally random and utterly generic yellowed piece of paper that is indistinguishable from the other trash in this place unless you’re psychically able to determine that it’s for the Artaud Theater’s production of The Tempest.

  Okay, Travis, are you 100% sure that this was something of importance? Could it be that you just didn’t notice it on the way in? Why is this thing so vital that we pick it up? It’s a fucking theater ticket—there’s no indication that Lisa, Dr. Skeeves, Creepy Girl, Creepy Woman, or Clem left that there for you. It’s a totally innocuous scrap of paper waiting on a table in a trashed asylum.

  If, for any reason, this was actually a clue left behind by, say, Creepy Girl, why did she not deposit it in Travis’s hands when he woke up? I mean, seriously, he could have jerked awake in the Sanitarium, throwing the ticket to the floor. It catches his eye that way. Or it could have been taped onto the fucking door. God damn it, Climax Studios, why do you put things in such stupid places? If you have to prevent someone from leaving to make sure they find something, you’re doing something wrong.

  Whatever. Travis, I guess, comes to the conclusion that this is our next destination because he found an old theater ticket in what seems to be an empty facility. Sure. Why not? Maybe it’ll turn out that the owner of the theater was Travis’s dentist or something. It wouldn’t be the laziest revelation we’ve had today.

  Leaving the Sanitarium puts us right next to a running car with a popped trunk. The car was there before we entered Cedar Grove, but I didn’t mention it because it seemed like a useless thing. Nevertheless, it’s here and running. In the trunk is… a key to the lumberyard. Which I really wasn’t expecting, to be honest. Like, I was expecting a “spoooooky” dead body or something, and I can’t tell if just putting a key in the trunk displays remarkable restraint. I guess that explains how we’re going to get the theater, I guess.

  Wait a horse-punting minute, why wasn’t the ticket in the trunk and taped to the key? WHY, GODDAMNIT?

  Hey, remember how I said in that one update that I knew we’d be going through the lumberyard ‘cause it was the one door I could examine and get yelled at for it being locked? No? Well, that was before you died of old age during my playthrough of the Sanitarium.

  IT TOOK FOREVER. GET IT?

  Because Travis still apparently hasn’t had enough of this running around monster-infested nightmare claptrap, he refuses to steal the car and drive to the butcher’s shop. It’s already running, pretty much everyone appears to be dead or actively conspiring against you (except in Lisa’s case, who just seems to be flighty and unstable). C’mon, Travis… just steal the car. Who’s going to arrest you? The taffymen? THEY HAVE NO ARMS.

  As one final “fuck you” to the player, running down the path to the Sanitarium’s front gate will guarantee Travis will get winded and gain the amorous attention of a couple of taffymen. And it wouldn’t be a problem with the exception that the game decides it wants to be artsy with its camera angles when you cross the gate’s threshold. The camera changes dramatically, changing your controls with it, and then you find yourself either running toward the taffymen or stuck in place as the camera has a seizure changing between two perspectives. Also, you are almost guaranteed to provoke a roadkill on the street, which will aggressively close in on your position.

  I’ve avoided talking about the camera in this game because until this moment, it hadn’t conspired to actively kill me. About three-quarters of the time, it follows Travis lazily, not really turning with him and always seeming to be more interested in watching an empty hallway rather than anything important, like the monstrosity eating your face. Luckily, you can snap it back behind Travis with a button push.

  Other times, you’re stuck in a tiny room and the camera can’t seem to decide if Travis is the object of its affection or something else. And then there are those bullshitty, “artsy” angles that are designed to show off something or establish an atmosphere.

  The reason why this is all a problem is that your control of Travis is based entirely on the camera’s view of him. So when one angle changes to another, your entire movement scheme is also violently adjusted, leading to situations where you can be effectively stuck in place while enemies start carving out hunks of your ass.

  Which is exactly what happened to me here. Between the two taffymen and the roadkill, I was brought to a critical health level for the first time in the game. I feel that I need to impress that on you, reader: the most challenging thing about the game thus far wasn’t the goddamn boss fight I went through without taking damage, nor the gauntlet of monsters in the asylum I avoided by turning off my light and walking right by them, but rather the shoddy implementation of the control scheme.

  But with the monsters finally put down, we finally leave the Sanitarium behind. Good riddance, you pile of inept foreshadowing, evil staff, and awkward dialogue that somehow couldn’t justify its way out of a paper bag.

  Frolicking our way through the streets eventually brings us to the butcher’s shop. Not much has changed, with the exception of the bloody streak leading from where the nurse was split “nearly in two” to outside. Near the exit is its cap, upon which the words “Help Me” are written in blood, because of course.

  How ominous.

  Okay, I get why people always go for the “written in blood” thing, because it’s supposed to be all menacing and scary and shit. But it’s gotten to the point where it’s just silly. Am I supposed to interpret that this twitching creature which has displayed no human emotion or intelligence was dragged or dragged itself from where I had seen it brutally sliced open and die, stopped to pop off its little goofy nurse’s cap and write an ominous note pleading for Travis’s assistance, despite the fact that he has killed a metric ton of its fellows at this point? Is that what I’m supposed to get out of this?

  It’s just like the message written by Helen Grady in the asylum—bring me my boy—or the one on the wall of Alchemilla—Lucy 23. Where did these people get the blood? Is it theirs? If so, how did they remain lucid enough to write it? Wouldn’t paint from an art therapy session more logical and readily available for Helen? And the misogynist fuckwit of Alchemilla could just run down to the corner store. Blood doesn’t make for a good way to relay messages to people, unless that message is an abstract “someone died here”.

  Long story short, just stop it. It was ominous the first time it ever appeared in media. Now it’s just doofy.

  Anyway, right outside the butcher’s shop is the eviscerated nurse. It looked like someone stuffed it with firecrackers, to be honest. See, that’s the only message I needed, Climax. Something capable of popping one of these things like a balloon is enough to get the point across that there’s something bigger and meaner than me running around. Or at least it would be if I hadn’t already seen a guy with a big cleaver stab the very thing that has since exploded.

  Also, the name of the butcher’s shop is “The Family Butcher”, which is a great name for a punk band and also probably foreshadowing or something.

  I make my way to the lumberyard. On the way there, I discover that the yawning chasms in the ground have really nice “rock and dirt tumbling into the void” sounds that play when Travis gets near. It’s a pretty cool atmosphere building, establishing a sense of both hugeness and loneliness.

  The lumberyard itself is very screechy, but uneventful and kind of boring. It looks like a good place for a chase sequence or a very cramped boss fight, but other than that, it doesn’t have much going for it. There’s a newspaper with the words “Why are you helping her Travis? Did you see that nurse?” written on it.

  Oh, interesting turn here. It wasn’t the big Stabby Man from earlier who popped the nurse like a cherry bomb. I’m guess the “her” is referring to Creepy Girl, as she seems to be the only one in the plot who isn’t a few brain cells short of cognition. I mean, our possible suspects are:

  Crispy Girl: Alessa, who is presently very burned and stashed behind a cupboard or something.

  Lisa: Nurse trainee who gets offended that Travis doesn’t somehow know who some random patient in an asylum is.

  Creepy Woman: A woman who seems to be having two conversations at once, one ominous and the other stupid.

  Helen Grady: Dead (presumably).

  Creepy Girl: Seems to exist only in the mirror dimension; helped bring Travis into the mirror world and can kick him out at will; the only one who hasn’t lied/yelled at Travis, although this may be because she also hasn’t said anything at all.

  So I think Creepy Girl is our prime suspect.

  Also, I’m sorry person-leaving-behind-notes, but the nurses have been trying to stab me pretty reliably since Alchemilla. I’m not too worried about their welfare. Enemy of my enemy and all that.

  I exit the lumber yard and emerge back on the streets of Silent Hill, running about a whole new area with all new chasms to stymie progress. The design of this part of town is actually super creepy and interesting, though, with the holes tearing through houses and leaving chunks of them dangling above the abyss. It’s pretty cool.

  I also notice that the heads of roadkill look like flaccid penises, which is something I can now never unsee.

  Sadly the path to the theater is not really all that straight-forward, for I must cut through some apartment buildings to bypass another fucking canyon in the middle of the road. There’s yet another super-duper ominous Trail of Blood™ outside that leads me toward some stairs to the 2nd floor apartment. It is in here that Travis finds a precious miracle toaster to replace the one I lost all that time ago. I also seize a table lamp, because the owners aren’t here to stop me and Travis has long since declared random things his under eminent domain.

  I stumble upon a gutted taffyman in the bedroom, which is always what I want to see in my boudoirs. There’s a napkin with the words “Someone has made a hole. Go home Travis” written on it.

  There’s also a straight razor next to the bed. I… guess this was used to incapacitate the monster outside before it was dragged up the stairs, cut open again so its blood sprayed on the wall, and then split open neck to crotch? Maybe? The blood spray on the wall is also hilariously mirrored on the floor. As in they took the same blood overlay, flipped it on its axis, then slapped it on the floor too, like no one would notice. There’s blood everywhere in the room, they could have used a generic blood stain and no one would give a shit, but they just cut that specific corner, and now I’m making fun of them for it because I can.

  In the bathroom, the hole that was mentioned earlier is an actual physical hole punched into the floor. And when presented with a hole, you jump through that shit. Travis, shins of steel previously established, emerges unscathed on the first floor lobby of the apartment building. Which is really silly, because where and how I emerged would suggest that the elevators in the lobby would actually run through the shower of the restroom I was just in.

  Of other note is the mailbox for apartment 213 is stuffed to the gills with mail. As someone who lives in apartment complex, I would like to point out that mail would actually not be spilling out like that if the postal carrier was doing their job, as tampering with mail is a federal offense and letting those letters spill outside of what is probably a lockable box like that is just asking for a lawsuit.

  Anyway, we are actually in range of the theater now. Any attempt to take a look around anything other than the theater’s immediate vicinity will have to wait—Travis really, really wants to see what’s going on in the theater. As in, I tried to enter the nearby public records office and he scolded me. When I tried to run up to the presumably awesome Taco Shack just up the road, Travis just turned around after scolding me. The only things I can pick up are the assorted street items a kindly transient has been sprinkling about since I arrived in town, a couple of which are boxes of ammo for two new guns that I may be picking up soon (provided they’re not easily missed). So I guess we’ll just march in through the front doors of the theater and…

  It’s locked.

  What the what? I don’t have a theater key! How am I supposed to get into this place without a key?

  (checks inventory, looks for back alley entrance, sees ticket booth)

  It turns out I have to push the ticket through the ticket booth window. THAT somehow unlocks the door to the Artaud Theater. How does that even work!? Also, according to all the signs, the play has been canceled. WHY DID I JUST RISK MY LIFE TO GET HERE, GODDAMN IT!?

  Find out (or not!) next time in the thrilling episode 12 of Traipsing through Origins: Stupid Conversations in Dark Places.

Purchase Project Northwoods at Amazon.com.   Purchase Washed Hands at Amazon.com   Purchase Improbables at Amazon.com.

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