Headscratchers: Silent Hill Origins
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Travis the ADD tourist
- It's mentioned elsewhere that Travis had no reason to stay in Silent Hill after leaving Alchemilla Hospital. But what I have just as much of a problem with is that he has no reason for choosing his next destinations. He hears Lisa mention the sanitarium, so he marks it on his map and goes there even though she didn't mention anything of interest there. Next, you find a loose theater ticket — garbage, basically — so it's off to the theater! Same with the motel key. Travis doesn't even try to justify going to any of these places to himself. Does he just make a habit of going anywhere he hears the name of?
- At the end, Kaufman refers to Travis as Alessa's "pawn". Indeed, Alessa leads him into the Dark world, and is always there when he finds a piece of the Flauros. So it's probably not too much of a stretch to assume that Alessa was controlling, or at least influencing, Travis, and leading him throughout his journey.
- Kaufmann's acting suspicious and hiding something, and then Lisa mentions that she's meeting him at the Sanitarium. Travis went to the Sanitarium for the same reason he followed Kaufmann to the third floor: he didn't buy Alessa's death and wanted to know what spooky, blatantly evil guy was hiding. By the time he was finished with the Sanitarium, the fact that Alessa was railroading him to where she needed him to be had become evident to him. Finding a theatre ticket hanging out right next to where he'd woken up was Alessa's way of telling him, "Go here," and he obliged.
- Travis can't exactly leave the town either, what with all of the roads destroyed.
- Don't forget that Travis did have some personal ties to some of these areas. Lisa mentioned the sanitarium - the same one into which his own mother was committed. Same deal with the motel in which his father committed suicide. These places could have been drawing him towards themselves, or perhaps he wanted to check in with them himself, having vague memories of them and being reminded by people and objects of their existence.
Doing the Silent Hill monster mash!
- What bugs me more is why the Straitjacket/Hanged Man enemies are in this game. They were originally from Silent Hill 2, as a specific manifestation of some of James's mental issues. The rest of the monsters line up with the pattern used in the original Silent Hill — bizarre parodies of people and animals spawned from Alessa's skewed perspective and the darkness of Valtiel (Samael, in that game) — but those ones are just random.
- Some are pretty symbolic. At the hotel, there are monsters called Two Backs, which are some man-woman hybrid. They likely stem from Travis's negative view of relationships (considering what happened with his parents, who can blame him). The straitjackets were based on the fact that his mother was in a sanitarium (it's also implied that Travis may have spent time there.) The female villains usually symbolize Travis's negative relationship with his mother, while the Butcher and the Sanitarium and Hotel bosses represent his inner demons (Butcher represents his darkness, hatred for his family, and inability to let go of the past, and implies that Travis might have been a serial killer, while the Memories symbolize his fear and hatred of his mother and father.)
- The Hanged Men appear for Travis because they represent the same issue they did for James: they're manifestations of helplessness and despair. For Travis, this was his inability to do anything while his parents suffered and eventually died around him.
Lisa's no prodigy
- People who say that Lisa is only sixteen in this game. The Lisa that Harry encounters in SH1 is based on Alessa's memories of the woman who cared for her, a woman who died at an unspecified point in time, and as such doesn't have to have aged the seven years that passed between these games. Even assuming Lisa did the bare minimum of community college schooling, she'd have to be a prodigy to already be working as a nurse at age sixteen, and no one ever mentions anything like that. Frankly, if Konami really intended Lisa to be sixteen in Origins, they obviously didn't mention it to the censors, who likely would have balked at even a game with a Mature rating featuring the statutory rape of a minor.
- I have no idea where people get the whole 'sixteen' thing from, but I'd say it's pretty clear time has passed just considering the changes in length in Lisa's hair. Sure, it's argued that the Lisa that Harry meets was never actually real and just a memory constructed by Alessa, who felt fond of her due to the care and attention Lisa gave her, but there would be no reason for Alessa to have dreamed up a memory of Lisa with, randomly, much longer hair. She has to have aged at least a couple years, if only for Alessa to have any time to have even developed any sort of memory of her in the first place. Besides, if Lisa had kicked the bucket too soon before Silent Hill 1, who would have been taking care of Alessa? No stand-in or secondary nurse is ever mentioned, and with Alessa's wounds constantly oozing blood and pus, she needed care pretty consistently.
- It's from the first game's instruction book - Lisa's 23 according to it, so if this game takes place 7 years earlier, she must be around 16 years old. As for the original Lisa being Dead All Along point, that's just one interpretation of her character. She could be older than 16 if you take that as a given, but not everyone does. And as said, the timeline really only makes sense if she was alive for at least most of those 7 years, so if she's not exactly 16, she's still probably a teenager. But I don't have a big problem with that age. She's only a "trainee", which could just mean glorified candy striper at Alchemeilla, and she does act like a teenager, especially in the theater. It just means Kaufmann's an even sleazier jerk than we thought. As for the censors, Silent Hill 2 already went there with Angela, while adding in incest and rape for bonus squick, so this isn't anything the series hasn't dealt with before.
Wait, what does the Flauros do, again?
- In Silent Hill 1, the Flauros is shown to be an item which cuts through Alessa's power and hits her pretty hard, causing her to scream and fall over - when Harry pulls it out of his pocket, she even starts to back up, as if knowing (or sensing) the danger it could be to her. (Ultimately, it seems to allow Dahlia to find her.) If this is the case, why in the world does Alessa lead Travis around to find all the pieces and reconstruct it? It's not an object that can do any good to her at all. Did the entire nature of the Flauros randomly change over the course of seven years? What in the world is a random demon doing lurking inside of it, and why does Travis have to fight it? And how in the world does Travis passing out transport him inside of the Flauros in the first place?
- It's open to interpretation, but here's how I took it. The memos and flashbacks say that the Flauros is said to contain a demon, it's used to amplify psychic powers, and that Dahlia used it both to train Alessa, and to trap part of her power after the burning. So, from that, we can gather that Alessa was trying to get Travis to reassemble the scattered pieces of the Flauros and release her power. He did gather the pieces and solve the puzzle, but he didn't release her power: he accidentally released the demon's power instead, resulting in a half-human, half-demon "hellgirl Alessa" that warped the town into the Otherworld. When Kaufmann knocks Travis out, his soul gets pulled into the Flauros that he's still carrying, and he confronts the demon within it, binding its power again; that's when Alessa's own power escapes instead, and creates Cheryl. Later, when Dahlia gave Harry the Flauros, she'd presumably set it to back to "capture" mode so once he got close enough, it'd seal her power again.
- The Flauros is the cage for a demon. This is, presumably, the same "God" entity that Alessa is impregnated with in the ritual. The Flauros was used to release the demon into Alessa, and then broken into parts and protected in secure locations around Silent Hill (Kaufmann has letters specifically giving instructions to do exactly this in Alchemilla Hospital, when Travis first visits). Alessa needed Travis to reconstruct the Flauros so that it could be used to cage the demon again, leaving her in control of its power that she'd inherited through the ritual. When Travis passed out and his consciousness entered the still-active Flauros next to him, he fought the demon in question, which was resisting the pull of the Flauros. He defeated the demon, the demon was caged, and Alessa was left in control of Silent Hill. She created the baby Cheryl, she hid the Flauros, and the town became what it was at the start of Silent Hill 1. Later, in Silent Hill 1, Dahlia needed Harry to find the Flauros in order to release the demon back into Alessa, so that it could take back control of its power away from her. Alessa was afraid of it because she knew what it could do to her, and when Harry succeeded in using the Flauros, she lost control of Silent Hill, Lisa Garland lost her protection and degenerated into another nurse monster, and Alessa nearly gave birth to the demon.
This town's main export: hallucinations of Alessa
- At the time Travis arrived in Silent Hill, he'd just saved Alessa from the fire, and the very end of the game shows Alessa's soul actually splitting into two pieces, with one piece becoming the baby Cheryl that Harry and his wife will find on the side of the road. How, then, does Travis get led around by a projection of Alessa, if only one Alessa exists at this point and that is the badly charred and burned near-corpse Travis pulls from the fire at the beginning of the game? Did Alessa split into three pieces? Dahlia doesn't mention this three-way split in Silent Hill 1, only the Alessa-Cheryl split. And why does this apparent third split have such a departure from the goals and attitudes Alessa seems to have in Silent Hill 1? The projection of Alessa that Travis encounters seems to be a cruel and spiteful evil little child, when in reality (relatively speaking) Alessa is a girl who only craves love and attention from her mother and an end to her own suffering - but also to keep other people from suffering. What gives?
- For the most part, Alessa hardly seems conscious of what she's doing, just wandering mutely about and showing up whenever Travis finds the Flauros. She does seem evil when she gets her power back at the hospital, but my take on it is that that's Alessa infused with the demon's power, and much darker and more vengeful as a result; after the last boss fight and the demon's reimprisonment, Alessa suddenly drops her Roaring Rampage of Revenge without hurting any of the cultists and she seems nice and sympathetic again in the epilogue. As for the soul, half of Alessa's soul is playing hide and seek with Travis, half is contained in the Flauros, and her body's likely just soulless (or it's tied to the inert half that's in the Flauros).
- From the moment Travis first sees Alessa in his mirror, she's pregnant with the demon she's supposed to birth into the world. She's not cruel, she's angry (and justifiably so) at just about everyone involved in this conflict except Travis. She needs him to put together the Flauros. She hasn't split her soul at any point prior to Cheryl's birth; she's just astral projecting, using what elements of the demon's power she can to help Travis. She makes it possible for him to travel between the worlds, she sends him back to the front door every time he finds a piece of the Flauros, and she leaves him hints of where to go to get the next piece (such as the theater ticket he finds when he wakes up in the sanitarium). She doesn't speak, but she might not be able to in the simple form that he sees every time he finds a piece; it might be a lot of work just giving him as much as he does, with the demon in control of the power she's trying to use. Even at the end, when she shifts the entire town into the otherworld, she's still helping Travis; she hand-drew him a map so that he could find and save her. Alessa's motivation throughout Origins never changes: she's reaching out to Travis so he can save her, and that's the same motivation that led to Cheryl's creation in the first place.
Just whose Otherworld is this, anyway?
- The Otherworld Travis travels to and from by use of mirrors clearly isn't the Otherworld influenced by Alessa's nightmares - rather, with the way he can travel through it it becomes clear it's meant to be the power in the town taking form in the way Travis' mother saw it when he was a child (and what eventually prompted her to attempt to kill him because he was a "devil child"). So why does it look exactly like Alessa's nightmare-inspired Otherworld, instead of a world with imagery more explainable by Travis' (and his mother's) psyche? Furthermore, for this to even work as a theory (which it kind of has to, otherwise the mirrors thing is completely unexplained and the game pretty much breaks from it) Travis has to have been a resident of Silent Hill when he was a child - so why are he and his father ever staying in Riverside Motel?
- This troper thinks that Travis and his family did live in Silent Hill- up until his mother tried to kill him and was locked up in Cedar Grove. At some point, Richard sold the house and moved out of town, to a place that wasn't so filled with memories of Helen. That, or possibly Richard went to the motel intending on committing suicide and planning on having one of the employees finding his body. Obviously, that plan failed in a epic way, but that might have been his plan.
- It's Travis's Otherworld, created through Alessa. So in a sense, it's both. The use of the mirrors is Alessa directly helping Travis by allowing him to shift between the worlds (note that he only obtains this power when she leaves a bloody handprint for him to follow). Keeping in mind that Alessa is pregnant with the demon at this point in time and just using what of its power she can manage, the Otherworld is partly Alessa's creation to give Travis avenues to reach the Flauros and cage the demon, but is also largely the demon's, using Travis's own mind and psyche to stop him from doing exactly that. The result is the strange blend of both Alessa's symbolism and any part of Travis's mind that can be used to tear down and kill him.
- There are a lot of points that aren't too definite regarding the way that the other dimensions work in the series, generally. The strongest possibility is that Alessa (given that she's mentioned as being powerfully telekinetic in some of the documents found throughout the game) is one of the few people who can drag others into it, and that once they're there, the environment is more highly malleable. She and Travis are probably both projecting themselves out into it in ways that are both conscious and unconscious, with the dangers posed by the monsters coming from the unconscious aspect. For example, Alessa really wants and needs Travis' help, but trusting anyone completely would be a real challenge for someone who just got set on fire by her own mother, so some part of her mind is also frightened by him and wants to kill him in self defense. Some parts of Travis' own psyche are also self-destructive and attack him on his way to fulfilling his goals.
Silent Hill sure is monstery this time of year!
- What was the point of the Misty World in this game at all? I'm not a fan of the Misty World idea anyway (it's one step away from saying that everything happening in the town's All Just a Dream, which just kills the atmosphere for me), but Travis has a very, very weird attitude about it throughout the game. He wakes up in a seemingly abandoned town with large chasms in the road and monsters roaming about... and the only thing he ever talks to anyone about is Alessa! He meets Kaufmann in the hospital, and they have a rather casual conversation about Alessa's whereabouts rather than the expected "what happened to this town, where is everybody, what's going on" exchange that most of the protagonists have. He meets Dahlia in the apparently wrecked sanitarium, and his only concern is that she didn't help Alessa at the burning house. The only time he says anything about the town being weird is when he's talking about the otherworld (he says he's seeing things the first time he crosses through a mirror, and he tries to ask Lisa about it when he sees her there). It's almost like the script's written with Travis just roaming the ordinary town, as Harry does in Shattered Memories (also made by Climax), and the fog, the chasms and monsters are just there for the player's benefit because it's a Silent Hill game. As far as the dialogue goes, Travis doesn't seem to be aware of any of it. One possible answer is that Alessa's creating a single-minded obsession within him (as hinted at in the theater library's books), but in light of the way the story's handled, I really wish they'd just had Travis in the real world and jumping straight to the otherworld via mirrors... again, much like Climax did with Shattered Memories. I almost wonder if SM's treatment of the town, a real world and inhabited town that turns straight into the otherworld at times, was what they'd first planned with Origins.
- It's unlikely that's what was intended. Shattered Memories' setup wouldn't work at all in Origins just like it wouldn't work in other Silent Hill games for one simple reason - exploration. Silent Hill games have always had large areas you could wander around in, find items and battle monsters. The reason it worked in Shattered Memories was that the monsters were confined to short bursts and the rest was only exploration of a fantasy but if the entire game was taking place in the "real" world where would combat occur? Are monsters popping up in the real world now? It brings all sorts of weird questions up that the fog world renders unnecessary. A wizard (read: demonic power / malevolent town) did it works in these situations. As for why he doesn't react, it's the same reason as almost all other Silent Hill games, the protagonist is single minded in their focus. In the first, while Harry does question what's going on in the town, he seems far, far more confused by the inability to reach his daughter than the giant monsters or demons trying to eat his face. James literally could care less about anything other than finding his wife and never even mentions the giant guy with the honking huge knife. Henry could barely muster up any sort of emotion whatsoever. While some do discuss their predicament they do it in the same way you might chat with someone by a water cooler about the news. It's a weak reason but most of the games have fallen to this oversight and Origins simply seems to have fallen to it harder than most.
- James does mention ol' PH, when he met Eddie ("you're not friends with that pyramid guy, are you?"), and Henry still goes "what the hell?" at the weirder things around him. Travis' relative lack of alarm over the state of Silent Hill (except his angry "I can't!" when Kaufman tells him to leave) does seem a bit odd in comparison...but then again, he is a trucker who's traveled from place to place. Maybe he thought foggy, monster-filled Silent Hill is just how the town looks "normally"; besides, he was more concerned with what happened to Alessa than remarking on his environment.
- Harry's attempts to the describe the Otherworld in Silent Hill make him seem like going there is a disorienting and dreamlike experience. In fact, with a few exceptions (most notably Heather, who isn't exactly a normal person), all of the protagonists react to both the Fog World and the Otherworld in a way entirely consistent with how a normal person would react to a weird dream. They acknowledge some strangeness, but not to the point of questioning reality or even really wondering what's going on. People who have been there for long periods of time, like several of the characters in Homecoming, start to behave in really strange ways as well and many of them (like Alex's mother) don't seem to be entirely aware of their surroundings anymore. It's possible that traveling there has psychological effects that would be difficult to translate into the experience of playing a game. Members of the cult seem like they might be immune to it, but most of them have already fallen into the depths of very literal insanity.