An article by Todd Puhl (Follow on twitter @Dear_Ole_UncleJ) for Droids Canada
(I will not be discussing any of the handheld or W installments FYI)
Let us clear the air by all agreeing that Silent Hill has fallen on some hard days. When someone says Silent Hill, I remember the fog. The terrifying sounds and a game that preyed on your own nightmares and showing you a new level of hell. This is not the case anymore. It is now known as failing franchise with a horrible run at the box office and a very small fanbase. Though, seeing Silent Hill on the big screen to me, was exhilarating but for some, it was confusing. But will Silent Hill stand the testament of time? Well, lets find out.
Silent Hill (Release Date: January 31, 1999)
Where it all started. It set the bar for psychological survival horror. Well put, you are a regular Joe, looking to survive the horror's you see, hear and don't understand. The game utilized awkward camera angles, suspenseful music and pushed the boundaries of how truly dark a video game can go. The game came out during the Resident Evil Era, and was very well received to its audience. The camera angles is what I recall from this game. As annoying as it was, it terrified the living hell out of you.
Silent Hill 2 (Release Date: September 24, 2001)
Editors note: This is Mr. J's favorite Silent Hill
The second installment comes 2 years after its origin takes the grand stage and is highly acclaimed when released for the Playstation 2. I honestly lost hours/day/weeks of my life playing this game as the storyline grabbed me and would not let me go. You further explore Silent Hill as a new character, with a new storyline, but same hellish nightmare. Silent Hill was the bar that was set for all games following in this franchise and in this genre. The game was known for its intense storyline and being as which it was its first time on the Playstation 2, gamers were blown away with the CG/FMW transitions. This appears to be the high point of the franchise. Since its release Silent Hill 2 appeared on several critics' top lists for its story and use of metaphors, psychological horror and taboo topics as well as its soundtrack/sound design. It has since topped several critics lists for the greatest horror game of all-time.
Silent Hill 3 (Release Date: May 23, 2003)
The third installment comes 2 years after the well received and loved, Silent Hill 2. But most critics use Silent Hill 3 as the marker of when the franchise began to plummet from its once Critically Acclaimed status. With such reviews as:
Lack of any innovations in gameplay; the game doesn't do anything major that the series hasn't done before
Does little in term of innovation and "doesn't offer much beyond the other titles in the series."
The game's camera and control system which, despite having been improved from previous games, was described as "awkward, disorienting, and motion sickness-inducing."
The length of the game as it "can be easily beaten in a handful of hours."
What began as uncommon brilliance on the PlayStation, has degraded into a convoluted and senseless exercise in flexing visceral muscle while offering less and less in the way of engaging play. And the downward spiral began here..
I am forced to agree with all these points. I honestly could not keep my interest in this game if it could have saved my life. I wonder what happened to the ingenious storytelling from the previous 2 installments.
Silent Hill 4: The Room (Release Date: June 17, 2004)
In my opinion, the worst game in the franchise. As the was hailed as a "breathe of fresh air," as the game does not even take place in Silent Hill, I thought this was made purely for a quick money grab. The fact the main concept of the game revolved around you escaping out of your first person apartment via holes/secret passages, wore on me very quickly. Even though the positive I will provide it, is that it keep you in a sense of claustrophobia at all times. IMO, Silent Hill at this point of the franchise should ever be a first person orientated game.
Silent Hill: Homecoming (Release Date: September 30, 2008)
After 4 years, Silent Hill returns to the Playstation. This time on the new PS3. Originally named, Silent Hill V, it was changed to because of a handheld installment that occurred previous to its release. However, as excited I was to play a game that went back to Silent Hill with an improved combat system, my excitement turned into eternal sadness. Overall this was not a bad game, however the storyline was dry, predictable and very little character development. If this game was not apart of the franchise and was its own title, it would have been better. However, this game was not positively received as well and did not receive good ratings from critics.
Silent Hill: Downpour (Release Date: March 13, 2012)
The first installment that addresses the hellish nightmare that we have travelled through so many other installments as "Otherworld." It was not till the Silent movie franchise (Which we will get to soon) is where we seen the transitions of the worlds. Even tho the game was not a fan favorite, it did score better in ratings by critics than the previous 2 installments. I honestly enjoyed it when I was completing my walk through. But I felt overburdened with the games puzzles and the combat was very hit/miss. But this was the first installment since Silent Hill 2 that had a solid storyline.
Silent Hill: The Movie (Release Date: April 2, 2006)
Video Evidence that Sean Bean did not die in a motion picture! If you own a copy of this film you should frame as it will be worth money one day! When it comes to video game adaptations to film, i tend to twitch. Anyone remember Street Fighter, Max Payne, Super Mario Brothers, Dead or Alive, House of the Dead... Clue?? Ya, I went that far. Some things should never be made. However, Silent Hill stayed true to it's origins in the game. With a strong cast, good storyline, Pyramid Head(fangirl squee) and Sean Bean surviving a movie. What else could you ask for? When the film finished, I stood in the theatre and clapped. Why? Because it had no ties to the video game storylines, it was its own identity and ended strong. The movie was dark and twisted and it quickly reminded me of the madness I walked through during Silent Hill 2. The movie is listed in the Top 10 grossing video game movies of all time. IMO, one of scariest horror films in the last 10 years and Paul Jones (who I have met several times at Cons) is an amazing SFX artist!
Silent Hill: Revelations (Release Date: October 6, 2012)
You know a film is REALLY bad when it holds a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I won't lie, I could not even finish this film. A fine example that slapping on a sticker saying "3D" will not gross you money. As I am not a fan of the 3D concept as it is a pure money grab, I downloaded this film. I know, judge me. I should be asking for a refund of the 700-800 MBS that I lost downloading this film. The first time in Silent Hill history, the storyline had a direct sequel and Sean Bean still lived! But this is also a life fact for screenwriters that you should never try to follow a storyline from a video game. For example, Heather is dressed exactly as the character from Silent Hill 3, and you visit places from the video game. It felt like they ran out of idea's and started recycling idea's out of Silent Hill 3. Bad Monkey.
P.T (Release date: August 12, 2014)
I never thought in my life that I would play a very terrifying first person teaser of the new Silent Hill. Quietly released onto the playstation store and xbox live, this teaser only gives you a taste of what is coming. This caused a flurry of gamers to lose their minds as they could not tell who/what this was. It was evident that it was a Silent Hill installment but the Demo was so terrifying, a lot of people could not complete the demo on the first try. Or even after multiple tries.
A blockbuster of announcements came out of nowhere and as Silent Hill was taking it's last breath on the respirator, the Video Game franchise came out of its 13 year coma. In September of 2014, 3 blockbuster announcements shock the gaming community and became the "New Hope" installment of Silent Hill. It was announced that famous writer/director Guillermo Del Toro(Hellboy, Blade, Pans Labyrinth, and The Strain). Famous/world renown for his Metal Gear Solid Franchise and Fox Gaming Engine, Mr. Hideo Kojima. And finally your main character will be played Norman Reedus. Mainly known for his role as Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. However, his role in boondock saints for the most part is quickly forgotten. So now, we are all in a stage of waiting for more news and hopefully a new teaser trailer.
How will the Video Game Succeed?
Well, if Silent Hill follows its original keys success, the Silent Hills installment will succeed whether or not who is involved.
The 5 keys of success for Silent Hill are:
Keep it in Silent Hill
Include Pyramid Head
A dark twisted storyline that has multiple characters. In depth character development is also needed
Keep the combat system simple. No Crafting (See The Evil Within Review)
If Mr. Kojima and Del Toro can make a script/storyline similar to the successes that occurred in the previous games, the game will be a top seller. They need to keep in mind, just because their names are on the video game does not make that good. Norman Reedus' first adventure in the video game industry, "The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct," was an absolute flop. Even tho it made money, means jack squat. The game was horrendous and should be destroyed with every copy of ET for Atari. I am surprised Zack Snyder did not make a film about this game as well.
Should there be another movie installment?
Plain simple, no. Resident Evil movie Franchise is the reason why there should never be sequels to a good thing. The first film was amazing, second film was not bad, and then the airplane nose dived. I honestly do not think I finished the final Resident Evil Film. Paul Jones(SFX artist for Silent Hill/Resident Evil) told me 2 years ago that there be yet another sequel. Point is, Silent Hill has its high point with the first film and just needs to stay there. Adding any additional movies will not work. Even in an unrealistic perfect world, somehow/somewhere Del Toro and Reedus team up to make a movie installment after the game. And even then, Silent Hill has proven that there should NEVER be direct sequels to any of the storylines.
I hope you enjoyed the read and puts you in my state of mind of what Silent Hill flopped and how it can succeed again!