The first installment in the series follows Harry Mason as he searches for his missing adopted daughter in the mysterious town of Silent Hill. Stumbling upon a cult conducting a ritual to revive a deity it worships, Harry discovers his daughter's true origin. Multiple game endings are possible, depending on in-game actions taken by the player. It was released in 1999 for the PlayStation. In 2009, the game became available for download from the European PlayStation Network store for the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable and later, in the same year, from the North American PlayStation Network store.
The second installment in the series follows James Sunderland searching for his deceased wife in Silent Hill after having received a letter from her informing him that she is waiting for him there. After searching in and exploring the mysterious town, he ultimately realizes her death's true nature. It was released in September 2001 for the PlayStation 2. An extended version of the game was released for the Xbox in December of the same year as Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams in North America and Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears in Europe, and for the PlayStation 2 in 2002 as Silent Hill 2: Director's Cut, with a port of Director's Cut to Microsoft Windows released in December 2002.
The third installment in the series follows a teenaged girl named Heather as she becomes caught in a conflict within Silent Hill's cult and discovers her true origin. It was released in May 2003 for the PlayStation 2, with a port to Microsoft Windows released in October of the same year. Silent Hill 3 is a direct sequel to the first installment in the series.
The fourth installment in the series follows Henry Townshend, who finds himself locked in his apartment as strange phenomena begin to unfold around him and other residents of the building. It was released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Microsoft Windows and it also marked the end of Team Silent's contributions to the series.
The fifth installment in the series is a prequel that follows trucker Travis Grady, who becomes trapped in Silent Hill after rescuing a girl from a burning house. During his quest to find the fate of the burned girl, he encounters characters from previous installments and is forced to face his past. It was developed by Climax Studios and released in 2007 for the PlayStation Portable, with a port for the PlayStation 2 released in 2008 and was also the first Silent Hill title developed outside Japan. It is known as Silent Hill Zero in Japan.
The sixth installment in the series follows Alex Shepherd, a soldier who has returned from a war overseas. Alex discovers upon his arrival that his father has gone missing, his mother has become catatonic, and no one can provide the whereabouts of his younger brother, Joshua. The game chronicles Alex's search to find his missing brother. It was developed by Double Helix Games and released in 2008 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and in 2009 for Microsoft Windows.
The seventh installment in the series follows Murphy Pendleton, a prisoner who is stranded in Silent Hill after his prison transport vehicle crashes. It was announced in April 2010 and developed by Vatra Games for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on March 13, 2012. It is the first game in the series to feature 3D (stereoscopic) graphics.
Silent Hill: The Arcade deals with two characters, Eric and Tina, who have entered the town of Silent Hill and must battle monsters while uncovering the mystery behind Eric's nightmares about a girl and a steamship. The Arcade has a multiplayer element, where each player can choose to be either Eric or Tina. A second player can join the game at any time.
Silent Hill: The Escape is a mobile phone spin-off title for the Silent Hill franchise. It was first released in Japan for the FOMA phone December 19, 2007; and was released for the iOS internationally in 2009.
The goal of the game is to guide the player through ten stages by finding a key and opening the locked door. The game is played in a first-person perspective.
The game achieved mixed reviews due to lack of storyline and poor execution.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was developed by Climax Studios and published by Konami Digital Entertainment for the Wii in December 2009, with ports for the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation Portable released in January 2010. The game is a reimagining of the first installment and is not part of the Silent Hill main continuity. Shattered Memories retains the premise of the original game—Harry Mason's quest to find his missing daughter in the American town of Silent Hill—but is set in a different fictional universe, following a different plot, with characters from the first game appearing altered alongside new ones. Gameplay takes place in two parts: a framing, first-person psychotherapy session with an unseen patient and an over-the-shoulder perspective of Harry's journey through Silent Hill, periodically interrupted by the occurrence of a shift to an alternate dimension where he is pursued by monsters.
Shattered Memories' gameplay focuses on completion of psychological tests which alter in-game elements, while in the first setting, and exploration, puzzle solving, and monster evasion, when in the second setting. The game's developers avoided integrating combat into the second setting's gameplay, centering instead on a weaponless player character attempting to rescue themselves from powerful opponents, as they considered this to be more fear-inducing. The game received generally positive reviews, with its graphics, storyline, voice acting, soundtrack, and use of the Wii Remote as the Wii version's controller praised by reviewers; Shattered Memories' chase sequences and duration, though, were criticized by certain reviewers, because they deemed them potentially frustrating and short, respectively.
Silent Hill HD Collection is a HD re-release of Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, featuring high-resolution visuals, new sounds, new voices and Trophies/Achievements for both games. Silent Hill 2 features the exclusive option to use both the old and new voices; however, Silent Hill 3 features only a new voice track, with the old voices unavailable due to legal reasons. Silent Hill 2 features both the main scenario and the Born from a Wish sub-scenario for Maria seen in later re-releases, namely the Director's Cut. This pack is also the first time Silent Hill 3 is playable on an Xbox brand console. The collection got mixed to negative reviews due to severe issues with both games, such as severe framerate problems, lockups and more. While the PlayStation 3 version was patched, the Xbox 360 patch was cancelled and Konami offered refunds to all Xbox 360 owners of the game.
The PlayStation Vita entry, titled Silent Hill: Book of Memories, was released in October 2012. The RPG, also serving as a spin-off, was developed by WayForward Technologies. Book of Memories utilizes an overhead isometric view, follows a new storyline and features returning creatures from the series' fictional universe, as well as cooperative gameplay; the game is the first installment in the series to feature multiplayer gameplay. According to series producer Tomm Hulett, Book of Memories' gameplay "will be largely different from the one established in previous installments in the series, focusing on cooperative multiplayer action rather than traditional psychological horror."
WayForward Technologies, developers of Silent Hill: Book of Memories, worked on a series installment for the Nintendo DS in 2006. They developed a one-room prototype demo using the lead character and assets from Silent Hill 2 before the game was cancelled.
Renegade Kid pitched their DS title, Dementium: The Ward as a Silent Hill spinoff title. It was rejected by Konami for various reasons involving Konami not wanting to trust a small company with the Silent Hill license . Renegade Kid later pitched a modified version of Dementium II which was also rejected, but for Konami simply not wanting to enter the DS space with a horror title at the time.
Silicon Knights, a video game developer struggling financially after a legal battle with Epic Games, announced the titles in production when the company ceased development in 2012. One of these games was called Silent Hill: The Box, but later became known simply as The Box, which could have been the codename for the title after a publishing deal fell through given the company's financial status. A screenshot from the game was released via ComputerAndVideoGames.com.
During Sony Computer Entertainment's presentation at Gamescom 2014, an interactive teaser titled P.T. (short for "Playable Teaser") was released on the PlayStation Store for PlayStation 4. Upon completion of the teaser it was revealed to be for a new Silent Hill game entitled Silent Hills, being developed by Kojima Productions using the Fox Engine, and a collaboration between Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima and Hollywood director Guillermo del Toro, featuring actor Norman Reedus. On September 1, 2014, Sony revealed during its pre-TGS press conference that P.T. had been downloaded over a million times and had been viewed over 30,000,000 times across platforms. During the 2015 San Francisco Film Festival on April 26, 2015, del Toro announced that he would no longer be involved in the project with Kojima, presumably due to Kojima's leaving of Konami. Konami later released a statement confirming the departure of Reedus but clarified the series would continue to be developed, with no mention of the current status of Silent Hills. On April 27, 2015, Konami confirmed that Silent Hills was cancelled, but was open to future collaborations with Reedus and del Toro. The P.T. teaser was also pulled from the PlayStation Store and is no longer available for download.
All the plots of the installments in the Silent Hill series, except Shattered Memories, share a common setting: the foggy rural American town of Silent Hill, which is a fictitious location set in the northeastern United States: some games specifically reference the town as being located in Maine, whereas in the film, the town is set in West Virginia. The town in the film series was inspired by Centralia, Pennsylvania. The series' player characters experience an occasional dark alteration of reality called the "Otherworld". In that reality, physical law often does not apply, with varying forms but most frequently ones whose physical appearance is based on that of Silent Hill, and the series' characters experience delusions and encounter tangible symbols of elements from their unconscious minds, mental states, and innermost thoughts when present in it, manifested into the real world. The origin of these manifestations is a malevolent power native to Silent Hill, which materializes human thoughts; this force was formerly non-evil, but was corrupted by the occurrence of certain events in the area. Recurring monsters include the Nurses who are included in almost every Silent Hill game; Pyramid Head, another recurring monster who became the series mascot; and Robbie the Rabbit, an amusement park mascot. A dog named Mira is also included in many joke endings. Another recurring plot trait in the Silent Hill series is a fictitious religious cult known only as The Order. The organization has certain members who act as antagonists in most of the series' installments (such as Dahila in the first and prequel, Claudia in 3, Walter in The Room, and Judge Holloway in Homecoming), and operates the "Wish House" (also called "Hope House"), an orphanage for poor and homeless children built by a charity organization called the "Silent Hill Smile Support Society". The religion followed by the Order is focused on the worship of a chief deity, who is named Samael but was always called "God". The group's dogma is derived from a myth: the deity set out to create paradise, but ran out of power during the process; she will someday be resurrected, thus becoming able to finally create paradise and save mankind. The town's cult repeatedly participates in illegal acts: ritual human sacrifices whose purpose is the deity's resurrection, illegal drug trade, and kidnapping and confinement of children in a facility to teach them its dogma through brainwashing, while presenting the facility as an orphanage. Also repeatedly featured are various religious items with magical properties, appearing widely in the games of the series.
Three thematic elements consistently drive the narratives of Silent Hill games: the theme of a main protagonist who is depicted as an "everyman" (with the exception of Homecoming, where the protagonist is thought to be a soldier and the game's mechanics operate as such), and the everyman's quest, either a search for a missing loved one or a situation where the protagonist wanders into the town apparently by accident but is in fact being "summoned" by a spiritual force in the town. Multiple endings are a staple of the series, with all installments featuring some, the realization of which often depends on in-game actions performed by the player. In all but two of the series' games, one of these endings is a joke ending in which the main protagonist comes in contact with unidentified flying objects: there is no joke ending in Silent Hill 4: The Room, and the only joke ending in Downpour is a surprise party for the player featuring characters from previous instalments of the franchise.
The installments in the Silent Hill series contain various symbolisms. The symbols are images, sounds, objects, creatures, or situations, and represent concepts and facts, as well as feelings, emotions, and mental states of the characters.
The installments in the Silent Hill series utilize a third-person view, with occasional fixed camera angles. While visibility is low due to the alternating fog and darkness, all of the series' player characters, except Henry Townshend of Silent Hill 4: The Room, are equipped with a flashlight and a portable device which warns the player of nearby monsters by emitting static (a transistor radio in Origins and the first three titles, a walkie-talkie in Homecoming and Downpour, and a mobile phone in Shattered Memories). The player characters of every Silent Hill game have access to a variety of melee weapons and firearms, with Origins and Downpour also featuring rudimentary hand-to-hand combat. Shattered Memories is the sole exception: it is designed without combat and based around evasion of the creatures. Another key feature of the series' gameplay is puzzle-solving, which often results in the acquisition of an item essential to advance in the games.
Development of the Silent Hill series started in September 1996 with the beginning of the development of its first installment, Silent Hill. The game was created by Team Silent, a group of staff members within the Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo studio. The new owners of its parent company Konami sought to produce a game that would be successful in the United States. For this reason, a Hollywood-like atmosphere was proposed for it. Despite the profit-oriented approach of the parent company, however, the developers of Silent Hill had much artistic freedom because the game was still produced as in the era of lower-budget 2D titles. Eventually, the development staff decided to ignore the limits of Konami's initial plan, and to make Silent Hill a game that would appeal to the emotions of players instead.
The first installment's scenario was created by director Keiichiro Toyama. The story of the second installment, Silent Hill 2, was conceived by CGI director Takayoshi Sato, who based it on the novel Crime and Punishment, with individual members of the team collaborating on the game's actual scenario; the main writing was done by Hiroyuki Owaku and Sato.
The first game, Silent Hill, utilizes real-time 3D environments. To mitigate limitations of the hardware, developers liberally used fog and darkness to muddle the graphics.
Sato estimated the budget of the first installment at US$3–5 million and Silent Hill 2's at US$7–10 million. He said that the development team intended to make Silent Hill a masterpiece rather than a traditional sales-oriented game, and that they opted for an engaging story, which would persist over time – similar to successful literature.
The games are known to have drawn influence from media such as Jacob's Ladder, Phantoms, Session 9, Alien and Stephen King's The Mist largely through cultivating a technique of inducing fear through more psychological levels of perception, many sequences and tropes from these films share identical concepts. The films of American filmmaker David Lynch are also acknowledged to have influenced the development team on the development of the series, especially on the creation of Silent Hill 2. Another major influence is Japanese horror, with comparisons made to classical Japanese Noh theatre and early 20th-century fiction writers such as the Japanese Edogawa Rampo. The town of Silent Hill is small rural American town imagined by the creative team. It was based on Western literature and films, as well as on depictions of American towns in European and Russian culture. The version of the town from the film adaptations of the first and third games is loosely based on the central Pennsylvania town of Centralia. The Order's religion is based on various characteristics of different religions, such as the origins of Christianity, Aztec rituals, Shinto shrines, as well as Japanese folklore; the names of gods in the organization's religion were conceived by Hiroyuki Owaku, but they have Aztec and Mayan motifs, as Owaku used pronunciations from these civilizations as a reference. Certain religious items appearing in the series were conceived by the team and for some others various religions were used as a basis: the evil spirit-dispelling substance Aglaophotis, which appears in the first installment and Silent Hill 3, is based on a herb of similar name and nature in the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism); the name of the talisman called "Seal of Metatron" references the angel Metatron.
The installments in the Silent Hill series feature various sound effects, some of them being ambient, as well as silence; the sound effects have been added with the intent of inducing certain emotions and feelings in the player, such as urgency, displeasure, or a sense of disturbance of their psyche. According to the series' former sound director Akira Yamaoka, atmosphere is an emphasized element of the series which if it had not been given importance, the series' production would be impossible. The games also feature soundtracks scored by Yamaoka. The genres of the musical pieces range from industrial to rock and some pieces include vocals by voice actress Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. Downpour and Book of Memories feature soundtracks scored by composer Daniel Licht; Downpour includes music belonging to the industrial genre and vocals by McGlynn and band Korn.
Spin-off video games based on the series include the visual novel Play Novel: Silent Hill for the Game Boy Advance, the arcade game Silent Hill: The Arcade, and the mobile games Silent Hill: The Escape and Silent Hill: Orphan.
The Silent Hill series has been universally praised for its graphics, atmosphere, and story. While the first three installments received critical acclaim, later games were less well received.
The first installment in the series, Silent Hill, received positive reviews from critics on its release and was commercially successful. It is considered a defining title in the survival horror genre, moving away from B movie horror elements, toward a psychological style of horror emphasizing atmosphere.
Silent Hill 2 was risen by critical acclaim. It was named the fourteenth best game of the PS2 by IGN, saying "It preserved most of the original game's what-might-be-out-there fear, but with major advances to the graphics and sound, the game was able to deliver a far more immersive, frightful and compelling storyline."
Silent Hill 3 was mostly well received by critics, especially in its presentation, including its environments, graphics and audio, as well as the overall horror elements and themes that are continued from past installments. The game received praise for its story, which was a continuation of the first game's story.
Beginning with Silent Hill 4: The Room, the games have been slightly less well received; many reviewers criticized the increased emphasis on combat, compromising the horror aspect of gameplay. 1UP.com said that Konami went "backwards" with this game, though reviewers such as GameSpot still praised the game's atmosphere.
Origins received positive reviews despite some criticism. It was praised for going back to the old gameplay formula—according to IGN, "Origins does justice to the series as a whole." However, some criticized the series' increasing predictability. GameSpot stated that "This old fog needs to learn some new tricks."
Homecoming received favorable reviews. It was praised for its graphics and audio, but the horror and gameplay have been met with mixed reactions. Some critics, such as GameSpot, felt that it lost "the psychological horror factor that the series is so well-known for." Some critics were harsher; IGN called the game a "letdown."
Shattered Memories received more positive reviews. GameSpot praised the game's effort at reinventing the first game's plot, rather than being a simple remake.
Downpour received mixed reviews. While certain critics praised the soundtrack and story elements, it has been let down by "sluggish combat" and "occasional freezes".
HD Collection has also received mixed reviews. Critics criticised towards many technical issues plaguing both games and artistic changes made to the games.
Book of Memories, while receiving mixed reviews, has been the least well received game in the series, with most criticism regarding the game's shift in genre.
The Duffer Brothers have cited Silent Hill as an influence on their 2016 television show Stranger Things. They noted that it inspired the Upside Down, a parallel dimension in the series.
Print media of the Silent Hill franchise include a series of comic book adaptations; the novels Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 by Sadamu Yamashita, which are novelizations of their eponymous video games; the novel Silent Hill: Betrayal by Shaun M. Jooste, which is a unique tale set within the titular town; the guide book Lost Memories; and the art book Drawing Block: Silent Hill 3 Program.
A film adaptation of the first game in the series, Silent Hill, was released in 2006. It was adapted and directed by the French film director, producer and writer Christophe Gans. Gans himself is a big fan of the Silent Hill game series. A second film adaptation, titled Silent Hill: Revelation and based on Silent Hill 3, was released in 2012. The former received mixed reviews, the latter received generally negative reviews.