Full and translated interview with Devin Shatsky and Andy Pang
XTP:It was in 1999 that Silent Hill marked the videogame industry, specially inside its genre – Horror. However many fans say that after Silent Hill 3, the same series lost its characteristic charisma. Do you think that Silent Hill Downpour will make the fans change their mind? Taking the reins of this title became, some way, a responsibility?
(Devin Shatsky, Konami) – I wish I could say the answer to this question would be yes, but the reality is no matter how good of a game Downpour is, there are a large majority of “fans” that will never give it a fair chance. Nostalgia has a way of skewing peoples views in an unrealistic manner. I think the best thing people can do is to try and take an objective point of view when playing Downpour and not constantly comparing it to its predecessors. If people can go into the game with an open mind, I think they’ll find it very enjoyable, and creepy too.
XTP: Still about the previous titles, in Downpour did you decide to adopt a new approach or you kept/recovered the same approaches of the previous games? What new things will Downpour bring to the future of the series?
(Andy Pang, Vatra) – We looked closely at all the previous Silent hill games and picked out what we felt worked best from all of them, so you’ll see a lot of familiar features in Downpour that you’ve seen before. For example, a few of the earlier games had static cameras, but the controls were a little clunky, so we’ve recycled the concept of static cameras to enhance the scary feeling that you’re being watched, but used them sparingly to support the mood and narrative. In terms of what’s new, Downpour is the largest incarnation in terms of gameplay surface area, tallying about five times larger than previous versions. A good many more doors within Downpour can be opened, leading to new areas and side quests that explore Silent Hill lore in a lot of detail, building on Murphy’s and the town’s back story.
XTP: The Story behind Murphy Pendleton’s visit to Silent Hill isn’t very clear yet. What can you unveil about this? How will the water element torment the protagonist’s otherworld?
(Devin Shatsky, Konami) – Obviously, I can’t get into details regarding Murphy’s backstory without introducing spoilers. However, I will say it doesn’t take long for the player to get thrown into Murphy’s world, and they will learn a lot relatively early in the game, but they still won’t have all the answers. The water element definitely plays a large role in not only the gameplay mechanics and design, but the storyline as well.
XTP: It has been already said that Murphy won’t be ‘arrested’ to the main story as he will be able to attend side quests. Is this a way to promote the exploration of a Silent Hill town with bigger dimensions, or it’s a way to give some dynamism to the plot?
(Andy Pang, Vatra) – Murphy’s certainly on the run, his main objective is to escape from the authorities, which also quickly becomes to escape the town. The side quests are not critical path, they’re areas of the game where the player has the opportunity to learn more about Silent Hill, Murphy, or simply gain rewards to make the town more bearable. So the side quests aren’t completely abstract from Murphy’s goal, they can support him with his ultimate goal to escape and discover himself. The neat thing with side quests are they’re designed to accommodate and cater a broad range of gamers tastes from action to exploration.
XTP: Can we expect a DLC or the experience will be all together in the disk?
(Devin Shatsky, Konami) – The entire experience will be all together in the disk. No DLC has been created for Downpour at this time. That being said, Downpour is a very large game and with the inclusion of our side quests, it will take quite a lot of time to completely play through the entire game, but it’s not mandatory. So less patient fans can stick straight to the core storyline and not engage in the side quests if they prefer.
XTP: Downpour’s gameplay seems to be very rich, both in terms of the approach used in the inventory system, as well as the diversity of possibilities shown. However, who had opportunity to test the demo pointed out some problems regarding the combat. Knowing that Konami/Vatra is gathering efforts, what will we be able to expect?
(Andy Pang, Vatra) – Combat is certainly a pillar of gameplay, but it’s never been the primary foundation for the game. The experience you get from fight or flight is much more important for us. So balancing this with regards to improvised weapon placement, variety and volume of monsters has seen more design attention. We’ve designed combat to be intuitive with its fair share of automated support, but if you’re an action gamer, combat can be mastered with training; all monsters have tells to look for when they’re strong or at their most vulnerable, weapons can be used ad hoc or with strategic intent. Following the release of the playable demos, we’ve been looking closely at the experience people have been having with combat and we already made a few improvements that help its look and feel.
XTP: We’ve seen, In Vatra’s official facebook page that Downpour would count with many languages and Portuguese would be included. Do you confirm?
(Devin Shatsky, Konami) – Yes, we can confirm Portuguese will be supported.
XTP: Recently you’ve referred the existence of ‘’Joke Items’’ just like it happened in previous titles. Can you say anything else about this? What kind of objects we will able to collect? Will they be related to past games references, like we had opportunity to see in the Jukebox, when we heard a Silent Hill 1 Music? If they are, what other kind of references we will be able to find?
(Devin Shatsky, Konami) – Well if I told you what they were, they wouldn’t be funny when you found them J. Let’s just say there are a lot of collectible objects and unlockables in the game, and some of them are funny.
XTP: Daniel Licht is certainly doing an excellent work regarding the Soundtrack, however what can we expect after the departure of Akira Yamoaka, who marked Silent Hill with his work? And do you confirm the participation of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and the band Korn (that caused some controversy)?
(Devin Shatsky, Konami) – Dan Licht is a very talented composer and his work has been nothing short of amazing for Downpour. He’s put together some excellent musical scores for this game, and yes, he has also included Mary Elizabeth McGlynn in a couple of the tracks. As for the Korn song, the only controversy it caused was with some of the narrow minded fans who don’t like change. I personally really like Korn, and the song they made for this game. However, people are entitled to their opinions and if they don’t like it they can feel free to bypass the opening montage.
XTP: To finish, what final words do you have for fans (specially the Portuguese ones), about Silent Hill Downpour?
(Andy Pang, Vatra) – Downpour has its own stand alone narrative, so it’s not tied directly to previous incarnations other than being set in Silent Hill. The addition of side quests has enabled us to diversify a little more than in previous titles, tailoring the game for a wide spectrum of play styles whilst encompassing the global theme of a survival horror. Listening to the fan base since Downpour’s announcement in 2010 has been a key part of development. Even though the game is now drawing close to completion, we continue to keep a close ear to the fans feedback and opinions with a mindset to tailor, tweak and tune the game to expectations. Whilst we don’t have a native Portuguese speaker here in the office, Google translate does a pretty good job, so keep the feedback coming.
Special Thanks: Wolfgang Ebert from Konami