Shout! Factory & Eleven Arts Anime Studio Bring ‘A Silent Voice’ Home

The tender, captivating anime feature A Silent Voice will make its home entertainment debut in the U.S., as ELEVEN ARTS Anime Studio and Shout! Factory release both the English subtitled and dubbed versions on Blu-ray combo, DVD and digital on April 2. Directed by Naoko Yamada (Liz and the Blue Bird) from a screenplay by Reiko Yoshida, the film won the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, as well as Best Film and Best Screenplay at the Tokyo Anime Awards, and the Japanese Movie Critics Award for Best Animation.

Based on the critically acclaimed manga by Yoshitoki Oima, A Silent Voice is a gorgeous coming-of-age drama with a powerful message about bullying, depression and forgiveness. When a deaf elementary school girl named Shoko is forced to transfer to a new school after a boy named Shôya constant bullies her, Shôya suffers over the consequences of his guilt for years. Upon entering high school, Shôya finally decides he must find Shoko, to make amends for what he did in elementary school and to become her friend. Along the way, he meets new and old faces, and struggles with many complicated relationships and feelings.

Animation Magazine

New Clips: ‘A Silent Voice’ Echoes Back in US Cinemas

ELEVEN Arts and Fathom Events are bringing Naoko Yamada’s acclaimed coming-of-age anime drama A Silent Voice back to U.S. theaters at the end of the month. The hit Japanese film is a moving depiction of the struggles of adolescence told through its memorable characters and beautiful animation. In addition to the full feature, attendees will view a short feature and interview with the dub voice of Shoko Nishimiya, Lexi Cowden, from a deaf community group, where she talks about her experience and how it relates to the film.

Based on Yoshitoki Oima’s manga of the same name, and the plot centers on a deaf girl, Shoko Nishimiya. After transferring into a new school, Shoko is bullied by the popular Shoya Ishida. As Shoya continues to bully Shoko the class turns its back on him. Shoko transfers and Shoya grows up as an outcast. Alone and depressed, the regretful Shoya finds Shoko to make amends.

A Silent Voice comes to more than 500 U.S. cinemas on Monday, January 28 (in Japanese, subtitled in English) and Thursday, January 31 at 7:00 p.m. local time (dubbed in English). For a complete list of theater locations, visit www.FathomEvents.com.

Animation Magazine

Daily News Bytes: ‘A Silent Voice’ Tix on Sale, ‘Breadwinner’ Wins Strong Reviews, & More

daily-news-bytes-150

TICKETS: ‘A Silent Voice’ in US Theaters Oct. 20
ELEVEN ARTS Anime Studio’s presentation of the moving anime feature from Naoko Yamada is confirmed for 51 cinemas across the country — from San Diego to New York City and a goodly variety of cities in between.

‘The Breadwinner’ Toronto Review: Vibrant Animated Movie May Force Oscar Attention
Debuting at TIFF, the Cartoon Saloon feature set in war-torn Afghanistan is getting rave reviews that could bring helmer Nora Twomey (who co-directed The Secret of Kells) into the Best Animated Feature race again, despite the questionable shift in Academy voting rules.

Facebook to Spend $ 1 Billion on Original Content for “Watch” Through 2018
Tubefilter sifts the news and rumors about Facebook’s aggressive push into original video content production and promulgation. Watch launched across the US last week.

Where YouTube Meets Japanese Animation
Video sharing sites which blend role-play, film and gaming elements are giving Chinese millennials a customizable online escape from the tedium of everyday life.

In the Golden Age of TV, the Existential-Animation Is King
Sam Thielman dissects the importance of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman (season four available now) and Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty season 3 in today’s television landscape.

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner

Animation Magazine

‘Silent’ Seizures Tied to Alzheimer’s Symptoms

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Undetected or “silent” seizures may contribute to some symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, such as confusion, a small study suggests.

The seizures occur in the hippocampus — a part of the brain involved in the consolidation of memories. Researchers suspect that treating these seizures could help manage Alzheimer’s or possibly slow it down.

“While it is not surprising to find dysfunction in brain networks in Alzheimer’s disease, our novel finding that networks involved in memory function can become silently epileptic could lead to opportunities to target that dysfunction with new or existing drugs to reduce symptoms or potentially alter the course of the disease,” said study senior author Dr. Andrew Cole.

Cole directs the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Epilepsy Service.

“We now have to study more individuals to validate this finding and understand how prevalent it is in Alzheimer’s patients, whether it occurs in other neurodegenerative disorders and how it responds to treatment,” he said in a hospital news release.

The study involved only two women. They were both in their 60s with symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The women had bouts of confusion or asked the same questions repeatedly.

Brain images and cerebrospinal fluid tests suggested they had Alzheimer’s, but swings in the women’s symptoms were much more dramatic than usual.

Neither of the women had a history of seizures. Normally, a test called an EEG conducted from the scalp can detect abnormal electrical activity in the brain of people who have seizures. But, in these two women, no such abnormalities were found, the researchers said.

Since the hippocampus is a key part of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and also a common source of seizures in people with epilepsy, the researchers honed in on that part of the brain and conducted additional tests.

Electrodes were placed on both sides of the women’s brains through a naturally occurring opening at the base of the skull. Their brain activity was monitored for 24 to 72 hours.

The study found the women had seizure-like activity in the hippocampus. One woman had frequent surges of electrical activity usually associated with seizures that were not picked up by the scalp EEG. Three seizures occurred during sleep. None of these episodes caused any noticeable symptoms.

Continued

Anti-seizure drugs eliminated the seizure-like activity. In the year that followed, the woman only had one incident of confusion, which occurred when she missed doses of her medicine.

The other woman also had frequent spikes in electrical activity in the hippocampus during sleep. This patient was also treated with anti-seizure medication but the treatment was discontinued due to unwanted mood-related side effects.

“Our findings confirmed the presence of serious dysfunction of the neuronal networks affected by Alzheimer’s disease and confirmed our hypothesis that epileptic phenomena are an important component of that disturbance,” said Cole.

But, he added, more study is needed. The researchers hope to develop a way to detect these silent seizures without using the minimally invasive electrodes in the brain.

The study was published online May 1 in Nature Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, May 1, 2017

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

‘Silent’ Seizures Tied to Alzheimer’s Symptoms

TUESDAY, May 2, 2017 — Undetected or “silent” seizures may contribute to some symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, such as confusion, a small study suggests.

The seizures occur in the hippocampus — a part of the brain involved in the consolidation of memories. Researchers suspect that treating these seizures could help manage Alzheimer’s or possibly slow it down.

“While it is not surprising to find dysfunction in brain networks in Alzheimer’s disease, our novel finding that networks involved in memory function can become silently epileptic could lead to opportunities to target that dysfunction with new or existing drugs to reduce symptoms or potentially alter the course of the disease,” said study senior author Dr. Andrew Cole.

Cole directs the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Epilepsy Service.

“We now have to study more individuals to validate this finding and understand how prevalent it is in Alzheimer’s patients, whether it occurs in other neurodegenerative disorders and how it responds to treatment,” he said in a hospital news release.

The study involved only two women. They were both in their 60s with symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The women had bouts of confusion or asked the same questions repeatedly.

Brain images and cerebrospinal fluid tests suggested they had Alzheimer’s, but swings in the women’s symptoms were much more dramatic than usual.

Neither of the women had a history of seizures. Normally, a test called an EEG conducted from the scalp can detect abnormal electrical activity in the brain of people who have seizures. But, in these two women, no such abnormalities were found, the researchers said.

Since the hippocampus is a key part of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and also a common source of seizures in people with epilepsy, the researchers honed in on that part of the brain and conducted additional tests.

Electrodes were placed on both sides of the women’s brains through a naturally occurring opening at the base of the skull. Their brain activity was monitored for 24 to 72 hours.

The study found the women had seizure-like activity in the hippocampus. One woman had frequent surges of electrical activity usually associated with seizures that were not picked up by the scalp EEG. Three seizures occurred during sleep. None of these episodes caused any noticeable symptoms.

Anti-seizure drugs eliminated the seizure-like activity. In the year that followed, the woman only had one incident of confusion, which occurred when she missed doses of her medicine.

The other woman also had frequent spikes in electrical activity in the hippocampus during sleep. This patient was also treated with anti-seizure medication but the treatment was discontinued due to unwanted mood-related side effects.

“Our findings confirmed the presence of serious dysfunction of the neuronal networks affected by Alzheimer’s disease and confirmed our hypothesis that epileptic phenomena are an important component of that disturbance,” said Cole.

But, he added, more study is needed. The researchers hope to develop a way to detect these silent seizures without using the minimally invasive electrodes in the brain.

The study was published online May 1 in Nature Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging provides more information on Alzheimer’s disease.

Posted: May 2017

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NRA Silent On Medical Marijuana Patients’ Gun Rights

When there’s a policy development that affects gun rights you can usually count on the National Rifle Association (NRA) to have something to say about it. But the firearms lobby’s most powerful organization had nothing to say this week after a federal court upheld a policy preventing medical marijuana patients from purchasing guns. The San Francisco Chronicle reported: […]
Marijuana

Shouting? The ‘Silent Treatment’? How Spouses Argue Linked to Physical Ills

TUESDAY June 14, 2016, 2016 — How spouses disagree may predict which ones are more likely to develop certain ailments down the road, new research suggests.

Analyzing 156 older couples over 20 years, scientists found that patterns of angry outbursts raised the risk of heart problems, while emotional withdrawal or “stonewalling” could lead to musculoskeletal issues such as back pain or stiff neck.

“We’ve known for a long time that stress and negative emotions are bad for your health,” said study author Claudia Haase. She’s an assistant professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

“But in our new study we wanted to dig deeper, and found that very specific behaviors led to specific health problems over time,” she added.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, musculoskeletal symptoms such as back pain are among the most frequently reported health problems in industrialized nations, according to study documents.

Study participants were drawn from ongoing research of long-term heterosexual marriages, with about half of spouses aged 40 to 50 and the rest aged 60 to 70 at the start of the study. According to the 2009 U.S. Census, 96 percent of Americans over the age of 65 had been married at least once in their life.

Every five years, the couples were videotaped in a laboratory setting as they discussed areas of both enjoyment and disagreement. Expert behavioral coders rated the interactions based on facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Spouses also completed questionnaires asking details about specific health problems.

To track displays of anger, the researchers combed videotaped conversations for behaviors such as pressed lips, knitted brows, raised or lowered voices and tight jaws.

To identify “stonewalling” behavior — defined as shutting down emotionally during conflict — researchers looked for so-called “away” behavior, such as facial stiffness, rigid neck muscles, and little or no eye contact.

The data was then correlated to health symptoms that were measured every five years over a 20-year span. The study didn’t prove cause-and-effect between behavior and health problems, only an association. And, the links were strongest for husbands, though some of the key associations were found in wives as well.

The anger-cardiovascular relationship was most robust, with 81 percent of spouses rated in the “high anger” group experiencing at least one cardiovascular symptom within 20 years, Haase said. Cardiovascular symptoms include chest pain and high blood pressure.

Conversely, she said, about 53 percent of those in the “low anger” group had experienced such symptoms within the 20-year period.

About 45 percent of husbands rated as “high stonewallers” experienced back pain, muscle tension or stiff neck over the 20-year study. Only 23 percent of husbands who were “low stonewallers” had such symptoms in that time, Haase said.

“Our findings suggest that hot-headed people might want to consider if they would benefit from interventions such as anger management,” Haase said. “If they’re stonewalling, they may want to consider resisting the impulse to bottle up their emotions.”

Vanessa Downing is a psychologist and behavioral health coordinator at the Christiana Care Center for Heart & Vascular Health in Wilmington, Del. She wasn’t surprised by the study findings.

“When we look at health psychology as a whole and the movement to integrate psychologists into health care settings, it’s because of the mounting research supporting these relationships between our emotions and personality traits and what happens with our health outcomes over time,” Downing said.

But emotions such as disappointment or betrayal are normal in any long-term relationship, she noted, and it’s only their chronic nature that can lead them to become destructive to one’s health.

“Probably the most important message here is the importance of us starting to recognize our patterns,” Downing said.

“A lot of times people get the message that they need to do something about their anger, for instance, because it’s a problem for other people. But this study suggests that anger is really a problem for you, and that can be motivating for people because behavior change takes commitment,” she explained.

The study was published online recently in the journal Emotion.

More information

The University of Minnesota offers more about how thoughts and emotions impact health.

Posted: June 2016

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Silent Hills Cancelled, Konami Confirms

Publisher Konami has confirmed that its Silent Hills project has been cancelled.

In a statement sent to Kotaku, the corporation said:

“Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic ‘Silent Hills’ project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued.

“In terms of Kojima and del Toro being involved, discussions on future Silent Hill projects are currently underway, and please stay tuned for further announcements.”

Developing…

GameSpot

Wow, This 360-Piece Silent Hill World Record Collection Is Impressive

One Silent Hill fan is now recognized as having the world’s largest collection of items based on Konami’s horror series. Whitney Chavis’ collection of 360 items–spanning games, toys, clothing, props, and more–has won her an official world record, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. You can see a video of her massive Silent Hill collection above.

Chavis says in an interview with Konami that she’s been a fan of the Silent Hill series since the first game was released in the United States in the late 1990s. She says the game’s “unique music, atmosphere, and stunning CGI still stuck with [her] months later, and since then has been one of [her] most treasured and favored games.”

She says her favorite game in the series is the original. “It is the one that got the whole thing started, after all,” Chavis said. Though her Silent Hill collection is now famous, she says she didn’t get truly serious about collecting until 2004, when she picked up a James and Nurse statue and the European Silent Hill 3 retail poster. “I didn’t even realize there was that sort of Silent Hill merchandise out there before then!” she says.

Chavis’ Silent Hill collection includes obscure items like cloth banners and various props. One of the rarest items in her collection is the Seal of Metatron from the movie Silent Hill Revelation. This was sent to her from Paul Jones, who worked on the film.

Though she’s already won a world record for her Silent Hill collection, Chavis says she doesn’t plan on ending her hunt for more items anytime soon. Among the items she wants to add to her collection are the 2001 Konami Style James Jacket and the Japanese Silent Hill 2 Forbidden Poster that was included as a preorder bonus for the game in Japan.

The next entry in the Silent Hill series from Konami is a game called Silent Hills, which stars The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima is working on the game with Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

For all of GameSpot’s news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Gamespot’s Site Mashup

New Silent Hill coming from Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro

Hideo Kojima revealed a new Silent Hill game during Gamescom 2014, but he hid it in plain sight. The creator of Metal Gear had been rumored to be working on the Silent Hill franchise for years, but no one thought the PS4 download “P.T.” would be the way he would officially announce it. But if you beat the odd, first-person horror teaser–live for free right now on PSN–you are treated to a special trailer that takes you to an all-too-familiar town: Silent Hill. Or is it Silent Hills now?

The short trailer is packed with information, showing a brief glimpse of an empty, fog-covered town, and one man walking down the road. We get a brief credit for Hideo Kojima, which is then followed by Guillermo del Toro, meaning the director of films like Pacific Rim and Pan’s Labyrinth is involved in the game as well. Then there’s the above glimpse of the leading man, Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl on The Walking Dead TV show. As with Kiefer Sutherland in Metal Gear, Kojima seems to be after bigger names to star in his games now.

The only other definite that we know right now is that the official title seems to be Silent Hills, and that it runs on the Fox Engine, the same powerful game design tools as Metal Gear Solid 5. Do the “Hills” in the title imply a new setting for the horror series, in an even bigger open world than in franchise history? Is there any connection to previous entries, or is Kojima starting fresh? Is P.T. holding any more secrets? Hopefully we won’t be guessing for long.

GamesRadar – Xbox News


Even ‘Silent’ Strokes Can Harm Memory, Thinking

WEDNESDAY June 19, 2013 — People who experience stroke-like symptoms — so-called “silent strokes” — but do not have full-blown strokes are still at higher risk for memory and thinking problems, a new study finds.

Researchers reporting June 19 in the journal Neurology said the findings emphasize the need to be vigilant when any sign of stroke occurs.

“Our study highlights the importance of discussing stroke-like symptoms with your family doctor, even if they don’t last long,” study author Dr. Brendan Kelley, of the University of Cincinnati, said in a journal news release. “These symptoms can be a warning sign that a person is at increased risk of stroke or problems with thinking or memory.”

Kelley’s team’s study involved nearly 24,000 people, average age 64, who completed stroke-symptom questionnaires at the start of the study and every six months after that for at least two years. Their memory and thinking skills were also tested yearly.

During the study, 30 percent of the participants experienced stroke-like symptoms but did not suffer a stroke. Those people were more likely to develop memory and thinking problems than those without such symptoms.

Memory and thinking problems were much more likely to occur in both whites and blacks with stroke-like symptoms (11 percent and 16 percent, respectively) than in people without such symptoms (5 percent and 10 percent).

“Silent strokes that cause small areas of brain damage have been tied to memory and thinking problems, but it has been difficult to study these ‘silent strokes’ due to the cost and inconvenience of obtaining brain MRIs,” Kelley said. “With this study, we found that a quick, seven-question test can be a cost-effective tool to help identify people at increased risk of developing dementia.”

Another expert said knowing the symptoms of stroke is key.

“It is important that people who experience an inability to speak, slurred speech, weakness, double vision, dizziness or numbness on one side of the body undergo [emergency care] for treatment of stroke,” said Dr. Rafael Alexander Ortiz, director of Neuro-Endovascular Surgery and Stroke at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He was not involved in the new study.

“Some strokes can be ‘silent’ or asymptomatic because of the location within the brain,” Ortiz said. Health care workers should ask questions regarding a potential history of silent strokes in patients, he added, so therapies might be initiated that could “decrease the chance of memory problems and, more importantly, to decrease the chance of a life-threatening stroke.”

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke outlines the symptoms of a stroke.

Posted: June 2013

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Jay and Silent Bob’s Jason Mewes talks drug addiction, cannabis and laughter

If laughter is the best medicine, then Jason Mewes is quite healthy these days. We caught up with Mewes, best known as best known as the talking half of the duo Jay and Silent Bob, in advance of tonight’s live taping of their successful (and hysterical) weekly comedy podcast, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado.

For fans, it’s basically Mewes and Smith as two dirty-minded teenagers stuck in the bodies of men approaching middle age, complete with fart and poop jokes. Probably not too different from you and your friends on any given Friday night after a joint or two.

The duo are in Colorado this week recording for an episode of the podcast dubbed, appropriately, the POTcast. I had a chance to catch up with Mewes about the show, his addiction to oxys an cocaine, and his undying love for cannabis–even if he’s not smoking it these days.

“Our podcast is something we started nearly two years ago, talking and telling behind-the-scenes stories behind our friendship. We’ve known each other for 25 years, so we’ll talk about stuff that happened twenty years ago and stuff that might have happened a week ago,” Mewes said over the phone earlier this week. “We talk about everything and put it out there and try and make it entertaining. Like the first time I had a threesome, or the first time I woke up next to some random girl and had crapped my pants.”


For the rest of our interview with Mewes, head over to our sister paper
Westword.com. And to check out Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, click over to their Smodcast page and spin one up. Snoochie Boochies.

More links from around the web!

Toke of the Town

Xbox 360 | Silent Hill: Downpour Review

Silent Hill: Downpour is a celebration of gaming’s most notorious ghost town. It taps into the madness and surrealism that has made this series legendary, and presents Silent Hill as a more robust location than ever before. Most of the fundamentals are still intact, but developer Vatra Games has not shied away from making some stark changes to this American nightmare. Some fit well into the Silent Hill formula, while others are a little off the mark.

All Murphy ever wanted was a cheeseburger, what he got was a nightmare.

From the outset, Murphy Pendleton, the protagonist, is painted as a morally ambiguous character. He is a prisoner at Ryall State Prison, but the circumstances of his incarceration are unclear. When Murphy’s prisoner transport bus crashes in the outskirts of Silent Hill, you’re not sure if he is escaping wrongful imprisonment or just fleeing the long arm of the law. Occasional morality choices let you shape Murphy’s character, and can give identical scenes an entirely different meaning.

Within the game’s opening acts, it becomes clear that Downpour is a new Silent Hill game, rather than an imitation of an old one. It keeps some elements from series’ history, but isn’t afraid to change others. Fog is a good example: in previous games, it was thick and obscuring. Here, it’s less prominent and is upstaged by the constant rain. While it’s raining, enemies become more numerous and hostile. An element that merely enhanced the ambiance has evolved to include dynamic repercussions.

As in previous games, your time in Silent Hill is split between the normal world and the other world. The normal world covers most of the combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving, while the other world is reserved for specific encounters. Combat in Downpour borrows some from Silent Hill: Homecoming, though it is not as exaggerated. Often in combat, you face down a group of enemies in an open area. Large environments afford Murphy access to more weapons, while the monsters gain the advantage of flanking.

In Downpour, Murphy can only carry one melee weapon at a time, so he is constantly cycling through them. Fire axes, chairs, lamps, and more are littered about, but they eventually break apart. This weapon degradation emphasizes how desperate combat encounters are for him. Murphy may start a fight with a garden rake but end with a puny stick. Unarmed attacks are an option, but they do almost no damage and you can’t block while unarmed. If you’re lucky enough to find a firearm, Murphy can pocket it as a secondary weapon. Guns are extremely powerful, but ammo is scarce.

Additional design choices add complexity to the combat, but in doing so, they call more of your attention to the faults. In early Silent Hill games, combat was deemphasized through simplistic controls and stellar sound design. With Downpour, there are more ways Murphy can attack–or be attacked–in a fight. You spend more time thinking about combat, and the weaknesses therein become more pronounced. Striking an enemy still feels stiff, and against most enemies, the fights fall into predictable rhythms. When monsters attack in groups, one usually hangs back and temporarily disables Murphy with a sound-based attack. It’s a novel tactic, but it’s recycled throughout nearly the entire game.

Of course, combat isn’t all you do in Downpour. The town of Silent Hill has a touch of open-worldness and is filled with puzzles and side quests to discover. The side quests are well tailored to the game’s setting and imply there was once life in this desolate town. They include investigating a domestic murder, searching for a missing child, and venturing inside a collection of historic films. These optional quests are a smart addition and encourage, as well as reward, exploration.

In the other world, you do a lot of running. Early on, you are introduced to a glowing ball of energy that wants to chase Murphy down and change him from a solid form into a liquid. Murphy’s escape takes him through a maze of hallways lined with obstacles that can be knocked over to slow down the being’s advance. Thankfully, one wrong turn doesn’t mean death. Incorrect routes loop back to the main path, though you will take some damage from the formless horror. These sections help break up the game’s slow pace with high-speed action that’s appropriate for the setting.

GameSpot’s Reviews

PlayStation 3 | Silent Hill: Downpour Review

The Video Review

Maxwell McGee returns to Silent Hill for this video review of Downpour.

Silent Hill: Downpour is a celebration of gaming’s most notorious ghost town. It taps into the madness and surrealism that has made this series legendary, and presents Silent Hill as a more robust location than ever before. Most of the fundamentals are still intact, but developer Vatra Games has not shied away from making some stark changes to this American nightmare. Some fit well into the Silent Hill formula, while others are a little off the mark.

Murphy has a hard time finding an effective weapon to use against a crazed monster.

From the outset, Murphy Pendleton, the protagonist, is painted as a morally ambiguous character. He is a prisoner at Ryall State Prison, but the circumstances of his incarceration are unclear. When Murphy’s prisoner transport bus crashes in the outskirts of Silent Hill, you’re not sure if he is escaping wrongful imprisonment or just fleeing the long arm of the law. Occasional morality choices let you shape Murphy’s character, and can give identical scenes an entirely different meaning.

Within the game’s opening acts, it becomes clear that Downpour is a new Silent Hill game, rather than an imitation of an old one. It keeps some elements from series’ history, but isn’t afraid to change others. Fog is a good example: in previous games, it was thick and obscuring. Here, it’s less prominent and is upstaged by the constant rain. While it’s raining, enemies become more numerous and hostile. An element that merely enhanced the ambiance has evolved to include dynamic repercussions.

As in previous games, your time in Silent Hill is split between the normal world and the other world. The normal world covers most of the combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving, while the other world is reserved for specific encounters. Combat in Downpour borrows some from Silent Hill: Homecoming, though it is not as exaggerated. Often in combat, you face down a group of enemies in an open area. Large environments afford Murphy access to more weapons, while the monsters gain the advantage of flanking.

In Downpour, Murphy can only carry one melee weapon at a time, so he is constantly cycling through them. Fire axes, chairs, lamps, and more are littered about, but they eventually break apart. This weapon degradation emphasizes how desperate combat encounters are for him. Murphy may start a fight with a garden rake but end with a puny stick. Unarmed attacks are an option, but they do almost no damage and you can’t block while unarmed. If you’re lucky enough to find a firearm, Murphy can pocket it as a secondary weapon. Guns are extremely powerful, but ammo is scarce.

Additional design choices add complexity to the combat, but in doing so, they call more of your attention to the faults. In early Silent Hill games, combat was deemphasized through simplistic controls and stellar sound design. With Downpour, there are more ways Murphy can attack–or be attacked–in a fight. You spend more time thinking about combat, and the weaknesses therein become more pronounced. Striking an enemy still feels stiff, and against most enemies, the fights fall into predictable rhythms. When monsters attack in groups, one usually hangs back and temporarily disables Murphy with a sound-based attack. It’s a novel tactic, but it’s recycled throughout nearly the entire game.

Of course, combat isn’t all you do in Downpour. The town of Silent Hill has a touch of open-worldness and is filled with puzzles and side quests to discover. The side quests are well tailored to the game’s setting and imply there was once life in this desolate town. They include investigating a domestic murder, searching for a missing child, and venturing inside a collection of historic films. These optional quests are a smart addition and encourage, as well as reward, exploration.

In the other world, you do a lot of running. Early on, you are introduced to a glowing ball of energy that wants to chase Murphy down and change him from a solid form into a liquid. Murphy’s escape takes him through a maze of hallways lined with obstacles that can be knocked over to slow down the being’s advance. Thankfully, one wrong turn doesn’t mean death. Incorrect routes loop back to the main path, though you will take some damage from the formless horror. These sections help break up the game’s slow pace with high-speed action that’s appropriate for the setting.

GameSpot’s Reviews

Why Was Grand Theft Auto III’s Star Silent?

Grand Theft Auto III on Android

After celebrating Grand Theft Auto III‘s 10-year anniversary with the release of an iOS and Android port, Rockstar is now answering a variety of questions fans have about the game. Among those are the obligatory questions about its protagonist, Claude, and the rationale behind him never uttering a word.

Every Grand Theft Auto game since III — the first to bring the series into 3D — has featured a star who could speak. Why was Claude made to do a crowbar-free Gordon Freeman impression?

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