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  1. #1

    Retro|Spective 028: Silent Hill

    This thread series promised to take you back there one day, and now it has. You're not alone there. In our restless dreams, we see that town...

    Silent Hill

    Mainline Entry 01 - Silent Hill
    Formats: Playstation
    Launching the series with an entry that would prove to be the template for most of the series that followed, Konami took the limitations of the host hardware and played them to the games strengths with its slow pacing and dense fog masking the limits the engine faced. Harry Mason takes the lead, searching the town for his missing daughter as he fends off the creatures that lurk amidst the mists. The game initially appeared to be trying to cash in on the Resi craze but trying to use a 3D engine instead of pre-rendered backgrounds, however, the game won over gamers on its release by being much smarter than was to be expected and remains a fondly thought of title.



    Mainline Entry 02 - Silent Hill 2
    Formats: Playstation 2, Xbox, PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
    A new generation of consoles meant the series returned with an updated look however no-one expected it to return with such a visually accomplished title. Largely following the model of the original game, players assumed the role of James Sunderland who has returned to Silent Hill following him receiving a letter from his dead wife promising she would meet him there. Refinement was mostly the order of the game in comparison to the original title however it was the incredibly well thought out storyline and characters that made the sequel hit home the hardest and is why it's considered to be not only the best entry for most but also one of the defining titles of the entire genre.



    Mainline Entry 03 - Silent Hill 3
    Formats: Playstation 2, PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
    Following on from the second game, the third aimed to ride the success by taking players back to Silent Hill in a new entry that was broadly more of the same from a gameplay stand point but delivered something that would please fans of the original game a little more from a narrative stand point. This time Heather Mason took the lead, the child given to Harry in the original game, as she found herself being pulled back into the town.



    Mainline Entry 04 - Silent Hill 4: The Room
    Formats: Playstation 2, Xbox, PC
    The very next year Konami put out the fourth game that marked itself out by not being quite so traditionally linked to the previous games from the outset and was instead based from an apartment within a nearby town. Players controlled Henry Townsend as he fought against the creatures that came for him as he sought a way out of his domestic prison. The game was positively received but sales took a slump thanks to general decline at the time and how heavily Konami had been pushing the series.



    Spin Off Entry 01 - Silent Hill: Arcade
    Formats:
    Arcade
    Beginning to go all in on milking the series, Konami put out this rail shooter to arcades. The series aesthetic was essentially applied to an otherwise typical arcade gun shooter.



    Mainline Entry 05 - Silent Hill: Origins
    Formats: Playstation 2, Playstation Portable
    Initially launching on handheld, the fifth canonical entry was ported over the PS2 to join the rest of the series and acted as a prequel. The gameplay remained traditional as the story followed truck driver Travis Grady as he made his way through the town recovering his childhood memories. The game was notable as the first entry where Team Silent had been taken off development duties with Climax UK ultimately delivering an entry where they'd aimed to make it as close to the traditional entries as possible.



    Mainline Entry 06 - Silent Hill: Homecoming
    Formats: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
    With the series third generation of hardware came a new entry and by now Konami was settling into rotating who got to make the game with Double Helix taking the lead this time. The new entry followed Alex Shepherd, a returning soldier, who comes home to find his brother missing and the city in a mess. At the time the game was received fairly favourably but with time its reputation has become less positive.



    Spin Off Entry 02 - Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
    Formats: Wii, Playstation 2, Playstation Portable
    The next title was a reimagining of sorts but not canonically so as the game is considered to take place in a separate universe to the original game it is based on. The game was mostly notable for the absence of combat and how answers to psychological questioning shapes the story and the creature pursuing you. The game was Climax's second attempt at the franchise and the title was well received but ultimately sold very poorly.



    Mainline Entry 07 - Silent Hill: Downpour
    Formats: Playstation 3, Xbox 360
    Inmate Murphy Pendleton took the lead this time after his prison transporter crashes whilst passing through the town. This lightly aped some of Climax's work by introducing a morality system that would dictate elements of the story. Otherwise the game was a return to the third person town searching the series was known for albeit with more of a water theme rather than fog this time. Once again though the changing of hands led to a series struggle and Downpour disappointed by only getting a lukewarm reaction.



    Spin Off Entry 03 - Silent Hill: Book of Memories
    Formats: Playstation Vita
    Deviating from the series core design a manner not done so directly since the arcade release came this final game in the series, a top down hack and slash with rpg elements. The game was deeply untraditional to the series and so whilst it proved disappointing for fans it did garner some positive responses. With Konami now in a poor gaming position the series seems to be finally enjoying a restful dream.



    Share your thoughts and shattered memories of Silent Hill

  2. #2
    Will add my thoughts later- but I feel your description of SH3 is a bit of a spoiler as that isn’t revealed until midway through the game, and becomes a major plot point. Dunno about spoilers for 15 year old games, but wouldn’t want to ruin for any newcomers!!

  3. #3
    Loved part 1 and II, the 3rd one was great too and I have to say SH 3 displayed some of the best visuals of any system at the time.

  4. #4
    Character models and lighting in three still show games up now, nearly two full gens later. Astounding work, especially for such a small team even by that years standards.

  5. #5
    I'd say the spoiler slides, anyone who's missed on SH3 the jokes on them

    These games are a classic example of how a strong art direction can carry a game, as you say, elements of the games look show up titles two generations later. I'm firmly in the SH2 is King camp but I did enjoy Downpour more than the reviews suggested I would.

  6. #6
    I don't know if it was the limitations of the original but I never gelled that well with the first game. I think SH2 suggested that the first game was trying too hard for the hardware

  7. #7
    I love Silent Hill 2, but it ruined the series.

    The core story of SH isn’t a town that calls people and punishes them for their sins, that was a side story. The core story was about religion and cultism. Sadly, these story beats didn’t sit as well, and everything done following Team silents demise copies SH2’s concept.

    Team Silent were masters of their craft, with a level of thought, attention and detail that I don’t believe has ever been matched. Still now, after probably triple digit playthroughs (combined) if the core 4 titles, I still find new things to see and references I missed.

    Anything after 4 was a sham, with stories that were so misunderstood that they directly contradicted the previous titles (Origins), copied the movies aesthetic (homecoming) or attempted to copy SH2 with its “twist” (Downpour).

    The cockyness and arrogance of that asshat that became the self assigned “curator of the franchise” didn’t even understand the core story beats, and took it upon himself to not only slate the originals VO/soundtrack/gameplay, but then had the audacity to CHANGE the script in the SH HD collection.

    Don’t get me started on that excrement.
    Last edited by MrKirov; 27-02-2018 at 08:24 AM.

  8. #8
    I remember being genuinely shocked in the apartment building (SH2) when a cut scene presented itself featuring Pyramid Head ... who appeared to be exercising his rites of passage with one of those mannequin things ...

    I liked the first two but the overall feeling of dread was too heavy for a wuss like me. Very well made games though.
    Last edited by Atticus; 27-02-2018 at 09:00 AM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by MrKirov View Post
    The core story of SH isn’t a town that calls people and punishes them for their sins, that was a side story. The core story was about religion and cultism. Sadly, these story beats didn’t sit as well, and everything done following Team silents demise copies SH2’s concept.
    You say that but... that's SH3. All the cult stuff was back with a vengeance in 3. And it was present in 4 too, now that I think about it.

    Anyway...

    Silent Hill is a HUGE thing for me. Silent Hill 2 could well be my favourite game of all time. But going back to SH1, I remember getting the demo with MGS and it blew me away. It looked SO rough around the edges but, man, that atmosphere. It was genuinely creepy in a way that, at the time, it seemed no horror movie could ever be. That was a revelation. I was big into horror films at the time and SH trumped every one of them with just a demo.

    The actual game was incredible. The voice acting was awful, the script laughable and the story ridiculous but the atmosphere and creepiness elevated the game far beyond those weaknesses. It was a genuinely scary game that got under my skin to the point where I spent the latter half of the game looking up on the map where I wanted to go, turning off my torch and running in the dark so I didn't have to see anything. I loved it!

    And then we got SH2. Silent Hill 2 wasn't anywhere near as scary or oppressive as SH1. But what it lacked in scares, it more than made up for in its eerie lonely sense of dread. And by dropping the sub-Charmed episode cult stuff and telling what felt like a much more adult, much more psychological story, it delivered a much more meaningful experience for me. I replayed it right away and spent months thinking about it afterwards, dissecting the imagery and what might symbolise what. It stayed with me for ages. It is still with me.

    Silent Hill 3 brought back the cult stuff but at least hit Buffy levels in the story and characters. What I found interesting about SH3 is that they added more monsters and more combat and it only served to make it less scary. The story was pretty silly as far as I can remember and it didn't have anywhere near the impact of 2 for me. But it looked amazing and I still really enjoyed it.

    I'm one of the few who really liked Silent Hill 4. Its one HUGE crime was basically making you play through the areas twice. That was a lazy way of extending the game time. But I loved the room idea and I felt the characters were interesting and the atmosphere succeeded. It just didn't really excel at any one thing but I really enjoyed it.

    I never played Homecoming or Downpour. They kind of looked like a tribute act to Silent Hill games but I could be doing them a huge disservice. I did, however, play Origins because I had a PSP. It was okay. It's not bad but there's nothing to really recommend it either.

    And then came Shattered Memories. I adore Shattered Memories and it actually became my most played Silent Hill game. It seemed like such a weird idea to retell the first game but different and yet, for me, it totally worked. It was familiar yet completely new. The atmosphere was great, I loved the walking sequences and found it really interesting that they could be creepy without any hint of real peril. The running sequences weren't all that good and I think I could have taken the game without any of that at all, just relying on the narrative instead, but they didn't break the game for me.

    And I found the narrative incredibly strong and smart. Like SH2, it feels like a more grounded story, a more real story, than cults and demons and supernatural artifacts. It's a human story and that will always feel more mature to me. The big hook was how the game changed on replays. I went through it again and again to see what else I could find. I also found the length to be exactly right - it didn't outstay its welcome at all. I really love Shattered Memories and would love to see a polished version on something like the Switch.

  10. #10
    That’s what I said- after Team Silent left, the cult stuff never came up again- but SH2 is what people always refer to when they think of SH story- when actually that’s not the case.

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