Sole Remainder

I finished Lone Survivor two nights ago. I enjoyed it, and Byrne did a good job of condensing an authentic survival horror into a 2D space without losing atmosphere or psychological weirdness. I feel less AND more strongly about my earlier criticism. As you get further into the game, the SH references stop flowing so thick, which is good. However, there are a few (the item sound) that are always there, and they just stick out more and more as the rest of the game comes into its own. I appreciate nods but I just wish he’d gone his own direction, as the game is good enough to stand on its own.

(Coincidentally it does a LOT of things we did in Shattered Memories, which Byrne had not played at the time he made Lone Survivor.)

While the game is good and Twin Peaksy throughout, I feel in the end it is TOO ambiguous. I read in some interviews yesterday that the goal was really to make the player want to replay the game to see what else he missed, and to fully understand the story after two, or even three, cycles. A very noble goal, but this ambiguity (again in my opinion people) hurts that goal in two ways.

First, gameplay wise. The game never tells you what you should be done–obviously intentional, and obviously used to good effect. It’s survival, and if tutorials keep saying “Eat the Orange to recover 4 health points, 2 stamina points, and 4 water” well… that’s stupid. However, if I replay the game, I sure as hell want to know what I should do differently. There is an end-game tally screen that alludes to some stuff, but I’m still left in the dark on a lot of it. Am I supposed to starve until I can pull together a decent meal? Should I not be sleeping? No idea. And it would suck to replay the whole game just to get the same ending.

Second, story wise. In the end, all the ambiguity left me to “figure out” the story in my own head, using my own life experiences and the game moments that resonated with me (again – good! and intentional, according to those interviews). However, at a certain point don’t we want to know what the author wanted us to know/learn/feel? Yes, of course–thus the idea of replays. However, the story I got was SO sparse, that it just seems like a lot of effort to do that. I don’t have hanging loose ends to wonder about. There are characters I never met, so I don’t know I’m missing out on them. “My” version of the story is complete and coherant in my mind… Byrne’s seems so distant and convoluted (from my point of reference–not in reality) that it’s hard to get motivated for that replay. If there are 3 potential tracks through… Byrne would have been better served to tease each one for all players, so there is something left unresolved in each playthrough, I think.

Then again, I’ve heard Byrne is not a big fan of SH:SM. It’s possible we are both standing on opposite ends of essentially similar game experiences, partial to our own visions

Please don’t take this to mean I don’t like Lone Survivor. I very much enjoyed playing it, and it has a ton of very good ideas and is clever. He handles the “flow” of fear very well, throwing in some weird moments to make you smile. It’s also delightfully retro  in sensibility, mixing Japanese console and PC adventure together in a pleasing way. Fans of horror, adventure games, or indie storytelling  should check it out.


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  1. Anthony

    I agree with much of what you say here, except the game wasn’t “Twin Peaksy”.

    Go watch Twin Peaks. It’s awesome and you’ll love it, but not in the way you think.

  2. Jake

    Is it pricy?

  3. Adrian

    10 dollars, which as of right now is too pricey for me personally. As soon as it’s not, however, it’s the next game on my list to check out.

  4. Cj Melendez

    You should get a dialogue going with Jasper. He’s easily accessible on Twitter.


    Jasper Byrne is the most humble man on the planet!

  6. thisisnotmyrealname

    It’s funny that you should mention sounds, nods, and going in his own direction, I was thinking the same exact thing when I fired up the first Silent Hill the other day, those are clearly Resident Evil’s sounds on the title screen and when you start the game. The only thing that is missing is the voice saying “Resident Evil”

    I haven’t had the chance to play Lone Survivor yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. I love a good side-scroller, 2D or 2.5D. Kinda makes me want a Silent Hill side-scroller.

  7. Andrew

    Better than downpour.

  8. Hank

    I’m sorry to say that Lone Survivor was ALOT better than anything Silent Hill related you’ve touched recently (including you massacre of what once were Silent Hill 2 & 3) and alot more Silent Hill than Shattered Memories. Just my two cents.

  9. Monocyclar

    I agree with Hank. Lone Survival feels a lot more Silent Hillish than any post SH4 games.

    Tell me Tomm, do you know what ‘fear of the unknown’ means? Do you understand what made the older games so unique? Acting mysterious and dark as hell on videogame conventions like Brian and Devin did surely won’t make a better SH game.

    Instead of trying to make ‘your’ SH games as different as possible, try to actually include elements who made the older games unique instead of doing something too different. Too much innovation will just kill the series and make it lose it’s appeal and charm (Downpour is the perfect example)

    You think making radically different SH games will give a breath of fresh air to the series? I call this crap. No matter how you change the series, it will never sell more, it will never have 5 billion sales on it’s first day release (until you turn it into some FPS blockbuster).

    What the fans want is simply a game that feels like the first 4 games (well, except those nutcases on SH community who want a SH game that takes place in india in the year 3700), with a great story that doesn’t rips off SH2′s story.

    You know, Downpour could have been great. But your lust of change and ‘innovation’ gave the game an atmosphere that has absolutely nothing to do with Silent Hill. Where are the dark hallways? Where is the crass and the dirt?

    Where is the beautiful atmosphere and design the town with a terrifying otherworld to give a radical contrast? Where is the usual noise filter? Why did you try to make the town look like a Czech city instead of an American town like it’s supposed to be?

    Sorry Tomm but as far as it goes, you haven’t impressed me (and lots of old fans) at all. You have to try to get closer to the serie’s roots. Try to please the real fans instead of those 16 yrs old 9gaggin’ noobs who where introduced to the series with homecoming.

  10. Hank

    So you are not the producer of Silent Hill HD Collection (and basically the face of the Silent Hill brand nowadays)? Your answer to my post doesn’t make any sense? Where in my post did I mention Twin Perfect? Where did I say that you are not working hard? Do you wanna know HOW I found TP? I bought Hd collection in the hopes of it being as awesome as the originals. Then I tried to play it and realised it was so broken that it was unplayable. Voices was changed and I got so pissed off that I went to Gamestop demanding my money back. After I calmed down abit I went on the “internets” to see if anyone was as outraged as me and I found their videos. Now I am sure that you are a good person and probably a competent producer. All I said was that I don’t like the SH games you’ve worked on. Yes I read that you recomended it, I also read that you considered your version of “the story” superior which was not at all my opinion.

      • chuckles

        Even if you aren’t the producer of the HDC you are in charge of Silent Hill now, right? So some responsibility should go on your shoulders.

  11. Concerned Citizen

    If you watch the review instead of taking the word of random people, you will see that you are blamed directly for voice-acting direction and indirectly for not performing the job you described yourself as having in Whitney’s podcast, quoted in the review. (Also from the review, the line “Unless it’s Devin Shatsky”)

    If you weren’t the senior associate producer for the HDC and were not acting in that capacity, why are you listed as the senior associate producer? Choosing “credits” on the title screen shows that in about 5 seconds.

  12. Monocyclar

    Tell me Tomm, where did I say I wanted you to turn the series into a FPS? Have your read anything I wrote or you where too angry to read carefully?

    I said that the game is never going to sell more unless you turn it into a FPS game. It was being sarcastic because those kind of game sells well ( call of duty is a perfect example). Was it so hard to understand?

    Is it so hard to make a SH game with a town that looks like Silent Hill, dark locations, claustrophobia, bold and extreme but implicit horror?

    You did nothing of that in YOUR sh games as you so arrogantly call them (especially Downpour).
    Did it make the game sell more? No. Most of the older fans don’t even care about this game. Those old fans where replaced by kids who discovered the series with Homecoming or with the movie.

    Just think a second how happy you could make the fans by making a SH game that actually looks like SH.
    A game that feels nostalgic.
    Not necessarily out of any innovations, but at least keep the traditional SH atmosphere and horror intact. Make a good story line and that’s it. You have a good SH game.

    Also, stop thinking every person who doesn’t like you or ‘your’ games has been brainwashed by TP. It makes you sound like Augo, and this is not good.

    People don’t need Twin perfect to have an opinion. People are able to think by themselves.

  13. M1sta Wu1fy

    hey guys, what’s going on in this blo…

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