Thursday, November 8, 2012

Let's Play 'Silent Hill' Part 3: The Nightmare Realm of Midwhich Elementary School

When we last left off in Let's Play Silent Hill Part 2, we had solved the clock tower puzzle and had just entered the Nightmare Realm of Midwhich Elementary School... man is this place creepy. You just never know when something is going to lunge out of the darkness and try to chew your ankles off.

Stepping through the entrance reveals the Nightmare Realm version of the elementary school. The foggy day time have been replaced by the oppressive pitch black darkness of night, the environment has visually changed to a more brutal, cold place filled with industrial clanking sounds, rusted chain link fences and tougher, more aggressive monsters. In the courtyard a huge magical symbol has been drawn in blood on the sidewalk. It's the mark of the demon Samael.

Harry always seems so confused by things.

Speaking of confusing, in the Nightmare Realm of Midwhich school, different doors will be locked, sections of the hallways are now blocked off by chain link fence and there is a new enemy to contend with, the giant cockroaches. The hallways of Midwhich are now darker, with Harry's flashlight illuminating only what  is right in front of him.

Outside the storage room, Harry has no choice but to run through the labyrinthine hallways and use the unlocked doors to get to the far north school room. Inside the classroom, there are several cockroaches, that are just a minor nuisance and easy to run away from. Exiting through the second door of the class room to get around the demon children and avoid having to confront them is the best course of action to take, so that is what I did.

After going through the double doors in the courtyard, I grabbed the ammo and first aid kit in the hallway, then entered the left room, which is the storage area. Inside, there are decapitated dolls crucified on the chain link fence walls, and a bright pink rubber ball sitting on what appears to be a gurney from a hospital.

This is the second time that eerie hospital imagery is used to horrific effect to add to the unsettling mood of the game.

After getting the pink ball, I left the room and ran past the two demon children that are now hanging out in the hallway. With the school now having locked doors where there were none, and doors that won't open at all, Harry has to run an obstacle course through the school in order to get the items he needs to leave the building.

The double doors at the end of the hallway are locked, so I had to go through a long classroom with giant cockroaches scuttling along the floor and out the side door into the next hallway. The next classroom has an open door, and inside are several long tables shoved together in the center of the room with a picture key card on one of them.

Gee, I wonder what this will do Harry. Let's go find out!

I picked up the card and inspected it. It has a picture of a key on it, and images that resemble the large painting that Harry came across in the room next door to the infirmary, near the reception area of the school.

At this point, it's time to return to the front entrance of the school by exiting through the door that leads to the adjacent classroom. Running through a classroom with scattered chairs lying about, I exited through the southern door into the hall and entered through the gray double doors to reach the front hallway on the first floor, and then ran back into the infirmary to save my game on a red notepad. While in the save point room I also picked up a health drink and a first aid kit.

The next room on the left was originally was the school entrance lobby. Now it has a wheelchair and several demon children in it. Yay.

After killing the two demon children, I took the ampoule from the wheelchair and then returned to the reception area, which now looks like the painting that used to be there with a grotesque corpse hanging on either side of a three windowed door.

It's interesting to see how the three windows on the door match the three squares on the picture card. I like that sort of visual clue and it's grotesque symmetry for some reason.

Examining the door will reveal that there is a horizontal slot in the center. I used the key card and shoved it into the slot to unlock the door. Entering the door leads to the other side of the hallway. I went over to the girl's bathroom as it is the only one that is unlocked. Exiting the girl's bathroom teleports Harry to the second floor, in a section of the hallways that he can't reach otherwise and access the boy's bathroom.

See the blue "Notice" sign? It says that "Hell is Coming." Is it a warning from Alessa?

Entering the boys bathroom on the second floor, I picked up several boxes of handgun ammunition, which will be needed for the boss fight. Afterwards I returned to the girl's bathroom and teleported back to the first floor.

Entering the boys bathroom on the first floor, one of the stall doors is closed. Examining the door will show a corpse crucified on the wall with the words written in blood "Leonard Rhine: The Monster Lurks."

This is thought by many to be an homage to a scene in Dean Koontz's "Phantoms" where the phrase "Timothy Flyte- The Ancient Enemy" is written on a mirror with lipstick.

In "Phantoms" Timothy Flyte wrote a novel titled "The Ancient Enemy" that catalogs the mass vanishings of people in different parts of the world. These strange incidences were caused by an amoeboid shapeshifter that attacks towns that are built over the ground where it is hibernating. The creature consumes life forms and can perfectly mimic them, similar to the monster in John Carpenter's "The Thing."

In "Silent Hill" the town is consumed by an unspeakable evil (Alessa) and transformed into a hellish landscape that creates monsters that mimic people's darkest fears.

Just like the pterodactyls that were inspired by creatures from "The Mist" by Stephen King, some of the monsters in "Phantoms" may have been used as inspiration for some of the creatures in "Silent Hill", such as the killer moth, which reflects not only Cheryl's interest in insects, but the overall theme of metamorphosis that is prevalent in "Silent Hill."

And now you know.

Beneath the decomposing body in the bathroom stall, there is a shotgun. Since I missed getting the good pipe and am stuck with the useless rusty pipe that does less damage, picking up the shotgun sounded to me like a great idea. You never know what you will encounter in Silent Hill after all.

Leaving the bathroom, I entered the teacher's room and made my way to the second room through the adjoining door. In this room there are several tables shoved together with blue telephones sitting on them. If you recall, blue is Cheryl and Alessa's color-- it's the color of their dresses and one of their symbols in the game.

Blue is also one of the symbols of the Virgin Mary, who is thought to be the mother of Jesus Christ, or God, depending on who you ask. Whether this symbolism was done on purpose or not, it is remarkable to note that one of Alessa's role in "Silent Hill" is to give birth to a god-like figure that will bring paradise into the world.

Just as you go to leave the room, the phone rings, even though it wasn't connected to anything. Spooky.

After the phone call from hell, I wandered up to the roof, where there is a rain gutter, a bloody stone bench and a water tower. Near the bench is the drain pipe hole of the gutter. There is a key in the drain, but Harry can't quite reach it.

Hmm... Looks like we have ourselves another puzzle to solve Harry.

By placing the pink ball in the drain hole located in the corner nearest the water tower, you will block it. Turning the valve on the water tower will cause water to flow out of it and into the drain.

Guess what happens next? That's right Harry, the key flows down the drain, even further out of reach than it originally was. I guess the man never heard of using a metal coat hanger to fish something out of a drain before...

The gutter drain leads down to the courtyard, where the clock tower is located. The key is on the ground near the bottom of the drain. After picking up the key and running away from the three demon children that were harassing me, I went through the double doors, back into the hallway and then over to the locker room where the cat scare occurred during the normal stage of the school.

Here the floor is covered in metal grating and the rattling locker where the cat was has blood dripping out of it. Fortunately, the locker is empty, well, except for all that blood...

This time the jump scare in the locker room is caused by a dead body falling out of a locker when you go to exit the room. There is a key on the body- the library reserve key.

Hey, I like books. What could possibly go wrong in the library? Let's go!

After navigating the labyrinthine hallways, I found the library and made my way inside. Upon closer examination...

What? What do you mean there aren't any useful books! There's one right there! Stupid Harry...


On the shelf in the Library Reserve room there is a book titled "The Monster Lurks." Hmm... Let's read that one shall we?

It says:
Chapter 3: Manifestations of Illusions

...Poltergeists are among these Negative emotions, like fear, worry, or stress manifest into external energy with physical effects. Nightmares have, in some cases, been shown to trigger them. However, one such phenomena doesn't appear to happen to just anyone. Although it's not clear why, adolescents, especially girls, are prone to such occurrences.

After picking up a health drink, it was time to go through the door to the Library. With the radio bell ringing incessantly thanks to a squeaking ghost child, I found another open book on a shelf. This one reads:

Hearing this, the hunter armed with bow and arrow said, "I will kill the lizard." But upon meeting his opponent, he held back taunting, "Who's afraid of a reptile?"

At this, the furious lizard hissed, "I'll swallow you up in a single bite!" Then the huge creature attacked, jaws open wide. This was what the man wanted. Calmly drawing his bow, he shot into the lizard's gaping mouth. Effortlessly the arrow flew, piercing the defenseless maw. And the lizard fell down dead.

It's from a fairy tale that Harry read when he was a child. It's also foreshadowing the boss of Midwhich Elementary school, and how to defeat it.

Now we're off to the south side stairwell and down to the first floor. In the hallway there are cockroaches and demon children, which I ran past to the best of my ability, *ahem* but not without being attacked by the ankle biters in the process. Oops.

Upon reaching the chain-link gate with a golden handle, I unlocked the door and entered the hallway. Then it was a quick jaunt back over to the infirmary to save my game.

After the save, it's back to the stairs and down to the basement of the school. In the storage room, I picked up shotgun ammo and an ampoule, then I went to the boiler room.

Inside the boiler room there are two red valve wheels and a creepy turnstile gate. Harry has to move both of the wheels in a certain order to get the turnstile barricades to move and create a clear path for him to go through. Past the turnstile is a hallway that leads to an elevator that only goes one way: down to hell.

Soon, Harry finds himself in a large room surrounded by looming darkness, and he's not alone. The fire light coming from a spiky death pit reveals a giant monitor lizard, also called the "split head lizard" by fans, that is the game's first boss.

Lumbering around the strange contraption at the center of the room is the giant lizard that was foreshadowed in the fairy tale passage that Harry read in the library reserve room. It walks around the room in a weighty gait and it's great head splits open, much like a sandworm from "Dune." If Harry is too close, he is eaten. The only way to kill the beast is to shoot it's open mouth with a shotgun.

On a side note, the weird spinning ball at the center of the room located beneath the flames reminds me of the giant sphere in the engine room of the Event Horizon.

In "Even Horizon," the sphere was a gravity drive that folded space to jump the ship from one point of the galaxy to another. Unfortunately, it traveled through hell to get there.

Now, the first time I ever played this game, that damn lizard gave me one heck of a hard time. But now I know better. I kept my distance, running ahead of the thing as much as possible, and only stopping once it started to open its giant maw.

The lizard does lunge towards Harry, but this is a pattern that is easy to learn and apparently it doesn't do much damage when it does hit you. The trick is to walk backwards while it comes towards you and to shoot at its head to get it to open its mouth. Then it only took two good shots into its gullet with my trusty shotgun and it was finished!

Ha! Take that stupid lizard. That'll teach you to mess with Harry Mason! 

Soon after defeating the lizard, Harry has a vision of Alessa running past him and then disappearing into the darkness. She leaves behind a silver key that will open the door in K. Gordon's house, through which is the only path to reach the other side of the town.

The darkness has lifted outside, and it is once again day time shrouded in a thick heavy fog.

Comforted by the sight of sunlight, I picked up the key and made my way through the now normal halls of Midwhich school and out into the streets, where in the distance, there are church bells ringing.

Up Next: Let's Play Silent Hill Part 4: On the Path to Alchemilla Hospital!

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