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There's a term gamers use to define the silly arduous puzzles we encounter in games: A "moon logic" puzzle. They are the puzzles that are poetic and metaphoric than practical. When it comes to moon logic puzzles, Silent Hill is one of the best (or worst?) at implementing them into the gameplay and story. Sometimes these stories just don't make any damn sense at all, but neither do monsters with two sets of legs, or monsters that are psychological manifestations of trigonometry homework.
So without further ado, let's count down those seven most WTF Silent Hill puzzles!
7. Vices and Nutcrackers: Not for Intended Use? - 'Silent Hill 3'
I think this puzzle was a deliberate troll from the Silent Hill 3 developers. In the nightmare shopping mall, you search through the dilapidated shops for quest items and find a walnut in a jewelry store. Eh? Well, I've found stranger things. Soon, we get to a torture room (which judging by the save point here used to be the gym equipment store—subtle jeering by the devs?) which has a vice. Surely not? But yes, you can break open the walnut which gives us a moonstone to unlock a door. What was I saying about moon logic?
That's not all, after we complete the nightmare shopping mall and duck down to the subway (because Heather has never seen Jacob's Ladder apparently), we come across a nutcracker in a pile of junk. It's used to break open the lock on a gate we need to progress through. I'm not even sure that would exactly work. Still a weird puzzle, that's a fact.
6. Clockwork Tower - 'Silent Hill'
In the first Silent Hill, coming into the school is a little harrowing because little gray munchkins keep hugging Harry to death. Also, there's a rather strange puzzle to be solved. In order to access certain rooms and puzzles, it needs to be a certain time, and this is done by putting clock facsimiles into a tower outside. But the process of getting the slates isn't obvious. You need to explore the school, try some doors, murder some children—gray monster children, of course. What did you think I meant?
First, you find a chemical in order to melt a fake hand in the chemistry lab. Let's just let go of the fact that an elementary school has a chemistry lab. You give the American education too much credit, Japan, public schools normally don't require kids to learn chemistry till 11th grade. But anyway, you get a chemical to melt a hand which is clutching one of the disks you need. Then you go to a music room and do a piano puzzle. Silent Hill, unlike many games these days, doesn't undermine the player's intelligence. They give clues to a puzzle that isn't exactly forthcoming. You have to use your brain to figure it out. Imagine, using your brain! What a novel idea! Once the piano puzzle is completed, a medallion is released from the wall.
Who's exactly leaving these weird puzzles around to be solved? What kind of hand was that that it could be melted with a chemical? Why was their blood on the piano keys? These are questions that the game doesn't answer and it's better that it doesn't. It's just a puzzle to flex your noodle and creep you out at the same time.
5. Liver and Fire - 'Silent Hill 3'
Heather Mason has no appreciation for paintings, so much so that she needs to burn one to get through the rest of the level. She's not having a good day at all. She got creeped on by a detective, the mall was literal hell, there was some weird lady with no eyebrows saying Heather's gonna give birth to a god. All in all, not your usual Thursday afternoon. Now she's in an office building and the display tubs are pooling blood from the drains. Now she's in a hellish rusty office building where puzzles are guaranteed not to make sense.
So, what do you do to set fire to a painting with only a bucket at hand?
A) Use powers as a holy being to set the painting on fire.
B) Try to generate fire by rubbing the lead pipe and katana together.
C) Find a piece of pork liver, a bottle of oxydol, and a matchbook.
The answer is C! Of course, it is! Hey people who played this game before the internet was more widely available, how the hell did you manage to figure this one out? There's a book that can give you a clue, but if you're playing on Hard Mode, you're shit out of luck. What you need to do? Combine the pork liver, oxydol, and a matchbook in the bucket and this will set fire to the painting. I might not be well versed in such chemistry experiments, but wouldn't just striking the match to set it on fire have worked? Also, if you have the flamethrower on New Game Plus, it doesn't work. Because... puzzles.
4. Box of Intrigue - 'Silent Hill 2'
Ah, Brookhaven Hospital. How much I dread your dark hallways and scary tenured nurses. Seriously, can you give them some vacation time, they're practically demonic with lethargy. James Sunderland goes to the hospital in his chase of Laura, a little brat who knows about James' (allegedly) dead wife. Laura decides a hospital is a fantastic place to go and we have to explore in order to find her.
But on our way, we have to do a rather tedious puzzle. In one of the rooms, there's a box on a bed with four code locks wrapped around it. What kind of government secrets could be in there, I wonder? Time to do some more exploration to find these codes and keys. But this is better said than done. The nursing staff is apoplectic in their urge to sedate James. Well, he is kind of nuts but you need to fuck right off. If you're really good at the game and can melee them efficiently enough, props to you, but I had to use my gun. Looking around, we find the keys and the codes from some crazy ranting notes and instructions on whiteboards from medical staff. Maybe don't put your codes on whiteboards that patients can see, yeah?
So after all that key hunting, nurse punting, and code... spelunking, we go unlock the locks to the box. Oh boy, oh boy, is this going to be something cool like a magnum that shoots incendiary bullets? Nope.
Pieces of... hair. That James gets to use with a bent needle to fish a key out of a drain. Could you not have found like a thread off of a coat or something? Or asked Maria to lend you one? I think the story is that some patient accidentally killed his daughter, went insane, and saved a few strands of hair, which became so precious to him that he had to secure it with a four-locked box. But I look it as the town power trolling James and by extension, the player. Thanks, game.
3. Doll Parts - 'Silent Hill 4'
Silent Hill 4 might be the weaker of the horror quartet, but it has some of the trippier scares. Like the infamous Eileen's giant head room in hospital world and those transitional spiral rooms with bondage sheep (just look it up). But this game definitely had the stupidest puzzles. "Put the object in the place." Thanks, that was a real mind-bender. Your second time through forest world, you have Eileen hobbling right alongside you and the objective is that you need to find doll parts while escaping Walter Sullivan. Trust me, you'll get really tired of every time you hear a click and "HAHA!" Though, you can't really expect a serial killer hellbent on your death to let you solve puzzles in peace.
Once you collect all the pieces, you can put them together in a wheelchair, which will animate and wheel downward where you can access a door. You'd be questioning, "Why can't I just move the wheelchair?" Well, the wheelchairs actually have invisible ghosts in them. No, that wasn't a joke. These worlds are also machinations of Walter's insanity, so of course, it's not going to be coherent. There's a giant earthworm in the walls of every world, of course it's not coherent.
2. Makeshift Handle
The prison under the historical society is absolutely terrifying. There's monsters stomping that James can see, but the player can't. The background ambience sounds like creaking doors, rope fibers crackling, clanging gates. It's dark, there's weird ass demons everywhere. All through this level, you're supposed to find a wax doll, a lighter, and a horseshoe. You find the horseshoe in a massive room where you expect there to be a boss fight. There is none, but there's a hanging post in the middle of the room with a carving of two pyramid heads. While you're in this room, the sound of galloping will travel channel to channel of your headphones, giving the illusion of horses trotting around you.
What do we do with these items, though? The flavor text of the lighter says that its "flame is stronger than normal lighters." Evidently, that means it melts things because you have to melt the wax doll and stick the horseshoe in it. And even though it would take a little while for the wax to solidify, we can instantly use the handle to open another hole. Maybe this nonsensical puzzle is just another sign of how warped James' delusions are getting, since this is the part of the game where the atmosphere becomes bizarrely illogical.
1. Bloody Face - 'Silent Hill 3'
The Hard Mode puzzles in Silent Hill 3 practically require PhDs in English Literature and... bird dichotomy? But one puzzle is needlessly horrifying and complex, it doesn't fail to gross me out every time I play the game. Here's the poem/riddle in all its infinite grossness.
The popular fan theory is this was written by the hospital stalker, Stanley Coleman, and he's talking about what he wants to do to Heather. You basically have to assign certain numbers of the keypad to a part of a face, which the author of the poem describes eating. First, he drills his thumb into the eye socket and drinks the tears. Since he mentions it's his left hand doing this, you have to deduce that it's her right eye. You'd think this would be 1, but it's actually 4 since the tears would be running down her cheek. Next, he says, "biting your tongue, shredding it," which means 8. Then comes the cheek, which is either 7 or 9. Finally, he eats her left ear, which is 6. After guessing on the keypad if it's 4-8-7-6 or 4-8-9-6, it ends up being the latter.
I don't know about you, reader. But I could sure go for a sandwich right now.
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