There have been so many more bad Silent Hill games over the good ones that in the day and age of today, it’s almost hard to consider that there was a time when the series stood toe to toe with Resident Evil as one of the cornerstones of the survival horror genre.
With storytelling that stood greatly over most video games at the time and possibly even to this day.
But believe it or not, that absolutely was the case back from 1999 to 2004. Silent Hill was a gaming juggernaut, eliciting the same response from players as other massive IPs like Resident Evil or Final Fantasy.
That soon faded, however, as Team Silent was eventually disbanded by Konami and the franchise was basically distributed to any team with a brief background in game development.
For many, including myself, the series died when Team Silent did. It would be an overstatement to say that any of the games post-2004 were even good, let alone as good as the original 4.
For one, it’s extremely hard to make a Silent Hill game. A Silent Hill-inspired game? Sure. A new game in the series? Extremely difficult. The most crucial aspect of Silent Hill is in the name itself, the town of Silent Hill. Even Team Silent recognized that after 2 full games set in the same town it was hard to make a third entry set in Silent Hill.
This is why for a majority of Silent Hill 3 you don’t even see the town until near the game’s final act. Horror as a genre relies upon avoiding stagnation. You can maybe make the same thing scary a second time, but a third or fourth time? Not really. It is unsurprisingly also what makes SH3 the scariest entry in the series.
On that note, Silent Hill 2’s immense success may have also led to the downfall of the series. As almost all Silent Hill games after 4 felt like fan homages to SH2, just endlessly trying to jerk that game’s ego instead of doing anything new.
It also has to be mentioned that what Silent Hill was so good at doing—its niche. Plenty of horror games do that now, psychological horror is one of the most oversaturated genres in the medium and while only a few can do it as Silent Hill did, we aren’t exactly hurting for psychological horror titles.
Even when it comes to gameplay, games like Resident Evil, Fatal Frame, Dead Space, etc have always been better at the survival horror aspect than Silent Hill. No one really played this series for the gameplay, especially considering that up until SH3 the games would practically shower you with enough ammo to make the Doom Slayer blush.
This is without mentioning that Konami themselves have been complete and utter morons with how they have handled this franchise. It may be easy to forget but up until a few years ago Konami was the punching bag of the entire gaming community and even though recent releases and events do hint that they may be getting better, remember, one step forward, two steps backwards.
Even to this day, Konami has been petty about its treatment of Silent Hills P.T, as the game has specifically been blacklisted so it can’t run on the PlayStation 5. It only speaks to the dedication to the game’s fans and its community who are still keeping it alive to this day.
Silent Hill fans have been beaten to the ground with false promises, fake rumors, and terrible sequels. To the extent that it has become very clear that the future of the series will probably never reach the heights, it soared to in its heyday, especially under the reign of Konami.
While I stay cautiously optimistic about what they’re going to announce very soon, mostly considering that original series art director Masahiro Ito is involved in at least one of the projects, if what we’re going to get is another disappointing entry in this franchise or a butchered remake of beloved classic then it’s better to just not get a new game at all.
Sometimes, dead is better.
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