The Silent Hill series practically defined the third person horror genre for gaming when originally released on the PS1, though the second installment on the PS2 became the penultimate psychological horror game among most horror fans. Borrowing from Resident Evil’s control scheme, Silent Hill took a slightly different approach in execution than the Resident Evil series. Where Resident Evil embraced it’s campy C-movie plot and voice acting, Silent Hill dove headfirst into filling their games with extremely heavy symbolism, having Silent Hill shape itself and adapt to each main character’s psyche. There are so many subtle hints and symbolism scattered about the games that there are still debates as to the significance behind certain enemies or aspects of the game worlds. With the cancellation of Silent Hills, the newest installment of Silent Hill is unfortunately the Japanese pachinko machine, and with PT no longer on the marketplace for consoles, you’ll have to turn to the classics to get your Silent Hill fix. Here are some Silent Hill games that are must plays for those who’ve never played the series and are looking to give it a shot.
Silent Hill 2:
Touted as arguably the best entry in the series, it is certainly the most defining. Some of Silent Hill’s most iconic enemies (I’m looking at you Pyramid Head) are from this entry. The game opens with you playing as James Sunderland, who travels to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his deceased wife. While there, he encounters others who are dealing with their own problems, like Donna Burke who is searching for her mother, Eddie Dombrowski who is a runaway, and Laura, a strange little girl who seems to have some connection to James’ wife. Sporting multiple endings, the game offers great replay value if you’re looking to dive deep into the lore and try to truly understand what is going on.
Silent Hill 3:
While not quite as popular as its predecessor, Silent Hill 3 does a nice job of following up. It ups the difficulty a little from Silent Hill 2, throwing a wider variety and more dangerous enemies into the mix as soon as the first area, the abandoned shopping mall. You play as Heather, the daughter of Harry Mason, the protagonist from the first Silent Hill game. The plot of Silent Hill 3 ties in a lot more closely to the plot of the first game, and the emphasis on the cult and the supernatural take a much more prominent role than in Silent Hill 2, where they were present but took more of a backseat to exploring the psyche of James. The puzzles also go a step further in difficulty, especially on hard. If you’re just starting out, set the puzzles and combat both to normal for the most authentic experience, as these puzzles can get incredibly convoluted on hard.
[Both Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 can be purchased on the HD collection for Xbox 360 and PS3. While many fans find it horribly inferior to a variety of factors, including the fog not being as thick and oppressive as it should have been, and things being a bit too visible, frame rate issues on the PS3 version, broken water effects, etc, its more easily accessible than getting the original PS2 versions, and certainly get the job done if you’re not too concerned about the fidelity to the originals and just want to play for the story and experience.]
Silent Hill 4:
The black sheep of the series, Silent Hill 4 is somewhat polarizing. People either absolutely hate it, or think its the best in the series. Where other Silent Hill games have your alternating between normal locations and their mirrored counterparts, Silent Hill 4 takes place in your apartment, which is locked with multiple chains which you cant unlock. You use areas in your apartment (like a mysterious gaping hole in the wall) to travel to other areas, which essentially replaces the town of Silent Hill as the main hub. It throws in other interesting mechanics like hauntings, which make your once safe apartment fairly dangerous, as hauntings will drain your health when in close proximity unless you clear them out with candles. While straying a bit from the norm, the exploration areas are traditional Silent Hill affair, taking you through a series of locations dealing with strange monsters and devious puzzles along the way.
There are also a number of more recent Silent Hill titles that have had a bit of a spotty reception, anywhere from decent to avoid at all costs. If you enjoy the series, there’s no shortage of Silent Hill game, but I’d recommend doing a little research first before you purchase any of the newer games.