Silent Hill: Downpour

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Silent Hill: Downpour is the latest Silent Hill video game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, developed by Vatra Games and published by Konami. Downpour marks the eighth installment in the series, and is the third seventh generation Silent Hill game after Silent Hill: Homecoming and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Downpour has no connection to previous games; It is a stand-alone game, much like Silent Hill 2. Downpour also takes place in a previously unexplored south-eastern region of Silent Hill. It is also the first Silent Hill game to be in 3D (with a 3D compatible television).

Plot

Murphy Pendleton, a convicted felon, is the protagonist of Silent Hill: Downpour. He has been incarcerated for several years at Ryall State Corrections Facility after stealing a police cruiser. Seeking revenge for unspecified reasons, Murphy strikes a deal with George Sewell, a corrections officer at Ryall, to secretly grant him access to a sequestered inmate, Patrick Napier, in the prison shower room. After reminding a confused Napier that they used to be neighbors, Murphy savagely beats him. The scene cuts to black before Murphy lands the finishing blow.
Sometime later, following a riot at Ryall, Murphy and a few other inmates are scheduled for transfer to Wayside Maximum Security Prison. They are accompanied on the transport bus by Anne Cunningham, a Wayside corrections officer who appears to have a particular interest in Murphy. The bus route passes just outside of eastern Silent Hill. Here, the road suddenly drops off into nothingness, forcing the driver to pull on the wheel, which sends the bus hurtling through the road barriers and down a hill.

Murphy regains consciousness in a forest next to the wrecked bus and decides to make a run for it. Anne finds him in the wilderness and attempts to apprehend him, but slips into a deep ravine, barely managing to hold on. Here, the player, as Murphy, can choose to either leave her or assist her. Despite the player’s choice, she falls into the chasm.

Murphy continues on, winding up on the outskirts of Silent Hill, where he meets Howard Blackwood, an eerily calm mailman. During their brief, cryptic conversation, Howard tells Murphy that the roads are all out and that the best way to leave town is via the nearby sky-tram. Suddenly, Murphy glimpses a mysterious, wheelchair-bound creature in the window of a nearby house. Apparently not seeing the figure, Howard excuses himself to deliver the rest of his mail.

Somewhat confused, Murphy makes his way to the abandoned Devil’s Pitstop diner. In the kitchen, Murphy discovers a gas leak and tries to turn it off, but accidentally starts a fire in the process. He activates the sprinklers to put out the fire, but as the sprinklers fill the room with water, the diner transforms into a water-filled hell. Exploring this new environment, Murphy encounters the Void, which rapidly sucks in everything around it. Realizing he can’t fight the entity, Murphy flees and eventually finds himself back in the normal version of the diner.

Murphy surveys the area surrounding the diner and enters an abandoned house, finding another escaped prisoner, Sanchez, attacking what seems to be a helpless woman. Murphy intervenes, but the “woman” turns out to be a Screamer, which immediately kills Sanchez. Murphy attacks the monster and defeats it. Although a little shaken, he cautiously explores further, eventually finding a change of clothes and a police badge. The badge is decorated with a black mourning band, indicating that its owner is dead. After changing out of his prison attire, Murphy plays the arcade-puzzle Jail Break and gets a ticket for the sky-tram, which takes him to the Devil’s Pit gorge in southeastern Silent Hill.

There, Murphy meets JP Sater, a depressed former tour guide for the Devil’s Pit’s various attractions and tours. JP tells Murphy of an old railcar train in the mines that can take him into the main town. In the caverns, Murphy discovers a newspaper article detailing a train accident in the Devil’s Pit that resulted in the deaths of eight children, implicating JP’s on-the-job drinking as the cause. Soon after, Murphy finds a suicidal JP hanging over a lookout rail, and the player is given the choice to either console him or taunt him. Again, despite the player’s decision, JP jumps to his death. Murphy finds and powers up the railcar, but his ride through the mines turns into a hellish tour populated by monsters that try to kill him. The train derails, and Murphy loses consciousness.

Murphy awakens near an exit, but runs into a bloodied Anne, whose only concern appears to be apprehending him. Despite Murphy’s pleas to cooperate, Anne remains resolute. While making the arrest, Anne inspects his person and finds the mourning badge. She quickly becomes distraught, apparently having known its previous owner. In a fit of rage, she nearly shoots Murphy, claiming that people like him do not deserve to live, but cannot bring herself to do it and collapses into tears instead. Anne tells him to leave her alone, to which Murphy reluctantly agrees.

Murphy wanders Silent Hill’s main streets and encounters more of the town’s creatures. When it begins raining, he takes refuge in the abandoned Hillside apartment building, where a nearby radio picks up broadcasts from DJ Bobby Ricks. Some of the broadcasts are song requests specifically made out to Murphy; others are quiet pleas for help from anyone who’s listening. When the rain dies down, Murphy begins searching for Ricks and runs into Howard Blackwood. He tells Murphy that the radio station is located in the Centennial Building, before walking off again into the fog.

Murphy locates the building, and finds his parole papers attached to the entrance, which causes a flashback of Ryall Prison. Murphy and Sewell appear to be having a private conversation regarding their deal to murder Patrick Napier, the sequestered inmate from the opening scene. Officer Frank Coleridge, spots the two talking and calls Murphy over to hand him his files. Coleridge asks Murphy about the nature of his conversation with Sewell, but he dodges the question. Coleridge warns Murphy to use caution when dealing with Officer Sewell, as his deals tend to not work out so well for the other participants. It becomes clear that Coleridge has made a substantial effort to help Murphy receive an early release from Ryall because he believes that Murphy is a genuinely good person. Coleridge also says that he is confused as to why a smart man like Murphy would do something as reckless as stealing a police car for no reason. The flashback ends, and Murphy continues his search for DJ Ricks inside the building.

While ascending the floors of the Centennial Building, Murphy has another vision of Ryall Prison. In this vision, Murphy appears to be having a conversation with Officer Sewell in his office, having decided to go through with the plan to kill Patrick Napier. During their exchange, Sewell reviews the details of their agreement and ominously tells Murphy, “You owe me one.” Sewell also implies that Murphy stole the police cruiser and got himself arrested on purpose in order to confront Patrick Napier in prison, but his reason why isn’t divulged. Murphy leaves the room, and the vision dissipates.

Murphy finds Ricks, who initially behaves in an unusually casual manner, but soon begins speaking in hushed tones, as if somebody or something is listening in. Ricks reveals that he has been operating the radio station for a very long time, waiting for help. He tells Murphy of a boat docked at the marina, that they can both use to escape the town, but goes on to say that they must first find the boat’s keys, which were apparently stolen by an intruder. When Murphy suggests hot-wiring the boat, Ricks says that it won’t work, as the town has “rules” that must be adhered to. Before they can leave, Anne shows up, once again determined to arrest Murphy. However, as an apparent punishment for Ricks breaking the “rules,” Screamers ambush the studio and kidnap both him and Anne. Murphy is left all alone, as the building shifts to a prison-like Otherworld. Murphy flees the Void, encounters the Wheelman again, and ends up falling off the exterior of the building’s clock tower.

Waking up on a bench back in the “fog” world, Murphy once again meets Howard, who hands him a letter requesting his presence at St. Maria’s Monastery. Confused and frustrated, Murphy refuses to accept the letter, but Howard explains that it isn’t about what he wants (suggesting that Howard knows more about the mysterious town than he initially let on). Given no other choice, Murphy accepts the letter and continues on. He passes through the stormy town and arrives at the broken-down monastery, where a nun cryptically tells him, “You were the only family we were able to locate.” She asks Murphy to look around the place, and to come to the building’s morgue whenever he’s ready.

Murphy finds the monastery in a dilapidated state, and must take an alternate route to the morgue. On the way he encounters a small boy through the window of a locked door. The boy refuses to unlock the door because he believes that Murphy is the Bogeyman, as he’s been told by an unnamed crying girl. The only way Murphy can prove he isn’t the Bogeyman is by memorizing a poem that the children of the monastery’s orphanage recite to make the Bogeyman disappear. As he treks through the monastery to gather the pieces of the poem, flashbacks reveal that Murphy’s son Charlie was drowned in a lake a few years prior, which explains the recurrent theme of water in Murphy’s Otherworld. At this point it has also become clear that Patrick Napier was the one responsible for his son’s death — which ultimately spawned Murphy’s strong feelings of disdain for child molesters and murderers. In the present, Murphy returns to the locked door where he originally met the young boy. The real Bogeyman appears in the room and slowly approaches the boy. Murphy desperately struggles to recite the poem, but the Bogeyman kills the boy before he can complete it. The Bogeyman then drops the boy and places a finger to the mouth of his mask, shushing Murphy, as he concludes the poem.

The door unlocks and Murphy approaches the child’s body, now in the form of his son Charlie. He mourns his death, but is interrupted by a young girl who accuses him of killing the boy/Charlie. She runs, and Murphy gives chase, scared that the Bogeyman will get her too. The monastery transforms into the Otherworld during the chase, forcing Murphy to dodge the Void and at one point even the Bogeyman himself. Eventually Murphy winds up in the morgue with the nun from the entrance standing next to a covered gurney. Murphy tells her that there has been a mistake, and that he buried his son years before. The nun replies that everyone grieves in their own way, and removes the sheet from the gurney, revealing a “dead” Bogeyman underneath. Angered, Murphy cries that the monster isn’t his son; it’s a murderer. But the nun insists that Murphy accept him as his own, calmly informing him of the perils of revenge and the path that Murphy has set himself upon by pursuing it. Murphy admits that what he did to Patrick Napier did not solve anything, but still attempts to rationalize his behavior. She simply says that the answers are right in front of him if he chooses to look.

Murphy notices a key with a silver keychain labeled “freedom” around the Bogeyman’s neck, matching the description of Ricks’ missing boat keys. The nun tells him that they are his if he wants them, but only if he accepts the Bogeyman as his own. Murphy takes the keys, but the Bogeyman springs to life and attacks Murphy. They are both transported to a forest area by a lakeshore, where they engage in battle. Murphy gains the upper hand and defeats the Bogeyman with its own hammer. He then finds himself back in the morgue with the Bogeyman dead and unmasked on the gurney, its face alternating between that of Murphy’s and Napier’s. Charlie appears and congratulates his father on defeating the Bogeyman. Having accepted that his past actions did nothing to assuage his guilt, Murphy tells his son that it doesn’t matter and that it won’t bring him back, to which Charlie comforts him by saying that it isn’t his fault.

In a moment of clarity, Murphy apologizes to Napier (now in the form of the Bogeyman), and closes his eyelids. This causes the image to dissolve, leaving only the keys behind. Murphy runs his hand over the engraved word “freedom,” before leaving the morgue. Now with the boat keys, Murphy makes his way out of the monastery through the sewers and arrives at the marina. He starts Ricks’ boat and departs from Silent Hill, but Anne soon appears behind him holding a gun to his head, ordering him to turn the boat around and return to Silent Hill. She tells him that the town showed her things, that it knows her, and that the town won’t release either of them until they settle their unfinished business. Murphy refuses to return, and tells her, “You may as well shoot me.” Anne complies and pulls the trigger.

A flashback shows a meeting between Officer Sewell and Murphy back at the prison, sometime after Murphy’s confrontation with Napier. Sewell reminds Murphy that he set up the meeting between him and Napier and looked the other way; and that it is now time for Murphy to return the favor. Sewell tells Murphy that his job is to kill an unnamed individual, assumed to be an inmate, who Sewell claims “deserves it.” He then explains that there will be a riot at the prison that evening, allowing Murphy to slip away to the showers, where he will find this person.

Murphy wakes up inside a prison cell in Overlook Penitentiary, with the Wheelman sitting right outside the bars watching him. After a few seconds he wheels off and the doors open, allowing Murphy to explore the prison. He finds a note addressed to him, telling him to meet someone in the showers. Progressing through the prison and fighting enemies, Murphy eventually makes his way to the showers. Inside are four crime scene markers, indicating a pool of blood, a prison shank, the mourning police badge, and a bag of crime scene evidence. After examining all four, a voice calls out from behind him followed by the glow of a flashlight. Murphy approaches the light which shuts off as soon as he nears it, and blood begins seeping underneath the doors. Opening them, Murphy finds another shower section with a bagged body lying in the center of the floor.

As Murphy approaches the body, the world around him transitions to the Otherworld. Murphy races through it while avoiding enemies and the Void yet again. He eventually reaches a large door with two giant Scales of Justice hanging before it. Murphy places the prison shank, the bag of crime scene evidence, and the mourning badge on one scale and the doors open. Inside, surrounded by platforms and prison cells, is a much larger version of the Wheelman who has been haunting Murphy throughout the game. The monster quickly becomes hostile and Murphy must run around the room, pulling out the monster’s giant life support tubes to defeat it.

After the Wheelman is defeated, Murphy finds himself back in the showers with the feeble version of the monster’s body lying dead at his feet. Anne enters, and is horrified at what Murphy has done. Confused, Murphy looks down and finds in place of the Wheelman’s body, the body of Frank Coleridge, the friendly police officer from Ryall who had persistently warned Murphy about socializing with Sewell. A flashback reveals that when Murphy made his way into the showers the night of the prison riot, armed with a prison shank hidden behind his back, Frank Coleridge was the one waiting for him. Coleridge tells a visibly distraught Murphy that Sewell was supposed to meet him there, before noticing that Murphy is concealing something behind his back. Sewell enters the room and tries to convince Murphy to kill Coleridge and uphold his end of the bargain, while Coleridge attempts to talk Murphy into dropping his weapon.

In the present, Anne reveals that Coleridge was her father. She tells Murphy that he was a good man and that she idolized him, even following in his footsteps to become a cop. After Frank Coleridge was attacked the night of the riot, he fell into a vegetative state; having to rely on a wheelchair and life support until the day he died. Anne is unaware of Sewell’s involvement in her father’s beating, so she tells Murphy that every time she looked at her father in his deteriorating physical state, she saw a monster: Murphy. Murphy then transforms into the Bogeyman before her as she describes how she had to pull strings, call in favors, and do “sick things” in order to have Murphy transferred to the prison where she worked, presumably so that she could kill him herself. After finishing her speech, Anne shoots Murphy, who then pursues her in his Bogeyman state.

Depending on whether the player survives this encounter or not, along with the moral choices they have made throughout the game and whether or not they decide to kill Anne or spare her, the conclusion of the battle and Murphy’s fate varies.

Endings

The game has 6 possible endings, but only 5 are available on the first playthrough. The ending obtained depends on 3 factors. One is the “moral score”, increased or decreased depending on the moral choices made during gameplay, and how many monsters the player has killed. The second factor is the decision regarding Anne’s fate in the game’s finale. The third consists of the player surviving the finale, since dying only rewards the player with the Reversal ending. After the game’s completion a new sidequest is added, Digging Up the Past, and completing it rewards the player with the Surprise ending.

Forgiveness: Bogeyman Murphy disarms Anne and raises his Great Hammer above her head in an attack stance. After the player decides to spare her, Bogeyman Murphy drops the hammer at her feet and walks away. A flashback to the night of the riot at Ryall Penitentiary reveals that Murphy refused to kill Officer Frank Coleridge. Sewell responds by incapacitating Murphy and severely beating Coleridge while taunting Murphy for his inability to finish off Patrick Napier, explaining how he was forced to murder Napier for him. Sewell then stabs Frank Coleridge with the shiv and radios for backup, with the intent of framing Murphy for the crime. In the present, Murphy reverts back to his human form and Anne approaches him. Murphy apologizes, claiming that it was his fault that Frank was murdered and, after realizing that Murphy is innocent, Anne forgives him. The two embrace, and reappear at a serene lakeshore, back in the real world. The police contact Anne via radio and ask her for her location and whether or not she knows the whereabouts of Murphy Pendleton. Anne lies for Murphy and tells them that he died in the accident. Murphy asks if she is going to be okay, but Anne tells Murphy that he’d “better go” before the police arrive. Murphy departs, and the scene ends with Anne looking out over the lake at the clear skies after the storm. (Achieved by sparing Anne with a positive score)

Truth and Justice: Bogeyman Murphy disarms Anne and raises his Great Hammer above her head in an attack stance. After the player decides to spare her, Bogeyman Murphy drops the hammer at her feet and walks away. A flashback to the night of the riot at Ryall Penitentiary reveals that Murphy refused to kill Officer Frank Coleridge. Sewell responds by incapacitating Murphy and severely beating Coleridge while taunting Murphy for his inability to finish off Patrick Napier, explaining how he was forced to murder Napier for him. Sewell then stabs Frank Coleridge with the shiv and radios for backup, with the intent of framing Murphy for the crime. In the present, Murphy reverts back to his human form and Anne approaches him. Murphy apologizes, claiming that it was his fault that Frank was murdered and, after realizing that Murphy is innocent, Anne forgives him. The two embrace, and reappear next to the crashed bus, back in the real world. The sky is still cloudy and raining. Murphy tells Anne that he should leave before the police arrive on the scene, stating that he has somewhere to be. Anne thanks Murphy for telling the truth before he departs. Murphy walks off towards the lake, a possible implication that he commits suicide. Later on, back at Ryall Penitentiary, Anne, having figured out that Sewell was the individual truly responsible for her father’s death, confronts him in his office so that the two can “talk.” She appears to be holding a loaded gun behind her back, as the scene fades out, implying that she took her revenge and murdered Sewell. (Achieved by sparing Anne with a negative score). According to Tomm Hulett, Sewell stating that Murphy couldn’t kill Napier was a script error, and that in this ending, Murphy was supposed to have followed through with the murder of Patrick Napier.

Full Circle: Bogeyman Murphy disarms Anne and raises his Great Hammer above her head in an attack stance. After the player decides to execute her, he crushes her head with his hammer, instantaneously killing her. A flashback to the night of the riot at Ryall Penitentiary reveals that Murphy accepted Officer Sewell’s deal and murdered Frank Coleridge after all. In the present, Murphy, with a shiv in hand, looks down at a now dead Anne Cunningham lying next to her deceased father on the floor of the washroom. Murphy repeatedly screams “No!” and grabs Anne’s gun from beside her body, places it to his head, and pulls the trigger. Murphy wakes up inside the prison cell in Overlook Penitentiary, with the Wheelman sitting right outside the bars watching him, just like before. The voices of the people Murphy has met in Silent Hill ring in his head. Once again, the Wheelman wheels off, but this time Murphy begs it to stop. The cell doors open just like the last time. Murphy stands before the open gate, having accepted that he now shares his fate with the others he has encountered in Silent Hill, doomed to spend an eternity in the town as a permanent resident. (Achieved by killing Anne with a positive score)

Execution: Bogeyman Murphy disarms Anne and raises his Great Hammer above her head in an attack stance. After the player decides to execute her, he crushes her head with his hammer, instantaneously killing her. The scene cuts to the day of Murphy’s execution in prison for the murder of his son, Charlie, in retaliation for Murphy’s wife seeking sole custody of him following their divorce. After being convicted of murdering Officer Frank Coleridge, his execution sentence was expedited. Sewell appears, handling Murphy’s paperwork and supervising the execution. Sewell asks Murphy if he has any last words, to which he responds “I’ll see you in hell… Cupcake.” Murphy is given a lethal injection, and his heart-rate flatlines as he loses consciousness on the table. (Achieved by killing Anne with a negative score)

Surprise!: No matter how the final confrontation between Murphy and Anne ends, the scene cuts to Murphy digging a tunnel out of prison with a spoon. He tunnels his way into a dimly lit room. After a moment, the lights flicker on and the cast from Silent Hill: Downpour, as well as a few major characters (and two monster nurses) from previous Silent Hill entries yell “Surprise!!!” and confetti falls from the ceiling. Murphy laughs and affectionately says “Aww, you guys…!” Pyramid Head slowly approaches a table in front of Murphy with a large birthday cake on it in, and slices it with his Great Knife. Murphy smiles heartily. (Achieved by completing the Digging Up the Past Sidequest, and finishing the game on a second play-through)

Reversal: Anne shoots and kills Bogeyman Murphy. She then wakes up in a cell within Ryall State Penitentiary. This ending appears to be a recreation of the intro scene, but this time, Anne takes the place of Murphy (prison attire included), and Murphy takes the place of Sewell. Anne seems disoriented and confused, and Murphy, as Sewell, tells her that he is sorry to see her go, before authorizing her transfer. (Achieved by dying in the final confrontation with Anne)

Gameplay

Downpour, being a Silent Hill game, is a survival-horror adventure in which the player explores detailed and abandoned environments, solving puzzles, fighting away monsters and facing psychological themes along the way. Players control Murphy Pendleton in a third-person perspective. As a horror title, Downpour will also feature several tense and scary moments, such as windows rattling by themselves or a flock of crows appearing out of nowhere.

Combat has returned to the series, which was purposely kept absent in the last installment to make the player feel less empowered. However, Murphy can only carry one firearm weapon and one melee weapon with him, which is more similar to that of a real-life situation. In addition to combat, Murphy’s weapons will also gradually deteriorate and break, which was seen in Silent Hill 4’s golf clubs and Origin’s weapon system. Murphy’s clothing will become bloodier, and he will limp to indicate his health.

Downpour features a “decision making” system, in which the player has to make certain decisions which deal with their morals. The player’s decisions affect Murphy’s morality and ultimately the ending, although these decisions can be counterbalanced by choosing to leave or execute downed enemies. There are also optional side quests that the player can do to avoid linearity and to flesh out the plot as town’s history.

The game also features a real time “weather” system, a first in the series. Every so often, Silent Hill will rain and this will alert the player that danger is approaching; the player can attempt to fight away the danger, or run away and hide in a nearby building.

It is notable that the game has more of an emphasis on Silent Hill’s natural world. For example, whereas Silent Hill 3 is set in heavy industrial settings such as shopping malls, subways, hospitals and amusement parks, Downpour explores Silent Hill’s mountainous area, forests, and streams. Even the town itself displays more plants and vegetation, such as weeds sprouting out of sidewalks and shrubs hanging along fences in Silent Hill’s suburban alleyways. However, this isn’t to say that Silent Hill doesn’t feature an industrial hell, which Murphy will explore from time to time.

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