Silent Hill – The Twisted Side Of Horror
It's been more than 12 years since the silent hill franchise literally twisted the horror genre and introduced us to the nightmare that left us scared shitless but still left us desiring for more.
While games like resident evil banked upon shooting the undead and created an eerie atmosphere for the gamers, it was silent hill which really deformed the survival horror genre and introduced us to the gloomy town of silent hill with all its ghastly creatures, cult secrets and mysteries so scary that even the bravest of men would think twice before stepping into this town.
Let The Nightmares Begin
Every single silent hill game has been a classic in itself with its own unique terrifying beasts and the signature composition by the legendary composer Akira Yamaoka. So what exactly has made this game such a hot favorite among horror fans across the globe? And just why can’t we stop ourselves from visiting this cursed place time and again?
Let’s rewind back in time and take a look at how this cult classic left the horror genre twisted forever and what the future is going to be like for fans of the Silent Hill franchise.
Silent Hill (1999, PlayStation, PlayStation Network)
It all started when Harry Mason's (A forgetful writer) car breaks down near the town of silent hill and he ventures in search of his daughter Cheryl, who got lost in the fog and the ashes of silent hill. As Harry struggled to find his daughter, he comes across a bunch of odd persons like the mysterious Dahlia Gillespie, the trembling nurse Lisa Garland or the confused cop named Cybil Bennett leaving him baffled at the secrets this creepy town was hiding. The game had four different endings depending on how the gamers played through the levels.
Anyone remember the creepiest thing about the game? It has to be the mumblers A.K.A The Demon Babies because they left my psyche scarred for the rest of my freaking gaming life… This game surely set the stage for the series by transforming the town from violent to a hellish nightmare leaving the gamers shocked, scared and craving for more.
Silent hill 2 (2001, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC)
This sequel set the stage for the true psychological terror that fans were in for. With Silent hill 2 Konami realized that it was time to increase the power and the influence of the town onto the minds of the gamer. The protagonist James Sutherland not only got to explore the frightening locales of the town but the gamers also got to look inside the hideous and dark reaches of a troubled mind.
From the deranged creatures filling the void of this dark foggy town to the creepy nurses who moved like as if they are being controlled by ropes (It only made them look creepier) along with the infamous pyramid head, everything about this game was phenomenal and gamers could now be sure that this game was here to stay!!
Silent Hill 3 (2002, PlayStation 2, PC)
When this third installment wrapped up the adventure and was receiving praises for the suffocating environment of the game, two silent hill themed books were also released onto the stores confirming the popularity of the franchise.
Silent hill three completed Mason's legacy through the fate of Heather Mason. This game notched up the franchise with a gory atmosphere where some of the most demented scenes in the game involved the characters themselves with puzzles that were the best so far in the series... And set the path for a brand new silent hill story.
Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC)
One of the best silent hill games according to me. The fact that the protagonist finds himself locked in his own apartment and unable to make himself heard to his neighbors while the paranormal tries to take him over is super creepy in itself. This game introduced us to the fact that "If you don't go to silent hill, it comes to you".
The main character Henry Townshend is required to solve the 21 sacraments ritual (if you are a true fan, you know what it is right?) so that he can prevent his own death. The game which was an experiment to push silent hill's boundaries ended up being one of the best in the series. Once again Akira Yamaoka came up with some really brilliant and spooky compositions for the game enticing gamers and critics alike.
Silent Hill: Origins (2007, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2)
Roughly after three years of silent hill: The Room, another major game was released by Konami onto the shelves called Origins, while there were several spinoffs of the original Silent Hill series in all these years, this was the first major official release by the developers.
By now Hollywood had taken notice and realized that it could highly profit from the game and got a license from the developers to come up with a movie incarnation. This game was a prequel and introduced trucker Travis Grady to the town when he rescued a girl from a burning building. Origins didn't really have a lasting impact on the gamer's minds as it just held onto the old ideas and didn't really offer anything innovative.
Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC)
Homecoming received mixed responses from fans all over the world, as this game was never really everyone's cup of tea. This sixth installment was a way for the developers to reintroduce the franchise in a brand new way (which is quite commendable) since the voice-overs and the combat system were dramatically improved in the game.
The main lead Alex Shepherd, who is a soldier comes back to hometown Shepherd Glen (which is on the outskirts of the godforsaken town of silent hill) and finds out that terrible things have happened since he left, like random people vanishing off along with his kid brother... what begins as a search and rescue, takes him down the darkest reaches of the otherworld and begins questioning his sanity...
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable)
This game was developed keeping one thing in mind by the new developers Climax Group and it was to turn the genre upside down and twist the already demented world of Silent Hill, unlike the original developers Team Silent, the new developers were ready for some serious experimentation ( Since games like Resident Evil were already revamping themselves).
Everything from the monsters to the level design and the character behavior was completely re-imagined and presented in a whole new way to the gamers. The "Nightmare sequences" in the game turned out to be the most visually stunning feature in the entire game including the trademark siren and the reality shifts.
This sequel was a gem and finally put silent hill on the list the scariest games ever made!!
Silent Hill: Downpour (2012, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
If you really wanted to experience true horror in 3d, wait till you have played this game. It's been released recently for the PS3 and Xbox, this game really takes advantage of PS3's 3d feature (PC Gamers will feel left out there).
When criminals from federal prison are being transported, their vehicle careens off the road leaving Murphy Pendleton stranded in silent hill. This time the story takes place in the southeastern part of Silent Hill (Which has never been explored in the previous series)... Also, this time the story will be focused more on Murphy and less on the town's myths and it's going to be interesting to see how it turns out that way.
The trailers looked real creepy and the game is even creepier... The sad part though is Akira Yamaoka has quit the series, and we won't get to hear those spine chilling scores anymore.
Silent hill has come a long way from being one man's nightmare to becoming one of the world's scariest and greatest games. Only time will tell whether the game goes back to its Japanese roots (which was the best) or follows the current trend of the American way of storytelling, either way we have been in love with the series for so many years now that imagining a gaming life without Silent Hill is a bigger nightmare than the creepy game itself, Come let' repeat that famous line "In my restless dreams, I see that town...Silent Hill."
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What's your Take?
Do you think that silent hill deserves to be in the hall of fame of video games?