Silent Hill turns 15
One of my favorite survival horror titles of all time is now old enough for a drivers permit, and it doesn’t make me feel old at all.
15 years ago today, Keiichiro Toyama partied like it was 1999, giving us one of creepiest games of all time, and easily the scariest game the world had seen at the time. Silent Hill not only had a large impact on my gaming experience when I was in my late teens, but it also arguably molded and influenced every horror game that was birthed after it.
I remember the first time I was introduced to Silent Hill, I was nerdy enough to be a part of the PlayStation Underground, you know that exclusive club that sent you the latest PS1 demo discs, after playing some Ridge Racer and Crash Bandicoot I was ready to watch one of my first and easily favorite trailers of my teen years.
I remember it well, the acoustic guitar spinning a web behind the cast of eerie characters you were sure to meet in your ventures through Silent Hill. A strangely attractive nurse, an unpredictable man with a gun, a woman covered in bandages, a savvy police officer, skinless ankle biting midgets, and that house, oh my gawd that house. It still gives me chills.
The trailer tried to prepare me for the trials I would face while in the small town of Silent Hill, but when I awoke as Harry Mason near my rolled Jeep, missing my daughter and walked into the seemingly endless fog, there was nothing that could have prepared me for what I was about to see and hear.
I wasn’t an assassin or highly trained soldier, I was a writer, unskilled in combat, and not that it mattered, you would need weapons and ammo to fight, something that Silent Hill lacked. It was one of the first games I experienced where it was sometimes smarter to run than stand your ground. The world could change around you in an instant, one minute you were marking things off on a map, sirens wane, and leave you in a darker level of hell you would never want to be lost in. But never the less, you were lost, low on ammo, but not helpless. I loved that it forced me to be resilient.
It wasn’t just the gameplay, the story was deep, dark, intriguing. I hung on every cutscene, examining every character, and felt a loss when one would pass. I actually recorded gameplay and some of my favorite cutscenes to a VHS tape that’s now in a box with other VHS tapes of sentimental value. It’s amazing thinking back, how much I still remember about Silent Hill, I remember it like it was just last week, sitting on my parents couch in the dark, forcing myself to continue into the next unexplored room.
It remained my favorite survival horror title until its predecessor Silent Hill 2 arrived, which sits high on a pedestal as one of my top 5 games of all time. It’s hard to believe a game could unseat Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, two games that were considered as the standard in survival horror.
Happy birthday Silent Hill, I want to thank you for the sick, sick memories. I hope you have many more influential years on the horror genre, you deserve it.