Silent Hill 20th Anniversary
The original Silent Hill debuted for the Sony PlayStation on January 31, 1999. Developed by Konami, the survival horror series took cues from Capcom’s successful Resident Evil series. With limited ammo to help you survive a wasteland filled with monsters, you’ll explore and solve puzzles while you uncover a conspiracy.
Unlike Resident Evil, however, Silent Hill opts for a psychological horror approach. Instead of running from zombies and mutated dogs, you’re learning of cults, the sins of humanity, and walking through barely lit corridors. The monsters are deformed human beings taking on a grotesque shape.
Contributions to the Horror genre.
While Silent Hill used Resident Evil’s exploration and puzzle-solving elements as its basis, the series drew from more macabre elements. Darkened areas (known as the Otherworld) replaced the floor with rusty grates to give the player a creepier atmosphere. Dark religious cults attempted to birth a dark god while Harry Mason was trying to save his daughter in the eponymous town.
The sequel introduced one particular character of note named Pyramid Head. Comparable to Resident Evil’s monsters, the Tyrants, Pyramid Head would stalk the player throughout corridors of Silent Hill 2. This creature was invincible and dealt heavy damage to the player. It instilled a level of fear knowing that you could be attacked at any time. While its appearances were scripted based upon specific locations, however, newcomers to the game would have to watch their back.
The darkened corridors limited your sight greatly. Between that and the foggy world, the radio you wore would alert you of incoming enemies with a static sound. Silent Hill added much more to the feeling of fear. Plus, the tragic backstories of the characters – and their fate – made it one of the darkest and most depressing series in gaming history.
Composed by Akira Yamaoka, the keyboard music contributed greatly to the atmosphere. Silent Hill’s music is one-of-a-kind. Whether it’s the calm, piano melodies of a character theme or the haunting beginning of the second game, Silent Hill music becomes memorable even the first time around.
The rise and fall.
The original Silent Hill trilogy was praised for more than its story. Even though combat was quite basic, the elements came together to deliver an enjoyable game. Memorable boss battles, superb atmosphere, and well-crafted storytelling made these three games among the most fond PlayStation titles.
Silent Hill 4 was the first game in the series to receive below an 80% on Metacritic. After that, however, the ratings dipped and the series never quite recovered. Despite this, Silent Hill had a moderately successful movie adaptation that received a 62% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. As a loose adaptation of the first game’s story, it included the Otherworld, Pyramid Head, and even tracks reprised by series composer, Akira Yamaoka, himself.
Konami released Silent Hill HD Collection. Omitting the original game, it bundled Silent Hill 2 and 3 for PS2. However, these HD remasters were panned for featuring numerous technical issues.
What the future holds.
Konami’s reputation has been bleak at best over the last few years. Between the reboot and drop of the popular Castlevania franchise, the departure of Metal Gear creator, Hideo Kojima, and the reputation for management’s treatment of employees, Konami fell from grace over the last decade. Once considered legendary for delivering hits, like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metal Gear Solid, many of these franchises have not seen the light of day in years. Moreover, recent Konami titles, such as Metal Gear Survive, were deemed as an insult by many players.
On the flipside, parts of Konami’s team have done well by their fans. Super Bomberman R restored the franchise with its cute, colorful graphics and classic gameplay. In addition, the game includes characters from Konami’s past, like Pyramid Head, Simon Belmont, and Vic Viper. Konami’s attempt to invest into eSports with the game shows more outreach for their fans.
Furthermore, Konami has also helped restore legacy to the Castlevania series. Featuring a mobile game (currently exclusive to Japan), the popular Castlevania Netflix series, and the inclusion of Snake and the Belmonts in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it seems they’re working to rebuild the bridges lost over the last few years.
Silent Hill’s appearance in gaming media has been nonexistent over the last few years. With the cancellation of Kojima Productions’ PT (Silent Hills), Konami has yet to mention anything regarding the series. Despite the inclusion of Konami elements in Super Smash Bros. and Bomberman, however, the Silent Hill franchise remains in limbo, pun not intended.
However, even today, the original Silent Hill trilogy remains a favorite in players’ hearts. With the success of Capcom’s Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil 2 remake, survival horror remains as strong as ever. Perhaps it’s a cue for Konami to return the franchise to its former glory. As long as fans continue to demand the return, we may once again see the restoration of the survival horror classic.
Thank you for reading our Silent Hill feature. What’s your favorite game in the series? Let us know in the comments below!