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

Part Eighteen, or The Implications of Monster Design

  Greetings, internetizens! I am Jonathan Charles Bruce, the dark manifestation of your id, along with the dark manifestation of my sofa, Travis Grady, and once again we make our way into the grim world of Silent Hill! When we last left Mr. Grady, he had just stumbled onto the Riverside Motel after spending a really, really long time schlepping about the town. We made discoveries about our enemy Dr. Skeeves which were in no way surprising, but made me die a little inside. But from that pain, I brought forth this:

Gaze into my pecs.
Gaze into my pecs, ye mighty, and despair. Play for full effect.

So it’s not a total loss.

  Anyway, we arrive the only way we can, and that’s via the employee parking lot. The lot is smallish and boring, although it does have a save point to make it at least marginally useful. The call of the plot lures us to the reception office. Travis unlocks the door and I subsequently stumble directly into a cutscene—this one of a blue flashback where a young Travis and his dad (I’m assuming) enter the motel. Travis is sent on ahead to ring the bell by his father and, after looking back to make sure it’s okay (I guess), does so. This ends the cutscene.

  Important note: Travis’s dad looks remarkably like Gordon Freeman.

  The very first thing to do here is to steal everything that isn’t nailed down. Right in front of Travis is a guest registry with all the pages torn out except for one. Because Silent Hill loves coincidences, it makes sure the one page happens to be for a Mr. R Grady and his son, in town for business/pleasure, and staying in room 500.

  Wow. We’re… given our destination and what will be our next boss within the first moments again. I… but… it’s just…

  Sigh. Clearly, the asylum and the hospital are the real anomalies in this game. They’re just so badly planned and explained (Cedar Grove far more than Alchemilla, natch). It’s a huge shame that they had to come first. I think that Nullrigins would have been received so much more warmly had they started with an actual fun or interesting level with a clear goal than what we ended up with.

  Pointless side commentary aside, we find a motel map. To my dismay, the place is positively huge, and has the occasional second floor to explore. For now, though, let’s continue poking about reception. The door to the manager’s office is locked, so we’ll definitely be back here later. The only other objects of interest are a rotary calendar with a fish on it and a key to room 306. I can’t do anything with the calendar quite yet—it requires a specific date, I’m sure—so it’s off to sneak into room 306 and steal the occupants’ stuff.

  The only other unlocked door in the reception area deposits us in the motel proper. We are in an area I will call “the intersection”, as it is the meeting point for all the potential motel lots. Outside of some clanging metallic noise, everything seems quiet out here. There are some stairs leading to one of two second levels, but I want to make sure that all my ground floor options have been exhausted.

  It takes a while to find a gate that allows me to pass through, but I manage to get into the southern area. My exploration also nets me my first unlocked room—Room 302. Sadly, it contains naught but a suitcase full of shoes and a light stand that Travis nicks for the sole purpose of screaming “I AM THE LIGHT BRINGER!” when he bashes it over a monster’s skull.

  The next room I plunder is 209, which has a taffyman in the bathroom and some rifle shells. The taffyman learns to rue the day it stopped at the Riverside Motel for a potty break. Sadly, said ruing is cut short by it being bludgeoned to death with a wrench.

  So I’m going to level with you—the pain about talking about this level is the succession of same-y rooms that will be empty, have a monster in them, have a monster and an item, or have an item. You can’t tell what they are until you enter, you can’t tell if a door is locked or not until you try, and it gets very old having to relay that information, just as it will probably get old trying to read it without nodding off. I will do my best to keep it at least semi-entertaining for you, though.

  I just wouldn’t hold my breath.

  At the very end of the block, we encounter a very hastily set up blockade consisting of some 2x4’s and police tape nailed to a fence. Travis claims that he’d never be able to get through the blockade, but it’s barely taller than he is and I know his arms and legs work. Honestly, the guy’s just lazy. Or maybe it’s that crippling politeness of his—“Oh, I can’t just push on through the police tape. What if they come back? Think how irritated they’ll be after killing all these godless horrors only to discover some insensitive plod knocked down their shitty barricade.”

  Of course, he would think this right before he broke into another motel room and stole some priceless heirloom in the off chance a puzzle would demand it later.

  Back to the urgent task of slowly winding our way toward room 306! I have Travis retreat back to the intersection and pop up the stairs. I am jumped (literally) by a taffyman. When I defend myself with a crate, I make the very dismaying discovery that one-shot weapons no longer one-shot taffymen. This… this is an unpleasant realization that also leads to me getting vomited on. Luckily, Travis is perfectly capable of felling the creature with one of his other six thousand weapons.

  Room 316 is unlocked. Inside are a wedding gown and suit spread out on the bed. There is a collapsing wedding cake on the counter, along with some champagne. The only thing that Travis can take is the light stand, so he does. This, the shoe room, and one other place are probably the only significant rooms that tell a short story that demands attention just out of pure curiosity rather than anything going on in Travis’s life. It’s a shame, because more of that kind of random weirdness would have livened things up significantly.

  Heading down the stairs deposits me in the eastern lot, which is, at present, hosting a Horrific Injury Convention. There are two mini-roadkills squishing about, as well as a Caliban. I take out my shotgun and, eight shells later, I’m free to explore the environment. My first order of business is to unlock all the doors to provide access to employee parking and the intersection. From there, I bumble about trying to find an unlocked room.

  And I do indeed! Room 308 is unlocked, but I am immediately set upon by a new creature. This thing is infinitely more monstrous than anything we’ve encountered before. It looks like a hulking, hunched human with stumpy little arms and no head, but a smooth white spot where its head should be. It’s… kind of reminiscent of a clitoris, to be honest.

  But that’s not all! There’s a second, smaller human-ish body stapled pevis-first onto the thing’s rump! It, too, has stumpy arms, but also stumpy legs. The way the little thing moves and twitches gives off the impression of horrific, desperate thrusting. This is especially apparent when you begin hitting the creature with any handy melee weapon.

  Clearly, this beastie is intending to give off the impression of two people fucking, and it does a really good job of that. It’s really unpleasant to watch this thing in action. It’s primary attack is launching a gob of acid at Travis, which says all kinds of fucked-up shit about Travis and his ideas of sex, doesn’t it? Further, the more “monstrous” part of the beast is the implied “female” half.

  Let’s take a moment to dive into this. The women we’ve encountered thus far in the narrative have tried to murder Travis, lied to Travis, and yelled at Travis with no provocation. Also, one of them is a monstrous version of the guy’s mother. Even the presumably non-sentient beasts aren’t kind to their representation of the ladyfolk—the most dangerous part of this new monster is suggested to be female. Oh, and the nurses that have since disappeared from the game all had sexualized female characteristics. Lovely. Well done.

  To be fair, Alessa isn’t evil, but I suppose she is piloting Travis like a man-shaped spaceship, so it’s not really what you’d describe as a positive portrayal of women. Long story short, Travis may be fucked, but Origins representations of women are more so.

  In any case, the thing dies like we all must, and I get a box of shotgun shells for my troubles. I find this reward to be unfitting of something being guarded by a flopping mass of fucking limbs. Unfortunately, this is far from the crappiest reward this motel will be giving up as we progress further into the nightmare.

  After exhausting my search options, I unlock the door to room 306, defeating another fuck-monster with my .45. Unfortunately for me, I discover all too late that the .45, just like the target pistol, does not stagger enemies when you shoot them. This leads to Travis getting two facefuls of acid before I manage to kill the thing. Apparently, the only thing you should ever use a handgun for in this game is taking down taffymen and roadkill, and that’s only if you’re also backing up.

  There’s a mirror in the bathroom, which signals our descent into the depths of the motel stage. It should also be mentioned that the bathroom in 306 has a really cool aesthetic going on—it totally looks like it has been corrupted by the mirror world. This, to my memory, appears to be the first visual instance of one reality bleeding into another (outside that stupid fucking key puzzle in Cedar Grove). In any case, Travis puts his hand on the mirror and slips to the other side.

  In the mirror 306, we stumble on a note from a dude named Richard. Since the note name drops Travis, we can assume that this is Travis’s dad. Anyway, Richard’s note is written to Helen, despairing over his decision to have her committed to the sanitarium. Although he admits it had to be done, he is all alone in the world now. You know, except for Travis.

  He also lets it be known that he told Travis that his mother was dead at the suggestion of her doctor. That’s… that’s fucked up, right? I mean, wouldn’t telling Travis the truth—his mother was very sick and needed help—be infinitely better than just saying she died? I mean, we already know that a young Travis made a trip to the sanitarium after this point to see his mother—we’re not told whether or not he was successful, but he clearly wasn’t buying what his father was selling.

  Also, what exactly was the plan when/if your wife got better, Dick? Hope that your son is cool with you bringing a fucking zombie home? Deal with the fact that you straight up lied to your kid? I mean, the crisis of faith over Santa Claus has precisely shit on your dad telling you your mom caught a bad case of death but she somehow miraculously got better.

  And what kind of fucking doctor would tell you to do this?

Oh. Right.
Oh. Right.

  Well, that brings our conversation to a close for today. Silent Hill’s medical elite are a bunch of assholes, that’s for goddamn sure. Tune in next time for How Does a Character Not Present in this Game Know More about What’s Going on Than the Player?

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

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