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

Part Twenty-Seven, or Ephemera

  Greetings one and all, for the penultimate Traipsing Through Silent Hill: Origins update! When last we left our heroic trucker and his psychic lady companion, they had bested a big ol’ monster that was a demon or something, managed to cut Alessa’s soul in half to create a baby from magic or something, and Travis left Silent Hill. That last one is the only thing we really know for sure.

  So, is that it? Well, not quite. Silent Hill: Origins, like pretty much all the Silent Hill games, has multiple endings. Origins locks you into one particular ending (the good and assumingly canonical ending) on your first playthrough, but subsequent runs open up the opportunity for different takes on the way things play out.

  For instance, let’s say you use the 400+ pounds of garbage to commit wholesale murder on the monstrous denizens of the nightmare reality. If your body count runs above 200, then you get this lovely denouement:


Well, this is oddly comfortable. Maybe a little unsanitary, but comfortable.

  Basically, this ending implies that the Butcher is Travis, and Travis is the Butcher. Why he ends up murdering himself three-quarters of the way through the game is questionable, but hey.

  As much as I kind of like this (even if it is the same “oh noes, you were the killer the whole time!” kind of twist I normally loathe), it basically rewrites the entire game into meaninglessness. Travis’s battles with his inner demons, as dopey as they were, just turn into fancy hallucinations of someone suffering from a mental disorder. Sure, it looks like Travis is strapped to a gurney in the mirror world and he’s being watched by a cult member, but we can’t be sure about that, can we? Is Alessa even a real entity in this version of events?

  And why have that long aside about the costume designer seeing Travis/the Butcher at the Riverside Motel? What the hell is he doing there? Is he even a trucker? And if he is, then why does he keep coming to this town to murder people? He is the worst serial killer. Just terrible.

  See, as neat as this ending could be, the game itself isn’t built around it. I guess you can look at the Butcher as being a manifestation of Travis’s inner turmoil or some shit, but everything we know about Travis doesn’t suggest that he really has a violent bone in his body. Disregarding self-defense, of course. The guy loves animals—he feels bad when other people stuff them—and he cares enough about the victim of a fire to check up on her and risk his life to make sure she’s okay. He also never once punches Dr. Skeeves in the face, even though the guy deserves it by every conceivable metric.

  This boils down to a violation of an idea that I love to cite: that it’s not about the destination, but the journey. If the destination invalidates the journey, however, then it becomes critical to change it immediately. Why? Because he started the same character that he ended up as, learning nothing, doing nothing of significance. So the final result is a big “So, what?”

  Now, if you wanted to make this ending work, here’s what should have happened:

  You start with Travis walking toward the truck, just like in the good ending. He gets in his rig and looks in the mirror, seeing the floating girl there. He smiles, then we’re violently thrown into a sharp reinterpretation of events—there’s Travis, stalking through the hospital and asylum with the cleaver, butchering his innocent victims. Meanwhile, Alessa is whispering to him, directing him to the Flauros pieces. Take him to the Artaud and the Motel, same deal—he’s killing at the behest of Alessa, collecting the paperweights of power for her.

  When we cut back to Travis in his rig, he’s covered in blood but still smiling like a dope. This doesn’t change the game at all, but it provides a new context—that Alessa, in order to make her bidding palatable, deluded Travis into thinking that the people he killed were monsters. Travis rolls away, having saved Alessa and helping to create Cheryl, but for a grotesque human cost.

  That way, both endings could be considered as being “official” without jeopardizing the story of this or other games. The “Bad” ending simply cannot happen, so we’re left with a shrug and an “Oh. Neat, I suppose.”

  The next ending is accomplished by sneaking around the Post Office across from Alchemilla at the beginning of the game. Upon the fire escape is a key to the Riverside Motel’s room 502. If you pick it up and head allllll the way there and attempt to use it on the real world’s door, you’ll trigger this ending… thing:


Travis is just so damn kawaii.

  This is the UFO Ending, or the joke ending, or the (silly adjective) Ending. Basically, most Silent Hills have one finale where something really weird happens. As in, it’s even weird by Silent Hill standards. I’d like to assume that each UFO Ending actually carries along its own continuity with it, and right now all the protagonists are mucking about together, going on wacky hijinks across time and space.

  These endings are a bit on the dopey side, but that’s because they’re meant to be. Long story short, I adore them. Well, most of them. One later one is just stupid, but we’ll get to that. As of right now, just bask in the joy that is Travis’s face when he hears the aliens have his rig on their home planet. You will never be as happy as that man is at that moment. Never.

  Also, Mira, the Shiba Inu. But that’s more than a game away, friends.

  SIDE NOTE: I remember that one of the recurring criticisms of Zerorigins was that the developers had the audacity to include only three endings! And they made you get the good one the first time through!

  Silent Hill 3 has precisely the same number of endings. Silent Hill has five endings, but two of them are actually just variations the other two, so fuck you, they don’t count. Three endings it is! Silent Hill 4 has four endings, but no UFO Ending. Further, we run into the whole “one is just a subtle variation on the other”, so it’s actually—drum roll, please—three endings!

  When people complain about Origin’s lack of endings, what they’re really complaining about is that it doesn’t have Silent Hill 2’s radically different endings that change regarding your actions in the game. Which is a fair complaint, to be honest. There are five endings—three standard and achievable the first time through, one secret, one joke. But it’s not really fair considering the fact that Silent Hill 2 was precisely 1/5th of the series when Nullrigins came out.

  What I’m saying is that Origins is actually pretty damn faithful to the series writ large. END SIDE NOTE.

  But it’s not over yet! In addition to the multiple endings, the player earns “accolades” based on their achievements on their playthroughs. Yup, these are basically the standard achievement or trophies that are so popular in gaming now. However, each one also unlocks a costume and, in some cases, an additional item for Travis to use during his next run.

  Say, for instance, you complete the “rescue Alessa from fiery death” portion of the game super-fast. Well, this nets you an accolade that gives you a firefighter’s outfit and a fire axe, an absurdly powerful melee weapon. Kill most of your foes with you meaty trucker fists, and you unlock a luchador’s outfit. It’s a neat little gimmick, in my opinion.

  SIDE NOTE: Yet another complaint I’ve heard is the accolade system for… reasons that aren’t really explained, to be honest. Look, if it’s about the costume changes, Silent Hill 3 had twenty-six different clothing options for its protagonist. If it’s about the extra gear, most Silent Hill games give you extra shit for doing something during a previous run. If it’s something else, I’m sure it’s dumb and I hate your complaint. END SIDE NOTE.

  Origins also gives you some funderful statistics at the end of you run. Here are my stats:

  Melee Kills              51        50%

  Firearm Kills           30        29%

  Fisties Kills             21        21%

  Items                    333

  Map Views             377

  Saves                    24

  Distance                26.31 km

  Game Time            4:55:55

  Flashlight Time         2:15:40

I earned the accolades Savior (for beating the game/getting the good ending), Stalker (for having my light on for less than three hours), and Explorer (for basically running a very broken-up marathon around a lot… that is to say, running 22.6 km or more in a single playthrough (my brain stopped working and forgot how long a marathon is—mea culpa)). This nets me three goofy-ass costumes, the moon gauntlets (super powered fisticuffs, basically), and night vision goggles which are staggeringly useless.

  Also, since we’re finished with Nullrigins, let’s take the opportunity to compare my monster names to the “official” names.

  (All the links are based on the Silent Hill Wiki on August 29th, 2014. If things are radically different by the time you get there, Internet Wayback Machine that shit. To be fair, though, the earlier snapshots will probably contain less information… golly, here’s hoping no one changes these things, because I sure as hell am not going to take the time to screen cap it.)

  Nurses are… Faceless Nurses. So I’m gonna give myself a point for that. Supposedly (that is to say, according to the wiki), these are to represent Travis’s sexual anxiety or some shit, all because of one line about not meeting the right girls. Well, if you listen to Budget Pat Buttram’s response to Travis’s comment, it’s because he immediately starts in with his tragic past, scaring them off. You’re reading too much into things.

  I mean, did anything in this playthrough suggest at all that Travis was a sexual malcontent? Outside of that one line that I just logically pointed out is undermined in that particular interpretation by simply paying attention to literally the next words someone says?

  Taffymen are Straitjackets, apparently. Oh, sorry… “Straightjackets”. This only really becomes evident as to what they’re supposed to be in the asylum, but they’re the most common enemy in the game. I really don’t get why they were included at all. I mean, I know the asylum is an unending level in the game, but it just seems silly to have so many of the fucking things. Also, apparently they can be suggestive of Travis’s sexual frustrations. Wow, that one fucking line in the entire game is covering quite a bit, isn’t it? Maybe if you don’t know what something is supposed to be in Silent Hill, you just scream “FUCKED UP SEX STUFF” and no one will question it.

  I mean, Jesus, Travis doesn’t punch Lisa or freak out when she’s around. He seems just fine in conversations with her. And when she “flirts” with him in the theater he doesn’t go onto some MRA message board and complain about how all women are total bitches. Give it a fucking rest.

  Ghost Girdles are apparently Remnants. They are infinitely scarier and better designed than the taffymen, and suggest most of the same kind of generalized anxiety of the patients that a young Grady would have had. The big difference is that there isn’t some stupid layer of “sexual frustration” that can be heaped onto the ghosts.

  But you know what? I want to fuck with some heads—hey, internet, the Remnants have a feminine scream when they fall in combat. OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, ANXIETY TOWARD THE LADYFOLK.

  Roadkills are Carrion, which makes sense. Apparently they represent Helen Grady, which is fucking stupid, because Helen Grady represents Helen Grady. Travis displays unhappiness when looking at stuffed animals, so the guys loves his animals. Killing animals in his truck or seeing road kill is probably unsettling for a chap who loves animals. Why the hell is this so difficult?

  Helen Grady is either Momma or the Memory of Helen Grady. I actually kind of like the latter. “Momma” is stupid. Also, I love the mental hoops being jumped through in the symbolism. The gibbet looks like a church bell, and Dahlia is in a cult, so she must have had contact with Helen! No. Just… stop. There’s nothing to suggest that’s even a thing. Dahlia was meeting Kaufmann in the Asylum. Anything else is just an unfounded claim.

  You want to know how I know?

  Because the game didn’t say so.

  Caliban is Caliban. Apparently Alessa is afraid of dogs, which is why she is so afraid of Caliban, a guy dressed up as a buffalo spirit. Um… right.

  Ariels are Ariels, to the shock of no one, although my initial designation of “sex puppets” is probably more in line with what people want to read into this thing. They could symbolize a fucked up childhood or Richard Grady (somehow). More likely, though? Puppets are fucking weird and creepy, so they make serviceable monsters when necessary.

  Fuck-Monsters are Two-Backs, referencing Othello, of all things. Now, this is the most overtly sexual monster in the game, but as I point out, this isn’t about Travis’s sexual hang-ups, but a primal scene he witnessed with his father. Christ, they practically tell you what’s going on.

  Richard Grady is either Sad Daddy or the Memory of Richard Grady, and I will let you guess which one I think is stupid! Supposedly, Travis feels guilty over his dad’s death, which is preposterous because Travis didn’t even remember what happened. And there’s nothing to suggest that Travis felt responsible, just angry and sad. But whatever. If we can just randomly say things mean other things, then noodle monster Richard is actually symbolic of Travis’s obsession with hot dogs.

  YOU CAN’T TELL ME I’M WRONG, IT’S OPEN TO INTERPRETATION.

  The Butcher is the Butcher, and the symbolism on the wiki seems pretty sensible if we consider the bad ending. Naturally, there’s some weird sex stuff they throw in there. Notice, though, that there’s no mention of the costume designer, the one person who mentions the Butcher. So, we’ll jump through hoops to make random coincidences seem like critical plot elements (Dahlia and Helen Grady), but just ignore information directly seeded to the audience.

  Sweet.

  Flauros Demon is actually Alessa’s Dream. There’s not a whole lot to say other than it’s a big red demony thing, no one seems to like it that much, and trapping it in a Flauros is incredibly beneficial for Alessa.

  And that’s about it for this update! There will be one more wrap-up thing I plan on doing, but that’s going to wait until Tuesday. Until then, friends, I remain Jonathan Bruce and you remain my wonderful (but possibly incredibly insulted) readers. Bon week-end!

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

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