This has been a pretty strange week for Silent Hill fans like myself. After years of rumors, reports, teases, and disappointments, Konami finally unveiled its ambitious plans for the future of its beloved horror franchise during its Transmission livestream. And while the five projects it revealed didn’t all land with thunderous applause (and there’s obvious cause for concern for some of them), Konami’s willingness to hand over the reins to genuinely interesting developers and creators has me weirdly optimistic for the future of Silent Hill, which is not something I expected to be saying in the year 2022.
Let’s get the elephant out of the room — the announcement that came with the most trepidation was the long-rumored Silent Hill 2 remake from Bloober Team, the Polish studio behind modern horror games like Layers of Fear, The Blair Witch, and The Medium, the last of which very much felt like a dry run for Silent Hill.
Like a lot of folks online, I wasn’t immediately sold on this one. Bloober Team has a pretty spotty track record for its horror catalog outside of the solid Observer, especially when it comes to delivering a compelling story with rich themes. Konami’s 2001 classic is a phenomenal game that handled its heavy themes of guilt, trauma, sexual frustration, and self-reflection in a manner far beyond not only most of its contemporaries, but most modern games as well. Its strange script and off-kilter performances bolstered its excellently bizarre and unnerving tone, in a similar way that many of David Lynch’s classics do. With Bloober’s remake looking like it’s set to “modernize” the visuals, writing, acting, and combat, there’s an understandable worry that so much of the original’s charm will be left by the wayside.
While one could say the same thing for 2023’s Resident Evil 4 remake, the fact remains that the original RE4 is readily available on about a dozen platforms, including all of the modern consoles and PC. That’s just not the case with Silent Hill 2, as the only easy way to play SH2 and 3 is via the infamously sub-par HD Collection, which struggles in part due to the fact that Konami apparently lost some of the original source code of the game. But while Bloober’s Silent Hill 2 reveal didn’t really do anything for me, the two other games shown off during the Transmission stream absolutely piqued my interest.
Up first was Silent Hill: Townfall, from developer No Code and publisher Annapurna Interactive, two names alone that immediately got me excited for this project. Annapurna’s track record speaks for itself, helping shepherd so many great modern indie games including Stray, Neon White, Solar Ash, The Pathless, Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye, and many others.
No Code is the Scottish developer composed of former Creative Assembly folks who previously worked on Alien: Isolation, so their horror pedigree is clear. They’re known for Observation and Stories Untold, the latter being one of my favorite horror games in recent years. Stories Untold is a spooky puzzle/adventure game that presents four separate stories as a part of one single horror anthology centered around ‘80s technology. We got a similar vibe from Townfall’s teaser trailer, which was filled with radio static, a pocket CRTV, and a strange voice asking us why we were here. We don’t know a lot about the game yet, but given No Code and Annapurna’s reputations, it’s been firmly placed on my radar.
The third and final game shown off during the stream was Silent Hill f, which takes the franchise to a small Japanese village during the Showa era of the ‘60s. Like Townfall, this teaser left me with more questions than answers, but the striking visuals, unnerving tone, and wonderfully gross image of a person’s face peeling off left me eager to learn more. While the Taiwan-based developer NeoBards Entertainment doesn’t have the pedigree of No Code or Annapurna, having mostly worked on Resident Evil ports and multiplayer games, the announcement of f’s writer, Ryukishi07, is what got a passionate corner of the internet buzzing.
Ryukishi07 is the pen name for the Japanese writer best known for their work on the When They Cry series of mystery-horror visual novels that went on to be adapted to manga and anime. I have to confess ignorance of the series prior to the announcement of Silent Hill f, but given the unanimous excitement by folks who’ve played, watched, and read them, I immediately want to experience them to see what all the hype is about. Regardless, the game’s excellent teaser combined with the admiration for its writer makes Silent Hill f feel like a smart and intriguing departure for the series.
The thing that stands out most to me regarding Silent Hill: Townfall and f is Konami’s willingness to entrust the franchise to interesting creators. The publisher has obviously been going through an identity crisis for the better part of a decade since the much-publicized departure of Hideo Kojima in the aftermath of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and P.T., so pairing its beloved properties with creators who have unique visions and takes on the material feels like a best-case scenario for Silent Hill.
With that said, this isn’t the first time the series has ventured outside the walls of Konami. Many of the lackluster games after Silent Hill 4: The Room were handled by outside teams, including Double Helix on Homecoming, Vatra Games on Downpour, and WayForward on Book of Memories. The lone standout during this time was Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which was developed by Climax Studios. The Wii game stood out thanks to some excellent writing and storytelling from Sam Barlow, who would go on to create amazing games like Her Story, Telling Lies, and the recent Immortality.
Apart from the three traditional games, Konami also revealed Silent Hill: Ascension, a Massively Interactive Live Event from Bad Robot, Behaviour Interactive, and Genvid. I’m going to be honest – I watched the trailer and still don’t know what this is, and I’m probably going to be fine continuing my ignorance. There was also the announcement of Return to Silent Hill, a movie adaptation of Silent Hill 2 directed by Christophe Gans. Gans directed the original Silent Hill movie, which had a pretty terrible script but was visually fantastic. He also directed Brotherhood of the Wolf, which, if you haven’t seen it, is pretty much just Bloodborne: The Movie. It rules.
In the span of a single stream, Silent Hill went from being relegated to pachinko machines and skateboards, to a multimedia franchise with some genuinely interesting projects in the works, alongside some I’m a bit more cautious about. Seeing how Konami handled this comeback party made me wonder if it has similar plans in the future for the likes of Castlevania and Metal Gear Solid, both of which have been rumored to have some life left in them. But for now, I’m cautiously optimistic about multiple upcoming games in the future of the Silent Hill universe, which is something I haven’t been able to say in a very long time.