Since the release of Downpour, the Silent Hill series has been in video game purgatory. There was the release of P.T., a precursor to Silent Hills, which drummed up renewed interest in the series in 2014, but after the cancellation of the whole project, the future for one of horror gaming’s most notable franchises looked bleak.
While each of these entries are worth talking about in their own right, Silent Hill f has left us more clues compared to the other announcements. Silent Hill f has sparked much buzz and interest in the horror gaming community, such as fans theorizing what the f in the title stands for, whether it be a music forte or related to the flowers in the trailer, which appear to be lycoris radiata, sometimes known as red spider lilies or higanbana. But here are two particularly noteworthy reasons.
The first is that the game is going to be departing from the series by not being set in the American town of which it shares the same name but instead set in 1960s Japan. This pulls some things into question – is it just the setting that is changing or will this game altogether rewrite the aspects which are traditionally Silent Hill-esque?
I seriously doubt this. Even as the series has changed characters and followed their own stories through each instalment, Silent Hill has always, at its core, been about exploring the manifestations of trauma. Perhaps the change in setting could bring different representations of trauma, such as the societal trauma that Japan was experiencing during its recovery post Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings.
Second and more importantly, Silent Hill f is going to be written by Ryukishi07. If you don’t know who that is, he is a legend within the Japanese visual novel sphere, creating the When They Cry series which started with Higurashi, which can essentially be simplified to if Groundhog Day was psychological horror. Even the CG trailer already has hints of his work – the unnamed character dragging a lead pipe behind her is very reminiscent of Rena with her axe.
And it’s also worth talking about because of his reputation. One of the biggest fears when it comes to the future of Silent Hill is how well future games will do – will the series ever recapture the lightning in a bottle that was the initial titles, or will the sequels slip into the quagmire of mediocrity?
In regards to the game’s story, Silent Hill f is certainly in good hands. Ryukishi07 has a tried and tested record of creating outstanding tales that easily blend horror with mystery and have their respective cult followings, making him a perfect choice of writer for an upcoming Silent Hill game.
One interesting thing though is that Silent Hill f bears some resemblance to a title Ryukishi07 has worked on previously, that being Higanbana No Saku Yoru Ni, or as it is known in English, On The Night The Red Spider Lily Blooms. As well as both titles featuring the red spider lily plant as a major motif, Higanbana is a title that deals with subjects of trauma and the supernatural, hallmarks of the Silent Hill series.
The similarities between the two, at least in terms of aesthetics, are too similar to ignore, but this could also be a mere coincidence. Higanbana deals with the subject matters of bullying at school and features Yōkai, while the Silent Hill titles cover a wide range of trauma with the monsters being manifestations of their personal demons. Perhaps Ryukishi07 is taking ideas from previous works and exploring them more in-depth with this upcoming project – the red spider lily is a flower often associated with death. Whatever the case, Silent Hill f promises to be a very intriguing title.
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