Recent rumors have indicated that Konami is looking to bring back its iconic survival horror franchise Silent Hill in a major way. In fact, there are said to be two separate titles that are currently in development. One is to be a reboot of the entire franchise while the other will be a narrative adventure title (likened to what Telltale Games has done) that serves as a companion piece.It is certainly an ambitious plan to put out two releases, but Konami clearly needs to do something to shake up the series if it is ever going to be relevant again as releasing digital-only games like Contra: Rogue Corps isn’t going to cut it.
The Silent Hill series has been in quite the funk for the past decade. The latest release in the series was a pretty terrible spin-off for the PlayStation Vita by WayForward Technologies called Silent Hill: Book of Memories. The top-down action game wasn’t particularly scary and didn’t have much value as a horror title or dungeon crawler.
Prior to that, Konami had managed to somehow screw up a HD collection of the beloved second and third entries in the series. With terrible technical issues (to the point where Konami offered refunds to everyone that bought the game on Xbox 360) it wasn’t the celebration that the seminal survival horror titles deserved and fans were disappointed in classic titles being disrespected with such a slapdash release.
Sadly, the main series didn’t end on a high note either. 2012’s Silent Hill: Downpour attempted to go back to the series’ roots, but terrible monster design and combat held it back from being a solid title. It was also a major step down from the last release in the series, 2009’s excellent Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. With three bad releases in a single year, 2012 proved that Konami needed to reinvent the series. Hope came in the form of the Hideo Kojima directed P.T., as it was intended to lead into a new game called Silent Hills (which was set to involve Guillermo del Toro) but its cancellation killed fans’ hopes and dreams.
Both new Silent Hill games make sense to do in 2020
It has now been nearly six years since Konami released anything Silent Hill related other than Pachinko machines (which is sadly how many beloved Konami franchises live on currently). With some of the bad feelings from P.T. subsiding (time does heal all wounds after all), a section of fans will be happy just to see the name Silent Hill again. While Konami has a shot at a second chance, it is pivotal that it makes this count, as a bad reboot could be the final nail in the series’ coffin rather than a new beginning as intended. Nostalgia is powerful but there is always a limit to it.
Unlike Resident Evil, which managed to evolve over time and remained relevant despite misfires of its own, Silent Hill had more trouble adapting past its survival horror beginnings. The combat, while often seen as a necessary component, was rarely enjoyable, and there was a greater emphasis on psychological storytelling.
One of the few times that Silent Hill got away from that core framework was Shattered Memories, and that could serve as the launching point for the narrative-driven story that is reportedly in the works. While a Silent Hill game without combat might not please everyone, Konami doesn’t have to worry about that as much since they are releasing two games that can each appeal to separate, yet often overlapping, audiences.
While the narrative-focused title has more room to experiment with the core structure, the soft reboot should stay true to what Silent Hill always has. This gives Konami another chance at nailing its blend of survival horror and updating it to modern standards. The fact that both titles have been in development for two years and Konami hasn’t been rushing both titles towards a quick release should be a positive sign. These games can’t be underwhelming like Downpour or Homecoming and Konami has limited chances at breathing new life into what used to be one of their most popular franchises.
P.T. remains the biggest stain on Konami’s legacy
The cancellation of Silent Hills and the subsequent delisting of P.T. remains one of the ugliest stains in Konami’s history. Boycotts and expletive-filled hashtags show that fans all sided with Kojima over the split and it’s an ugly way for Silent Hill to end. By moving the series forward, Konami will be one step away from this dark period in the company’s history. The quicker players start associating a new game with the future of Silent Hill rather than dwelling upon a canceled title is better for Konami.
This is also a chance to right that wrong as fans were so excited to get a proper Silent Hill game that was moving the series forward. P.T. had players excited despite it being so different from previous titles (which were all played from a third-person perspective). Players wanted a scary and fresh experience and Konami will have the chance to offer up two new ones soon. If done correctly, Silent Hill can live once again and Konami can focus on just making quality games rather than trying to be on a path towards redemption.
Ultimately, Konami needs to bring back its biggest franchises if they wish to restore the brand back to its previous heights. From Metal Gear Solid to Castlevania, they have a lot of valuable brands being unused by everyone except Pachinko players. While Silent Hill does come with quite a bit of baggage, so do their other series due to notable splits from Kojima and Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi. There will never be a perfect scenario for a franchise to return, and there’s going to be skepticism from fans upon its announcement, but Konami has to move forward. For now, making two great Silent Hill games is the best thing it can do.