Konami as Pyramid Head: Silent Hill’s Second Death
When I heard about the cancellation of Silent Hills, I was devastated. As a fan of the series since the first game was released, with critics glossing over its genius and dismissing it as a Resident Evil clone, I’ve played every main-game (I haven’t made it around to the Japanese cell phone titles or arcade title) so far and Silent Hills was my most anticipated upcoming game. I was one of the few who even kept hope after Team Silent disbanded, but then the games made by western teams proved disappointing. Even if Origins, Homecoming, and Downpour had been good games in their own right without the same feel or vibe as the original four, it’d be difficult not to beat them down after experiencing four of the most subtly thoughtful and thoroughly disturbing games ever crafted. With the last game in the series for some time being a dungeon crawler for a struggling handheld that simply borrowed the series title for a few guaranteed sales, it felt that all hope was lost. Then P.T. released.
Quiet, mysterious, confusing, and horrifying, P.T. brought back the core elements from the four classic Silent Hill titles. When the final puzzle was eventually solved, it was revealed that P.T. was a teaser for a complete resurrection of the series. It would be simply called, Silent Hills. With no number 5 to arrogantly imply it believed that it could directly follow the first four games, and no subtitle that would have it follow the trend of mediocre releases after the numbered games, it didn’t appear to be a reboot, or a retelling, but a brand new story about this strange, macabre town. It had everything it needed to not only be an excellent Silent Hill game, but to bring the series to the forefront of the now popular horror genre. Hideo Kojima would provide his skills at directing cinematic games with complex stories and draw hardcore gamers to the title, Guillermo del Toro’s talent for dark allegory and nightmare logic as shown in Pan’s Labyrinth fit the games well, and Norman Reedus would get horror fans worldwide to give the game a go, as well as providing a subdued performance (they took the time to model him, but didn’t have him speak in the game or teaser trailer seemingly as a design choice) instead of the cliched, “what’s going on here” shtick from Homecoming and Downpour.
Just as soon as we’d began to believe Silent Hill was back, it was cut down again. With Kojima supposedly leaving Konami after Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is complete, many already believed Silent Hills was dead. Then came the official announcement that it was no more, and that even the free teaser P.T. would be removed from the PlayStation Store. Not only is the cancellation of Silent Hills a tragedy, but the fact that anyone who doesn’t already have P.T. on their PS4 hard drive will never experience it is an even worse fate.
Silent Hill 1-4 are excellent games, but one undoubtedly stands out from the rest. Silent Hill 2 abandoned the “history of the town” plot featured in Silent Hill 1 and 3 and went for something much more personal. A believable story about a man who for both selfish reasons and mercy, took the life of his terminally ill wife. Doing so was so traumatic for him that he created a mental block to forget, and is later called to Silent Hill by his late wife in a letter he receives. It is revealed later that the letter is a blank piece of paper, and it was wishful thinking or hallucination that caused him to believe it was from his wife, who he believed to have tragically passed from her illness. The story is about this man coming to Silent Hill, and through the supporting characters who are also suffering, and the strange, horrible things he sees, coming to terms with what he did, and that his wife is gone. There are various endings in the game, based on your actions during the game, not just some arbitrary choices you make as in some games (Homecoming).
During his healing process (or spiral downwards, depending on your ending), James encounters a woman similar to his wife Mary, named Maria. Maria looks very similar to Mary, but idealized. She’s prettier, more outgoing, but likely more importantly to James after suffering through the years of waiting on his sick, grumpy wife, healthy and friendly. She’s mysterious, but he grows to like her more and more, on top of the innate attraction and affection he has for her because of her resemblance to his wife. Silent Hill has created her as a way to taunt and punish James for murdering his wife. In the game, she is slaughtered in the presence of James to make him feel what it is to lose his wife again. Does this remind you of anything? At least loosely?
We had a wonderful relationship with Silent Hill. But eventually, it became ill after it was taken away from Team Silent. We tried as best we could to make excuses for and accept the state it was in. Eventually, we couldn’t take it anymore and got rid of it. Then P.T. comes around. A beautiful version of our beloved series, big budgeted on a next-gen platform with a star team and cast. Then before we’re even given a chance to enjoy it, Konami as Pyramid Head, lifts its giant knife and cuts it apart in an act of senseless violence, seemingly for no purpose other than to infuriate and frustrate everyone involved.
We Silent Hill fans, James in the analogy, simply have to accept it, it seems. Silent Hills may have been as great as the Silent Hill we had, but we’ll never know. It’s gone. As quickly as it came and left, it may as well had been a dream. Which ending we get is unclear so far. In one ending James tries to use a cult ritual to resurrect his wife, which in terms of this situation would be Kojima and del Toro kick-starting Silent Hills under a different name I suppose. The most likely outcome however, is “Leave”, where we come to terms to what we’ve lost, and move on, with other games, and other people, along with the memories of what was.
If you are a Silent Hill fan, don’t be too discouraged by the cancellation of Silent Hills. No doubt that it would have been an excellent game, but there are already four incomparably great ones with tons of lore and fan projects. Check out the Silent Hill Wiki, Translated Memories, or Alchemilla Hospital for more information, easter-eggs, and art associated with the series that you may not be aware of. We don’t have it too bad, with the huge amount of content in our series. Think about the poor Earthbound/Mother fans with 3 games total, with only one officially released in the US. If you want to fit them into the situation, they’d be Angela in SH2.
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