Will We Ever See A New Silent Hill Game?

Seeing through the fog.

Silent Hill 2

Since we started this little retrospective series of ours, there’s one franchise that’s been more daunting than the rest, just because there’s so much to cover. Tackling a series like The Darkness isn’t so bad when there’s only two games, but there’s plenty of meat on these bones. However, with Halloween practically around the corner, the timing is right to finally tackle the big one: Silent Hill.

For a lot of people, Silent Hill is considered one of the most iconic horror franchises of all time, and it holds a special place in the hearts of many for being a huge part of their formative years. Unfortunately, the series has had an incredibly rocky history over the past couple of years, and the future of Silent Hill has been up in the air ever since. Today, finally, we’re asking the question: will we ever see a new Silent Hill game?


The History Of Silent Hill

Silent Hill
Silent Hill

Silent Hill’s history begins within Konami. Development of the first game started in September 1996, with the intention to create a game that would be successful in the West. Naturally, the team opted for a supernatural horror game set in a sleepy little American town, which would become the titular Silent Hill. The franchise was inspired by a lot of sources, one of the most notable being The Mist, the Stephen King novel about monsters descending on a small town while shrouded in heavy mist. That inspiration would prove to be a lifesaver for the Silent Hill series, as the developers used heavy fog as a way to mask the PS1’s shortcomings regarding draw distance.

One other aspect of the franchise which became synonymous with Silent Hill was the incredible score and sound design by Akira Yamoaka, a then long-time Konami employee responsible for the score on the likes of Contra: Hard Corps, Snatcher and Gradius Deluxe Pack. Akira volunteered himself to work on the original Silent Hill’s soundtrack as a composer, before becoming the series’ sound design lead, working on Silent Hill for a decade. He would leave Konami in 2010, but still found his way back to horror by working on Bloober Team’s The Medium.

In the early going, it felt like Silent Hill was on top of the world. The first game in the series launched in 1999, receiving a 86 on Metacritic and selling over two million copies worldwide, which is incredibly impressive for the gaming industry over 20 years ago. The follow-up games, Silent Hill 2 and 3, went on to achieve an equal to greater level of success that the first entry, with 2001’s SH2 earning an 89 on Metacritic, going on to be considered as the best entry in the series, while Silent Hill 3 in 2003 would earn an 85, and sold 300,000 copies within a few months of release.

Silent Hill 1
Silent Hill

Unfortunately, it’s here where the legacy begins to waver somewhat, but not as quickly as you’d think. Silent Hill 4: The Room, which launched on PS2, Xbox and PC in 2004, deviated from the expected Silent Hill tropes by not taking place in the town, instead focusing on an apartment in another city that has some supernatural connection to the psyche of a dead serial killer. There’s also a weird hole in the bathroom that may or may not be a portal to other dimensions. It’s like Being John Malkovich, if it was a horror game. So, you know, nothing like it.

As far as the game being a departure from the traditional Silent Hill tropes, SH4: The Room was a bold attempt at keeping the franchise fresh, but unfortunately it didn’t really translate well in terms of reviews. Silent Hill 4 hit an average of 76 on Metacritic, with reviewers praising the game’s creepy visuals and story, but admonishing the game for some wonky targeting despite focusing more on combat than ever.

It’s at this point, however, where the Silent Hill series starts to move in completely new directions — and not entirely for the better either. For the first four games, they were all developed in-house by Konami’s Team Silent, but Konami began licensing the brand out to other development houses in the West to do something with the series. Aside from the occasional hit, it was mostly downhill from there.

Silent Hill 4
Silent Hill 4

The most fondly beloved games of this period came from the British development house Climax Studios, who were responsible for the development of PSP/PS2 title Silent Hill: Origins in 2007, and PSP/PS2/Wii title Shattered Memories in 2009. As the name would suggest, Origins is a prequel to the events of the first game, setting everything that happens in the original Silent Hill into motion. Meanwhile, Shattered Memories reimagines the events of the first game, telling them through the eyes of a first-person psychotherapy session.

Reviews of Origins were pretty decent, with the PSP version of the game sitting at 78 on Metacritic, critics considering it to be a great stopgap release that emulates what came before it rather than offering something revolutionary. Reviews for Shattered Memories were ever so slightly more positive, reaching 79 on Metacritic. While some gameplay issues hampered the overall score, the game’s use of psychotherapy questions and answers affecting the horror you face in-game was a neat touch that gave the scares a bit more edge.

In between those two releases was Homecoming, developed by Double Helix Games and released in 2008 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. The game fleshed out more about the world and history of Silent Hill, while focusing on another new character, but with a Metacritic score of 71 on PS3 at best, it was the worst entry in the series yet. It still doesn’t mean it was terrible, but there were flaws, the main one being that it felt more like an action game than a tense psychological horror.


Where Did Silent Hill Go Wrong?

Silent Hill Downpour
Silent Hill Downpour

After a steady pace of releasing just the one game every year or every other year from 1999 to 2009, Silent Hill took a couple of years off before releasing three games (two original and one port collection) in the space of just one year. You wait all this time for horror games about a spooky fog covered town, and all of sudden, three come along at once. What are the odds? It’s just a shame that none of them really reinvigorated the series.

We’ll start off with the port, Silent Hill HD Collection, which bundled together Silent Hill 2 and 3 and released for then-modern platforms. Even before launch, the HD Collection caught flack for the fact that it only included Silent Hill 2 and 3, when the first Silent Hill, Origins and The Room could have joined them, but this wasn’t exactly a new practice for Konami. The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection also only included 2 and 3, leaving the first game out in the cold.

The development handled by Hijinx Studio was hamstrung by the fact that Konami didn’t possess the entire original source code, meaning that Hijinx had to piece together elements of the game themselves. This meant that the team fell into some of the same pitfalls of the original development team, along with whole new ones. One of the most notable was the reduced fog, which meant that textures and puzzle clues were easier to spot. All in all, these led to the game receiving a 70 on Metacritic.

Book of Memories
Book of Memories

Alongside the HD port, a proper Silent Hill release in the form of Downpour was also published. Developed by Czech studio Vatra Games, Downpour follows the story of another outsider to the town of Silent Hill, travelling between the real world and the Otherworld, facing monsters and apparitions that prey on the character’s psychological insecurities. Basically, it was survival horror again, but it wasn’t without some issues.

Reviewers praised Downpour’s return to the world of psychological horror, along with the story and setting, but the weak combat and host of technical issues left Silent Hill: Downpour as one of the worst reviewed games in the series. Downpour sits at a 64 on Metacritic, and both Silent Hill HD Collection and Downpour failed to break the UK top 10 sales charts on launch week, suggesting that both games weren’t huge commercial successes for Konami.

Speaking of not being huge commercial successes, Silent Hill also followed the same footsteps as the likes of Killzone and Resistance with a Vita game. Developed by WayForward, Silent Hill: Book of Memories was a dungeon crawling spin-off where players created their own character from one of five classes, and wandered through various zones to murder the various monsters lying in wait.

It’s been noted that the mandate regarding the development of Book of Memories was that it should be a “Vita-centric Silent Hill,” “not traditional,” and “different every time you play,” so a dungeon crawler certainly ticks all those boxes. However, most critics couldn’t really vibe with the game, leading to Book of Memories sitting at a 58 on Metacritic. As it stands, Book of Memories is the final proper release for the Silent Hill series, but not for a lack of trying.


Where’s Silent Hill At Now?

P.T. Horror Game Background

Finally, we’re talking about P.T. and Silent Hills. Oh boy, strap in.

After two years of silence regarding the Silent Hill series, Gamescom 2014 rolled around on August 12th with a mysterious horror game by the name of P.T. that was playable on the PS4 from that very day. A shock announcement like that was enough to get hearts and minds racing at what this game could be about, but they wouldn’t have to wait too long to find that answer.

P.T. was a short demo experience played from a first-person perspective. Players would move through a looping series of rooms, solving puzzles and becoming steadily unnerved by the weird happenings in the different rooms. Those bleeding fridges will linger long in the memory, though so will the ghost woman jump scare. That was a heart attack waiting to happen.

It would take about half a day for the gaming community to get to the end of P.T. and figure out what was going on. Once you complete the demo, a small cutscene plays that showcases the protagonist you’ve been playing as, and it’s none other than The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus. Not only that, but P.T. was actually a “Playable Teaser” for the upcoming Silent Hills project, a new horror game that would be the product of a collaboration between acclaimed video game developer Hideo Kojima, and visionary film director Guillermo Del Toro.

Silent Hills
Silent Hills

As you can imagine, the news of a collaboration between all of the above parties sent the internet into a bit of a tailspin, and rightly so. The potential of a horror game created by Kojima, who loves the spooky stuff, and GDT, who is famed for his films filled with creepy and imaginative monsters, is the stuff of legend. It’s a shame, then, that Silent Hills would never see the light of day.

Without going too much into the history and conflict of another series entirely, the relationship between Hideo Kojima and Konami began to fracture horribly during the development of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, so much so that Kojima had a very public departure from the studio in 2015. This led to Kojima forming Kojima Productions and working with both Norman Reedus and GDT on Death Stranding, meaning the spirit of P.T. ‘s creative team was alive in some way.

With the fallout ahead of MGS V’s launch reaching a fever pitch, Konami made the decision to delist P.T. from the PS4’s digital storefront, making the demo undownloadable for new players and effectively killing the game’s chances for good. The decision then led to a wave of enterprising PS4 owners to begin selling their PS4s with P.T. pre-installed, leading to sites like eBay trying to take down the listings whenever they popped up.

P.T. was a hot commodity, even before its delisting, and it spawned a wave of copycats and spiritual successors that aimed to carry on the demo’s mantle. Someone remade the P.T. demo in Xbox’s Project Spark back in 2014, though that remake was also lost to history when development support for Spark stopped in 2016. A fan-made remake was also released on PC in 2018, though the game was swiftly removed by Konami just over a week later.


The Future of Silent Hill

Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill 3

The answer to that question seems to change with the breeze. After the fallout between Konami and Kojima, Konami seemed to retreat from core console game development, returning only for the annual PES games and the poorly received Metal Gear Survive in 2018. For the most part, all of their properties were suffering from a lack of new entries, including Metal Gear, Castlevania and Silent Hill.

However, there appears to be more concrete evidence that new Silent Hill projects are in the works. Earlier this year, it was reported that two Silent Hill projects are in development, with one of them being the product of a partnership between Konami and Polish developers Bloober Team. Bloober have worked on games like Observer and The Medium, the second of which featured the musical talents of Silent Hill composer Akira Yamoaka.

The studio’s success with games like Layers of Fear, Blair Witch and The Medium, along with that connection with Akira, has meant they’ve been unofficially tapped by fans as the potential go-to should a third-party studio develop a new Silent Hill. A statement from Bloober Team said that the two parties would be “jointly developing selected contents and exchanging know-how”, though with their pedigree of creating unnerving psychological horror, I’d say Bloober Team have plenty of know-how already.

As for the other Silent Hill project, it’s been reported that the second game is in development at a prominent Japanese studio, and the game would be somewhat of a departure from previous Silent Hill games. According to sources mentioned in the VGC article linked above, Konami execs were previously gun shy about greenlighting pitches from third-parties regarding their licenses, but after the flops that were Metal Gear Survive and Contra: Rogue Corps, Konami are now more willing to accept these pitches.


More recently, it emerged from another VGC report that Konami are looking to revive their other classic franchises, including Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania, with remakes and reimaginings galore, while simultaneously reconfirming that two Silent Hill projects are in development. Gematsu would post a little addendum to that story themselves, stating that according to an unnamed publishing source, Kojima Productions were behind the next Silent Hill, and the game is being funded by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

While it might seem like it’s a long shot that Kojima and Konami would’ve worked past their differences to create a Silent Hill game, the seeds seem to have already been planted. In Death Stranding: Director’s Cut, the PS5 re-release of Kojima Productions’ debut game, a new Easter Egg has been added that references P.T.. Kojima himself is a big fan of leading fans down rabbit holes with teases and fun little nods, so this could be everything when it comes to confirming a Silent Hills project, or just a bit of banter.

Fans have been clamouring for a new Silent Hill game for what feels like a decade. Wait, it’s actually been a decade?! Damn. Fortunately, the future of the series seems to be very bright, with two incredibly capable teams shepherding the horror icon into a new era. We’ll just have to see if these two projects pay off.

Or if they’re even real.

READ MORE: 10 Best (and Scariest) Horror Game Settings of All Time

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