5 Ways To Make the Next Silent Hill Actually Good

Finally, a rumor that there’s a new Silent Hill game coming out. We haven’t been excited and then subsequently had our hopes shattered by this ever before. This can’t possibly lead to another disappointment when we find out it was from pitch deck or a game that got cancelled when Konami enforced its strategy of not giving a shit what people want.

But let’s say that the images taken down by Konami were from a real Silent Hill game that’s still in development. Exciting, right? Except for the fact that – with one exception – every Silent Hill game made after the fourth entry has been bad. Shattered Memories is good and it’s our collective fault we don’t have more games like it while P.T. is the second-best game in the series if you take it as canon.

The thing is, Silent Hill feels like a setting that’s easy to get right. Spooky, abandoned town. Crumbling buildings. Fleshy monsters. But that’s all window dressing, baby. When you make those the center of your Silent Hill game, you just get an also-ran Resident Evil. There’s more to Silent Hill than just the aesthetics, folks.

Now, I would normally not really give my opinion, but since I literally wrote a fucking book on the series, I thought I could help with a few ways to make the next Silent Hill game an actually-good Silent Hill game.

1.) Stop Using Pyramid Head And Copycat Villains

Hey, Pyramid Head is cool, ain’t he?

Sure is scary chasing you, right?

Great. Whatever. We don’t need more of him. I get that Pyramid Head is an iconic enemy – probably the most iconic of the series outside of melting-face-boob-nurses – but he’s iconic because he’s mysterious and creepy in Silent Hill 2. You don’t know what he is. If you’d never played Silent Hill 2, you’d probably think he was the main villain of the game and the final battle.

He ain’t.

At this point, Pyramid Head has become so ubiquitous in the series that even his fucking creator regrets designing him. That might not be his reason for the regret, but I’m going to assume it is because it helps my argument more.

Silent Hill enemies like Pyramid Head work best in small doses. A guy with a pointy helmet and a butcher’s robe gets dumber and dumber the more you reveal it. Plus, we’re not supposed to like Pyramid Head. One of our first scenes with him is watching him sexually assault other enemies. He’s not the Nemesis from Resident Evil.

Speaking of which, no more Nemesis-like characters. Take a break, folks. The second game added Pyramid Head as an interesting story element that drives James forward. That doesn’t mean every fucking Silent Hill game needs a Dead by Daylight-style monster tracking their every move.

Whether you design a monster with a mask carrying a giant knife, a monster with a mask carrying a giant hammer, or a monster with a mask carrying a different giant knife, it’s the same fucking monster. I’m not even being sarcastic. Those are in the Silent Hill games.

2.) Focus On The Characters, Not The Setting Or Cult

A lot of games in the series after Silent Hill 4 seemed to think that Silent Hill itself was the most interesting part of the game. Whether it be exploring the town’s history or exploring the town’s history a different way, developers put a lot of focus on ‘why’ the town is bad rather than why the characters are in the town to begin with.

This is stupid.

First of all, what makes Silent Hill mysterious is that none of the characters know what the fuck is going on or the real reason why they’re there. That gave the early games a strong sense of confusion and loss – people literally and metaphorically walking through the fog, slowly piecing things together.

When Silent Hill focuses on its characters, the games become far deeper and more interesting. Characters like James Sunderland are so compelling because they – and the players – don’t know what’s going on. We learn what happened together, and each major fight is a subtle reflection of James piecing together what he did. And James being a normal guy – rather than a truck driver or guy who killed someone in prison like the later games – gives him a sense of normality that contrasts with his experiences.

On the other hand, when Silent Hill focuses on the town itself, however, the games become about the cult. Nobody’s mad when the cult exists in the town – or it’s used as a bit of connective tissue to the series. But when the cult is the center of the story, Silent Hill itself becomes far less mysterious. We know why the town went bad. We know why the characters are having a bad time.

Even in the first Silent Hill, the story was far more about Harry rescuing his daughter than it was about the cult. And the beauty of that story was James learning of the cult with us, the players. Now that we’re decades deep into the series, the cult feels more like lore that has to be maintained and explained and kept up.

Also, let’s be honest, demonic cults are corny.

3.) The Sound Is More Important Than You Think

This sounds weird, but one of the things that could be improved most with a Silent Hill game on modern consoles is the sound. Silent Hill games are built on audio atmosphere. Wheels creaking. Crashes. The static of the radio when an enemy’s close by. The drip of water in a creepy basement.

Now imagine that in full surround sound.

As with any game, the more immersed you are in Silent Hill, the scarier it becomes. But few games have used sound to set a sense of place as well as these sweet treats. Even in P.T., the storm and the radio are foreboding. We may just be walking through the lobby of a house, but goddamn is it terrifying.

While big graphics and cool monsters are great marketing material, the developers of the next Silent Hill game need an audio engineer who can bring that full loneliness and despair of the series. The sound design of the game should make us feel completely lost and alone – until we hear a dog bark in the distance or a crash from across the floor.

Not to mention the music. Get Akira Yamaoka. Let’s keep it minimal. Let’s keep it small town twang-y.

4.) Stop Using Car Crashes To Get People Into Town

Apparently when making later games in the series, the developers looked back at the original Silent Hill and decided that the only way someone could get into a haunted town is if they’re in a horrific car accident. Great.

But as Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 4 indicate, there are multiple ways into the town. There’s no reason for so many games in this series to kick off with a car accident. It becomes repetitive. And, again, the more it happens, the less mysterious it becomes. There comes a point when you start to think the cult just digs potholes near the town to bring in confused men.

Let’s go back to P.T. again. We don’t know why we’re in that corridor. Sure, you could attribute this to it being a demo. But think about it. There’s no ‘Oops’ that got us into the house. We just start there, and it makes the experience much fucking scarier because of it. If we had an intro detailing us hitting a lamp and staying the night in the house to get out of the rain, it becomes a regular haunted house story.

It makes sense to look for ways to get characters to come to the town. But rather than ‘ways’, there should be ‘reasons’. James comes to the town because he got a letter from his wife. Heather Morris is trying to dodge a private investigator when she finds herself trapped in an Otherworld version of a mall. Henry Townshend is trapped in his own apartment until he finds a hole in the wall.

There are interesting ways of getting characters to find their way into Silent Hill. For real, stop using car crashes. Even a bike crash works.

5.) There Must Be A Secret Dog Ending

This is non-negotiable.

Source: Read Full Article