Silent Hill was a literal game-changer; its release in 1999 signalled a renaissance in the horror game genre and gamers everywhere discovered that they could be scared in ways they never had been before.
This title and its sequels are psychological horror survival games with a third person view. The first four instalments of the series were beautifully executed by Team Silent within the Konami company. The following five were outsourced to other companies however and the drop in quality is painfully obvious.
For the sake of brevity I will talk about some of my favourite moments from the series - I remember the first time I played the original Silent Hill and I couldn’t believe how dark and foggy the atmosphere was due to the convincing 3D real time environments. The main character Harry Mason had only a flash light with limited illumination so half the time you would be walking around completely unaware of something incredibly creepy about to happen. Furthermore, during one of my first play sessions, the scene was set: I was home alone and had been playing for about half an hour, had just entered the Hospital and suddenly, there was a power cut in my house - all my lights went off but my TV and Playstation stayed on with Silent Hill blaring out. I was completely terrified but utterly enthralled at the same time. Thankfully the power cut ended pretty swiftly.
One of my personal favourite pieces of gameplay is in the second game, a new protagonist, James is searching for his wife Mary, whilst looking for a secret place he thinks she has alluded to in a letter and thus, he passes through an apartment complex and there encounters Pyramid Head - a humanoid monster whose head is basically a huge metal, pyramid-shaped helmet. Pyramid Head gave me nightmares for weeks - I had just never expected a game to create anything as freaky looking as that. It showed a progression in horror from games that used B-movie stylistic techniques to get in cheap jump-scares. Silent Hill respects your intellect as a player, and uses it to psyche you out. This is a unique blood-curdling kind of fear and is not to be underestimated. Believe me, you’re never quite as in control as you think you are.
“Pyramid Head gave me nightmares for weeks - I had just never expected a game to create anything as freaky looking as that”
The latest taste of Silent Hill came in the form of a teaser trailer for what was going to be the next game, Silent Hills, through the demo title P.T. Silent Hills was going to be the first game in the canon to be in first person perspective. P.T. was tantalisingly tense because the first person gameplay allowed you to feel more actively involved in the horror. As you walk down a corridor in a suitably deformed house, various supernatural and eerie events occur alarmingly and spontaneously and there are puzzles for you solve along the way. Sadly, Konami decided to pull the plug on Silent Hills (which had Guillermo Del Toro onboard no less!) and P.T became unavailable in the PS4 game store which is a total travesty. If Konami teamed the phenomenal horror from the first four games with a first person perspective, a beautifully frightening masterpiece might be born.