The Silent Hill franchise has been undergoing a few growing pains ever since Konami disbanded Team Silent, the developer of the first four games in the long-running horror franchise. The last game, Homecoming, was met with a mixed reception from fans due to its heavy emphasis on action and some misguided tweaks.
"Homecoming was a fairly combat-heavy game, which turned off certain fans," Konami producer Devin Shatsyky noted. "Silent Hill fans tend to prefer slower, exploration-based horror"--something developer Vatra Games is attempting to return to with the upcoming Downpour.
As with most of the previous Silent Hill games, there will be combat. However, it is definitely not the emphasis in Downpour. "You’ll want to run from enemies more than usual," Shatsky told the PlayStation.Blog. "You may be able to stand toe-to-toe with one enemy, but if you’re outnumbered, the best strategy is to run."
Another misstep of Homecoming was the reuse of iconic enemies from past games. While this kind of fanservice may be encouraged in other franchises, the psychological nature of the franchise made devoted Silent Hill players disappointed. "In Silent Hill games, the monsters are directly tied to the protagonist’s background, so the enemies in this game all have meaning to Murphy," Shatsky explained. "We won’t be shoehorning in Pyramid Head or the nurses just to do it. It wouldn’t make sense. That could be seen as a mistake of Homecoming — the developers paid fan service by introducing monsters from previous games, but it didn’t really make sense. The core fans called us out on that, and rightfully so."
Clearly, the developers have the best intentions with Downpour--and at the very least, the developers are far more aware of the core tenants that have made the franchise successful. However, the question still remains: can an unproven developer whose only shipped product has been Rush'n Attack: Ex Patriot really deliver a game that lives up to fan expectations? Given the game's lengthy delay and development shake-up, Downpour has a lot to prove.
Downpour is currently scheduled for a Q1 release.