I wrote a small description a few years back on Silent Hill and since I still have a copy of that description I am just going to copy and paste, as I think my original thoughts are probably the best. I will also add a little to it to update it, so here it is:
I remember when this game first hit the shelves; no one I knew had an idea of what kind of game it was.
One day I was bored and decided to rent a game to pass the time. I saw this, I had played everything else in the store so what the hell. I brought it home turned off the lights and began to play. I made it to the hospital morgue, I turned the lights on, this game was creepy and one of the scariest games I had played. Being a big Resident Evil fan and having just played then new & popular Resident Evil 2.
I almost felt like I was cheating. I like both series, but both are distinctly their own brand of game and since that day I have made it a point to play every Silent Hill that gets released. No survival horror fan should be without this game.
If I had to do a comparison of the two games I would have to say that the only thing that makes Silent Hill like Resident Evil is the game mechanics & genre. The stories and level or creepiness have no comparison and I say this as a big RE fan. I am not a fanboy though so opinions will differ with them as they're kind of like a good Christian when it comes to belief and will not change there mind no matter what is said so I recommend that if its a review stating how much its like RE that's deterring you from playing this and your not a fanboy then ignore those reviews and give this a try.
However in all honesty if I was asked today about which game to play for a decent scary game it would be neither I would actually tell them to try the original Fatal Frame
The graphics for the time where just as good as any other game of the late 90's, but at the time with the graphics we had used something called imagination and kind of got enveloped in a game we where playing.
This was not a good idea for a first time through with Silent Hill though. Your main character is Harry Mason, the game starts off with Harry and his daughter driving along the highway and getting into an accident he then wakes up in the beat up vehicle to find his daughter Cheryl missing. Harry leaves the truck and finds that he's in a town somewhere unknown to him & begins to walk down the street, you take control and continue. Suddenly he spots a little girl, Cheryl, is that Cheryl? You as Harry control the character and run after her. You see her running down the ally and again you make chase. At the end of the ally you begin to walk down another ally between buildings, it starts getting dark and you can hear sirens in the distance, you use your lighter to see. Moving along you come across a bloody mess and then get attacked, then you try to run and realize you're stuck. Soon the creatures kill you. But don't worry this is just the start of the game. Welcome To Silent Hill.
As far as survival horror goes, I do not think another game ever scared us as much as this did, it was unexpected. It came out of nowhere and showed you what a console game was capable of in terms spooking someone. Today the game may seem less then what this review gives it credit for, but I remember this the way it was then and just how scary it was for everyone I knew whom played it back then.
The story was good, game mechanics where understandable (much like Resident Evil).
It had puzzles, bonuses for beating the game and 5 very different endings. Giving it massive replayability.
With all this said let me get on to my ratings.
The game's mechanics where much like Resident Evil of the time, which was a top shelf game itself making the controls and inventory easy to understand as most of us had played that game. The creepy atmosphere, good story and hard enough puzzles made for quite an enjoyable game. There may have been times when you did not want to see what was through a door but the reason for that was not the gameplay. This will defiantly get the A+ from me here.
The ambient sounds and music of the game not only fit well, it was well placed adding to an area rather then taking from it and was done specifically for areas in the game. This game soundtrack also became purchasable as a CD with only the music. A+
Well, today not so much maybe, but these where the shyte back then. if you replay this you'll think you imagined how good they where but its because in the last 10 years game graphics have made leaps forward, not steps, and because of this they do not seem that great. But comparing this to other games of the time though gives this an A+ and also for the great vids.
Replay Value A+
With 5 possible endings and one ending not even achievable unless you have done all the others and with events in game not even happening or only happening if you make certain decisions i.e. saving someone or letting them die. And bonuses added to your new game every time you play this has tons of replayability.
Learning Curve A-
Though you may find learning the controls easy, this game has many scenarios and things to do, which do not need to be done to finish the game and lots of puzzles which may be considered hard. But with time and if you pick up on hints and pay attention to what your reading you will get it in no time. A-