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We’re back on the PS1 this week for a landmark achievement in gaming. Not only are we celebrating the revered first installment of the Silent Hill series, but we are also celebrating my first ever playthrough of the game! ‘First ever?’ I hear you longtime readers of my pen say. ‘But you are the king of survival horrors on the Play Station One!’ I hear you also say. Well, before I jump into any kind of review, it’s important to mention just how rare this game actually is and how hard it was to get my hands on it finally. This game easily goes for at least $80 AUD ($55 USD) secondhand and on retro gaming stores. The sheer scarcity of this game is a testament to its place in horror gaming. Not only is it a strong influence on future horror titles to come, but it is regarded by some as the penultimate culmination of all the survival horror titles before it during the genre’s boom on the PS1. Konami set out to create a Resident Evil of their own in 1999, and what they delivered was a completely unique and unforgetably terrifying experience that would birth a devoted cult following and some of gaming’s most memorable moments.


What the fog is going on in this town?

The player inhabits the character of widower Harry Mason who has come to the town of Silent Hill on a vacation with his daughter, Cheryl. But when the game starts, Harry crashes his car and when he wakes up he finds that Cheryl is missing. Thus begins Harry’s adventure (ordeal?) in the abandoned and ever-foggy town of Silent Hill… that is also overrun with monsters for no actual reason (they might be a manifestation of a nightmare, but who’s to say?).

The plot is simple, and thank Samael, because the lore and backstory that encompasses the town and explains why it is the way it is is thorough, deep, and multi-faceted. This is where the game shines in that aspect. Diary entries are far and few between to fill in story gaps, and it isn’t until the final third of the game that the player is clued into what is happening, other than the obvious fact that there is some kind of demon rite, culty aspect to the story. The fact that the game leaves the whereabouts of the people, the reason why the town is half-foggy half-iron-hellscape, and if any of the strange and abstract horrors are actually real, enhances the experience by prompting the player to fill in the gaps with their imagination and interpretation. As for the actual narrative, it serves more the purpose to take Harry to spooky locations like a demon-amusement park, an abandoned school, and a disgusting hospital.

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Non-descript monsters galore!

As is the way with survival horror, much of the game is built on exploration, puzzle solving and combat. Interestingly, Silent Hill does not challenge the player to manage inventory, likely due to Konami’s interest in distancing themselves from Capcom. And they do! While the game does feature puzzles and key item collection, it isn’t set up so much in the escape room way that Resident Evil is thanks to Silent Hill‘s semi-open world experience. Instead of a mansion to explore, the entire town of Silent Hill is your mansion, and within that is the aforementioned mini-mansions like the school and hospital. Since Harry has an entire town to be able to traverse, he is generally very fast moving, and so are his enemies.


The game is not a zombie game, it’s a supernatural horror, and as such the enemies are very not of this world. Harry comes armed with a variety of useless melee weapons and some uninspired and difficult to fire guns to fight against cockroaches, dogs, big-clawed moles, grasshopper lizards, and I think gorillas, that all keep him on his toes. Aside from the end boss and the possessed nurses, many of the game’s enemies and bosses are quite lazy in design and don’t really fit in with the world, which I felt detracted from the experience instead of enhancing it in the abstract horror way you’d expect of the psychological horror Silent Hill is founded on.


Drag me to hell and back, and then to hell again, and back one more time

The strongest aspect to the Silent Hill experience is the atmosphere and the various horror elements it is built on. Due to the limit of the PlayStation One’s processing power, and due to the exciting fact that this game is rendered entirely in-game (not a pre-rendered 2D background or asset in sight!), means that the player can only ever see a few metres ahead of them at any given time. This limitation is the explanation for the game’s ever-present fog and darkness and serves as such an unsettling source of atmosphere for the game that the town is synonymous with its fog now. In conjunction, Harry carries a radio with him that has the benefit of crackling softly when an enemy is nearby heightening the eeriness of the fog evermore.

Conversely, the hellscape that Harry is brought to again and again warps the town into a strange and bloody iron fortress that is so grotesque and filled with such disturbing imagery that it is hard to ever wipe the mind of the impacting PS1 graphics. But none of this would work so well if it weren’t for the soundtrack that is most times atmospheric and at the same time avant-garde in its atonality and use of unconventional instrumentation, leaving the player deeply rattled the whole way through. And the times that the game isn’t trying to drive the player insane with its mind-melting dimension swaps and spooky atmospheres, the title is home to some of the most beautiful and melancholic arrangements I’ve ever heard from a video game (Lisa Garland, I’m looking at you).

Good + ending

This game is good. It’s good plus. It’s great. It’s a classic. It has everything going for it, especially its unique use of supernatural and psychological horror that was relatively unseen until its debut in gaming and its visionary new game plus system combined with multiple endings leading to plenty of replayability. But it’s a very serious game. It is dark and grim and rooted in tragedy. Fans of the series know that the game does have a few hidden silly moments, but that was probably my least favourite aspect of the game. It is unrelenting in its depressive tone and the game feels hopeless, and for me at times it lead the game to feel unfun. Overall it was enjoyable and was a fantastic horror experience, and the fact that the game actually made me feel hopeless should be a massive plus but it did make the drive to finish the game difficult. Outside of this and my opinion on the uninspired enemies, this game is perfect and is a must-play for all horror officianados. Four Cthulhus out of five. More to be read here. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Review: A Plague Tale series



Asobo Studios A Plague Tale series consisting of Innocence (2019) and Requiem (2022) has been out for a while. Weirdly enough, I struggled to put my thoughts into words about these games until now. The way I see it, it’s impossible to talk about one without the other, so let’s dive in, shall we?

Plot and characters


The story of A Plague Tale games takes loose inspiration from the Black Plague times with a touch of the Hundred Years’ War. Amicia and Hugo are siblings on the run from soldiers while also fighting off infected rats, meeting allies along the way. A huge theme of Innocence is Amicia finding a solution for Hugo’s long-term sickness. As one would suspect, it turns out to be connected to the plague itself. Amicia also goes from being a disconnected older sister to his biggest protector throughout the game. 

Promotional poster, Amicia is facing away from the camera looking at a scenery of the river.
Source: Focus Entertainment

Hugo himself is more or less an annoying kid who wants his mother. This is frankly a realistic characterization as he actually speaks and acts as a child would act. Granted, him essentially walking into the Pope’s trap is frustrating but the climax needed to be set up somehow. I also enjoyed Lucas’s character as an alchemist apprentice as he proved to be one of the more consistent helpers to the duo. 


While Innocence ends on a hopeful note, with the characters on the verge of starting over somewhere new and the plague contained, Requiem shows this was a fake out. The sequel really puts Amicia through her paces. Her character is broken both physically and mentally to the point where she is barely recognizable. Hugo is more mature, although his insistence on this magical island that will fix the Macula issue is an immediate red flag. It’s not surprising the supposed safe haven turns into hell quite quickly. 

The generational curse where the protector and carrier story repeats itself means a tragic ending for our protagonists. This means it can feel fruitless to play the two installments as the whole point of Amecia’s journey is to protect Hugo at all costs, which proves to be impossible. Was it because of certain choices they made or just extremely unfortunate circumstances? Either way, I felt horrible for them both while playing Requiem, so at least it invoked a strong emotion in me. 



The series is a third-person stealth adventure with survival horror elements. Innocence has a clear-cut mechanic that relies on Amicia sneaking past or distracting threats with a certain number of puzzles to get past the rats. She is also extremely vulnerable, dying from one enemy hit, forcing the player to start all over. This is something Requiem updates, adding the opportunity for you to recover by running away from the enemy. 

It can be frustrating to have to restart a whole section because of one mistake. However, it does make the player think methodically about what the best approach is. I found the challenges a tad repetitive which stopped me from binge-playing the game, but that’s just my opinion. 

Overall thoughts


After taking this time to digest my feelings towards A Plague Tale games, I can still vouch for the amazing experience. The historical aspects are endearing, and the graphics are beautiful, as is the score. The scriptwriters knew what kind of emotional punches would hit the players just right and the voice actors really gave it all. It’s obvious a lot of love went into this project and I am grateful to have played it. 

Amicia is holding Hugo's hand and they are walking towards a foggy village.
Source: Steam

Regardless, there were certain aspects of the story that for me personally, did not sit right. I am not a massive fan of a tragedy that ends, well, in tragedy, especially with hints history will repeat itself again. The entire concept of the ‘greater good’ and the main characters sacrificing their happiness has been done before and while I can understand why they went that way, it also left me feeling a bit empty. 


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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The Last of Us: Episode 7: Left Behind



The Last of Us series is winding down with only three episodes left. Directed by Liza Johnson and written by Neil Druckmann, “Left Behind” adapts the video game’s DLC story of the same name. Ellie and Joel are hiding out in a basement, and Joel is suffering greatly from his stabbing. He orders Ellie to go back to Tommy and leave him behind, but she’s reluctant. The episode cuts to a flashback of the events that happened before Ellie and Joel met, thus beginning the sweet, tragic backstory of our young protagonist.

First Love

Ellie is stuck in a FEDRA boarding school in Boston. Her best friend and roommate, Riley, ran away a few weeks back and Ellie has been grieving the loss. She gets into fights with classmates and even sends one girl to the infirmary to get 15 stitches. Everything changes when Riley suddenly returns and reveals she joined the Fireflies, the organization FEDRA is training students to fight and kill.


Ellie disapproves of her friend’s choices, but there isn’t anything she can say that will change Riley’s mind. However, as a sort of apology for leaving without saying goodbye, Riley asks Ellie to sneak out for a few hours and join her on a little adventure. Ellie reluctantly agrees.

The two sneak into an abandoned mall that was once used to hoard infected. Now it is filled with wonders and surprises beyond the youths’ wildest dreams. The girls connect like they haven’t been separated for weeks, and their chemistry is sweet and wholesome. Riley gives Ellie an array of gifts, from a photo booth and carousel ride to an arcade with Mortal Kombat and a brand new pun book.

All Good Things End

The evening comes to a halt when Riley reveals the Fireflies are sending her to the Atlanta base and this is her last night in Boston. Ellie is furious and runs away, fully intended on returning back to her dorm room. But she only gets so far before caving into her feelings and running back to Riley. They reunite in a Halloween store, where they wear goofy wolf and clown masks (replicas of the game’s masks) and dance to Etta James’ “I Got You Babe.” They share a kiss and the moment is so delicate.

The abandoned mall

Everything is perfect until it’s not.

An infected emerges into the store and attacks the girls. Riley shoots it and Ellie stabs it to death, but neither are unscathed. The clicker bit both of them. At the moment, any and all hope has been destroyed.

The Verdict

HBO’s “Left Behind” is the show’s truest adaptation of the video game thus far. The show cuts out the parts of the video game where Ellie roams through a mall and evades hunters as she searches for a first aid kit for Joel. Instead, The Last of Us focuses on Ellie’s history with her best friend and first love, Riley.

Just as Bella Ramsey is the perfect casting for Ellie, Storm Reid is perfect as Riley. The actors’ chemistry maintains the game’s charm; their portrayal of teenagers after an apocalyptic pandemic is pure and authentic. For the first time, Ellie and Riley can act like the kids they are, not the soldiers every adult is training them to be. It is endearing to see their relationship come to life.

Ellie’s backstory mirrors Joel’s in that it emphasizes their experiences of loss and grief. The pair have formed a connection they cannot lose. It is because of this that, at the end of “Left Behind,” Ellie goes against Joel’s wishes and stays with him to help him heal. She had to leave one friend behind before and she refuses to do it again.

“Left Behind” deserves five out of five Cthulhu. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


There are only just a few episodes left in The Last of Us. Episode 8 releases Sunday, March 5, where we should expect to meet the notorious cult leader, Dave. Until then, check out the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.

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The Last of Us: Episode 6: Kin



Joel reunites with Tommy in The Last of Us‘ sixth episode, “Kin.” It was written by Craig Mazin and directed by Jasmila Žbanić, who take us to Jackson, Wyoming, a town with electricity, hot water and community. It’s a reality that feels like a dream. After worrying so long about where Tommy was, it turns out he is in better shape than Joel could have ever imagined.

Moving Forward

It’s been a few months since Henry and Sam’s deaths, and Joel and Ellie have finally reached Tommy’s rumored location. But it’s not just Tommy who’s doing well for himself; his younger brother has a new wife, Maria (Rutina Wesley). Together they help run the whole town, taking turns doing patrol and other maintenance that keeps the town running. The Last of Us‘ set design of Jackson is akin to the second video game; in the first game, Tommy and Maria were still working on the getting the town running and nowhere near as accomplished. This minor adjustment adds a new immersive experience to the show, and emphasizes Joel’s qualms about how competent he is to take care of Ellie.

The town of Jackson, Wyoming

While Joel and Tommy reconnect, Maria brings Ellie into her home and let’s her take a shower and gives her a brand new period cup as a present. It is with Maria that Ellie discovers Joel had a daughter who died at the beginning of the outbreak in 2003.


Joel and Tommy reconnect in a bar, where Joel begins to wonder if Ellie would be better off finishing the route with Tommy in his place. Joel confesses that Ellie is immune and needs to reach a medical center in Colorado. Joel recounts everything he’s done wrong, how he’s not equip to take Ellie any further and protect her. He asks Tommy to do the journey for him, but Maria is pregnant and Tommy is reluctant to take such a drastic risk. After more pleading, Joel finally convinces Tommy to take Ellie. A new plan is set for the next day.

Ellie, however, overheard this conversation between the two brothers and is disappointed with Joel. He’s the only person he trusts, and he betrayed her. Ellie argues that she “is not Sarah,” to which Joel counters, “I sure as hell ain’t your dad.” Whether she likes it or not, she’s going with Tommy.

Tommy and Joel reunite

Changing Places

The next morning, Ellie sits in her bedroom and is greeted with disappointment when Tommy opens the door and asks if she’s ready to leave. She reluctantly says yes, and they head to the stables where Joel is prepping a horse. He tells Ellie that she should have a decision in the matter, and she immediately chooses Joel. They move forward to Colorado.

The duo eventually reaches an abandoned university in Colorado and discover the Fireflies are now located at a medical center in Utah. Suddenly, an ambush hits. Joel and Ellie are able to fight their attackers off, but one manages to stab Joel in the stomach before falling to his death. Ellie helps Joel onto the horse and they ride far enough away to safety. However, Joel can only go so far before he succumbs to the stabbing and falls off the horse. The episode ends with a horrified Ellie, trying in desperation to resuscitate him, but he cannot wake up.

The Verdict

Just like the video game, HBO’s The Last of Us is more than just a show about “zombies” or violence. It implements empathetic writing and various cinematic elements to study personhood and the human connection in dire times. Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin do a phenomenal job writing scripts for characters fans can connect to and love no matter how long they exist on screen.

Joel and Ellie reach Utah

Bill and Frank, Henry and Sam, and Tommy and Maria only exist in one or two episodes. Yet their impact is enormous, shaping the world in a way our two main protagonists could not do alone. While in theory they may just be supporting characters, The Last of Us finds a way to make them more than that. They are characters that stick with you long after they’re gone.

The filmmaking also cannot go unnoticed. From the intricate set designs to the natural outdoor world, the camera continues to bring the beloved video game to life through intimate still shots, timely cuts and a gorgeous score to support emotional scenes. The show also knows when to have fun with itself by including little Easter eggs, like when Ellie yells at a girl staring at her (a girl who looks quite similar to Dina in The Last of Us 2.) This is a rather slow part in the game (minus the various shootout sequences), and there is little to no action in episode six. This further proves The Last of Us‘ strength of a well-made series that benefits from creative liberties and changes, while still staying true to the source material. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Until next time, check out the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.


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