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“There was a hole here. It’s gone now.”
In a game full of bizarre moments and abstract ideas, this line from Silent Hill 2 somehow struck a chord with the game’s fanbase and is considered one of the more memorable pieces of dialogue from the series – partly because of how odd it is, but also because, in hindsight following the ending, it gives some insight into protagonist James Sunderland’s life.
Although the series saw numerous sequels and spin-offs in the years that followed, it’s Silent Hill 2 that continues to be generally considered the best entry in the series, more than 22 years down the line.
It’s been over a decade since the last main game in the series, Silent Hill: Downpour, was released. Fans have been continually hoping that Konami would finally end the drought and give us a new Silent Hill game, but nobody could have predicted that it would have announced four new games during a single presentation in October 2022, the most notable being a remake of Silent Hill 2.
The first of these announced games launched in October, and it’s fair to say the start has been more than a little shaky. Silent Hill: Ascension is a streaming CGI animated series in which players vote on what happens next, but a host of microtransactions, questionable unlockable cosmetics (such as the words “it’s trauma!” in cheery, multicoloured bubble writing) and just the fact that nobody’s really engaging with the story means that the majority of fans feel let down.
With the best will in the world, however, Ascension was the announcement that was least appealing of the four. Far more interesting is Silent Hill Townfall, a new game in development at Scottish studio NoCode, which has previously developed the critically acclaimed Stories Untold and Observation. Little is known about Townfall so far, but the studio’s ability to create suspense and fear is less of a secret.
Even less is known about Silent Hill F from Taiwanese studio NeoBards, but its striking trailer, its 1960s Japan setting and the fact it’s being written by Ryūkishi07, who’s “famed for Japanese visual novels dealing with murder mysteries, psychological and supernatural horror”, at least suggests that the project will be interesting, even if the execution remains to be judged.
It’s the Silent Hill 2 remake, however, that has fans the most excited – or the most nervous, depending on who you ask. The remake is being handled by Bloober Team, the studio behind The Medium and Blair Witch, and although those were perfectly acceptable games, it appears that some players are concerned that it may not be able to raise its game enough to retell one of the genre’s most seminal works.
“Fans have been continually hoping that Konami would finally end the drought and give us a new Silent Hill game, but nobody could have predicted that it would have announced four new games during a single presentation”
There’s one area where it almost certainly will succeed, and that’s how the game will look. While reaction to The Medium was mixed, its visual design was widely praised, especially in the game’s darker alternate world (something the Silent Hill series is no stranger to).
“Switch to the spirit world and you’ll find a substantially more disturbing place, with walls and floors made of human remains and all manner of writhing, pulsating tentacles wrapped around some areas,” we wrote in our Medium review at the time, calling the art direction “exceptional”.
Another aspect of The Medium that received plenty of praise was its writing. While some of the subject material was so dark it bordered on tasteless, it was nevertheless commended for its engaging narrative, with most players compelled to stick with it to the end to see how all the strands threaded together. And the fact that it included music by Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka didn’t hurt, either.
Given that an engaging plot, a strikingly grotesque art style and a Yamaoka soundtrack are three of the key tenets of any Silent Hill – because let’s face it, the combat was always terrible – Bloober Team has already proved that it at least has the potential to deliver a new game that fits in the Silent Hill mould. But to some, that’s the issue – this isn’t a new game.
Bloober Team isn’t being given the keys to Silent Hill and being asked to come up with its own new entry in a series that has had its fair share of highs and lows. It’s been given the significantly shinier keys to Silent Hill 2 in particular, and as such there’s pressure there to do justice to the series’ high point for a new generation of players.
We have the feeling it might just pull it off, and even if it just falls slightly short of the impact of the original, the reality remains that Silent Hill fans will finally be getting a new ‘proper’ game in the series for the first time in more than a decade, followed by brand new takes on the series in Silent Hill Townfall and Silent Hill F.
For years, fans have been begging Konami to bring Silent Hill back, and it’s finally responded in a big way, not only resurrecting the series but putting it in the hands of the studios that have been trying to replicate the Silent Hill tone in recent years. That it’s even back at all should be cause for celebration, and if Bloober Team (or NoCode, or NeoBards) can deliver the goods then even better.
Or, to paraphrase that iconic quote – there’s been a hole here. It’ll be gone soon.
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