An Open Letter To Silent Hill

by Kimberley Wallace on Oct 16, 2012 at 09:00 AM

Look, I get it. The stakes are higher this generation - you don’t want to be left in the dust, and changing directions is important to innovation. But you’re all over the place lately; I feel like a series that used to make my heart race with every footstep into the unknown fog is losing its grip on me.

You tried to keep up with other action games in Homecoming, but the shift took away part of what the series fun: the everyman protagonist. I loved the characters’ shaky aim and the fact that running was often the superior option to fighting. I mean, if I was in that position, that’s what I’d do, and that’s part of what makes survival horror fun: transporting yourself to the situation and trying to see if you could actually survive.

Then you released Shattered Memories and took all the combat out – which in turn eliminated part of the suspense. Plus, those Wii controls, especially while trying to get through those doors, provided frustration instead of the frenzy you were trying to create. Although, I do give you props for the psychological analysis that took place throughout the game, it was creative and put a fun twist on player choice. Please bring more innovations like that into new games.

Silent Hill: Downpour was probably the closest the series came to its roots, but once again certain aspects fell flat – like recycled enemies. Part of what makes the series tick is its unique foes that are often symbolic of the bigger picture. And once again poor controls took their ugly course, along with a lack of jump-scares and the lack of general terror compared to other entries. I’m begging you, bring back the smothering atmosphere.

I haven’t played Book of Memories, but I’ll admit that it’s hard to be optimistic when it feels like such a departure from the series I love. Silent Hill has always been about capturing solitude, and to properly do that, a multiplayer experience just doesn’t fit for me. It feels so unnatural for the series that it’s off-putting.

So, here’s what I propose. At this point, I think the series really needs to return to its roots to recapture its prominence. The best way to do that? How about a complete remake of one of its older titles? Can I offer up Silent Hill 2, the series’ best showing? Silent Hill 2 already has some of best use of sound in the series, pure silence with your footsteps crunching leaves effectively gets you on edge – imagine that on surround sound now. 

And if you updated the controls to something more fluid that wouldn’t turn off the modern-gamer, you might just capture a new audience. Plus, that plot twist is so hard to top that more people need to experience that jaw-dropping moment. I think the series can really benefit from developers being forced to look at what made it such a cult hit in the first place. The HD remake just wasn’t enough, plus 360 users got the short end of the stick

I don’t want to see one of my favorite series vanish; I also don’t want to be inclined to completely abandon it. The Silent Hill name is strong and, in my opinion, it has the power to resurrect the traditional survival horror genre. I only suggest going with a remake because I think it will open the floodgates for what worked really well with the series. Hopefully, it would spring forth a new Silent Hill title that remains in-line with the series’ original vision, but also innovate with new implementations to also make it feel new and exciting. I want to feel the sense of fear and paranoia about what’s around every corner again. These days, the scares just aren’t there.

Got an opinion? Check out our reader discussion about the evolution of the series.