As recent leaks have shown us, it's looking fairly likely that Konami is looking to bring us back to the world of Silent Hill. As it currently stands, it sounds like we're getting a remake of Silent Hill 2 – generally regarded as the best one – and something new from Annapurna, maybe somewhere else. Remake, new game, it doesn't matter. Because I honestly believe the series should just be left for dead.
Let's go back to 1996 for a little while. It was the year the first flip phone was released, the year Dolly the sheep was born, and also when the original Silent Hill's development began. The game's development team, Team Silent, was made up of multiple staff members whose projects had all failed, and didn't really fit on any particular team at Konami. Essentially, it was a last ditch effort from these developers, and one that obviously ended up succeeding.
Problem is though, as a friend recently put it to me, that first game was kind of like lightning in a bottle; the game was iterated on in the subsequent sequels that came from Team Silent, but they certainly couldn't be described as consistent. Especially considering the various leads on the team changed over the various games, with creator Keiichiro Toyama – now working on Slitterhead – only having worked on the first game. Only the game's composer, Akira Yamaoka, worked on all four of the first games.
As a result, each game was somewhat a product of its time, the first four – the only games made by the amorphous Team Silent – each offering something special.
Silent Hill wouldn't be what it is without the thick, suffocating fog that mostly exists for rendering purposes. Silent Hill 2's storytelling is so subtle and complex that even many games today can't mimic it. The third game was able to expand the mostly limited storytelling of the first. And the fourth went off the rails and explored how far the reach of Silent Hill can actually extend.
And I just don't think, with the games industry being as it is, that a remake or sequel could capture any of that intrigue, any of that mysteriousness. What I mean is, I think video games used to be a bit like the Wild West: I think, at least in the AAA scene, there's much less of an 'anything goes' policy these days.
A game like LSD: Dream Emulator could certainly exist on a site like itch.io, but I'm not sure if it could be released on a major console like the original PlayStation. Hell, even Silent Hill has its incredibly weird moments. Do we honestly think that a sequel to Silent Hill will do something as ridiculous as the second game's Dog Ending?
Not that the Dog Ending is a revolutionary piece of storytelling, in fact it is wholly out of place compared to literally everything else in that game, but it has some incredible 'yeah f**k it, we've got some time, let's do it' energy.
But even more than that, this undying desire that so many seem to have to return to what was rather than look forward to what could be is a bit exhausting. We're pretty much stuck with reboots, remakes, and remasters; they sell, and they sell well, so I guess I can't blame corporations too much. That doesn't mean, from an artistic perspective, that they should exist.
You could almost, maybe, just about justify a remake of the first Silent Hill; there isn't much story in the first one, it's possibly even borderline too slim on details to the point a player might be left with a 'oh nothing really happened' feeling. The second game though? While I'm hesitant to dub anything as the best of something, I can see why people think Silent Hill 2 is the best Silent Hill. So why remake it?
Sure, there are the slightly clunky controls, but the current leaks suggest that there will be new endings, which I honestly hate the sound of. In my view, there should be two routes a remake should take. Either one, do something like Final Fantasy 7 Remake and wrangle a very different set of events, acting as a kind of commentary on cyclical history. Or, alternatively, just remove any clunkiness in the original work.
Silent Hill 2 is an incredibly beautiful game. There is purpose to the way it looks, and one that so called 'better' graphics won't be able to capture. Take the Shadow of the Colossus remake, for example. Critic Amr Al-Aaser spoke about the remake in a great video a few years ago, noting how the original has this harsh lighting, making the world feel hostile, but the remake sought to 'fix' that supposed mistake.
That's exactly what I fear in a Silent Hill 2 remake. If Bloober Team is the team to tackle this project, it needs to not look at fundamental aspects of the game as things to be fixed. When I spoke about how video game development used to be like the Wild West, I meant that it would produce rough, textured, complicated works that didn't necessarily flow as well as the newest open world Ubisoft title. And that makes for a more interesting game!
I want games that will spit in my face and call me a dickhead. I also want games that are an easy breeze, too – but I think the continued success of FromSoftware's Souls games is evidence enough that not everything has to be a smooth experience, and can even be better for it.
FromSoftware too could have easily made another Dark Souls game, which Elden Ring almost is, but it also couldn't be further from it. And that's what makes it so special, in the way a Silent Hill game from any developer has a strong chance of not being.
Even P.T. is only as interesting as it is because of how it was released into the world and ultimately cancelled. We know next to nothing about what the story of Silent Hills was meant to be, but everything that was implied in that playable teaser has such strong hooks on us, and honestly the final game probably wouldn't have even been as good as the demo.
Beauty comes from restraint, which P.T., Shadow of the Colossus, and the original Silent Hill games are full of. Games these days have to have so much going on, there is no such thing as a limited sense of scope anymore. Silent Hill was born from limitations, and it will die an ugly death without them. And I for one am not interested in attending the funeral.