- Konami’s latest attempt to ruin Silent Hill is here — a live-service, interactive TV show-style game; Silent Hill: Ascension.
- After Team Silent’s unfortunate disbandment, Silent Hill has never been the same, and it seems fans still need to suffer some more.
- Filled with predatory microtransactions and barely any creativity, the soulless Silent Hill: Ascension is another one of Konami’s poor decisions.
What makes a game scary? The environments and visuals? Music? There’s something even more frightful than these. What scares me the most is the thought of the franchise I’ve come to love being utterly ruined. And my worst fears have become a reality in Silent Hill: Ascension. When your favorite series receives a new entry, a spark of joy engulfs you, but if that entry is an absolute nightmare, there is nothing more heartbreaking.
Silent Hill essentially has a cult following at this point and is a landmark psychological horror name to this day, but is also a landmark of tragedy. The series has enjoyed many highs and lows, and then a complete dormancy for over a decade. Now that it finally got a chance to re-appear, the first thing we receive is Silent Hill: Ascension. I can’t express my frustration and anger over this entry enough as it took everything Silent Hill created and threw it into the pit of greedy microtransactions and live-service rubbish.
Silent Hill — How It All Started
First, let me discuss the beautifully tragic tale of Silent Hill. The series itself was born out of tragic circumstances. Individuals who failed to achieve greatness in other departments were put together in a “failing team” called Team Silent. Considering their record, the new project had minimal expectations, and the so-called failures had complete freedom. This collaboration resulted in the birth of the magnificent Silent Hill, Konami’s answer to Resident Evil.
It was a different approach than Resident Evil’s action focus. Over time, Silent Hill established its own distinct identity, a psychological horror involving common people tackling their nightmares and the darkness of their hearts manifested. The town of “Silent Hill” is used for this purpose. In essence, it manifests the user’s subconscious fears and regrets in the most horrifying way possible. The sequel, Silent Hill 2 gave the series the definite legendary status. And Silent Hill: Ascension is doing nothing but scarring it.
The series’ approach to horror was ingenious and genuinely terrifying. The music design was off the charts, environmental horror at its peak, and the consistent feeling of looming danger with creative mechanics like the radio static was perfection incarnate. All in all, I have nothing but praise for the initial Silent Hill entries. Couple that with character designs like Pyramid Head which is practically immortalized now, and the series was the pinnacle of psychological horror. It wasn’t long, however, before things started going south.
The Beginning Of The Downfall
Team Silent created four Silent Hill games in total. Although I agree Silent Hill 4’s deviation from the formula was a weak move, it doesn’t make it a bad game. Then, what went wrong? I think the weak reception was not tolerable for Konami, as it then wanted to outsource development to Western studios, and Team Silent was no longer needed. It was soon disbanded and absorbed, and many of the members are no longer with Konami either. This foolish decision was the first step to the franchise’s downfall.
The golden era was over and the next entries that spawned; Origins, Homecoming, Shattered Memories, and Downpour are all all solid evidence of this. Origins was a prequel of sorts that failed to stand out from the enormous Silent Hill, Shattered Memories was a sort of remake of the first game that couldn’t hope to stand up to it. Homecoming and especially Downpour were proof Silent Hill’s glory days were truly over. What I wouldn’t give to see Team Silent reassemble, but it’s a pipe dream.
After the last entry, Silent Hill Downpour, the series went into hibernation. Still, my greatest lamentation is the playable teaser for a new Silent Hill game by big names like Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toto was never realized. It showed immense promise and canceling it was probably the second worst thing that happened for Silent Hill (That’s right, Silent Hill: Ascension topped it). Konami’s treatment of Silent Hill will always be one of my most heartbreaking gaming moments.
Silent Hill: Ascension Is An Abomination
Ever since the return of Silent Hill was announced, I’ve always been skeptical about it. With the way Konami has treated the franchise, I wasn’t expecting anything better after all this time either. My expectations were pretty low but this Silent Hill: Ascension is beyond insulting. I’d rather have the series stay dormant forever than make a return in this state. After the pachinko scenario, I thought the worst for the series had passed, but a much darker future awaited.
I mean, just take a look at this. Silent Hill: Ascension is essentially an interactive TV show of sorts. A new “episode” will premiere live every week, you watch it and vote for the outcome using a special currency. There is a live chat to engage the community, and the less-game-more-show has some QTEs and decision-making points to influence outcomes. What is this garbage? On top of the ridiculous concept, you have a trashy story, half-baked animations and visuals, and reused asserts to create an irredeemable abomination.
I’m genuinely in shock as to how this project was approved and we have to bear it for six more months. Did No one notice the flaws of this concept? Outcomes can be influenced in any sort of way like using bots. There’s no guarantee that the chosen outcome will be implemented. Silent Hill’s name is being dragged through the mud and fans are infuriated. Who could blame them? This is the definition of corporate greed killing a franchise with a legendary legacy.
Battle Pass Is Scarier Than Any Monster Of Silent Hill: Ascension
And the horrors do not stop there. What’s even more infuriating is that they expect us to pay for this. That’s right, this is a live-service project. To interact with this episode and place your vote, you need a specific currency that you can obtain in a limited amount by daily activities, and mostly by microtransactions and other monetization strategies like Battle Pass. If you thought earlier “How worse could it get,” I regret being the bringer of bad news.
your dad leaves to "get milk" and disappears for over a decade. he finally returns one day. "dad!" you cry out, as you run up to him to give him a hug. he puts a beefy hand up to stop your embrace. "whoa there, sport." he gruffly states. "can I have twenty bucks?"
— John Wolfe (@JohnWolfeYT) November 1, 2023
The project at its core is just a life-less cash grab at best. You’re not even playing the game, just watching someone else play out a scenario, and you need to spend cash to influence it. Imagine a psychological horror game where you have to pay to get scared. And the game’s still not scary in the least. There is no trace of the Silent Hill soul in this project. No meaningful story, hollow characters, awful environments and sounds, and not a speck of thrill or anticipation.
I’ve always been against monetization and microtransactions and found it nothing but a predatory cash-grab attempt. It’s justified in a proper GaaS model if backed by solid quality consistently, but everyone replicating it for cash is the worst trend to emerge. Still, at least in those games, you’re getting something to play with if you spend, in Silent Hill: Ascension you just make a choice, and if 10 people vote against it and choose a different outcome, congratulations, your investment has gone down the drain.
I Don’t Think Konami’s Forgiveness Is Coming Anytime Soon
After all this, let me ask you this: Will you still be able to forgive Konami? I don’t think I could, considering there’s not a trace of any improvement. Konami let go of its franchises’ legacy in favor of money, and it seems the mentality continues. It parted ways with Kojima and many other valuable staff, and things haven’t been the same since. Along came the pachinko obsession that made things worse. The obsession with Japanese slot machines made money, and that was all that mattered.
First, Silent Hill was ruined by exporting development. Next, Silent Hill and even Metal Gear were turned into money-making pachinko games. And just when I thought pachinko was the lowest point for Silent Hill, this abomination of a title reared its head. The recent Metal Gear collection is no exception either. It’s just a lazy port of the original titles, you can even see the original intro and all. Moreover, that’s not all either as Konami has also announced multiple other Silent projects.
The next thing for the series is the Silent Hill 2 remake. Konami’s history worried me for sure, but Silent Hill: Ascension has sky-rocketed my anxiety. Dare I hope things will be different for Silent Hill 2? It’s highly unlikely. If they ruin Silent Hill 2, that would be the official death of the franchise if Ascension doesn’t kill it first. With the Metal Gear collection and the return of Silent Hill, I was willing to give Konami a second chance if it made amends, but now things are looking grim. At the very least, I hope Silent Hill 2 remake fairs better.
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