There was a HOLE here. It's gone now.
Alas, Silent Hill fans, I come bearing tragic news, for the highly anticipated Silent Hills is officially dead in the water. Don't worry, it's okay to cry - the GR+ offices have been filled with the wailing of lost souls all day. But if we've learned anything from the likes of Harry and Heather Mason (and James Sunderland, if you stop looking at that damn knife), it's that you always keep running toward the tiny, flickering spark of light through the imposing fog. And after seeing Silent Hill: Origins and Shattered Memories director Sam Barlow tweeting about the dream of a Silent Hill anthology collection, I've decided to put aside the Silent Hill that could have been to think about those that could still totally be.
Here I've listed the developers who could create chapters in a 'Silent Hill anthology', whose unique talents could play to what makes Silent Hill so beloved and unforgettable. If we ALL say it loud and long enough, it's entirely possible that this could exist. Just keep running toward the light in the gloom.
Remedy would be great because...
Alan Wake is a perfect template for a bite-sized Silent Hill experience. Remedy intimately understands how geography can impact mood, turning the pine forests of the US northwest into an oppressive landscape for Alans nightmares. They also understand how to adapt horror to an episodic format, sustaining tension throughout short levels, bringing the unease to a creepy crest at the very end. And in both Alan Wake and American Nightmare, Remedy showed they can blur the line between realities, twisting our perceptions and short-circuiting our expectations.
All of that experience is reason enough to wish theyd take a crack at a Silent Hill experience, but its the terrifying Mr. Scratch that seals it. Most of Silent Hills enemies are creeping, unknowable things, but Mr. Scratch, the dark embodiment of Alans ego, is all the more terrifying because hes so recognizable. He simply gives into the impulses that we all have - to take what we want, shove others out of our way, and shape the world to our own specific liking. It would be intriguing to explore a relationship with a denizen of Silent Hill thats as charming as he is disturbing.
Grasshopper Manufacture would be great because...
Here's the thing with Silent Hill, it needs to be really freaking weird. That's what I adored about the series' early entries: each one took something familiar - a hospital or a shopping mall - and made it hostile and alien. These games didn't feel like anything else out there, and that unfamiliarity is what made them so scary. When thinking about who could do the bizarre atmosphere of Silent Hill justice, one name jumps to the top of the list: Grasshopper Manufacture.
With a track record that includes Lollipop Chainsaw and No More Heroes, Grasshopper Manufacture and Goichi Suda have a special brand of strange that permeates everything they touch. They've dipped their toe in the horror genre before with Fatal Frame 4. This would be their opportunity to dive headlong into the dark side and make it their own. It would be crass, it would be stylish, and it sure as hell wouldn't feel like any other Silent Hill game - and that's the point. If there's one thing PT demonstrates, it's that you can break the Silent Hill mold and still have a horror game that captures our imaginations.
Tango Gameworks would be great because...
The Evil Within was easily one of the most contentious games of 2014, and even now the gaming world is divided on whether it's the second-coming of Resident Evil or destined for the bin. But if developer Tango Gameworks did one thing right with this grotesque action-horror, it was coming up with an exceedingly scary concept and pushing it to the limit. If that passion could be redirected into a subtler narrative that's just as frightening, a Tango-directed Silent Hill could be the unsettling child of the horror genre's two greatest rivals.
While The Evil Within (Tango's only gaming endeavor thus far) focuses heavily on action sequences, it's arguably at its best when you're simply walking around a house, poking at fresh brains and trying to discover the mystery behind the specter that's relentlessly hunting you. It also knows how to make the immortal stalker concept work, with Boxman exhibiting all the terrifying immortality of Pyramid Head with an extra helping of gore. Perhaps most importantly, Shinji Mikami and his team are adept at realizing their vision with grace and focus, so a Silent Hill game from them would almost assuredly strike at the heart of what makes the series tick.
OutSide Directors Company would be great because...
You might've heard of a PS1 rarity by the name of LSD: Dream Emulator. It's not so much a game as it is a first-person simulation of an acid trip that oscillates between surreal weirdness and full-on terror. Without any goals or direction, you simply wander through 32-bit renditions of disconnected dream sequences, completely unsure of how your surroundings will react to your presence. Ask anyone who's plunged headfirst into this madness (or watch a Let's Play), and you'll see just how often things take a turn into deeply disturbing territory. It gets to the point that the player feels like they're being strangled by paranoia and disorientation.
Don't be deceived by the crude graphics; LSD is capable of some truly skin-crawling stuff, like walls inexplicably plastered with creepy face textures, or NPCs randomly having their heads fall off before lurching towards you. That's exactly the kind of psychological horror that Silent Hill fans live for. And depending on who you ask, the infamous Grey Man is more terrifying than Pyramid Head ever could be. OutSide Directors Company hasn't made a game in over a decade, but its ancient-looking website is still up, so anything's possible.
Fullbright would be great because...
People often (incorrectly) reduce Gone Home as to nothing more than a 'walking simulator', but you know what? There's nowhere that Fullbright's brand of environmental design and exploration would be more at home than the sleepy burg of Silent Hill. Gone Home already toyed with player expectations, building up suspense and horror through simple audio cues, deft storytelling, and a crushing sense of loneliness - a Fullbright Silent Hill game would simply ratchet up those feelings tenfold.
If you're playing Silent Hill for the combat, you're playing the wrong game. Instead, a Fullbright-developed Silent Hill would drop the player into the derelict city long after the horror has since passed - though the evidence of the atrocities committed by its inhabitants still lingers. You'd explore abandoned buildings, reading notes and taking in clues, piecing the story together as you wander through the city's haunting streets. And then the fog rolls in, and the real terror begins.
Spike Chunsoft would be great because...
Between working on Danganronpa and the Zero Escape series, developer Spike Chunsoft knows how to inject a poignant sense of despair, dread, and (most of all) helplessness in their games. Silent Hill thrives on these emotions. It wants to instil them deep within your psyche, often without you even realizing it. The thematic harmony at work between game and developer makes Spike Chunsoft a natural fit for this long-running horror franchise.
And on a more pragmatic note, what's the one thing people complain about when they complain about Silent Hill? The gameplay. By design, Silent Hill games feel clunky, which is sort of the point but people still don't like it. If Spike Chunsoft were to transform Silent Hill into a visual novel, that awkwardness would be eliminated and you'd be free to focus on all the creepy environments and brain-teasing puzzles. It also allows for a greater focus on narrative, which is important when your backdrop literally runs on the inner turmoil of its characters.
From Software would be great because...
Though From Software is best known for making you want to throw your game system out the window when you lose to that one boss for the tenth freaking time, the company is equally versed at building a living story from vague whispers and hints. Though you could charge through Dark Souls or Bloodborne without ever learning their lore, players that pay close attention can discover frightening and fascinating worlds hidden just out of sight. Silent Hill is all about the horror of what could be lurking beyond that impenetrable fog, so From Software's unique brand of subtle dread would be perfect for low-visibility terror.
Much like other Silent Hill games are built upon subtle clues that can go ignored if you don't pay attention (heck, P.T. has a full story to it that some players never notice), From Software is adept at hiding hints of story in every facet of a game, from item descriptions to the structure of the world itself. While the company has never done a psychological horror game the likes of Silent Hill, it wouldn't be too tricky to scale back its action-focused elements to hone in on atmosphere. After that it's familiar, lamp-lit territory. The true question is whether From Software could tame its desire to make you suffer under crushing difficulty instead of just deep-seated fear, but I bet it could pull that off. Just this once.