The Silent Hill franchise has put out some of the most iconic horror games ever made. Here’s how all the titles match-up.
Another Halloween is coming up, and what better way to celebrate than to dive into a good horror video game or two? However, no matter which horror game that players decide on this Halloween season, it was undoubtedly influenced in some way by one of the most influential horror series of all time: Silent Hill.
Silent Hill, especially in its prime, brought a new standard of horror to the medium of video games. The inclusion of psychological terror as a main focus was nearly perfected in this franchise, and although the series has seen some massive turbulence in the last few years, its terrifying legacy will live on even outside of the town limits of Silent Hill. It’s time to count down every major game in the series to see which are the most spine-tingling entries.
If this title came to fruition, it would without a doubt be topping this list. The demo that shook the video game world, P.T. (Playable Teaser) was the mystery project by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro where, that was revealed to be the teaser for a new entry in the series called Silent Hills. The demo alone was one of the most terrifying games ever to be created, with the looping hallways, nightmare-inducing imagery, and the palpable sense of dread. This had to be at the bottom of the list only because it’s not an actual fully-realized game, but it still deserves to be mentioned as an unfortunate reminder of what could’ve been.
Not much can be said about this title. Silent Hill: The Arcade is an arcade cabinet that gave players two pistols to shoot anything and everything. It nearly removed everything that makes the series unique, and there are virtually no psychological horror elements to be found.
The first game to entirely be created by a western developer Double Helix, Silent Hill: Homecoming received mixed reviews upon release. Fans were not happy with the greater focus on action, which drastically took away from a lot of the psychological elements at play. Regardless, seeing the town of Silent Hill come to life on PlayStation 3 was still breathtaking, and was able to create some of that familiar dread that Silent Hill fans expect from the franchise.
One of the most recent entries of the series. Silent Hill: Downpour was still able to crank some old-school fright out of the franchise, and provide the atmosphere that fans were craving. Unfortunately, the monster design and combat heavily detracted from the immersion, and playing as Murphy Pendleton (an incarcerated criminal) took away the “everyman” feeling that the original games had.
The first entry on the Nintendo Wii, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was a retelling of the first game in a unique and totally different way. Gameplay is split between a third person perspective during the exploration and combat sections, and a first person perspective as the player character of Harry Mason is in a psychotherapy session. In the latter segments, the player can make decisions that can affect the ending of the game and plays into ways that the story will play out. These segments added a breath of fresh air to the Silent Hill formula, and although the gameplay wasn’t as praised as the previous entries, returning to the story roots of the series was the right decision for the time. It brought back a lot of the genuine fear that made the series so iconic.
The original numbered entries of the franchise are without a doubt the most praised, and Silent Hill 4: The Room (not starring Tommy Wiseau), was still an entry that kept the initial thrill of the youth of the series, despite being the most critically divisive entry in the series so far. Henry Townshend finds himself unable to leave his apartment, and the game revolves around a first person perspective within his apartment (which has the only save point in the game), and third person action segments exploring the twisted areas that Henry is given access to from his apartment. The fear of this entry comes from the unexpected locations that are presented, on top of the claustrophobia of being trapped within an apartment. The startling silence of the main apartment area creates tension that is still unmatched by other games in the series.
The original Silent Hill trilogy is heralded as one of the most influential and effective horror series of all time. Silent Hill 3 follows Heather Mason (daughter of Harry Mason, the protagonist of the first game) as she descends into madness throughout a mall that Silent Hill has changed for her. The monster designs are absolutely horrific, the environments take familiar locations and make them into unbelievable nightmares, and the character of Heather Mason is the most praised in the series for her complex emotional center and survivalist attitude. Many images within this game have stuck with gamers for years since its release.
The game that started it all, the PlayStation 1 classic Silent Hill launched players into the horrific mystery of the wide open town of Silent Hill; the fog was thick, the threats were unknown, and Harry Mason was an everyday person subject to it all. The gameplay was slow and methodical, which played heavily into the way that the monsters would approach you in combat situations. Players felt absolutely helpless and unsure about what would be around each corner, and it was incredibly effective in its execution. This game made sure that the gaming community did not forget the name Silent Hill.
The game that brought the series to the PlayStation 2 and improved on nearly every aspect of the original, Silent Hill 2 focuses on James Sunderland, who travels to Silent Hill because of a letter he receives from his deceased wife, informing him that she is waiting for him in the cursed town. What follows is a relentless horror masterclass that blends psychological horror, body horror, and mystery to create an experience all on its own. This game introduces the now iconic Pyramid Head: a hulking beast who hunts James all throughout his quest to find his wife. The mystery is constantly building behind all of the terror, and when the conclusion finally presents itself… it will not be forgotten.
Mitch Rayner lives in Fredericton NB Canada, and is a musician, writer, social worker by trade, and overall lover of all things video games and movies! He really wants to promote that people listen to The Mountain Goats on their downtime, and that everyone should stay safe and be safely social during these bizarre times.
Silent Hill, Konami, P.T., Doom, The Game Awards, Hideo Kojima
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