Our two week long celebration of all things horror continues with a look back at one of my favorite series, Silent Hill. Not many know this but Silent Hill holds a special place in my heart for popping my horror cherry; I visited that secluded, monster infested resort over a decade ago and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Unlike a majority of the other games in its genre, Silent Hill has almost always relied on psychological horror and getting into the player’s mind as its core element, as opposed to cheap scares to keep our attention. So please dear reader, do what you do well and read on, it’s what the starving monsters of Silent Hill would want you to do. I could go on about how amazing the creature designs in this series are, and I consider them to be some of the best, or how great the transitioning between the real world and dangerous Otherworld is for quite some time. But really, that’s not my favorite thing about the series as a whole. Instead, let’s talk about something Silent Hill has that, in my opinion, no other franchise has been able to match: the music.
There are a plethora of horror games that have excellent music; Resident Evil’s scores have been consistently good and Dead Space’s sound design is arguably some of the best in the industry, but the actual music in Silent Hill is outstanding. No matter how average the games have become Akira Yamaoka’s eargasmic composing has been the sole reason to keep me playing every game in the series that Yamaoka composed. I can’t say that about any other franchise that has more than five games in it, but I’ve actually played every Silent Hill with the exception of the first mobile title.
Sadly, Akira’s talents won’t be a part of the series anymore now that he’s busy working on scoring Shadows of the Damned, the upcoming action/horror title molded from the minds of Suda51 (No More Heroes) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil). I boldly claimed before much of anything was known about the game that it could “redefine horror”, then when the game was officially unveiled at this year’s Tokyo Game Show I think it’s safe to say a startling majority of you would disagree with that opinion. Without going on a tangent, since this is supposed to be all about SIlent Hill, still not much is known about the game other than what I described, a trailer, and some screenshots, so let’s leave the judging for closer to the game’s release.
Digression over, let’s return to the gloomy town of Silent Hill. Without Akira lending his musical and producing talents to the series I’m worried about the coming eighth installment in the series. Not all is lost though as the game’s developers said in a recent interview that the upcoming game is going to be more in line with the first games, namely Silent Hill 2, which is feasibly the best of the series.
So what else does Silent Hill have that similar series haven’t been able to do quite as well? I’d say getting into the player’s mind with truly unsettling imagery and stories could be one of them but other titles like Fatal Frame, System Shock, and BioShock, though I struggle to call the latter a “horror” title, all have powerful stories and deeply unsettling experiences to offer players. That leaves the creatures, which aren’t merely some of the best in the genre but possibly the industry as a whole. Think of the most memorable monster in video games and there’s a good chance Pyramid Head pops up.
Silent Hill 2 first introduced to us the mannequin raping, intimidatingly massive sword wielding boss known as Pyramid Head, or Triangle Head in Japan (I prefer the former as it sounds far more menacing). This guy started off as a representation of James’ desire to be punished for his sins and quickly became a symbol of fear and the series’ icon.
Speaking of fear, tomorrow I’m shaking things up a bit; there won’t be another retrospective, instead I have something a little more… reader focused to discuss. It’s arguably the most important thing about the horror genre, but I’ll wait until Thursday to get into details.
Oh, and in case you missed it, yesterday we took a look at the Resident Evil franchise, so if zombies get you all hot and bothered you should most definitely check it out HERE.