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  Welcome back to this wretched hive of scum and villainy, Traipsers! Last time, Harry was scolded for not doing… something… by a woman who finally revealed herself to be Dahlia Gillespie. She apparently forgave us, though, because she then gave us a lollipop and sent us on our next quest: the mysterious “other church” in town. The other church is an antique store, which is where my mancrush Travis and favorite psychic murderghost slaughtered a demon/god/red thing in Nullrigins. And then we finally got control of Harry, he got to leave the hospital, run to the top of the post office for fun…

Scream at the heavens, Harry!
Scream at the heavens, Harry!

… and ran to the antique store known as The Green Lion to its friends.

  That…was the only gameplay last time. Just… running down the street. So… that’s… kind of shitty.

  But antique store!

The most metal antique store.
The most metal antique store.

  Don’t get excited. The front door was always like that, since even before we got to the hospital. We actually have to walk down a set of OMINOUS STAIRS™ before we can use the key to unlock another door. This… seems like an awfully inconvenient place to go shopping. But let’s see what we have in this place that I’m absolutely positive the locals describe as “quaint” in the same tone one uses when describing a particularly ugly dog.

... No.
... No.

  This… this is obviously a front, y’all.

  Seriously, I love antiquing. I do it surprisingly frequently. I’ve been in some dusty-ass places, but this would prompt me to turn my ass right around and leave, never mentioning a word of it to anyone. I mean look at this place! There isn’t even a fucking cash register!

... No.
... No.

This clearly is a business set up to get people drugs or that weird-ass religion or whatever. Good god, they didn’t even try to make this place look like a legitimate business. A sign. A register. Something.

  And you know what else? This place is just up the road from the goddamn police station… wow, Silent Hill, I think this may be a spectacular new low.

  Also… how did they get some of this shit down here? Or did they just build the entire structure around this one room and its collection of garbage? It’s not that this stuff probably couldn’t fit down here (although that piano or whatever in the corner killed at least three movers in the attempt), it’s just like they made this room specifically to sacrifice people’s lower backs to the gods.

  There is a notepad for our saving convenience, which is developer shorthand for “you may wish to consider saving, because plot is about to hit Harry square in the face.” So while past me is doing that, we’re going to take stock of our most vital supplies pre- and post-hospital.

                              Health Drink       First Aid Kit       Ampoules       Bullets       Shells

Before Alchemilla     19                     8                    2                   203          52

After Alchemmila      26                    10                   3                   214          64

  Um… I think there may be a bit of a disconnect between difficulty and supplies.

  This is something that I never quite got about the first Silent Hill—it really wants itself to be a difficult game, but the monsters tend to be weak. Even at the harder difficulties, they get massive damage increases, but very little else changes. Providing you run from or shoot your way through most fights, there really isn’t much in the way of difficulty.

  I mean, I’m about halfway through the game and there is a good chance that I won’t have to pick up any more healing items or ammunition for the guns I already have to clear it. And, sure, you could argue that I’ve played it before, so blah blah blah. Shut the fuck up, contrarian idiot, because if you’re playing survival horror “right” (hoarding ammo, using melee weapons, and running away) you’d have this cushy stockpile anyway.

  So where’s the scary? Everything can be killed, it only takes a handful of any given ammo to do so (the practitioners were the hardiest non-boss enemies), and you have a reliable means of one-shotting most enemies with a weapon that never runs out of ammo. And even if you stuck to dodging, you’d have to be brought to critical status something like 21 or 22 times before your healing items are tapped!

  I guess the fact that I’ve probably murdered somewhere in the ballpark of two or three football teams’ worth of living things is getting in the way of all this horror. Unless Harry is the real monster, which at this point I’m fine with.

  Anyway, Harry finishes writing his thoughts on the notepad…

Perfect!
Perfect!

… and investigates the back of the “antique shop”. Surprise of surprises, there is a moveable bookshelf/cabinet/whatever shoved in front of the hole that Travis crawled through in Zerorigins. If you hadn’t played the prequel, there’s some slightly faded Scooby Doo Brand E-Z Read Telltale Scratches on the floor that let you know what’s what.

  You know what? Cramming the same “hidden path” in the same fifteen minute stretch of gameplay is tacky, Konami. The fuck is your deal today?

  Anyway, we move the shelf and holy shit, Cybil out of nowhere.

Behold, Harry snapping awkwardly into action!
Behold, Harry snapping awkwardly into action!

  I’m actually excited to see her here! I mean, I was just wondering where…

  … Oh, no.

  No no no no no!

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

  We’re dropped in the third crappy ultra-talky cutscene in as many goddamn updates! What the hell? Where did this come from? Why, Konami? WHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYY!?

  I’m sorry, Cybil. I’m not mad at you. You’re still cool in my book. I’m just mad at the dipshits who thought this was a good way of pacing out story beats.

  Anyway, her first comment is that she shouldn’t have left and things are worse than she thought. Harry, not one to out-douchebagged by himself in his last scene, responds with a hearty:

What are you doing here, officer? I'm not doing anything illegal, you are! I'm not on trial!
"What are you doing here, officer? I'm not doing anything illegal, you are! I'm not on trial!"

Harry sounds really annoyed that Cybil had the audacity to show up while he… um… moved furniture. No, it’s not just annoyed—he sounds a little suspicious of Cybil, too. So I guess “The only non-creepy/helpless person in town” is another thing to add to the list of things Harry finds downright puzzling.

  To be honest, I’d be a lot more suspicious of the guy who disappeared into an obvious criminal front and immediately pulls a gun on me, Harry, so watch yourself.

  Cybil informs Harry that she followed him into this shithole because all the cars, radios, and phones aren’t working. Further, all the roads out of town are blocked.

  Apocalypse Pro-Tip: If the ways out of town are blocked, there’s no point in trying to get a car going. Especially when most streets will terminate randomly into the abyss. Just so you know.

  One would think that she would also casually mention that there are motherfucking monsters roaming around, but no—she doesn’t say anything of the sort. And ya know what? Harry doesn’t pipe up about all the weird shit that he’s seen at this point, either. You think he would—I mean, Cybil knows something off is going down, so I think it may be safe to say something along the lines of, “And how about those dick-knifing kids? Well, in your case, it would be vag-knifing. They sure do suck, don’t they?”

  But no, he remains silent on the monster issue. Cybil will continue to never mention the monsters. Which means one of two things:

  1) Cybil sees the monsters, but doesn’t want to say anything to Harry since she doesn’t believe it herself. Further, that may panic an already-confirmed idiot with a gun, so she’s gonna just let it drop.

  2) There are no monsters where Cybil is, and yet she’s still trapped in Silent Hill and can see/interact with Harry for reasons.

  Both scenarios are equally weird, but in different directions. Option one, for instance—Harry knows other people can see the monsters. He witnessed Dr. K take one down about a half hour ago. So why doesn’t he say something? Further, why haven’t we been hearing Cybil’s sidearm go off every once in a while?

  Option two—if Harry were to team up with Cybil, would he still see monsters and get torn apart by them, looking to Cybil like he was being turned into hamburger by forces unseen? Or would she spontaneously see them, freak out, and blow Harry’s brains all over the pavement, thus unlocking a mode where I can play as Cybil?

  …

  Option two! OPTION TWO!

  Instead of this clearly awesome path opening up, we instead get Harry reverting into “FIND MAH BABY” mode and asking if Cybil saw Cheryl. She admits that she saw a girl. Not Cheryl, mind you. A girl. As in, one of many. But before she can give any more detail, Harry is demanding that she tell him if it was his babby girl.

  Seriously, shut up, Harry. You gave her zero information to go on other than “is seven” and “short black hair”. And if she knew, she’d say, “Yes, I saw Cheryl,” and not, “I did see a girl.”

  Cybil explains that she saw the girl through the fog and she vanished when she gave chase. Harry responds by cutting her off…

I AM A DEEP AND COMPLEX CHARACTER
I AM A DEEP AND COMPLEX CHARACTER

I really, really, really fucking hate Harry. I get that he’s worried, but she did not “let her go”, you fucking asshole. Why the hell are Dahlia and Skeeves literally the only two people he doesn’t treat like absolute shit?

  Cybil points out that Cheryl, if it was indeed Cheryl, was heading toward the lake (south) on Bachman Road above one of those super-fashionable chasms this town is so fond of. She tells Harry that, “There was no place for her to go,” thus implying that she was walking on the air, commonly known as “flying”, and perhaps even more commonly known as “something normal people cannot do without the assistance of a shit load of machinery or one really big fan”.

Hay-oh.
Hay-oh.

  You know what? This falls into the same category as idiots who insist Travis could have just left Silent Hill in Zerorigins. Ha, suck a skinless dog’s bloody foot, asshats.

  This leads to Harry thinking “What? So then Cheryl…” aloud, which you may recognize as his primitive lizard brain attempting to process conscious thought. You may also recognize this as being utterly meaningless. What is the rest of that thought, Harry? “So Cheryl…

  … can fly?”

  … is a witch?”

  … is a helium balloon?”

  … is headed south on Bachman Road toward the lake?”

  Because all of those things are stupid and based on a fucking shadow that Cybil isn’t even sure is your goddamn daughter I hate you so much Harry.

  But then Cybil interjects that she did in fact see something, and that that particular something she saw appeared to be walking on air, so I guess it kind of suggests that she did see someone clearly, or at least enough to know that she was walking on air, and oh, blood is coming out of my ears.

  Cybil then asks the world’s stupidest man if he happened to encounter anything, leading to him talking about Dahlia and asking if Cybil knows her. It’s a stupid question to ask, not only because it wastes time but also because there’s no reason for Cybil to know her—she’s from Brahms, remember? Does he expect her to know everyone in Silent Hill for some reason? Or did he think that she ran into Dahlia and neglected to mention it to Harry?

  To the shock of no one paying attention, Cybil repeats Dahlia’s name, then says “No.”

  Okay then.

  Anyway, Harry feels that the most pertinent information to give Cybil at this juncture is that Dahlia totes told him that the town was being “devoured by darkness”. He then describes it as “gibberish” despite seeing the nightmare reality three times now. So, despite knowing this, he still dismisses Dahlia’s commentary as babble, just because he really wants me to hate him with every inch of my being. He then asks Cybil if she knows what it means.

  This… this feels exactly like one of those “Ha, yeah, imagine if we totally did like each other? How weird would that be? Ha, ha, yeah… I mean… it would be weird, right?” You know what I’m talking about, right? Only it’s more “Ha, ha, she’s crazy, why no I have no idea what happened to my cock, it certainly wasn’t an alternate reality’s demonic children, why do you ask?”

  Not to be outdone by Harry’s uncomfortable straying into awkward territory, Cybil then makes a really weird conclusion that Dahlia must be on drugs. No, I’m not kidding.

Huh. The DARE program takes a weird turn in this town.
Huh. The DARE program takes a weird turn in this town.

Apparently, they (some nebulous “they”—possibly the Illuminati or legendary boy band O-Town) sell drugs to the tourists, the police don’t have any leads, the ringleaders are shrouded in mystery (10 bucks says it’s Skeeves), and the investigation is stalled. I guess it’s probably the same shit that they clumsily foreshadowed at the police department.

  That’s… a really, really big leap to make, Cybil. Are you feeling alright?

  What’s particularly odd about this exchange is the fact that Cybil says “none of OUR leads have panned out” (emphasis mine), thus implying that she’s working the case herself. But she’s from Brahms, right? Or was she always supposed to be from Silent Hill, and they just switched it at the last minute and hoped no one would notice.

  Who knows!

  Then this exchange happens (WARNING: enhanced to prevent your brain from leaking out of your nose in a desperate bid for freedom):

And then the conversation just... kind of peters out.
And then the conversation just... kind of peters out.

Hey, everyone—if your character doesn’t know why they just said something, delete it and never, ever talk about it again.

  Cybil then goes on to say the town being swallowed by darkness may actually be referring to the drug trafficking.

  Just so we’re clear:

  HARRY: I met a loon who said darkness was eating the town. What’s up with that?

  CYBIL: She’s probably on drugs. Someone’s been selling them.

  HARRY: Huh?

  CYBIL: SHE MUST HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT DRUG TRAFFICKING.

  That’s it Cybil—you are on my shit list.

  Cybil then suddenly realizes they’ve been talking in front of a hole in the wall for the past for-fucking-ever and asks Harry about it. Cybil wants to check it out, but then Harry, for some reason demands to go first, probably because his dick feels small. His rationale is literally, “We don’t know what’s back there. I’d better check it out first.”

  Why. Why. WHY. WHY. WHY. WHY. WHY. WHY. FUCKING WHY?

  Cybil is a goddamn police officer, trained in various police officer things, you damn nitwit! Why would you go in first? Why? Why would you even elect to want to do that? Is it just in case your girl is in there and you don’t want your stupid, worthless, shitty masculinity questioned, you gigantic waste of chromosomes!?

  And on top of that, Cybil hasn’t apparently been sucked into the nether dimension (or she’s had the brains not to mention it), so it’s probably safer all around if she goes first! STOP BEING SUCH A CHOAD, HARRY!

  Now, Cybil does try to talk him out of it for that first reason (being a cop, that is; not his apparently tiny, misshapen and slightly hacked-off wiener), but he has a really good excuse as to why he should get his head cut off first:

He makes a good point.
He makes a good point.

  For some reason, Cybil agrees and says she’ll cover him from here. How is a little murky—the hallway he’s going into can be seen thanks to the magic of shitty graphics in later cutscene…

Keep in mind, they chose this angle on purpose. They wanted the player to see the scene this way.
Keep in mind, they chose this angle on purpose. They wanted the player to see the scene this way.

… so maybe she intends to shoot through him if he gets into trouble. Which I’m fine with.

  Actually, can I please switch protagonists, game? Mine is irreparably stupid.

  And then, as if we didn’t have enough talking about stupid shit, Harry takes the opportunity to ask her if she’s seen the nightmare reality. He describes it as “some kind of bad dream” that he can’t remember anything about, other than it is dark, there are sirens, and he met Lisa. “It’s like I was there, but not really,” he says, even though wounds suffered in the nightmare world carry over to reality so you were there, you dolt. He ends his little rambling with comparing the whole thing to a hallucination.

We've all been there, right?
We've all been there, amiright, y'all?

You know, the ones we all have where we meet nurses named Lisa.

  Cybil tells him that she has no idea what he’s talking about, and then he gets all huffy and leaves when she suggests that he’s tired. Then he heads into the hole and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to play the game a little bit.

  But before that, I would like to point out that this final exchange is dumb. Why? Because he describes a world surrounded by darkness, and neither of them—not Harry, not Cybil—connects it to his earlier statement of the town being devoured by darkness. Does… does Harry not see literally the one, major connection that he himself has brought up in the course of sixty seconds?

  I get that you want to be mysterious, game, but there is a huge difference between “genuine mystery” and “people being stupid”. Guess which category you are in?

  As it has taken about six trillion years to move the plot one shaky, pointless step forward, this is where we end our journey today, Traipsers! Join me next… wait a minute… how did Harry not mention Dr. Skeeves in the aeon it took to tell his fucking story to Cybil? SKEEEEEEEEVES!

  Jonathan will return next time in: Oh My God, All These Words Are So Stupid!

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

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