Silent Hill is back in a big way. That's why there's never been a better time to dig back into the best Silent Hill games while you still can. Seriously, the series has swept through the upcoming horror games schedule, and there's plenty to be excited for. Firstly there's the Silent Hill 2 Remake from Bloober Team to get hyped for, not to mention Silent Hill f, Silent Hill Ascension, and Silent Hill Townfall.
Naturally, we thought this ranking of the best Silent Hill games would look a little different by now...although the cancellation of Hideo Kojima's Silent Hills in 2015 left the series in the dark for a little while there. Still, we're happy it's back, and we're even happier to have spent some time thinking about where to place the best Silent Hill games of all-time in this ranking.
This collection of the best Silent Hill games was refreshed on October 2, and while we have nothing more to add or change, we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for when we can add Silent Hill 2 Remake to the rankings.
Developer: Kojima Productions
As P.T. is technically just a playable demo, one which Konami has made impossible to download in the modern era, its appearance on this list is functionally an honorable mention. Still, it's worth discussing all the same.
The Silent Hills dream died with Hideo Kojima's departure from Konami, but that doesn't mean that we should let the legacy of P.T. disappear completely. Short, ill-fated, and confusing as it may get toward the end, PT is a brilliant little pocket of terror that surpasses the quality of horror games twice its length, doing the Silent Hill series proud even in its abbreviated state.
Still, it's worth discussing all the same. On the surface, P.T.'s concept is simple: you're stuck in the hallway of a small house, looping back whenever you reach the end, and you have to find a way out with something sinister breathing down your neck. But that simple concept conceals a genius understanding of horror, where an environment full of flickering lights and unfortunate sounds peels back all your defenses and uses your imagination against you. Only when you're at your most vulnerable does the game start to get weird, throwing out ghostly happenings, frightening creatures, and hints about who you are and why you're here (none of them good), turning you into a shivering puddle of fear. Oh, what could have been.
9. Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Platform(s): PS Vita
Book of Memories took the Silent Hill series in a wholly unexpected direction by turning it into an isometric dungeon crawler – a semi-blasphemous notion that nonetheless had loads of potential. The atmosphere is genuinely creepy and the combat/puzzle-solving combination suits the style perfectly.
The problem is that nothing you pick up actually matters – it doesn't make any difference what gear you collect, because none of it has any stats associated with it. With no driving reason to go searching for newer, better loot there is little point in scouring the levels to completion. Not quite a Silent Hill game, not quite a dungeon crawler, Book of Memories is one of the stranger entries to the series.
8. Silent Hill: Origins
Developer: Climax Action
Platform(s): PSP, PS2
Most of the Silent Hill games can be characterized in a handful of words. Silent Hill 2 is the one with Pyramid Head, Shattered Memories is the one with motion controls, and The Room is that weird one, you know, with the ghosts? Silent Hill: Origins however, can't be described as much more than the one that's there. While there's nothing inherently wrong with it, it doesn't offer much that the rest of the series hasn't already done better and with more soul.
Origins stars a troubled middle-age trucker named Travis Grady, who is drawn to Silent Hill by a mysterious entity and must battle his way through both a quiet fog world and a grizzly Otherworld. As the name implies, Travis experiences the events that precede the original Silent Hill, so you get the thrill of seeing those familiar characters again and then the dull realization that they don't do anything new. Basically, Origins is a fine game if you're absolutely craving some Silent Hill action.
7. Silent Hill: Homecoming
Developer: Double Helix Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox 360
Far from the return to form that its title implied, Silent Hill: Homecoming brushed aside many of the franchises conventions, even if it didn't wave away that dreadful fog. At its outset, everything about Homecoming seemed to trigger the skeptics alarm: it would be developed by a western studio, it would be published on multiple platforms, and it would introduce a new combat system. A combat system? In Silent Hill? Unbelievable.
Ignoring the fact that Homecoming was oddly the one Silent Hill game where everyone suddenly cared about the combat (as if we hadn't tolerated a sloppy pipe-swinging sim all this time), it stands out for actually having the first protagonist who would really be able to fight. A former soldier, Alex Shepherd is uniquely equipped to deal with Silent Hill's twisted menagerie. And spoiler: not only does getting closer make the monsters creepier, but Homecoming uses Alex's background to unfurl the difficulty of returning to mundane suburbia after a traumatic military service.
6. Silent Hill 4: The Room
Developer: Team Silent
Platform(s): PC, PS2, Xbox
Rumor has it that The Room was originally a standalone title that got integrated into the Silent Hill series towards the end of its development. Konami has assured us that this isn't true, that The Room was always meant to be part of the franchise – but just very different in terms of tone. And it is certainly is different. Following Henry Townsend as he attempts to escape his gradually more haunted apartment, it's an instantly uncomfortable experience. Holes in the wall, terrifying subways, and a horrendous area known as the water prison – it's an exercise in genuinely uncomfortable horror.
Lurking enemies such as the Twin Victims – yes, thats two groaning baby heads stuck together who walk around on two legs – make for horribly toe curling exploration, and there's a true sense of madness to proceedings. In one unforgettable scene, Henry enters a room only to find an enormous model head of his neighbor Eileen with rolling eyes that follow you around. The Room is best in these little moments. Overall, The Room is an unsettling and somewhat miserable experience that encompasses the true horror of the series, but perhaps doesn't always know what to do with it.
5. Silent Hill: Downpour
Developer: Vatra Games
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360
Silent Hill: Downpour is a brilliantly flawed, wonderfully troubled game. It tried to mend the rift between the unorthodox Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and the rote Silent Hill: Homecoming by making the spookiest town in gaming a pseudo-open-world. And to its credit, developer Vatra Games succeeded in making the town of Silent Hill feel genuinely different. The ever-present fog, for example, is downplayed in favor of frequent, violent rainstorms that whip nearby enemies into a frenzy. The constant threat of rain makes exploring Silent Hill feel all the more threatening.
Other moments of genius include the game's opening combat tutorial. In it, the player learns how to fight by brutally stabbing a man to death in a prison shower. In addition to being a gripping scene, our protagonist's motivations are left completely open-ended. We're invited to form our own opinions about their personality, which can later be reinforced through various moral choices. However, for all the good Vatra accomplished, there's enough bad (combat, technical issues) to balance it out. But what ultimately held Downpour back was that it's too familiar to be terrifying.
4. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Developer: Climax Studios
Platform(s): Wii, PS2, PSP
A lot of things could have gone wrong with Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. A motion-controlled Silent Hill designed for the Nintendo Wii which reimagines the story of the original game... but different? The groans of despair were loud and mighty when this one was announced. So imagine the surprise when Shattered Memories turned out to be genuinely interesting, creative, and fresh. And its use of the Wii-mote didn't make you want to accidentally throw it across the room.
Perhaps what stands out most about Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the use of the psychologist, who pushes you out of your comfort zone by psycho-analyzing you in conjunction with events that happen in the main story. And I don't mean he analyzes main Character Harry Mason, but you the player, and then uses your answers to change the game. Ultimately, the changes are just cosmetic, but they leave you more vulnerable to the rest of the game's scares.
3. Silent Hill 3
Developer: Team Silent
Platform(s): PC, PS2
Silent Hill 3 put its own stamp on the distressing creations that fill Silent Hill's streets, with developer Team Silent producing a fascinating new look at horror from the perspective of a rather unique protagonist. The eerily empty environments of the first two games are well-executed here, but the game's at its best when the gore comes out, creating a version of Silent Hill's Otherworld that feels more morbid and suffocating than ever before. There's a truly truly disturbing atmosphere to Silent Hill 3, and that's a big part of its appeal.
The monsters within are brilliantly grotesque, from the club-armed Closer to the disgusting Glutton, to the point that the series' iconic nurses as easily the most boring enemies. And Silent Hill 3 only get more disturbing when you consider the game's themes of fertility and childbirth – few games explore these areas so directly and unwaveringly, and that's an area where the game truly innovates. Plus, Silent Hill 3 introduces the technically harmless but completely terrifying Robbie the Rabbit, who still gives Pyramid Head a run for money.
2. Silent Hill
Developer: Team Silent
When life gives you lemons, make one of the best PS1 games of the era, and one pf the most highly-regarded horror games of all time. That's what Team Silent did when it created Silent Hill. Working with the PS1's limited technical capabilities, which could only render nearby chunks of the environment before the draw distance faded into a featureless mass of gray pixels, Team Silent's developers decided this limitation would be a good stand-in for fog. Suddenly, a technical problem became a deeply unsettling boon that helped to define the series' style and atmosphere.
From the minute Harry Mason enters Silent Hill looking for his lost daughter, you're assaulted with its unsettling nothingness, and just knowing that something is out in the fog waiting for you is an instant nerve-frayer. Of course, not everything about Silent Hill was a happy accident. From its opening scene the game is full of deliberately unnerving set-pieces, like mauled dogs, blood-smeared walls, and the world's creepiest locker that promise pain and terror even when none is forthcoming. It's all about the build-up to fear, and the original Silent Hill is still the master of the slow, painful burn.
1. Silent Hill 2
Developer: Team Silent
Platform(s): PS2, PC, Xbox
We hate to be predictable, but this is a given. The original Silent Hill may have introduced the series' unique brand of creeping dread and bare-faced gore, and later games may have been more innovative, but none execute on everything they try to accomplish as brilliantly as Silent Hill 2. It's subtle at first, almost getting you to believe it's just another monster-thrasher in its opening hours. But then whispers about James' history bubble to the surface, obscure hints fall into place, and a brilliant twist forces you to face the truth: this town is a very personal hell for James, and instantly you see everything differently.
All of Silent Hill 2 is focused on realizing that vision, so everything fits together like a perfectly esoteric puzzle. Every monster serves a symbolic function outside of just being scary (and oh are they ever), especially the iconic Pyramid Head. The way James fights, or even interacts with his inventory, changes the way he behaves. And James' seemingly milquetoast personality is laid out so meticulously that you're completely sideswiped when you figure out who he really is. Perhaps most notable of all, it has no fear in approaching an intimate and uniquely terrifying topic in a way that only Silent Hill can. From its first moment to its last, it asks you "why?" And "I don't know" is still the scariest answer of all – and it's the truth.