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  Greetings, one and all, to the third installment of Traipsing Through Silent Hill! I am ever your loyal host, Jonathan Charles Bruce, purveyor of fine and not-so-fine internet entertainment. You, as always, are super lovely and made entirely out of wishes and fairy laughter. When last we endured the elements and dealt with the horrors of Silent Hill, Harry regained consciousness in a café and had a very stupid conversation with a nice lady by the name of Cybil. Unfortunately for us, Cybil wandered off, leaving Harry to the mercy of a bird monster thing which he promptly shot to death.

  Oh, right, he also got a gun from Cybil. Forgot about that part.

  Anyway, Harry rushed to put an entry in the random notepad on the countertop, which brings us to… um, right now.

... Sure?
... Sure?

  Oddly aggressive motivational posters aside, we head on out to the streets because the café is no longer safe, what with its two smashed in windows letting all the fog in. Once outside, Harry thinks that the best thing to do is to head to the alley where he may have recently been knifed to death. He marks it on his map, but I also notice that there’s a convenience store to the north, which seems like a far less stupid plan than Harry’s “head to the place where I had my goolies hacked out”.

For your convenience...
For your convenience!

  On my way there, there are two boxes of handgun ammo on a bench just up the road from the café. While it’s good to see that the same kindly transient that assisted Travis in Origins is still around and providing wandering protagonists the means to defend themselves, I’m starting to think Silent Hill badly needs a litter cleanup initiative.

  It’s at this point that I decide to check and see if I remember a particular glitch correctly, that being the fact that Harry automatically reloads his gun when you go into “action stance” and you have the bullets to spare. And I don’t mean “the game has him automatically put in a new magazine of ammunition and you get to watch a slow animation while horrors shuffle their way toward our hero with eyes on his prostate”. I mean that if you ready your gun, fire it, lower the gun, and then ready it again, Harry somehow magically tops the gun off without any other action on your part.

  And sure enough, I remembered correctly.

  See, this is useful because old-school horror games like Resident Evil and (I’m assuming, if one played it the way it was supposed to be played) Silent Hill made it so that you could reload your weapons in one of two ways—manually going in through the menu, or having the game do it for you when you ran out of bullets. The former was annoying and served to artificially lengthen fights by punctuating encounters with little breathers where you could duck into the menu, have a sip of a health drink, go make a sandwich, or what have you. The latter conceivably resulted in your face getting chewed off by horrors because the animation to reload locked your character in place for its duration.

  Long story short, Harry is somewhat magical and will never have to reload or duck to the menu screen as long as you don’t blow through an entire magazine in one sitting. That’s the kind of thing that takes me… Wait one bird-swinging moment! Magic? This isn’t a glitch at all, was it!?

Well, my work here is done.
Well, my work here is done. Source one, source two.

  Well, with that mystery solved, let’s head to the local convenience store. Outside of a demon bird hanging out on their trash bins outside, the most interesting thing to say about the place is that it looks like it’s been completely ransacked. The only things that people didn’t steal are three health drinks, a first aid kit, and the photocopier. You know, it would have really been nice if Harry had said something about this place being in such a mess. I know it’s “just” a store and all, but you’d think he’d mention how it’s been completely wrecked, how everything is missing, or fucking anything at all to show that he has thoughts. Maybe it just isn’t “bizarre” enough to warrant a comment, but think about it this way: the monsters clearly didn’t steal the valuable stuff from off the store shelves—people had to do that. WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE, HARRY?

  Whatever. Since it has nothing to do with his precious daughter or whatever, it’s no big deal. Harry further contributes to reddening the store’s profits-and-loss report by swiping what few items remain. I happen to notice a notepad on the counter as I leave the store. The proximity of the two notepads I have thus far encountered is actually a refreshing change of pace from Origins’ methodology, which I’m guessing consisted of shouting “ONLY IN THE DUNGEONS, MOTHERFUCKERS” whenever someone asked if they should put one in the town itself.

  If we continue north, we eventually find Harry’s wrecked Jeep. If we inspect it, we get a health drink. Since I’m still convinced that those beverages contain powerful hallucinogens thanks to the last game I played, I have no conclusion other than the idea that Harry was tripping balls the previous night. It would explain his confusion/defensiveness in the café, at least.

  Further north is a collapsed overpass, which means we have to stay in this stupid shit town and find Harry’s stupid daughter.

  Fine. I guess we’ll go back to the murder alley. Fuck you, game, you’re not my real dad.

  On my way to the alley, I am assaulted by a demon gull, but four bullets bring it to the ground. Since the radio is still going off and I played Origins, I know to wander over to the beast and administer a coup de grace to ensure the thing never gets up again. While Harry does possess a powerful hyper ass stomp™ akin to Travis’s, Harry also does a really floaty, slow kick whenever he… I dunno, thinks no one is watching? Not to insult the guy’s technique, cause it works and the thing is now dead, but it still looks fucking silly.

I am all that is man!
I am all that is man!

  We run down the road, down the side street, through the backyard with the exploded dog, and emerge… at a dead end. The alleyway has partially collapsed, meaning that Harry’s bullet-based reunion with the murder children is permanently on hold. Despite the lack of revenge killing, there are two boxes of bullets and Cheryl’s sketchbook.

... Jesus, Harry, how the hell did you conclude that?
... Jesus, Harry, how the hell did you conclude that?

Well, the cover and a torn out page, anyway.

  The page we’re most concerned with (outside of that cover because god, Harry, that’s horrifying) is one with the phrase “to school” written on it with what I’m forced to assume is blood, because spookiness. Also… well, here, look at the tableau we’re presented with:

Nope. Nothing unusual here. Just a puddle of gore and a collapsed alleyway full of rusty metal. Cheryl takes this way to school all the time.
Nope. Nothing unusual here. Just a puddle of gore and a collapsed alleyway full of rusty metal. Cheryl walks through this kind of thing all the time.

Harry assumes Cheryl is at the school because the note was apparently written in Cheryl’s handwriting. You only get this bit of information if you take the time to examine the scrap of paper in the menu. Now, not to doubt you Harry, but there is a big smear of (probably) blood right next to this stuff, so we’re presently putting a lot of faith that she wrote this note before being disemboweled, let alone at all.

  Why no, Harry doesn’t comment on the blood in close proximity to his daughter’s sketchbook. Why would you even ask such a preposterous thing? Harry is too fucking dense to put two and two together, so he just assumes that Cheryl must have had a very wet red crayon or finger painted with the fluids that one of the skinless abominations is leaking all over town.

  On top of a destination (however lamely derived), we also can collect the steel pipe. The steel pipe, collected within the first ten minutes or so of gameplay, completely invalidates the need for the kitchen knife. It hits hard (at roughly the same attack power of a handgun bullet per swing), doesn’t quite require you to be in kissing range of your foe, and has substantial knockback. Plus, you can move around with it “readied” if you’re impatient and want to meet the monsters lining up to tear out your throat a bit sooner than expected.

  In other words, why the bloody fuck is the knife even something that exists in this game? How profoundly crap did the developers think the players were? Did they assume that people would run around town, wasting all their bullets before getting to the place that the developers railroaded them into to advance the fucking story?

  But whatever!

  Harry has marked the school on the map, but that’s to the south west and there’s still so much to explore! I exit the rather disappointing alley and take a easternly jog down Finney Street. The road ends in a collapse, but there happens to be a police car by the edge that apparently ejected a box of bullets when it crashed. It also popped its trunk in all the excitement, revealing that it has a key which Harry greedily steals.

  The key is apparently a Key of “Lion”, which sounds absolutely thrilling. Examining it says that it’s a “key to the garden of the house.” Why, Harry is putting that diploma from Hogwarts to good use! It’s such a good thing he majored in divination.

  GET IT? BECAUSE HE KNOWS SOMETHING THAT HE SHOULDN’T.

  Fucking about like I normally do leads to rolling to the side street between Finney and Matheson, uncovering an area halfway through labelled as “off limits”. Such signs serve only to rile Harry up, telling him what he can and can’t do like that, so I naturally steer him inside. There is a makeshift basketball court here, along with a health drink, a Key of “Woodman”, and a decapitated dog head. Why, yes, there’s a bloody smear on the backboard. Lovely.

  You know, I really expected a lot better from the alley behind Café 5 to 2.

  For the record, Harry does take notice of the dog’s head… by commenting that it’s a dog’s head. Thanks, chief. I’d be lost without you.

  Back to the town proper, we take Matheson to Ellroy and poke around the southern end, which doesn’t take long—the road terminates in a chasm. Honestly, at this point it’s smarter to assume that every road ends in a chasm. It’s the caved-in underpasses that are the really unusual moments. Anyway, this portion of road is special, because there is a plank leading to a porch-area that floats precariously above the abyss. Inside of a mailbox is a Key of “Scarecrow”, which brings our Wizard of Oz themed-keys up to three.

Of course there's blood in the mailbox. How would we know to be scared if we didn't have random blood puddles everywhere?
Of course there's blood in the mailbox. How would we know to be scared if we didn't have random blood puddles everywhere, even in impossibly stupid places that end up undermining what we're trying to do?

  Yes, these keys—Lion, Scarecrow, and Woodsman—are all apparently referencing The Wizard of Oz for reasons which I’m sure someone’s spent way too long justifying on message boards somewhere. I think the more vital question is the one I posed back in Nullrigins: just who is in charge of making these fucking bullshit knickknacks for Silent Hill? There’s gotta be some grifter out there making bank from these townie dipshits.

  There’s also a health drink on the stoop, which I swipe because it’s there and I’m sure Harry is gonna get the shakes without some of that sweet nectar touching his lips pretty soon. Leaving the chasm-adjacent property behind, I run west down Matheson. One short alleyway has a couple of boxes of bullets. Further down the road has yet another short alley with a first aid kit and three new enemies: demon dogs.

  Actually, I had run past a couple of the beasties on the way back to murder alley, but this is a much better time to talk about them, as it is the first time any of the dopey fuckers successfully managed to mistake Harry’s neck for a chew toy. The dogs all look like they’re skinless. They make a panting noise when running and a barking growl-thing when they go for Harry’s man bits. They attack with a leap (which can magically change direction in mid-air, which never ceases to look stupid). If the attack connects, it leads to something I’m sure the animation team thought was a convincing bite, but actually looks like they kind of aggressively rub against Harry.

I seem to be bleeding from a head wound while that skinless beast is sauntering away. Wonder what that's about.
"I seem to be bleeding from a head wound while that skinless beast is sauntering away. Wonder what that's about."

  Dogs are almost never a threat as long as you just keep moving at a run. Since Harry never runs out of stamina like Travis, the dogs will always get close, pause to lunge, and then jump at Harry significantly slower than their run animation, letting Harry continue on his way unmolested. Their only real strength is if you blunder into a horde of them or if a flying bastard staggers you, allowing your four-legged friends to catch up and requisition your buttocks as a high-yield rawhide chew. You should only fight this enemy as a last resort or for extremely petty, revenge-ish reasons.

  Long story short, the game of “fetch the handgun bullets” ended very poorly for the skinless canines.

  Alleyway cleared of the doggie menace, we return to Matheson and finish our run westward. The idea is to meet up with Midwich Street and hook south toward the school. Alas, the street terminates in yet another fucking sinkhole that no doubt reaches to the Earth’s iron core, so we have to find a different way to get where we’re going. Luckily, there happens to be a couple more notebook pages scattered on the ground.

Clearly, Cheryl can fly. And also doesn't need blood to stay inside of her body to survive.
Clearly, Cheryl can fly. And also doesn't need blood to stay inside of her body to survive, apparently.

I think this is one of those classic Silent Hill puzzles I’ve heard oh-so-much about.

  There’s an awful lot of blood that these scraps of paper are resting in. Like, literally in the puddles. Shouldn’t they have soaked through? Or are they dry? I don’t know because the game doesn’t tell me. Harry seems suspiciously alright with the quantity of blood Cheryl is either hemorrhaging or stumbling upon without adult supervision.

  Or maybe the clod thinks its Jell-O.

  Golly, this town loves its cherry Jell-O! thinks Harry, his steel pipe dripping with gore from the third monstrosity he’s brained in the past forty-five seconds. The dogs even have it coming out of their pores! he ponders moments before a flying, shrieking nightmare digs its talons into the back of his head. Gingerly tapping the wound, he ganders at his fingers, red and slick, before chuckling to himself. Shucks, I seem to be getting into the spirit. I’ll be putting gobs of it in my mailbox in no time, too!

  We may need a running tally of Harry’s really irresponsible/questionable behavior. Health drinks while driving, not wearing a seat belt, not having his daughter wear a seatbelt (watch the opening cinematic if you don’t believe me), not reacting when finding daughter’s possessions written with/near pools of blood, not immediately telling a police officer his daughter’s name, not providing an accurate physical description… Harry, you fucking suck at this. Travis was a better dad than you. Travis. He wasn’t even Alessa’s dad for Chrissakes!

  Harry’s abject and total shittiness aside, a funny thing happens if you are exploring and come upon the doghouse before this note. Namely, Harry will comment on the doghouse (but not the suspicious amount of oh-so-fucking-shocking-blood on the ground), but other than offering a mind-numbingly stupid comment, he doesn’t see anything of use. At the very least we can mine it for some measure of hilarity via the recreation of memes for fun and profit:

Harry, operating on the 'if I don't see them, they don't exist' mentality commonly associated with infants.
Harry, operating on the 'if I don't see them, they don't exist' mentality commonly associated with infants.
I wish I was smart/funny enough to notice this. My inspiration comes from here, though it probably originated elsewhere.

But that’s it. What needs to happen first is the player finding this note. Then and only then will Harry will get on his hands and knees and look on the inside of the only doghouse in the entire game. Why is this important? Well, because there is a key taped to the ceiling. It is a key to the one house in the entire northeastern area of the residential district that you can enter.

  I realize that this is done to make it seem more realistic or whatever, but I’ve also been picking up wacky theme keys for the last fifteen minutes with absolutely no provocation. I will admit, though, I do kind of like Harry doesn’t drop to the ground and examine the insides of a suspected doghouse without justification.

  However, in running through this a second time to capture images/fuck around and see what kind of trouble I can get into, I discovered that the only thing that needs to be triggered in this chunk of the game is the doghouse note. The other, seemingly vital event trigger—the “to school” note—is actually wholly inconsequential. So we have a situation where Harry will steal weird, Wizard of Oz commemorative keys unprovoked and break into a stranger’s house without context, but the developers drew the line at Harry checking the one and only fucking doghouse in the northeastern quarter of the district.

  Long story short, both Finney to the north and the southern portion of Levin have collapsed, preventing easy access to Midwich Elementary. The only way to continue the game is to blunder into someone’s residence and naturally steal all their shit. And maybe we’ll actually find a use for these fucking keys when all is said and done!

  So, on the precipice of someone’s front door, we shall take this opportunity to break for now. Join me next time for the next thrilling installment of Traipsing Through Silent Hill: Night Didn’t Fall; It Fucking Crashed.

  BONUS: While collecting screenshots, I elected to see what happens if you try to pick up the radio in the café while the demon bird thinger is still alive.

Also notice the bird clipping through the world geometry.
Also notice the bird clipping through the world geometry.

I need you to realize how silly that is. Instead of just commenting on how the radio isn’t important at the moment due to monster, or something more panic stricken like “OHMYGODSHITCHRISTFUCKINGBIRDMONSTER”, Harry just has “more important stuff to do.”

  You know.

  Like not being eaten.

  …

  Silent Hill!

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

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