Silent Hill Ascension Review – The Horrors of Interactive Gaming

    Title: Silent Hill Ascension
    Developer: Behaviour Interactive
    Release Date: October 31, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Konami
    Genre: Horror Adventure

Silent Hill Ascension Review: Exploring Innovative Live Participation

When I first learned about the live participation mechanic in Silent Hill Ascension, I was initially intrigued but somewhat cautious about its concept. Players must collaborate to ensure the survival of various characters and prevent them from facing a gruesome end at the hands of their demons. However, I also had concerns regarding Silent Hill’s history of underperforming titles. Would Ascension continue this pattern, and would players genuinely care about its characters?

Silent Hill Ascension’s rushed narrative and generic characters make it a disappointment for fans of the franchise, leaving us yearning for a true revival.

Some time has passed, and we now have some results from the players’ voting and participation in Ascension. Does Silent Hill Ascension live up to its unique concept and serve as the shining hope the franchise desperately needs, or is it a letdown on the part of Genvid and Behaviour? In short, while Ascension’s concept appears promising on paper, it is unfortunately marred by numerous glaring flaws, potentially making it the weakest entry in the Silent Hill franchise to date.

Ascension’s Outstanding Monster Designs and Community Engagement

To begin, Silent Hill Ascension unfolds in various locations rather than the titular town itself. Currently, the game’s evolving plot centers around five troubled characters. In Pennsylvania, there’s the married couple Rachel and Eric, members of a cult known as the Foundation, facing trouble due to Rachel’s accidental involvement in the death of a fellow member, Joy Cirelli, during a ritual to combat a force of darkness called the Blight. Toby, Joy’s brother, who is not a Foundation member, seeks to uncover the truth behind his sister’s demise. At this point, Toby knows the Foundation is connected to Joy’s death but remains unaware of Rachel’s role in it.

Meanwhile, in Norway, the Johnson family, featuring Astrid Johnson and her father Karl, confront their own set of problems. Tragedy strikes when the family’s ailing and verbally abusive matriarch, Ingrid, suddenly passes away, and suspicion falls on Karl as the potential culprit. As Astrid investigates her mother’s death and cares for her son Orson, her doubts about her father intensify, while Karl struggles to maintain his sanity.

Regrettably, I found it challenging to become emotionally invested in the five main characters due to the rapid and confusing storytelling in Ascension. The narrative provides little opportunity to get to know these characters, who range from generic to uncommunicative. Ascension abruptly thrusts viewers into a convoluted and puzzling story without explanation. Additionally, the animation quality is inconsistent, and character movements feel restricted at times.

While Ascension successfully brings the community together for collaborative decision-making, the repetitive endurance segments and high cost of the season pass diminish its appeal.

The only way to learn about these characters’ backgrounds is by perusing their profiles on Ascension’s website when reviewing recent participation polls. Each participation choice in Ascension is categorized as either a gold or platinum choice, with the former having a more significant impact on the story. As each episode is broadcast live, every community decision becomes final. These choices are represented by three options: redemption (the obvious good choice), suffering (the neutral choice), and damnation (the more wild, dangerous, or evil choice).

Navigating the World of Silent Hill Ascension

The character’s fate at the end of Ascension’s “season” depends on the cumulative impact of viewer choices, provided the characters even survive to the end. Some choices may prove inconsequential. For instance, when viewers voted for Rachel to reveal the truth about Joy’s death to Eric, the result was her responding rudely and walking away without explaining much.

As we reflect on Ascension, it becomes evident that Silent Hill’s legacy remains in limbo, with players potentially yearning for a true revival of the franchise.

The characters’ survival is measured using a “hope meter.” At the end of each live segment, one character is randomly transported to Silent Hill’s Other World, where an “endurance” segment unfolds. During these segments, viewers must help the character endure the horrors through quick-time events. Success increases their hope, while failure reduces it. Given the characters’ generic nature and limited appeal, it’s not surprising if their collective hope dwindles, potentially leading to their demise at the hands of demons or monsters they strive to avoid.

Furthermore, these endurance segments tend to repeat the same clips, differing only in the character featured. Watching them can quickly become tedious, and I was tempted to close the stream after seeing the same outcomes multiple times. Nonetheless, I forced myself to watch the entire segment in case something different occurred.

Players can enhance a character’s hope and survival by playing mini-games found on Ascension’s main website, which serves as the hub. However, players can only access one of these mini-games per day, as others are locked behind a season pass. Yes, Ascension offers a season pass, which isn’t surprising for a live service connected to Konami—a red flag in itself. Ascension also employs a currency system called “influence” to vote for decisions.

Ascension, like the eerie town it is named after, is best approached with caution, if at all, to save yourself from potential disappointment.

The season pass, priced at $20, primarily provides access to additional mini-games, emojis for the live chat during segments, and more customization options for your Ascension avatar. These avatars can enter a cameo raffle, where they might appear in an upcoming live segment as an important or background character or even as a corpse during endurance segments. While influence can be obtained through in-game rewards, it’s not worth paying an additional $5 for more influence when voting.

Despite claims of compatibility with mobile and PC platforms, loading Ascension on a PC makes it apparent that the game was primarily designed for mobile devices. Navigating the website is cumbersome on a PC, and accessing character profiles outside of the current decision being voted on is a challenge. Glitches, such as videos playing in the background or segments restarting unexpectedly, further mar the PC experience.

Looking to the Future with Silent Hill F

Silent Hill Ascension, with its promising live participation concept, initially piqued my interest but ultimately fell short due to a rushed narrative, generic characters, and an array of microtransactions. While it successfully brings the community together for some collaborative decision-making, the game’s overall experience leaves much to be desired. The repetitive endurance segments, issues with the PC interface, and the high cost of the season pass further diminish the appeal.

As we reflect on Ascension, it becomes evident that Silent Hill’s legacy remains in limbo, with players potentially yearning for a true revival of the franchise. Only time will tell if Ryukishi 07’s upcoming title, Silent Hill F, can breathe new life into this iconic series. In the end, Ascension, like the eerie town it is named after, is best approached with caution, if at all.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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