You’re probably wondering exactly what The Silent Hill Experience is; I’ll do my best to explain it. The Silent Hill Experience is a UMD movie – it’s not a game. It’s loaded with a variety of Silent Hill related content and caters to one specific group: hardcore Silent Hill fans. If you don’t consider yourself a member of that group, you can probably quit reading now because this disc isn’t for you.
When you start the disc, you’ll find yourself in the Silent Hill School, ripped straight from the Silent Hill universe. Using the d-pad to navigate, you make your way through the building, similar to how you navigate the more complex animated DVD menus. I’ll give you the grand tour. After taking a left down the hallway, you’ll find the biggest draw of the “Experience” which are the two comics included on the disc. The first one, which is to the left is entitled: “Silent Hill: Hunger”, and the second one, which you’ll find chapters of in various rooms down the hallway is “Dying Inside”. These aren’t simply comics where you hit the right trigger button to scroll, they’re just a step below cartoons, with camera pans, basic animation here and there, and some truly fantastic soundtracks. Hunger in particular, is extremely well-done, and while it has a bizarre story, it’s interesting and compelling. “Dying Inside” had a less realistic visual style and was difficult to follow. “Hunger” clocks in at just under an hour running time and “Dying Inside “is broken down into 5, 15 minute chapters. My only complaint with the presentation is that the text goes by pretty fast (and I’m a very fast reader). You can pause the disc and read at your leisure, but that interrupts the flow as well as the music.
If you head back to the main entrance, you’ll find the auditorium, which features a slideshow of small screenshots from the Silent Hill games. It’s probably the least interesting thing on the disc because there’s not much to it.
Down the hall to the right, in the music room you’ll find one of the disc’s best features - the music player, which includes songs from each Silent Hill game. Composed by Akira Yamaoka, the songs cover a wide variety of genres, and while most of the songs aren’t stuff you’d want to listen to while driving around in your car, they’re all quite good.
In adjoining rooms you’ll find interviews with the Silent Hill movie director Christopher Gans, and Composer Akira Yamaoka. There are a few other videos included in the compilation, including trailers for the four Silent Hill games and there’s an odd video called “USAGI” that’s got some creepy stuffed animals riding elevators or something… I don’t even know. A tiny, poorly formatted trailer for the upcoming Silent Hill movie is available as well.
There are also a couple of hidden features, "Ki-No-Ki" and "Fukuro." Both are music videos and both are extremely odd. I can’t even begin to explain them, but I will say that the "Fukuro" video is pretty graphic and personally I found it disturbing. These videos are accessed by pressing the X button when you see it flash in the bottom right corner while moving from one room to the next.
The Silent Hill Experience is a really cool concept, but its appeal is limited to a very small audience. Having the menus laid out in different rooms of the school may seem like a good idea on paper, but it’s a chore to navigate, and it’s easy to miss stuff. I had no idea there were four additional chapters to “Dying Inside” until I sat down to write the review and found them on accident. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re a big fan of Silent Hill, this is a great package; anyone that's into the series only casually will want to take a pass on The Silent Hill Experience.
4/11/2006 Aaron Thomas