The first four entries in the Silent Hill series, which I usually call the “quartet” for convenience, were developed from 1999 to 2004 by Team Silent, a bunch of incredibly talented literature and American horror movie fanatics who were essentially given free reign to develop a horror series for the PlayStation. I think the publisher and everyone else expected what they made to be a rip-off of Resident Evil, but fortunately for us all, they ended up making this fantastically beautiful quartet of lore-rich, tragic and terrifying games. Unfortunately, Team Silent was split up by Konami shortly after the fourth one came out – the first of many extremely questionable choices made by the publisher. I won’t get into that, you can probably look that up if you want to see the whole laundry list. It’s a shame to think what could have been had the team had been allowed to continue their own series, but we’ll always have the quartet.
The series was shipped off to several different developers afterwards. Whether this was for better or for worse is highly subjective, as every single Silent Hill entry, including even the books and movies, has an atmosphere that is entirely unique to that piece. The first one, for example, feels almost nothing like the second one, but they do have in common that surreal, interactive-novel vibe that is the series’ signature. Silent Hill is, in my opinion, an underappreciated influence on the psychological horror as a whole.
I owe this series my will to start writing. I mean, I’ve always wanted to write, but the Silent Hill quartet invigorated me to actually go through with it. I recommend the living heck out of it for writers and would-be writers.
Hold on a minute. You’re like, Emm, I don’t even like video games. That’s fine, I understand that. I’m not the biggest expert on them myself, but if you want to go into horror, especially ambient or psychological horror, you owe it to yourself to at least research it. The price on actual copies tends to go up and down, seemingly at random, but like I said yesterday, you can always use YouTube or the Wiki. (Or a reproduction game. Not as good as the real thing, but we take what we can get, yeah?)
Anyway, I’m probably never going to do a full-out review of any of these, as it would take video equipment I don’t have and likely weeks of effort to do them justice in a review. These are just some loose thoughts I had on each entry. Tomorrow I’ll cover the Western-made ones, which are certainly their own animal. If you’ve played any of these, let me know what you think!
Thoughts On the First Silent Hill
It will never cease to surprise me that this series ever became mainstream in America. There’s so much occultism, and even though the first Silent Hill has a far less realistic tone than the later ones, still has some pretty frank depictions of religious abuse. Not to mention, the main antagonistic force who underlines the entire series is a demonic god of blood and suffering. That’s damn dark for a major video game made in the 90s. I wouldn’t call the series as a whole extremely “violent”. It can be violent, if you choose, which gives it an ongoing theme of moral choice, but as a default, it’s not.
The first Silent Hill is admittedly, an acquired taste. It’s more action-based than exploration, and therefore slightly less to my personal preferences, and the story can be confusing. The protagonist, Harry Mason, can be a bit of a tactless doofus, too. (I made a comic about that, in fact.) The monster and character designs are really good, especially for the time, but I find myself coming back to it the least. You could say its predecessors did all of the horror tropes it introduced better – distortion of reality, human and inhuman evil, so on. Fun fact, that the Gillespie family, the main (human) villains, are based off of Carrie and her mother from Stephen King’s Carrie.
Continue reading “Thoughts on the Silent Hill Quartet”