Silent Hill: The Short Message Review – Don’t Be Afraid

Silent Hill is a series that has now become famous for its ups and downs. While I could pick the whole series apart game by game, we’ll skip ahead and say the last few games didn’t exactly set the world on fire. However, Silent Hill was long overdue for a revival, a revival originally helmed by Konami veteran Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame, yet this wasn’t to be.

After the release of P.T., a terrifying playable mini precursor to the next generation installment of the franchise, ‘Silent Hills,’ Kojima and Konami parted ways in a messy breakup that was akin to a bitter divorce. Kojima may have taken newly recruited TV and film icons Norman Reedus and Guillermo Del Toro with him, but the Silent Hill franchise stayed behind with Konami, where it remained tragically dormant until now.


In 2022, screenshots from a new playable teaser leaked under the title ‘Sakura.’ In October 2022, Konami began hiring for upcoming Silent Hill projects, including an unannounced in-house game that would help raise interest in the upcoming remake of Silent Hill 2. Silent Hill: The Short Message is a 2024 short survival horror game co-developed by Konami Digital Entertainment and HexaDrive, and also published by Konami. The game was released for PlayStation 5 on January 31st 2024.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of The Short Message is its price. Like predecessor P.T, this new Silent Hill short is absolutely free; no subscriptions required. It’s also a game that aims to fuse together the mystery of the older games with the creepy linearity of P.T, albeit with far fewer jump-scares. The game’s main themes include suicide, bullying, social media addiction, and mental health.


Our tale begins with a group of three teenage friends who are regarded mainly as insecure social outcasts and rely heavily on each other to endure their varying levels of anxiety and depression. Anita is our protagonist, who is chronically depressed and relies on social media for self-assurance, while Amelie is Anita’s oldest friend and support, though she’s preoccupied with college as of late.

Maya, known online as Cherry Blossoms, rounds out the trio. She’s a quirky street artist with a growing online following, yet at school, she’s relentlessly bullied for her Japanese heritage and interest in the occult. Silent Hill: The Short Message is set in the fictional economically stunted and seemingly cursed town of Kettenstadt, Germany, rather than the town of Silent Hill. The game takes place within an abandoned apartment complex called the Villa, a famous graffiti hotspot and infamous suicide location among teenage girls.

Anita is invited to the Villa to meet up with Maya and receives bizarre text messages from her upon arrival, encouraging her to look for clues in the dilapidated, abandoned apartment complex to work out what’s going on, as it soon becomes apparent that it might not be Maya sending those texts at all, with ‘Maya’ telling her that they can’t leave until Anita finds “it.”

Anita follows a trail of Maya’s artworks throughout the building. During her search, she has flashbacks of both her and Maya’s past abuse and trauma. Over the course of the game, Anita is chased by a monster that is covered by blooming cherry blossom petals while environments spontaneously decay, and a familiar fog appears outside.


The game is played from a first-person perspective, with no combat involved. Gameplay takes the form of simple exploration as you interact with objects that set off triggers to new areas. The scares are also confined to maze-like running sequences that require you to do some trial and error to get through.

Unlike previous Silent Hill games, there’s only one enemy throughout the game, which chases you through maze-like sections and requires you to find the exit before the monster catches and kills you. If you are caught, then the game will visually rewind to before the encounter, but Anita will retain the full horrifying memory of her own demise. It’s chilling stuff.

Comparing The Short Message to P.T, there aren’t any puzzles here, at least not until the end. The final chase against the monster will see Anita having to find several pictures from her past that trigger memories, yet the game doesn’t tell you this, and you’ll likely be running aimlessly for twenty minutes, looking for an exit you haven’t unlocked yet. It was pretty annoying getting stuck ten minutes from the end of the game.


I did find that the ambient lighting has moments where the atmosphere breaks. The low lighting in the stunningly detailed Villa works incredibly well and does feel intense when the otherworldly decay of classic Silent Hill kicks in, yet when you step outside onto a balcony, the eerie fog often feels like it doesn’t appear unless you’re on the roof, so it feels oddly clear and bright. These are rare moments, though, so it generally works well.

The graphics and animated character models were excellent throughout, though it’s difficult to say they outshine P.T. The voice acting wasn’t great. Much of this has to do with familiar voice actors dubbed over live-action cutscenes and motion-captured models. Not only do the live-action cutscene audio lines not sync up with the lip movements, but every character has an obvious American accent despite the European setting.


Like P.T, being a short promotional game sadly means no trophies here. None at all. The two-hour-long playtime could leave you tempted to play through again to look into other ending possibilities or quirky secrets, but you won’t find any. This is the new breed of Silent Hill, so you won’t find any bonuses or Easter eggs. Sometimes, you get what you pay for.


Let’s not forget that Silent Hill: The Short Message is a free experience that shows the first glimpse of what the remnant of Konami is going to do with the franchise. It asks for nothing in return, and so it’s absolutely worth dedicating a couple of hours to. There are elements here that show great potential for the franchise’s future, while other components could use a bit of work.

The game’s effectiveness in handling its controversial topics will vary depending on a person’s own relationship with them. The Short Message attempts to tackle ambitious matters in its narrative but ends up delivering an unengaging experience at times. Maybe don’t go in expecting the level of creativity found in P.T. In fact, the narrative is basically spoon-fed to the player until the credits roll, yet there are more than a few loose ends.

Silent Hill exists in a fascinating universe, or perhaps that should be ‘multiverse’, with the iconic hellscape town switching realities seemingly at random. As the series went on, we learned of how the town’s demonic curse was spreading well beyond the main location, yet what we still don’t really know is why. The Short Message doesn’t bring anything to this overarching puzzle.

However, if we take a side step and look at the game as a standalone story, then it’s now a tale that has some potential. The struggles these characters face are ones based on reality. Anita has insecurities and frustrations that we can probably all relate to in some form. Emotions of jealousy, confusion, insecurity, and coming of age all get jumbled together, and it’s a lot to take in at first and probably not something that anyone dealing with this heavy subject matter should relive until the time is right.

It is mildly ambitious that the game attempts to tackle such harrowing matters, but it would have been far more impressive if they actually did something with it, but while the game portrays realistic examples of anxiety and depression, there’s very little journey here that counterbalances the darkness with the light of cathartic healing.

Playing the game as Anita is meant to make you feel like an extension of her, but from the very beginning, she is an unlikable mess of a human who fails to display much evidence of active self-improvement. This could all be by design, though, since Silent Hill’s protagonists are almost always incredibly mysterious and secretive of their feelings, thoughts, and pasts.

While Silent Hill: The Short Message is a bold experiment, it struggles to remember what makes the series special at times, leaving it as an obscure release in the franchise, yet it’s one that retreads some gameplay grounds that were lost with the disappearance of P.T.

Even so, it still feels like the short Silent Hill side-stories, including P.T., The Short Message, and hopefully whatever comes next, are all parts of a grander episodic narrative, which could prove to be incredibly fulfilling if ever completed. I hope I’m right, as a collection of these Silent Hill chronicles with some tweaks, licensing workarounds, and interesting trophies is something I’d be more than happy to spend money on.


  • You can’t argue with the price
  • Graphics are excellent
  • Very simple interface


  • Voice acting isn’t great
  • The story doesn’t feel finished
  • The ending sequence loses all momentum and reward

Silent Hill: The Short Message

Above Average

– A generous, free sample of hopefully a more complete and fulfilling adventure to come.

Gary Green
PS5 version reviewed.