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

Part Twenty-Two, or Shoddy Motel Mysteries

  Greetings, my foggy friends! Today we journey back into the heart of Silent Hill, if by “heart” you mean that godawful heart-shaped pool in the Riverside Motel, where the ice buckets at two dollars a pop but quality control is a thing of myth. Our last episode was tainted with the grossness of Dr. Skeeve’s crimes and we didn’t end up doing a whole lot because goddamn. Luckily, today’s episode possibly won’t have Travis uncovering some kind of horrible war crime or sex trafficking ring.

  Possibly.

  Anyway, we were last in the Rose Suite and needed to escape. Since breaking down the door or smashing through the windows just won’t work for Travis Grady, the world’s nicest burglar, we’re going to have to pop through the mirror in the bathroom. The mirror world actually has a monster first thing when we head on through, which is to my memory the only time in the game that such an event has happened—normally the teleportation rooms are free of the squishy/glisteny menace.

  Travis’s pest-control completed means that we can take up our side business of looting. There’s only one thing here, and that’s a photo of a naked woman who died due to overdose. Why the hell are these things here? Why are we collecting them? And what are the cops going to think about the trucker walking down the street with a pocket full of dead nudie photos and about three tons of stolen merchandise?

  These questions and more will never be answered, so let’s just head out into the rusty night, shall we? The big thing of note out here is that the pool has been drained, but the item remains resting on the ground. The very concept of water no longer freaking him out, Travis lurches forth and grabs the jeweled heart item and proceeds to vigorously shake it, considering that he can somehow detect that there is something inside that yearns to be free.

  Or I examined it and Travis told me. Whatever.

  I pop back into the diner, where I find an ornamental dagger sticking out of a hanging rack of what I think is supposed to be meat. Since the dagger is ornamental, this is clearly a key item and not, say, just a fancy weapon. There’s nothing else here, and thus we head back out to the main area of the western part of the motel. If we investigate the rooms, we find that the only open room is 102 and it is empty. So it’s up to the second floor!

  This level is just as useless as the first, with the only open rooms (212, 112) devoid of things to take. Oh, wait—we do have access to the storage area, unlike the real world, but the doors are locked and the walkway terminates after the second door. It’s a sort of cool camera angle, I’ll admit, but this motel seems really lifeless and boring. I mean, outside of all the horrible things that have precipitated the last several updates. It’s nowhere near as dull as some other levels I could name, but it nevertheless isn’t the most engaging of locales.

  The only thing out of the ordinary up here is the glowing door to the Nero Suite, which, as a concept, I think is absolutely preposterous. You do realize that Nero, traditionally, wasn’t considered to be a beloved emperor of Rome, right? I mean, there’s enough fuzziness in the historical record to suggest that the popular understanding of Nero’s reign is probably exaggerated, but it seems like that’s a silly rationale for naming a room of your resort after a guy who—as legend has it—watched Rome burn for funsies and lit humans on fire for torches.

  Look, Nero probably got a bad rap, but try explaining that to the residents of a resort town full of weird-ass cultists who think burning children is… you know what? It’s probably fine.

  So the glowing door to the Nero Suite needs to be stabbed with the ornamental dagger, which I guess works as a combination knob and key. This gives us access to a room with shotgun ammo and a meat cleaver. There’s also another photo of a dead lady, this time one who has been stabbed to death. Yes, she’s naked, why do you ask?

  There’s a hole in the floor in the bathroom, because of course there is, and Travis jumps in so that we can continue the plot. This plops us in a very tiny chunk of the King Suite, as most of the room has fallen into a massive sink hole. Luckily, there’s a first aid kit hanging on the wall just in case one of these jumps ends up causing Travis to sprain an ankle. There’s also a hole in the wall which leads us to the maintenance tunnel/peep shaft.

  At one end of the tunnel is a photo of Richard Grady—cause of death BROKEN HEART. He gets to keep his clothes, though, because we’ve made an assumption about our audience and are going to see through it to the bitter end. Anyway, we jog to the other end of the hall, noticing that the mirror/evil/dark world version of the tunnel with peepholes is actually a lot less creepy than its real world counterpart. I mean, couldn’t you have slapped some eyes on the wall or something, Climax? Couldn’t have been that hard.

  We emerge in the maintenance room, which has a note from Richard Grady “To a Ghost”. Richard mentions how Helen truly died when she tried to kill Travis all that time ago. He drops a hint that she casually smashed a gift that he brought to the asylum (why on earth would Cedar Grove allow visitors to bring in something smashable—and thus, presumably dangerous—as a gift to their patients; oh, right… they’re fucking terrible at their jobs). Finally, he mentions that Travis will be fine on his own, so he’s just going to kill himself so he can be with his Helen in heaven.

  Now, I’ve voiced that this entire setup is just plain sad. Richard lacks a support system that looks after his mental health in any capacity. The workaday staff of the Sanitarium consists of a bunch of power-crazy murderous dipshits. Even the doctors are equal parts incompetent and evil—“Tell your eight year old son that has no clear concept of death that his mom is dead. That won’t give him a complex.”

  I guess the real reason I’m bringing this up here and now and not, say, during the endless drudgery of the Sanitarium, is because it takes until now for the actual human heart of the story to start beating. What do I mean by that? I mean that the Cedar Grove Sanitarium story arc is a poorly-told mess of cartoonish villainy and ham-fisted foreshadowing. The emotionless retelling of Helen Grady’s place in the narrative is actually infinitely more affecting than what happens in game. On the flip side, when we get to Richard, his story is told in a way to inspire sympathy.

  And this whole “wimin be the devil” stuff really infuses everything, doesn’t it? Dahlia roasts her daughter alive, Helen is portrayed as unsympathetically unhinged compared to her compassionate and loving husband, the female halves of the fuck-monsters are bloated nightmares, the nurses have exaggerated lady bits, three of the five death photos are naked women… Jesus.

  Back to gameplay, Mr. Grady dropped us a hint that Helen smashed a gift open, right? Well, we happen to have a gift that clearly has a goody inside, so let’s smash it! Sadly, one of our massive, heavy weapons—like the axel wrench or tire iron—just won’t do. Why? Well, Climax went out of their way to include a vise in the real world maintenance room, and we’re just going to have to use it so they don’t feel bad, alright?

  So that means we unlock the maintenance door, head to room 503, hop through the mirror, head back to the maintenance room, and use the jeweled heart with the vise. This shatters the heart and gives us a wedding ring!

  Specifically, Helen Grady’s wedding ring, as the words “To my June bride. Love forever, Richard” are engraved on the inside of the band. Now think back allllll the way to the first motel update. There’s a calendar in the reception office that can be fiddled with. We now have two-thirds of the required information for the puzzle—June 12th. How do we go about getting the year, though?

  Well, friends, since the beginning of the game, Travis has had a “lucky quarter” with the number “61” carved into it. First and foremost, I think it’s time to retire that quarter, buddy—it’s not doing a good job. But second, since this is the most information we’re going to get out of the game when it comes to a year, it’ll have to do. I always like moments like this in gaming—when you come across a problem or puzzle or whatever, and it turns out that you had the solution the whole time. It helps make the characters feel just a bit more real to me—after all, I carry little mementos with me all the time, so it’s not totally out of place to suggest that others would do the same.

  And don’t worry: I’ll get some more mileage out of that quarter, too.

  Anyway, our last big quest of the motel is to head back to the reception office and futz with a calendar. On the way back, I am immediately seized with a compulsion to attempt to kill a Caliban with melee weapons. It takes half a baton, two punches, a screwdriver, a precious and life-giving toaster, a table lamp, and half a straight-razor to bring down.

  Take that, jerkass.

  On that note, we’re going to be calling it a day. Next time we’ll be finishing out our adventure in the motel and getting ready to finish up Zerorigins for good. Are you excited? I am! Join me next time for I’m Not Quite Sure What I’m Looking At, But I Know I Hate It.

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

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