Fans of the Silent Hill franchise have long been bemoaning the decline of their favorite terror-inducing series. Since the last game actually made by the original development team (Team Silent), many gamers have argued that the quality of the series had grown stale. While Silent Hill 2 & 3 are still regarded by many as among the greatest horror games ever made, from Homecoming on the Western developers seem to have a hard time recapturing that dark magic. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what made the original four games so great. Of course there’s the gruesome factor when it comes to the monsters in the game, but a lot of the appeal comes from the sheer psychological tension & general messed up-ness. It’s a slow, insidious sort of terror. A feeling of things just not being right. Not to mention the AAA market’s insistence on giving the games a broader appeal with more action and less survival.
But at the recent Gamescom, gamers received a sucker punch from out of nowhere when Kojima Productions released a teaser trailer for their upcoming Silent Hills.
As a teaser, it doesn’t give us a lot to go on. But what’s shown definitely fits with the themes of Silent Hill. A lone character wandering a dilapidated town. Suggestions of a messed up story involving murder and undeath.
I find it interesting that Hideo Kojima is picking up the development. Some people have expressed concerns for Kojima’s loose interpretation of “story,” fearing that the game will focus more on dialogue on less on atmosphere — which was one of the franchise’s greatest strength. Perhaps because of this, the game is being co-developed with Guillermo del Toro. While most people may recognize him as the director of Pacific Rim, it’s his work directing the haunting Pan’s Labyrinth & Mama that provides some hope that atmosphere won’t be lost in the upcoming game.
However, what’s really been getting people excited about Silent Hills is the playable teaser (called P.T.) released on the PS4. I played through as much as I could bear last evening… and oh my Jesus! I don’t know if it captures the same sort of atmosphere as the original Silent Hill games, but it definitely had its share of nail-biting moments. So many weird things happen in that demo. Baby fetuses left in sinks telling me about their mother. The man on the radio telling me to look behind me. Women stalking me from the rafters. Refrigerators hanging from the ceiling, dripping blood on me.
A lot of people have been praising the graphics, which are very nice & realistic (I was particularly impressed by the screen effects for when I walked under the dripping blood), but it was the sound design that got to me. Nothing like walking in to a dark hallways accompanied by the gurgling sounds of someone choking. Not to mention the way the music expertly builds tension by randomly starting to play even when seemingly nothing is going on.
Ostensibly, the teaser consists of walking through the same looping corridor. But the farther you go, the more bizarre things become. And apparently a lot of it is random, because not everyone reports experiencing the same events.
It’s impossible to tell this early on how much of what happens in the teaser actually relates to the game. It may be that nothing does, & this is just to showcase the game engine & generate some buzz. But if that was their goal, they definitely accomplished it with flying colors.
The only major downside to the teaser is that it’s difficult to complete. And I don’t just mean that it’s hard to have the nerves to make it through. It relates to the randomness. There are certain things you need to do to complete the teaser, but they don’t always seem to trigger, & no one’s entirely sure what’s really necessary. But the ending is essentially just the trailer shown above, which plays after you get a phone call telling you, “You’ve been chosen.”
Regardless, I highly recommend checking it out if you’re a Silent Hill fan, or just enjoy a good scare in general. Or at least watch some footage. I had a hard time finding it on the Playstation Store, so I had to just search for P.T.
Just… try to play it with the lights on.