The fear of the blood tends to create fear for the flesh.
Director: Keiichiro Toyama
Composer: Akira Yamaoka
Platforms: PlayStation One (Same version also appeared on PSP and PS3)
Background and Story
Harry Mason and his adopted daughter Cheryl are driving down the highway close to the sleepy town of Silent Hill. Without warning, a girl suddenly appears in middle of the road causing Harry to lose control of the car. When he wakes up, he realises Cheryl is missing and takes leave of his now wrecked vehicle to wander into the snowy nearby town. Noticing that it’s abandoned, Harry ambulates further before seeing an image of his daughter in the background. He calls out to her but she runs away leaving Harry to chase after her. Noticing the sight of bloody entrails on the wall and the sky growing ever darker, Harry is suddenly attacked and falls unconscious. He wakes up in a cafe, greeted by Officer Cybil Bennett. Cheryl is still out there somewhere leaving Harry to wonder once more into the darkness…
Silent Hill (1999) is the original game in the Silent Hill franchise. It was developed by Team Silent, a group working at Konami’s Tokyo office, headed by director Keiichiro Toyoma. The game began life as a project designed to appeal to Western audiences by incorporating an American setting. The team were given artistic freedom to create a game that appealed to player's bae emotions. They devised a psychological horror game leveraging creepy small town vibes and the unexplainable aspects of the human psyche, thus fitting into Japan's proclivity for horror at the time (e.g. Ringu). Thankfully for Konami, Silent Hill was a hit. The estimated budget of $4 million (edit: this is debatable) succeeded as the game sold over two million copies, making it the 15th highest-selling PlayStation One title ever. Critics called ‘engrossing’ and "terrifying". One reviewer described it as a “near-perfect sim nightmare”.
As mentioned, the game focuses on Harry Mason’s attempts to find his daughter Cheryl. It’s set in third-person and features both puzzle and action elements. Taking control of Harry, the player wanders around the town of Silent Hill confronting monsters when they appear, with only a collection of melee weapons and firearms to protect yourself. Harry has low health meaning the player often needs to take a cautious approach to handling enemies. Much like its contemporaries Dino Crisis and Resident Evil, survival really is the name of the game. Locations include typical traits of small town life such as a hospital, cafe, church and park. Interestingly, the game features no HUD making it a more visceral experience, but it also means you need to enter the menu each time to check on health. One of the key items Harry has from the beginning is a portable radio in his pocket - bursts of static detect the presence of evil creatures. The camera leans towards both free-floating, as well as constricted static shots.
The soundtrack was composed by Akira Yamaoka, who joined the team after the game's original musician left. He took inspiration from Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti and opted for an atmospheric-driven soundtrack to reflect the game's psychological themes. The music applies industrial elements that give off a cold, wintery feel. This reflects the conflicted inner state of the main character as he searches for his adopted daughter, as well as the derelict and haunted town itself, including both it's good and 'evil' side.
- It's unknown exactly when the game is set. We're given the impression that it's in the 1990s, but several locations throughout suggest that it’s the late 1980s.
- Silent Hill’s Maine setting suggests inspiration from horror writer Stephen King, who set many of his books in sleepy New England towns.
- The game has three difficulties: easy, normal and hard. The colour of the menu system chances dependent on which setting the player chose.
- A re-imagined version of the game titled Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was released in 2009 for the Wii and PS2. It’s not as good.
- A movie adaptation of the game was released in 2006 and surprisingly it’s not bad for a movie based on a game.
From Super Fan to Producer: An Insider’s Perspective on Silent Hill - US Gamer
As Silent Hill Turns 20 We Remember Why it was Great - Eurogamer
Tortured Existence: The Town That Inspired Silent Hill - Killscreen
Silent Hill: A Retrospective (Part 1 of 2) - Retro Junk
The Strange Hidden Link between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop (hue) - Mental Floss
Did you play it?
Did you love it?
Will there ever be another entry in the Silent Hill series now that Silent Hills got cancelled?
Should Konami forcefully have their IPs removed for the good of all humanity?
Did you, like me, get so creeped out by the game when you were a kid that you had nightmares about it leading to a lot of of restless nights? (Yeah, this happened).