What makes the Silent Hill series so absolutely terrifying can be attributed to a number of elements. The atmosphere of the abandoned town of Silent Hill can, at its best, make the player feel utterly lost and alone. The monsters are often bizarre and horrific - one can't help but be utterly terrified of them. Plus, the game's effort to delve deep into the psyche of the main character can often bring up rather disturbing information that the player didn't expect.
However, one common complaint against the series is that the combat isn't nearly as intriguing as the story - and, at times, can be considered near-unplayable. As it turns out, the developers of Silent Hill: Downpour have a solution.
In order to address the constant complaints regarding Silent Hill's combat, Silent Hill: Downpour will have separate difficulty settings for the puzzles and the combat system. So if most players enjoy the puzzles in the game, but can't stand the combat, then they can change the puzzles to a higher difficulty while lowering the difficulty of enemy encounters.
In fact, according to producer Tomm Hulett, making the puzzles more difficult may actually unlock secret content in the game - and could lead to extra items like health packs or a more powerful weapon for combat. As a result, players can unlock the full content inside the game without having to struggle through a part they don't like.
Another aspect of the game detailed by Hulett was its Otherworld segments, which are meant to be a change of pace from previous games. Typically, when the player enters the darker version of Silent Hill, the environments will look different - but still utilize the same basic structure. Not so with the Otherworld, as according to Hulett, the environments will be wildly different - and will confuse the player and make them unsure of what's around the corner.
While the concept of separate difficulty settings for certain aspects of the game is an interesting idea that could be applied to other games - it may not entirely solve the problem. If there are the same issues with the combat this round simply lowering the difficulty would only make the encounters less difficult - without improving on the fun. Meaning players could still have to slog through uninspired combat just to get to the puzzles they enjoy.
What do you think of the ability to have separate difficulty settings?
Silent Hill: Downpour is said to arrive this March for Xbox 360 and PS3.