Why Silent Hill Will Never Be the Same

Silent Hill, for those who don’t know, is a psychological horror survival series that has been on somewhat of a decline. Fans point to the fact that the original team who helmed Silent Hill 1-4, named Team Silent, has been split either working on different games for Konami or have left the company altogether. Which has left the series without a consistent team to helm the series for about 20 years give or take.

However, Konami has given the helm over to Blooper Team, developers of The Medium and other horror games, to remake Silent Hill 2 keeping it faithful to the original premise. This announcement, of course, sparked much debate and something I heard that struck a cord was that Silent Hill 2 is probably the worst thing to happen to the franchise.

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I paused, stricken by what I had heard. “This couldn’t be right,” I thought. Afterall, Silent Hill 2 is a huge inspiration for many horror games and indeed had a major effect on the Silent Hill series, the most notable being Pyramid Head. Then I thought about it, even deeper and looked at the series before and after the original release of Silent Hill 2.

So, before we continue on, I have to warn you, beyond this point I will spoil everything and anything about Silent Hill. This will include Silent Hill: Short Message which released a few weeks ago on PSN for free. So, this is your final chance before you can undo the horror of spoilers.

Looking back at Silent Hill 1

Like any good overused quote, the best place to start a story is at the beginning. The original Silent Hill features Harry Mason, a doting father to his daughter Cheryl, who goes missing after Harry wrecks his car in the town of Silent Hill. After some exploration he finds out that the town is home to a cult that worships Samael, and his daughter is in fact the other half of Alessa Gillespie, a vessel needed to resurrect their god.

Alessa was severely burned in a house fire after an unsuccessful attempt by her mother to bring about the birth of their god. From here on out, Alessa’s life has been nothing but hospitals to treat her fourth degree burns that cover her body while the cult attempts to use her body to birth God. This torment and Alessa’s own inherent supernatural energies create the Otherworld in Silent Hill. A place marked by fire, industrialization and the fears of a seven year old child trapped in a bed given the form of monsters. 

Now, a common thread here is that notice, that Harry’s fears and doubts don’t take form in Silent Hill, instead it focuses on Alessa and the Cult. The horror for Harry comes from the monsters roaming the town and the realization of what the cult plans to do with his adoptive daughter. He may be sucked into the town, but it was only due to his proximity to Cheryl and he chooses to stay to try and save her.

This is a marked difference from James, the protagonist of Silent Hill 2, who has been brought into the town by a letter from his dead wife. The town itself appears to be calling to him using his wife as a catalyst. Even the monsters represent various fears and frustrations from James and the other people trapped inside the town for their own reasons.

The Monsters that Hunt You

The most iconic monsters from the series in my own regard are probably the dogs, the nurses, and Pyramid Head. These monsters have been analyzed to death as they represent different things in each game. The nurse and the dogs in the original game are representations of Alessa’s fears given form.

The dog is simple. Alessa was afraid of dogs, a fear that she hadn’t gotten over, every time she heard a dog bark it had produced fear and when God entered her body, it only gave those fears life. Creating a grotesque distortion of a dog from the perception of a little girl who had nobody to take care of her.

The nurses came about later, when she had been bedridden for a few years. On their backs are a parasitic creature, controlling them to attack and keep Alessa alive against her own will. Simply put the parasite is more than likely a representative of the cult and how Alessa views them and their God. While the puppets have no will and cannot be trusted.

Moving over to James, the dog enemy is actually nowhere in sight for James as the monsters are being created from his own trauma. The nurses, however, are a common sight and markedly different from the version seen in Silent Hill 1. These nurses are a mixture of sexuality and grotesque with various medical tools to use as weapons. 

They represent James’ sexual desire for the nurses that would take care of his wife when she became terminally ill. He would then hate himself for it, which gives them that grotesque movement and faceless visage. After all, James didn’t care about the nurses personally, only their bodies which he could fantasize and release his own sexual frustrations.

Pyramid Head is again a more aggressive version of James’ sexual frustration and his need to be punished for it. The appearance is based off of the executioners of the local cult that James had seen a portrait of. It is there to not only protect James from the monster but to punish him, creating a weird dynamic between the two.

This makes Pyramid Head specifically a creation of James, one not only for protection but to punish him. It’s himself given a form capable of fighting and exacting his sexual desires, as seen when Pyramid Head punishes some mannequin enemies. When first seen James looks on with a mixture of disgust and interest, he can’t pull himself away from it.

So, it understandably doesn’t make sense that Pyramid Head keeps returning to the series, especially when the town is manifesting horrors dedicated to a single person. In the case of Silent Hill 1, it draws from Alessa, and in 2 it’s James and the other two wandering the town. Especially, since going forward from Silent Hill 4, the town begins to be a representation of those drawn into it.

A Not so Silent Hill

The first game to be made outside of Team Silent was Silent Hill Homecoming, developed by Western Studio Double Helix, which was their first game since the merger of two studios Shiny Entertainment and The Collective. The reason for this is that Konami felt that with the mixed reception of Silent Hill 4, and the team being at a stand still with the next installment that it was time for a western developer to try their hands at the series.

The game itself was alright from my own perspective. It wasn’t what I wanted or expected out of a Silent Hill title but there were redeeming qualities that I appreciated. However, there is one aspect that has been a sticking point is that this new protagonist is a trained soldier. Unlike the previous 4 protagonists who are normal people thrown into a situation they can’t fathom.

The reason for this, I believe, is the release of Resident Evil 4. While it is undoubtedly a wonderful game that defined the PS2 generation, it had some repercussions for the horror genre that are still felt today. Resident Evil 4 put a big emphasis on gameplay, so that every shot felt fun and fluid. Silent Hill’s combat was never a heavy aspect of the series. In fact, it was encouraged to fight as little as possible to save up resources.

This means that the combat felt sluggish at times and didn’t feel very impactful. After all, if you are meant to be frightened, being able to confidently kill everything in your path turns the game into a shooting gallery. Unfortunately, this change of protagonist changed the nature of combat, making it a focus to feel good.

Which I know, I’m arguing for a game to feel bad to play for a theme that most players probably won’t care about. That was the issue, those who didn’t care about the horror genre started playing horror more because of Resident Evil 4. This means that Silent Hill needed to evolve but without a team that was confident in what Silent Hill was, it was always going to suffer from growing pains that we are still dealing with.

A Short Message

This leads me into the newest Silent Hill title, A Short Message. A first person horror game with only a single enemy titled Cherry Blossom. This game follows Anita as she tries to find her friend in an abandoned apartment complex in Germany. Anita is a high school student, depressed and ready to end her own life. She starts to receive text messages from her friend, Maya, telling her to find something within the apartment.

This 2 hour experience is rife with imagery that alludes to suicide and suicidal tendencies in a way that felt like I was getting my head caved in by somebody who had listened to too much My Chemical Romance. While every loading screen has the number for the suicidal prevention hotline.

I’m not going to lie, I was hopeful, but instead of having creepy imagery and monsters that are reflections of the trauma and fear of the character. Instead, voices that come from nowhere to taunt the character and graffiti is used minimally to represent the friend and her drawings.

In fact, Cherry Blossom would be a monster that would represent Maya rather than Anita. In theory this could be good, as the only monster that chases her is one formed by her friend. Except, it doesn’t make that much sense, since it’s revealed Maya had no malevolent intentions for her, and instead wanted her to keep on living. She wanted her to find her reason to live.

So then, what does Cherry Blossom represent? I have a theory that it’s supposed to be trauma, not one specific trauma mind you, but just the generic concept of trauma. In the game, Maya uses art as a means to cope with her own trauma and uses the image of cherry blossoms to represent scars. She mentions that she finds beauty in people who have been hurt but able to make something beautiful out of them.

Cherry Blossom’s design is that of a teenage girl with a massive amount of cherry blossoms where her head should be. So, yeah, trauma is chasing Anita making her want to kill herself. It’s really heavy handed in a way that Silent Hill hadn’t been under the guidance of the original team. It also shows an attempt at and failing to evolve to live up to more modern tastes.

Silent Hill 2, but Now With 100% More Action

So finally we are back to Silent Hill 2 and the remake of it, which coincidentally recently released a combat trailer. That’s right a series that I said combat wasn’t a focus of is now getting trailers to highlight said combat, and honestly, the combat doesn’t look good. Which means I should be happy right? The combat is bad, let’s get ready to pre-order cause the game is going to be perfect.

This isn’t the case, the biggest issue is that Konami or Blooper team had decided that the best way to showcase the game was James caving in a nurse’s skull. This shows a fundamental lack of understanding why fans liked the games in the first place, and having bad combat isn’t going to help the franchise.

It also shows that the series has an identity crisis that can’t be resolved with the current developers. A Short Message is a first person game that attempts to capture the intrigue of PT, while Silent Hill 2 Remake appears to want to sit closer to the horror action side that Resident Evil sits on now.

The franchise needs a developer that won’t be biased by Silent Hill 2 and can stand against Konami when they attempt to turn the series into something that isn’t true to the soul of the series. Team Silent, despite what some may say, had a clear vision for the series that the popularity of Silent Hill 2 happened to tarnish, until the franchise was handed off between developers.


Silent Hill 2 is a fantastic game and is both the best and worst thing that could have happened to the series. The success of the game led to declining sales when newer fans started to notice that the series under the helm of Team Silent wasn’t going to be staying the same, and the most marketable aspects were never going to appear again.

So, Konami took the series away to other hands most likely to capitalize on the success of 2 and market the monsters in a way that Team Silent never would. Now it’s impossible to look up Silent Hill without Pyramid Head or the Nurses, even the movie adaptation of the first game did away with the parasitic puppets and instead used the sexualized versions from James.

Silent Hill 2 is an impossible bar for anybody to get over at this point and we as fans need to let it go. Silent Hill 2 shouldn’t have been the first remake for the Silent Hill franchise, however, I was told that nobody cares about those and instead it was correct to focus on Silent Hill 2 first. Which shows that Silent Hill will never again be what it was, but maybe it isn’t all lost.

If a strong developer can come in and understand what made Silent Hill a success in the first place, maybe we can finally get a game that isn’t living under James’ shadow. Who knows, Blooper Team might be able to surprise us and the combat trailer was something that Konami did in an attempt to build hype. Either way, I can still hold onto the memories and love of this franchise that can never be ruined by Konami.