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  Jinkies, Traipsers! Welcome to our Halloween update, which looks suspiciously like every other update, except it’s being done on Halloween! Trust me, it’s totally different. Last time, we happened upon a bonafide mystery after stealing protecting Dr. Skeeves’s wallet. And by “mystery”, I mean “the first clear direction to head on this side of town”. You see, outside of a ton of shirtless pictures of himself…

Don't be so shocked.
Don't be so shocked.

… Dr. K also had a receipt from the Indian Runner general store (to be entirely accurate, you’ll only see ‘Indian Runner’ if you examine it in the menu… otherwise, Harry just describes it as a receipt from a general store). Said receipt also had the numbers 0473 written on it. There was also something called a Kaufmann Key, which we pocketed because why not? Since we have literally nothing else going on in terms of an objective (missing child possibly being in the general area notwithstanding), let’s check the shit out of the Indian Runner, shall we?

Sure, we have nothing better to do.
Sure, we have nothing better to do.

  It’s a quick jog east from Annie’s Bar, so at the very least it isn’t obnoxious to get to. Just make sure to snag the two health drinks on the counter before leaving the bar, unlike me in my normal mode runthrough. No use in wasting perfectly good hallucinogenic beverages, amiright?

  The front door to the general store is apparently… uh… chained shut I guess, with a four digit coded padlock.

Um... I think locking the door would be more effective, really.
Um... I think locking the door itself would be more effective, really.

We spend the next six hours cycling through whatever mysterious combination we need to make in order to appease the metal monstrosity and gain sweet, sweet access to the general store.

What a surprise! It sucks!
What a surprise! It sucks!

  To the shock of absolutely no one, the store looks like it has been trashed. Why will never be explained, nor will Harry comment on it because it’s not a fucking wheelchair or a hospital dryer. The only two things that haven’t been stolen/destroyed/whatever is a health drink and a box of rifle shells, so our protagonist does the right thing and takes them.

  There are another couple of things of interest. The first is a bright red diary or something that is left open on the counter, which I would have to assume isn’t all that good for business. I just think that writing your innermost thoughts on the job might be a wee bit unprofessional.

Can I get some help?
"Can I get some help?"
"Fuck off! I'm writin' mah thoughts!"

But this is Silent Hill, where not setting yourself on fire while eating ice cream is a major achievement to the residents. Of course we’re gonna write our thoughts down where customers can see.

QUOTE

  August 20

  He came by. I handed over the package that the woman left here.

  September 12

  He showed up at Norman’s, too. Don’t want to be involved with the likes of them anymore, but…

  I’m getting creeped out even more than before.

  Thought of leaving town, but I’m afraid of what will happen if I do.

END QUOTE

  As you can see, the writer decides to play the pronoun game so we don’t know who “he” is. Here’s the problem with that: there’s only one other male character in the game, so we know it’s Dr. Skeeves. Way to drop the ball, Konami.

  Anyway, August 20th Dr. K picks up a package left by a woman (that would probably be Dahlia, since Lisa doesn’t seem to be the mysterious package type). September 12th, el doctor harasses some jackass named Norman. The last, and arguably best, part is that the diarist is all “I want to skip town, but I’m scared!” Why the hell would you write any of this down unless you were going to take this to the police? Even then, you’re just jotting down all this illegal activity for… what, exactly?

  I guess what I mean to say is that, perhaps, if you’re terrified of being killed or whatever, it may not be in your best interest to leave written records that implicate yourself and a murderous doctor in illegal activities lying about.

  Outside of that plot… tangential… note, there’s another note (fun!) tacked onto the nearby wall behind the counter.

Also, don't come in through the back door at 3:00 pm, as that's when Norman has the safe open.
Also, don't come in through the back door at 3:00 pm, as that's when Norman has the safe open.
Remember he has a heart condition, so don't make any sudden noises that may make his death look like an accident.

  So, not only does the staff of the Indian Runner leave a bright red diary that almost guarantees a gangland style murder awaits them in the future laying around on the counter, but they happen to leave other stores’ passcodes in plain sight. The people who run this place are unbelievably, almost magically stupid. And in Silent Hill, that means a lot.

  There’s a safe here, but I wasn’t entirely certain how I was going to unlock it. So, I went out into the night to try to find Norman’s… whatever it was.

Pictured: No clear indication of what the fuck.
Pictured: No clear indication of what the fuck.

  I spent an ungodly amount of time running about in the dark and being treated like an combination ape/dog chew toy trying to find this Norman guy’s place, but all I could manage was wandering into the motel’s parking lot. Luckily for me, the Kaufmann Key unlocks Room 3, so we head in there. Surprisingly enough, the motel room turns out to be a motel room, and, through the magic of contrivance, somehow Harry manages to divine that the cabinet needs to be moved.

Someone earned themselves a Scooby Snack!
This... seems weird. Does Harry assume all furniture must be moved before proven otherwise?

  Seriously, there’s no indication that it can be moved—not even Scooby Doo Brand E-Z Read Telltale Scratches™ on the floor. You just have to be the kind of person who obsessively clicks on everything in sight (I am) in order to find it.

  Anyway, moving the cabinet reveals this:

Oh, it's one of those hiding places.
Oh, it's one of those hiding places.

Well, that’s no good. So what do we do? Have Harry ransack a porn store for some lube for his hand? Raid the nearby diner for some Crisco? Use one of the many weapons we have as a pry bar? Use the hand ax to hack away the floor boards?

  Nope! We steal a health drink from the bathroom and leave.

  Silent Hill!

  What follows is yet another run around the block getting slobbered on by monsters as I try to find the entrance to Norman’s. My biggest discovery is that the diner happens to be the only building in town with a door that triggers a “lock is broken/door is jammed” message. I have no idea why, except maybe it was originally planned on being an enterable location.

  Finally, I noticed a side door to the motel on Weaver Street after being brained by a bird demon. I swatted the thing out of the air with my emergency hammer, then turned my attention to the door. This produced a “it’s locked” rather than “door’s broken, now fuck off”, which didn’t help a whole lot. It was only afterwards that I saw a thing next to the door which actually made the screen switch to a close up of a twelve-digit code panel when properly examined. This is the first and only time in the game where this happens. It is bullshit.

Ugh. This is not good design.
Sure, make it an ugly, boxy, grey, easily missed lump on the side of an ugly, boxy, generic building.

  The code is 0886, obviously, but the bigger problem I have with this is that this door is amazingly poorly telegraphed to the player and I have no fucking clue why. It’s not really highlighted in any way and it feels like it’s obtuse for the sake of being obtuse. You know, basically a middle finger toward the player who happens to be stumbling around the dark and panicked while looking for this place.

  Of course, I may have known where to look had I actually noticed that, literally right next to the Norman’s grocery list/backdoor password, is a picture of good ol’ Norm in front of his motel.

Whatever. That's stupid. You're stupid, Norman.
Whatever. That's stupid. You're stupid, Norman.

Well, don’t I feel foolish. And to think that there are no other moments where there are two separate, plot-relevant small items next to each other that must be clicked separately. Christ, what is it with Konami and jamming a single instance of something in the game?

  So, the backroom of the motel is… um…

Riverside, this certainly is not.
Riverside, this certainly is not.

… underwhelming. After all the runaround, I thought it would be cooler. Anyway, there’s a newspaper with the same date as the one in the hospital! Only this one hasn’t been tampered with, and we get to see that sweet, sweet article was about:

QUOTE

  INVESTIGATION STALLED

  “PTV” dealers still at large. Suspicious deaths continue. Like anti-drug mayor, a narcotics officer dies of sudden heart failure. Origin is unknown.

END QUOTE

  …

  That’s… that’s it? The drug dealers are still at large and there have been mysterious deaths of the mayor and Officer Gucci?

  …

  WHY WAS THIS SET UP AS A MYSTERY!? This article tells us precisely jack shit other than things we already know (stalled investigation; dead people). There is no reason that this should have been clipped out of the paper at the hospital. It doesn’t have any pertinent information whatsoever. Did Dr. K (because come on, who else?) want it for his villainous scrapbook?

No one must know...
No one must know...

Or did someone on the development team not think this through and just included a faux-ominous fakeout for the sake of providing unnecessary tension that ultimately didn’t pay off?

  BETCHA CAN’T GUESS WHICH ONE I’M LEANING TOWARD.

  Also, for extra inexplicableness, if you don’t examine that clipped newspaper at the hospital, Harry won’t read the article in the newspaper. Apparently, he will dismiss the entire newspaper unless he knows that it’s from some specific date as a mangled one. I find that to be at least three unique kinds of stupid. Long story short, this means that this bit of information is optional, but all it does is establish something that the main goddamn plot has already gone out of its way to talk about.

Thanks, Harry!
Thanks, Harry!

  Hey, you know what would have been great? If the note from the Indian Runner had mentioned the mysterious “he” having blood on him on one particular date, and that date corresponds to this newspaper article. Now that would make the deaths less mysterious, I guess, but it would show that this “he” customer is serious business.

  Besides, you want to know where heart failure originates, you lazy buffoons?

  The heart.

  Boom!

  Anyway, there’s also a bar magnet on a string (?) resting on the couch that I swipe.

Oh, yeah, sure. Have tons of those lying around.
Oh, yeah, sure. Have tons of those lying around.

The next stop is the garage, which has a box of shells, a health drink, and a motorcycle that has dust wiped away from the gas cap. I guess it must be really dusty in there so as to make such things obvious.

Nothing gets past ol' eagle eyes.
Nothing gets past ol' eagle eyes.

  Returning to the backroom of the motel, I cut through to the front desk area to head out to the parking lot and return to room three, where I use the magnet-on-a-string to collect… a motorcycle key. Back to the garage!

  Using the key reveals that someone has hidden a bottle of red liquid in the gas cap.

Don't they have saddlebags for this reason? Why would you hide it in a gas tank? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!?
Don't they have saddlebags for this reason? Why would you hide it in a gas tank? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!?
Also, if you examine the smashed bottle in the hospital, you get an extra line about how it's similar to that one. It doesn't affect anything, though. I guess I didn't trigger it in my screenshot run.

Naturally, Harry takes it and starts marveling at it like he’s never seen such a thing before.

Nope. Nothing's sinkin' in.
Nope. Nothing's sinkin' in.

  Suddenly, Dr. Skeeves.

What's up, motherfuckers?
What's up, motherfuckers?

  He is super crabby about Harry touching his stuff and swipes it from the idiot. He scolds Harry, yelling that he should be off finding a way out of town rather than standing about and being dumb. He leaves with a vague threat, suggesting that if Harry doesn’t want to die he better… um… do something.

... yeah. Think about it.
... yeah. Think about it.

Yeah. Think about that, you authorial dick.

  Considering that Skeeves has been heavily implied to have killed at least two people, why he doesn’t just shoot Harry in the face is beyond me.

  Also, I’m glad someone called Harry out on being a useless idiot. Shame it had to be that guy. But still. I’m a happy camper whenever our writer friend is taken to task for being the waste of DNA he is.

  Anyway, that’s the end of this little quest. I did run back to the Indian Runner to see if I could open the safe. It turns out there’s a key in a drawer near the safe (because of course it is—it is Silent Hill and the staff of the Indian Runner, after all). You must use the key from the menu to trigger it (so it turns out that I was wrong about the drawbridge key being the only regular key item to have to do this with), and it turns out there’s just drugs in the safe and… that’s all there is to it.

Oh! That's... a thing, I suppose.
Wait... shouldn't there be some money in there? Where would they keep it? The register? That's not safe.

  I fucking hate this quest. Everything about is either convoluted or just stupid busywork. The only thing it establishes is that Dr. K is a drug kingpin, but even that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the game. You think it might, but no. It doesn’t. The drug subplot is a poorly described and useless red herring that, unlike a proper bait-and-switch, adds nothing at all to the story being told.

  However, if you don’t jump through the hoops it wants you to with the little kernels of information it gives (remember, I wandered into Annie’s Bar only because of Origins, which was released eight years after this game), you will get the worst endings in the game. Yes, the whole point of this thing is to 1) make sure Skeeves survives and 2) make sure he has some of that red stuff.

  You can also totally sequence break if you have the codes from a previous playthrough or the internet and visit the motel first, then the general store, then get the key from Kaufmann after you shoot a deranged muppet off of him. The Indian Runner is actually wholly optional if you happen to be playing this game a second time. This game is so fucking weird about what it will and will not allow Harry to do and at what times. Either try to keep the story consistent even if it means forcing a linear path, or make it easier on the player and let them do things they want when they want. You can’t have it both ways.

  The worst part? Harry doesn’t even put two and two together about Kaufmann. In fact, he says the absolute last thing you want your protagonist to say in any fucking artistic medium.

Pictured: Somehting you should never have your protagonist say.
silenthill.png

  Fuck you, game.

  Fuck.

  You.

  Join me next time for, A Meeting of What Amounts to the Minds of Silent Hill.

BONUS: I just want people to stop touching my stuff!

  Oh. The guy who owns the place is Norman. Ha, I guess.

Huh. Norman. Like Bates. Clever, maybe.
Huh. Norman. Like Bates. Clever, maybe.

  Wasted opportunities are the best kinds of opportunities!

Keep in mind someone decided that an object warranted being described as nothing special.
Keep in mind someone decided that an object warranted being described as nothing special.
Someone did this, programmed it, and apparently thought their time was not better spent doing something pertinent with the plot.

  Fedy-X sounds exactly like the shipping service I… would never use.

On the one hand, they deliver during the apocalypse. On the other hand, so does USPS and they're much cheaper.
On the one hand, they deliver during the apocalypse. On the other hand, so does USPS and they're much cheaper.

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

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