Silent Hill 3 went a long way in explaining the gaping plot holes of the first game. So did we really need a prequel to explain it to even further? No. This game is to Silent Hill what Fire Walk With Me is to Twin Peaks: a rehashing of details we already know played out at a much slower pace.
You play as Travis Grady, a truck driver who sees a girl in the middle of the street and decides that means he has to get out of his truck (with the engine still running no less) and go follow her. He ends up at a burning building, hearing a young girl scream inside, and anyone who has played the first game already knows what this is all about.
You'll then lead Travis through various buildings, all with 90% of the doors locked and broken. Granted, this is a recurring theme in Silent Hill games, but it seemed worse here. Seriously, whoever the one locksmith in town is, he needs a new vocation.
Another strange choice is that in this game, Travis can control switching between the real world and the nightmare world by touching mirrors. In the past games, entering the nightmare world was often a reflection of what the character was going through at the time, usually gaining some piece of information they couldn't quite handle. That element is gone completely, and now the manually switching back and forth is used to enhance the puzzle elements of the game, where you have to change things in one world and then return to the other to use them. It's not terrible, but it does take away the fright aspect quite a bit.
Confession time. I only played this game up to about halfway through the Sanitarium, not quite the halfway point of the game. I ran out of health drinks and first aid kits, and in my attempt to figure out where to go, the enemies kept killing me. Travis will arbitrarily lock on to an enemy, and when there are two or more enemies, he'll randomly switch between them. In Silent Hill you have to stomp on an enemy after they fall down in order for them to stay dead. I can't stomp on an enemy when Travis is already aiming at the next one.
The controls are just downright horrible. I played the PS2 version, which is a port. The original was for the PSP, and I don't know if that was any better. In this version you cannot control the camera, which leads you to walk in circles at times when the game randomly changes direction on you. You can pick up lots of handheld weapons, but all of them break. Some are one time use, like when you throw a typewriter at someone. Others, like the wrench and hammer, will break on you randomly, usually when you're right in the middle of fighting an enemy and then you have to scramble to equip another one or use your rather meager fists. Pretty much every enemy has the ability to grab you, and you have to do a time based button press to escape the hold or continue to get drained of life. Aren't truck drivers supposed to be tough? He's such a lightweight.
All the other games in this series had a nicely done jump scare somewhere rather early in the game that would often make me scream in surprise. No such luck here. The first monster reveal, you walk up to a nurse whose back is turned. She's jerking around a little bit, do you think she could be undead??
In order to be the completist I am, I watched a walkthrough on Youtube done by user CRGamer1. He or she uses a special gun through the walkthrough that you can only get by beating the game and getting a special ending. As such Travis doesn't have too difficult a time of it, and so perhaps I missed out on any legitimate scares given that the player clearly knew what to expect where. So all I can really give you an opinion on from this point onward is the story.
Travis has his own story beyond the back story of the original game, but it's boring and uninteresting. The back story is no better explained here than it was in the first game. If you manage to get the bad ending, which you can only get the second time you play by killing a large number of enemies, it kind of/sort of attempts to explain the origins of Pyramid Head, but not really. But who wants to go through this tedious game twice? If there's any entry in the series you can skip, it is definitely this one.
Silent Hill: Origins? More like Bore-igins.*
*This is probably as close to seeing me act like an angry critic as you're ever going to get. I hope you enjoyed it.