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  Welcome back, Traipsers! Last time, Cybil met a most unfortunate end for… um… reasons.

Ew.
Ew.

It was all very tragic for a character we’ve had three prior interactions with, all three of which were riddled with pointless repetition, baseless statements, stupid assumptions, bad dialogue, and pointless repetition. Needless to say, smashing her face in with the emergency hammer was probably the best course of action, what with the horrible parasite that no doubt had incubated in her chestal cavity.

  Or is it?

  Well, friends, there is indeed a way to save Cybil—it’s just that the game does absolutely nothing to tell you about it in any significant way. In fact, the game pretty much does everything in its power to make sure you never figure it out without a strategy guide or simply knowing about it first. We’ll get to that.

  So, remember that bottle of red liquid that we scooped up from the floor in Alchemilla?

Thank goodness we had the foresight to realize some background decoration was going to be pertinent!
Thank goodness we had the foresight to realize some background decoration was going to be pertinent!

I wouldn’t be shocked if you forgot it. In game time, it was only a couple of hours, but for you, gentle Traipser, it’s been about a gajillion updates (well, nineteen). Anyway, if you had the presence of forethought enough to grab a plastic bottle from the hospital’s kitchen…

Seen here blending in with the background.
Seen here blending in with the background.

… and transfer the remaining liquid into a more portable form, you miraculously have what it takes to rescue Cybil, despite not having a single damn clue that this will actually save your police officer ally, let alone any rationale as to why you’d be carting it about anyway.

  With mysterious red liquid in hand and whatever dark-magic-based clairvoyance necessary to realize how and when it should be used, rather than going through the whole rigmarole of murdering Cybil, you can walk right up to her the moment the boss fight begins, go into your inventory, use the red liquid, and watch the magic happen:

Hey, get back here! Or at least take me with you!
Hey, get back here! Or at least take me with you!

Wait, no. Her flying off into space wasn’t the magic. It’s really more this part:

Um... is she supposed to be combustible?
Um... is she supposed to be combustible?

  After being doused with the red liquid and smoking for whatever goddamn reason, Cybil collapses and a wriggling… thing… apparently bursts from her back (where was something of that size hiding?; how could it fit in there?; how could it escape without killing Cybil?).

Mr. Mittens! What have you done!?
Mr. Mittens! What have you done!?

I mean, Jesus Christ, look at the size of the thing. And that only bloodied her shirt? Am I wrong in thinking that there should be a thing-sized hole in the fabric and her spinal column if that horrible thing came burrowing through her at any point? Where did it crawl out of? I don’t care if it’s magical, the thing has a physical form, and the amount of body it would tear through to escape a human being would not be survivable.

  Anyway, Harry does the right thing and squashes the mean ol’ parasite in the most hilarious way possible.

Eeeeeehhhhhhh!
Eeeeeehhhhhhh!

So, despite the fact that a massive infection will probably kill Cybil in a few short days, we’ve “rescued” Cybil, setting the stage for the best ending.

  In case you’re wondering, this is the only time in the game when you can use an item on an enemy. Sure, the tentacles in the hospital might count, but they were stationary foes and you were given subtle indication of what to do (there was a spot of blood on the floor, you find a blood pack later on in the level, 2+2=4). Remember how earlier with K. Gordon’s house how I suggested that the developers thought you were stupid? Well, here they clearly fucking hate you.

  This also have some pretty dark moral implications for the hospital level. After all, all those people you killed with the parasites growing in their backs—sure, the next cutscene sorta shows that they weren’t cognizant of you or their actions against you, but this moment suggests that they were savable. Sure, there’s no way that Harry could have known that at the time, nor is there a way he could be 100% sure that the doctors and nurses weren’t terminally afflicted with the lumpy monstrosities, but that should be haunting, shouldn’t it? What if you found out that you had the capacity to save those people with just a humble helping of that red stuff? There’s no reason to even think you’d need all of it—look at that animation again—how much realistically ended up on Cybil?

  Once again, the greatest monster in this game turns out to be the fucking protagonist.

  So, having crushed the gigantic parasite, Harry rushes over to the woman who is probably hemorrhaging from every internal organ and immediately demands she snap out of it.

Cybil! Have I asked you about my daughter? Cybil! Stay with me! Did I tell you my thoery about what's happening? Cybil! Cybil! Cybil!
Cybil! Have I asked you about my daughter? Cybil! Stay with me! Did I tell you my thoery about what's happening? Cybil! Cybil! Cybil!

Our hero, folks.

  So, Cybil regains consciousness and Harry tells her not to talk and that he’ll take care of her. Lest you think that this is a sign that he isn’t a total dickweed, rest assured that he will be leaving this injured and semi-conscious woman on the rusty carousel the moment he’s finished whatever Pulitzer-level pontification Konami had written for him.

Sigh.
Sigh.

You know, it’s probably a good thing Lisa never came with him—he’d probably abandon her the second he could.

  The cutscene that follows is just the camera floating through the carousel while Harry and Cybil talk over it. It’s kind of cool in the sense that it appears to be a conscious style choice, but I really wouldn’t be shocked if they did it because it was faster to develop than animating both Harry and Cybil talking.

  Cybil, delirious from having a sizable monstrosity living in her guts, asks Harry why “they” took his daughter. This begs the question—what “they”, Cybil? Both Dahlia and Harry referred to a singular entity having kidnapped Cheryl, and that singular entity was Alessa. Supposedly, anyway. The question you should be asking is, “Why did she take your daughter”.

  Now, I may be being too harsh on Cybil thanks to the aforementioned parasite leaving a grapefruit-sized gap between her shoulder blades that should by every right kill her or make her wish she was dead, but I think this is indicative of the overall terrible quality of writing rather than Cybil being delirious from agony. Maybe I was wrong and there were multiple drafts, and this is something that slipped through from an earlier one where the cult was a much more obvious presence.

  Or maybe whoever wrote this tripe sucks at maintaining a consistent focus.

  Anyway, Harry responds with a bombshell—Cheryl’s not his biological daughter! Gasp! What a twist! Except for two things:

1) We played Origins, so this is not a fucking twist.

2) This is the first time we see Harry after you turn on you console with Silent Hill in the drive:

Hey, someone left a perfectly good wad of dough here!
Hey, someone left a perfectly good wad of dough here!

So this is not a fucking twist. We have Harry leaning down to pick up a swaddled baby on a country road somewhere. That’s literally the first time we see our protagonist and the first thing he’s doing. The trailer loads immediately after the various company logos have splashed across the screen. Why would you spoil that before you even get to the game if it’s supposed to be some big reveal?

  And before anyone tries to defend this decision, understand that there is only one other way to read Harry picking up Cheryl in that scene—he dropped her and both he and his wife are shocked—shocked—the girl is still alive.

She bit me!
She bit me!

But if you were spectacularly dense, this is the only in-game confirmation that Cheryl is not blood-related to Harry. Which makes the ultimate revelation that Cheryl and Alessa are two sides of the same coin really goddamn confusing and very left-fieldy. But whatevs, right?

  Harry goes on to say that he hasn’t told Cheryl that she was an abandoned road baby…

He may have put it slightly nicer than I did.
He may have put it slightly nicer than I did.

… but that she probably already knows. How he divines this information is never stated (crayon drawings?; night terrors?; looked you dead in the eyes and said with a voice like a thousand locusts’ wings “The night thanks you for your service, false father”?), and how she would realistically believe that she isn’t his biological daughter at the age of seven goddamn years old is just as curious (unless he’s so phenomenally stupid and she so phenomenally smart that it’s the only possible conclusion other than “half of a psychic murder ghost” she can make).

  To follow up with this, Harry tells us that “Nobody knew where she came from,” which I find questionable for several reasons. Where did you go to report her? Who did you ask? The police? Travis? A gas station employee? The local asylum? I mean, I’m assuming that the cult would be on the lookout for a freshly minted baby, so logically you couldn’t have asked around Silent Hill without a cultist saying “Oh, yeah, that’s mine. Thanks. Newborns and their wandering off.”

  As if we didn’t have enough of this weirdness, Harry tells that he and his wife didn’t have any kids and that his wife was sick and not getting any better, so they adopted Cheryl. But how? How did that work? I really don’t buy that they went through all the appropriate channels with this, considering that if the cult is as well-connected as they eventually become (that is to say ridiculous, make-believe Italian Mafia levels of well-connected), they’d be able to figure out that the same day that Travis stopped the cult from doing whatever that this knob found a baby just outside the city limits.

  What I’m getting at here—and is supported by the post-ending epilogue of Origins—is that Harry and his wife straight up stole a baby, right there on the side of the road, and told no one about it. After all, they named her Cheryl by the road, so I don’t think that “telling the authorities” was ever a part of the plan.

  Also, how easy would it be to adopt an abandoned road baby? Just, uh… just asking for a friend, is all.

  Harry then says that there must be a connection between Cheryl and this town, which then brings up the question of where the hell he and his wife found the girl in the first place. Because if it was near or just outside the city limits, it’s not particularly difficult to assume that her biological relatives are there. But whatever! Vagueness for the sake of whatever anemic narrative crutch you think will help you tell your garbage story is totally cool, y’all.

  Cybil asks him what he intends to do, and Harry announces that Cheryl is his daughter before letting out the most dispassionate, “I will save her. No matter what,” ever uttered. I did not put that period there. That’s how it was written and (kind of) how it was delivered (in a very stilted way). Well done, Silent Hill. Way to make Harry seem more annoyed with this whole thing than anything else.

I was wondering why this popped up at the beginning of the game.
I was wondering why this popped up at the beginning of the game.

  With that, the thrilling cutscene comes to an end and we are shunted into another one, but we will get to that in the next update. But for now, I feel I should be entirely clear about why I chose to save Cybil, especially since I wanted to approach the games like I had never played them before.

  Setting out, the idea was to provide information to you based entirely on what the games themselves told the player, rather than wasting time on the pointless speculation that surrounds this series and seems to make it impervious to criticism. But with this moment, I couldn’t really not rescue Cybil—I need the game to try to explain itself and this is the only real way to give it the best chance to. Even though it offers only a couple extra lines and nothing really in the way of not-already-spoiled critical exposition, it’s still more content than without doing the right thing and saving Harry’s “friend”.

  As such, update thirty was to present you with what most players would actually do when presented with an enemy—that is to say, kill it. If the stars aligned properly and someone actually had the red liquid in their inventory, how on earth would they know to use it? There’s no indication of what it is, or that you can even use an item on an enemy outside of the “use pipe on ugly face” sense of the word. Even during the Kaufmann sidequest, we’re never told what the red liquid is. There’s no user manual or diary or anything saying, “Hey, if infected with parasite, use this shit to clear that right up.” This is, without question, a really terrible design decision.

  And speaking of the Kaufmann sidequest, that’s another thing that’s pretty easy to miss that I did despite thinking a first time player might skip. I mean, I used the rationale that Annie’s Bar was mentioned in Origins, and I don’t think that’s too far off base, but a player who was doing this entry first would probably miss out on this, the convenience store, and the police station because there’s a lack of emphasis on these being enterable buildings.

  All the same, though, the game needs to give us the entire plot so I can spend more time ripping it apart. Even though the two things that contribute to the best ending are horribly counterintuitive and don’t really fit in with the rest of the game, I did them anyway. But I’m still going to hold the developers to task for making it so that, realistically, there is no fucking way to get the best ending on your first go. And even though they do cover the most information regarding the plot, it still ultimately ends up doing nothing to acquit the consistently boneheaded directions the story goes.

  I’m okay with games having multiple endings. I’m even okay with locking off certain endings until others are completed. I’m even okay with occasionally denying the player some information in one ending and providing a different point of view in another. But I am not okay with games that require obtuse rationales and one-off game mechanics to unlock the one ending where player is let in on what the bloody hell is going on, especially when that game is withholding plot information for the sake of drawing out its already convoluted and bullshit narrative. And the worst part about it is that the more I play, the more I am convinced that this game thinks itself so much smarter than it actually is.

  Long story short, fuck you, game. Fuck. You.

  Join me next time for Hilarity, Children, God Damn Hilarity.

BONUS: Harry keeps learning the funkiest dance moves:

Gotta Dance

Just so that you don't think I'm joking about the size of that parasite, have a slight Cybil vs. parasite comparison that may leave you feeling intensely uncomfortable as you imagine something of that size squirming around your chest:

Ew.

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

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