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

Part Seventeen, or The Magnificent Dr. Skeeves

  This is going to be a long update. I’d apologize, but I promise you cheap beer and pictures of bouncing pectorals.

  Alright, to preface:

  Yes, I’ve heard of Silent Hills.

  Yes, it’s cool that Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro are teaming up for it.

  Yes, Norman Reedus is extremely talented.

  No, I’m not impressed by shriek-tastic “look how scared I am!” gameplay footage of intensely loud people talking and yelling over everything.

  No, the first-person, wandering-around-triggering-jump-scares genre is not something I find particularly interesting.

  As a Silent Hill fan, I’m interested in actually playing the game. But a bunch of screaming idiots telling me how scary something is will not sell me on the experience. To me, the coolest part of the entire reveal was Norman Reedus’s character strolling down a foggy, but otherwise normal street. The town itself, rather than a cramped house or whatever, is always going to be an infinitely more malevolent entity.

  Also, I see a hole in the bathroom and I immediately think Silent Hill: The Room, which is really not the best game to be reminded of.

  Regardless, we are back with another installment of Traipsing Through Silent Hill: Origins! Previously, we had concluded our time in the Artaud Theater by shooting a twisted monstrosity fifteen times with a rifle. And then I fired after it was dead, because it was twitching funny and I don’t take no guff from no freak made out of scabs. We got a paperweight, and Travis died for his troubles.

  But then he wakes up in the theater lobby, turning this running joke of mine into something which I’m sure will net me an Emmy someday. Pulitzer? Well, something. I’ll win something someday. There’s an Ariel on the floor, split open and bound in what looks like some bent rebar. Travis wanders up to it and takes a motel key from its corpse. This triggers a cutsecne where Travis mutters to himself about how he’s been to the motel the key belongs to.

  So… Climax… I’m assuming you play-tested this game, right? At what point, in your countless run-throughs, did you think that making Travis remember the motel was a good idea, but that the motherfucking asylum was just something that justified itself? This is a serious question! You clearly knew that people would wonder why Travis was just schlepping about the city because you justified his trip to the motel. Why here? Why now?

  I also feel the need to let you know that I made an error in reporting on the efficacy of the katana. Travis does indeed do a swipe instead of a stab with a basic combo, but it’s really weird and kind of shallow. His “hold X” power move is a general thrust, which I think is where I was screwing up when fighting sex puppets. I also discover that some weapons, like the katana, have a third attack variant if you press up and “X” at the same time. I don’t know how strong it is, but it looks more useful that Travis flicking the sword around like he’s trying to fan his foes instead of hurt them.

  Anyway, there’s nothing left to do here, and even if there was we wouldn’t be able to do it thanks the building locking down completely after Travis has murdered whatever ghoul happened to be employee of the month at that particular locale. So we’re off to the Riverside Motel! The moment I’m outside I’m set upon by a taffyman and his roadkill companion, both of which are easy to dodge because I dart into the Public Records Office.

  Of primary concern are two plot-critical documents. So, naturally, they are in a building that you don’t even have to go into. One deals with a police report on the fire that turned Alessa into a very crispy version of herself. It also happed to make her astrally project into a monster-popping, dimension hopping badass, so not a total loss, all things considered. What? She’s allowed to look on the bright side, people. Sorry for trying to stay positive.

  Anyway, the first paragraph says that the fire seemed suspicious. This has had a line struck through it. The next paragraph says… ah, fuck it, you know what?

Quoted from GameFaqs:

            Looks like the fire started on the first floor and spread to the
            rest of the house. Circumstances are suspicious.

            (Someone has ruled through this text and added a new paragraph.)

            Seems there was an accident in the basement. An old boiler caused
            a fire that spread to the rest of the building. The cause would
            appear to be accidental.

            (The report continues, unaltered.)

            Despite fire fighter's best efforts, it spread to the surrounding
            houses. Alessa Gillespie was declared dead at the scene by Dr.
            Kauffman. Her body was identified by her mother.

            Death Certificate and coroner's report will be forthcoming.

End Quote

  So to sum up:

  This fire looks like it was started on purpose.

  Nuh uh. I’m a corrupt police officer and it was totally an accident. You can check. I even used the word ‘accident’ and its derivative in the space of three sentences. Accident.

  A little girl died and it was very sad. When asked how he knew the girl was dead without examining her, Dr. Skeeves took off his shirt and challenged attending officer to what was described as a “lift-off”. Officer declined. Dr. Skeeves proceeded to make his pectoral muscles twitch aggressively to the rhythm of Gloria Estefan’s “Conga”.

I'm so sorry for making this.
I spent an hour making this and I no longer feel anything anymore. Play for full effect.
Cobbled together from here and here.

  So… the cops are in on it, too. That’s pretty much the only reason this file exists. Don’t suppose we could have made an extra character or anything. Just… found a note. And considering that both Dr. K and Creepy Woman are running about and not wearing cuffs should have already indicated that the police are perfectly okay with the intentional barbecuing of innocent children.

  The second note details that one of Alessa’s teacher’s suspected Creepy Woman of abuse and had reported it. Of course, I have to assume this note is referring to Alessa and Creepy Woman, because the only name in this mother-daughter relationship that is discretely mentioned is Mrs. Gillespie. And since the only other female characters in the plot are quite possibly deadish (Mrs. Grady) or acting like they have a severe concussion (Lisa), I guess this is what we’re going with. Anyway, the officer sent to check out the house pretty much says “lol, nope” and believes that Mrs. Gillespie is raising her daughter in a “strict, religious household” and that’s okee-dokee in his book.

  Sigh. Okay, I’m not saying that religious upbringing is bad at all, but describing as “strict” always makes me think of Carrie-levels of crazy. This girl is clearly acting in a way that signals an abusive home to her teacher, so whether she said something or she walked in with a black eye is kind of moot—there is clearly something wrong.

  And it’s not really a police officer’s place to just decide, “Oh, this wacky person is super-religious, so that means any abuse that happens is A-OK.” It really doesn’t matter what’s on the stick you whack the kid with or the words you’re shrieking that inspire fear and hate, it’s still fucking abuse, shitheads.

  Page two of the note reveals that, quote, “in order to satisfy the complainant’s request”, they sent for Dr. Kaufmann who says that Mommy fucking Dearest is only guilty of telling too many fairy tales. That’s enough to close the case on the matter. I love how it’s totally phrased that child abuse is just such a horrible chore to investigate. I mean, the psychological toll I can understand, but here it sounds like the entire time this teacher was talking to the cops, the officer listening was making a wanking motion.

  Look, I know that we, as the audience, know shit is super screwed up in this town. But there are clearly some people that aren’t into whatever the hell the deal with Dr. Skeeves and Creepy Woman is. And let’s say Alessa shows up to school without signs of psychical abuse, but confides in her teacher that she’s terrified to come home. “Strict religious household” and “too many fairy tales” sounds pretty fucked up, doesn’t it? I’m not even mad at Climax for this—I think this situation is actually quite common, and I’m getting a bit worked up over it.

  I think Alessa’s teacher is, just like Travis, an underrated hero in this series. I want Travis to find Alessa and this awesome educator so that the three of them can go on adventures across the United States, fighting crime and righting wrongs. Come on, that would be so fucking sweet. I would watch that show every week. Every. Fucking. Week.


We basically kind of have the idea already. Don't... don't take this away from me. Please.

  Ahem.

  There’s a lot of ammo in this place because I’m assuming all those people coming to get copies of their birth certificates and marriage licenses get really fucking rowdy. Empty a couple of bullets into the ceiling to keep the rabble in line, right guys?

  Jesus, everyone in this town is goddamn lunatic.

  Stepping out of the Public Records Office reveals that some kind of weird shit was going down while I was in the Artaud making drastic cast reductions—the roadkill have now grown to titanic size. Not as huge as Caliban, mind you, but a good three feet taller than Travis is. I made the mistake of thinking that they’re as generally slow as their smaller brethren, but the bastards are also stupidly fast. Maybe it’s an optical illusion thanks to their size, but I swear they’re faster than the taffymen, and those fuckers sprint.

  Anyway, I’m not quite ready to deal with gigantic dead animals given a twisted unlife yet, so I run along Koontz Street until I hit one of those world-ending pot holes. Luckily, it connects to a bookstore that has graciously left its front door open during the apocalypse. So we scuttle inside through the rather poor business decision to remain open when the world’s been flushed away. The owner wasn’t wholly stupid—the back door is firmly locked.

  Inside the building, there are books. Weird, eh? One new book in particular, Modern Soldier (if my PSP’s graphics are to be believed), is being advertised with a big ol’ poster print. Also, there’s a cardboard cutout of a soldier holding an assault rifle. The dude’s face looks like Travis’s, which is weird. Also, the rifle is real, which is a bit unorthodox. But this is Silent Hill, where getting a proof of death certificate runs the risk of having a public official paint the wall behind you with your brain matter.

  So, and I’m sure that people are going to see this complaint coming from a mile away, but how in the hell am I supposed to be scared when I can whip out a machine gun and start mowing down monsters? This is supposed to be a horror game, right? Having high powered weaponry kind of ruins that feeling, lads and lasses.

  Horror be damned! Travis steals it, then naturally turns his attention to the cash register where a note awaits.

  Apparently, a woman named Dharma has locked the store key in the register in anticipation of her boss returning from vacation. She helpfully tells him that she programmed the register open when he punches in his apartment number. Since we’ve gone through the apartment she’s mentioned, and since Andy (the owner) was apparently a moron who didn’t stop his mail while he was gone, we can assume his mailbox was the one stuffed with letters.

  That was 213, and I didn’t even have to check my notes.

  The bigger question here, though, is if someone forgot the number or didn’t write it down, they’d have to trudge all the way back to the apartments to get it. I mean, it’s not that big of a deal, and they do a decent job of drawing your attention to it while you’re in there, but I guess I’m a little confused why they’d lock off this area in this way. Travis won’t go past the Public Records building before you clear the Artaud, and even if he could, you’d be able to get into the register anyway. So… why?

  Whatever.

  I solve the stupid puzzle, adding an exciting five seconds of gameplay, and that gets me the key to the store. I imagine that this is actually the sole key to the store and Dharma actually just left the door open overnight like a putz. Or, perhaps even more hilariously, she actually locked the building completely down and now she and Andy can never get inside.

  Why was the front door open, then? It was clearly unlocked by elves in the disaster. Don’t ask why.

  On the other side of the door is the chunk of street where Alchemilla is. It’s still locked up tight, but it’s got some ammo and one of those hallucinogenic health drinks on a trash can outside. Also, there’s a toolbox near the front door, which I may or may not bonk on an enemy’s head at some point.

  Across the street is an alley next to the post office, where I’m cornered by a taffyman and a roadkill. Here, I discover that the .45 pistol is actually really goddamn effective. It’s not as orgasm-inducing as the shotgun, but it’s not the shitty target pistol, so it’s an overall pleasant addition to my increasingly absurd arsenal.

  It should also be noted that the fire escape is closed off, and if the sign they slapped over it is any indication, it’s for pest control reasons. I forgot to mention this, but at the beginning of the game you could run up the steps and there’d be cocoons. Which is kind of gross, but certainly explains why they’d…

  Wait, so is there a pest control van that’s been trolling about this place? Like, the foggy bullshit world? Or is it really important to Alessa’s Silent Hill that Travis be kept up-to-date when they shut down fire escapes due to insect infestation?

  Grrragh…

  Anyway, now that it’s been while since I’ve checked Alchemilla, let’s see what’s going on in that convenience store from the beginning of the game! Apparently, it is going out of business. The only stuff I steal borrow with no intention of returning are some boxes of bullets in three delicious flavors and some poor dead fucker’s ampoule of medicine. You know, it’s probably insulin. I’m guessing that Silent Hill has a huge population of diabetics, and Travis is just wandering around stealing all their stock.

  It’s also a good idea to mention that the store’s beverages have all expired, according to Travis’s ability to instantly determine these things. So… does that mean this place was still selling expired goods before the foggy ragnarok? Because I’m assuming that this is still, like, at most 12 hours since the fire. It’s not night or anything, and Lisa mentioned that the fire happened the day before… eh, fuck it.

  On the counter, Travis finds a receipt with a shitty poem about how the Butcher is going to cut off someone’s head. I’m guess it’s one of those delightful fairy tales Creepy Woman used to manipulate Alessa into seeing the world as a hellish place of pain and misery. You know, one of those good, strict religious upbringings.

  No, I’m not going to let that go.

  There’s a new weapon in the form of a broken pole, which is… well, it’s a stick. A long stick, but a stick nonetheless. Its main ability is to poke things in order to tell them where you are so they can eat you. I… will probably never use this weapon.

  Back outside, I discover that there’s a florist directly behind Alchemilla Hospital, which must do absolutely crazy business. I think the only place more suited for a successful flower shop would be by a cemetery. But, then again, business in the offseason would probably totally die.

  BOOSH.

  There are some posters for a rodeo, which seems really out-of-place to me, but whatever. I… just haven’t heard of a lot of rodeos in the northeastern U.S. Maybe Silent Hill is like Maine’s commune of cowboy wannabes and everyone else is really cagey about the residents.

  Eventually, I have to cut through an alley where a roadkill just won’t let me pass until I show it how many shells my shotgun holds. I oblige, because that’s the kind of guy I am, and as I wander through the alley there’s a really unsettling metallic scraping sound. Is this… is this the long awaited confrontation with the Butcher?

  No, it’s just Caliban.

  Wait… what?

  Yes, after you kill him in the Artaud Theater, Caliban becomes slightly smaller and tromps about the Silent Hill streets. I think it’s his feet that make the metal scraping noise, like they’re hooves that have been shoed. That’s kind of cool, but the sound never quite seems to full sync up with his movements. Eh. Effort and all that.

  Exploring a bit reveals some tasty items as well as narrow alleyways which perfectly stymie the Calibans and giant roadkills. Sadly, though, in the course of exploration, you’re probably going to be forced into an unnecessary duel with one of these beasts and end up getting your shit wrecked or, at the very least, expending precious ammo. Because fuck going after those things at close range.

  And speaking of close range, I discover that the shotgun has a downside—its very limited reach. Beyond about ten feet or so, enemies just won’t take any damage. Closer, though, and they may as well just die when you point it at them. Sometimes I hate video game logic, and that time is usually when it makes my boomstick less fun than its real world counterpart. Not that I’ve actually used a shotgun before.

  Also, it takes seven shells to kill a giant roadkill. That. Is. Fucked.

  The developers play one last trick on the player before you think your exploration is over—there’s a tiny roadkill guarding what looks to be an area with tons of goodies along a narrow path by a sinkhole. Unfortunately, the only reward is target pistol ammo, the box of which will not take down anything stronger than a taffyman that’s already been worked over with a decent melee weapon.

  And unless you’ve killed that roadkill, it’s gonna hit you on the way out, resulting in either A) less target pistol ammo than when you came in, B) less actually useful ammo, C) less health, or D) any combination of the above.

  But that’s it for the streets. It’s time to make my way to the staff entrance of the motel and figure out just what Travis was doing here before now. Will it involve hookers in roach-infested rooms? Perhaps! Join me next time for I Lied About the Beer.

I watch you while you sleep. Just... constantly... flexing.
I watch you while you sleep. Just... constantly... flexing.

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

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