Now, like everyone that has found the series, when I first picked up Silent Hill, I was too young to grasp the intensity of what I was playing. I played more for sheer terror and because I felt less alone when playing video games, almost as if I was with the characters. Back then I was playing games like Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Gex, anything I could get my hands on, and mostly mainstream titles, it wasn’t until I was about 7 that I got into survival horror with the game that truly started it all, Resident Evil – Directors Cut. My father at the time had a copy of Silent Hill, but it was too complex for me, demons versus zombies, everyone knows it’s easier to wrap your mind around zombies, and my father actually traded the first game for Directors Cut, so by the time i could have actually played it, it was already too far out of reach. When I truly got into the series, I was 11 years old, my brother and I were terrified of the game, and it sat untouched, gathering dust for many years. We even had the guidebook for it, but every attempt we made to play it came to fault from fear alone.
Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 was my first true attempt at the series. At the time, I was in middle school, 8th grade, and I had dealt with a lot of bullying from other students. My mom and dad were absent in my life, so I didn’t care about being scared anymore. It was December of 2008, and I had a PlayStation 2 that refused to take any disks besides Revenge Pro along with, of course, SH2. So, I feel it was almost fate for me to play the game. At the time, I was living with my grandparents while my mom and dad were dealing with their divorce, so I had mainly games alongside my few friends I did somehow acquire. I was consumed with disgust for everyone, hatred of mankind, you know: the kind of middle school way of thinking. So, I put the game in and started my journey as James Sunderland.
Instantly, I was immersed with the game, I thought nothing could get darker in my life, but I was wrong, this time however the dark was more peaceful, tranquil. I spent hours on my first play through, finding every secret the game had to offer. I only had the original release, so now UFO ending, but I laughed at the Dog ending so much, and out of all of the endings, I personally felt the Rebirth ending was most fitting. When I made my second play of the game, I thought the game crashed when hearing the chainsaw, but I was wrong, I had found one of the strongest weapons in the game! The game really did have replay ability, and back then the graphics were astounding, still are. Silent Hill 2 really helped me at that point in my life, and then I decided it to be my favorite game, next to Resident Evil 4, and Kingdom Hearts 2, alas, all things come to an end, but new paths open.
Silent Hill: Homecoming
Silent Hill: Homecoming was my second game I acquired, I even got it brand new when it came out along with the guidebook. I thought to myself, PS3 eh? it has to be good if it’s the first next gen title, and I loved it, the monsters, the music, the game play and puzzles, just amazing, and I loved the focus around a twenty something coming back to his hometown, fitting for me at the time because I had just moved back to my hometown, and this was within months of playing Silent Hill 2. I had just moved on to high school, and I was playing a lot of games, and becoming more sociable. My problem solving skills from playing such puzzling games had made me very good at answering word questions, and solving mathematical equations, and seeing how I was much so a recluse at the time, I spent a lot of time actually studying for school, and had progressed to high honors, college preparation, and advanced placement, I was, and still am a very dedicated learner, I just struggle with the social aspect of things, but in time I became more outgoing.
Homecoming was one of my first next gen games and I got every ending, even unlocked the hidden outfit using the Konami code. Things were getting boring and I pretty much outdid the game for myself, but the game reflected on how I felt about my parents at the time, anger, confusion, betrayal, in time it would come and go, but the game was my first dip into the pool of a collection.
Silent Hill 4: The Room
The room was my third title in the series, and to this day scares me the most out of all of them, the ghosts literally make me shiver just thinking about them. Walter Sullivan is among one of my favorite video game baddies next to Albert Wesker. The game starts out in a small enclosed apartment, feeling a lot like my room at the time, and my life. My mom had just remarried to my current stepfather, and in many ways I was glad she finally found someone that was somewhat good for her and my brother and I, either way, the game made me very frustrated with its isolating factors. The worlds were so enclosed, small, and weapons seemed useless without the proper timing, but it was cool they featured charge attacks. The monsters at first were boring, a dog, a spooky ghost, and a giant worm that posed no real threat besides an eye sore, but when I reached the round prison, I was welcomed to the Twin Victims, a monstrosity with two infants faces attached to an abdomen. These creatures and the ghosts terrified me, still do whenever I play.
Around halfway through the game, I had to start over when I realized the second portion revisits the same areas, and I was unprepared, but I finally made a play through where I got near to beating the game, however I ended up getting the bad ending. A look online lead me to getting all the good endings later on, and to this day, The Room scares me the most out of any game in the series.
Silent Hill: Origins
Silent Hill: Origins, or Silent Hill Zero, is the first game in the series to be made by a western creator, Climax studios made the game, and though western studios are considered a sin for some games, I thought they did a pretty damned good job on this one. In fact, Origins is my favorite title in the series, and I even achieved every accolade and beat the game in 1 hour 42 minutes. Origins was an interesting title for me because its music was so peaceful for such a disturbing setting, at times I even forgot I was playing a horror game. It felt so open and I acquired it on my own months after finishing SH4, so I compared it to the small spaces in that game. Yeah I guess there was minimal back tracking, something that most of the games feature, but it wasn’t like you were literally visiting the same areas twice like in 4, instead you traveled by pinpoint, using clues to get to the next area.
Travis Grady is an amazing character in my opinion: he is a trucker, which was a childhood dream of mine, and he had a murky past that even he doesn’t like bringing up. Travis begins the series by saving Alessa from her burning house, only to end up within the town of Silent Hill. In the end, we find out that Travis was a pawn for Alessa’s revenge, but she helped us overcome our demons, and with the good ending, it is shown that Travis begins life with a fresh start. The music from the Riverside Motel is my favorite, and I still play it on loop when I want to relax, or when I’m sleeping.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Silent Hill Shattered Memories, or as the community calls it SHSM, is a wonderful game, featured on both PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo Wii, both versions vary in experience. The game stars Harry Mason, but unlike the first game, it has a twist in the sense it’s a re-imagining, and it also features no combat, which made it stand out,for good or for bad, but the main staple of this game was exploration, you can literally call numbers on wait… what is this? A CELLPHONE, you can call any number found in the game, and even call the Konami hotline, a humorous gag in the game, and you can collect objects called mementos, no real purpose to having them unless you like 100% completion. The game has wonderful music, and an amazing atmosphere, as well as psychological profiling done by in game choices, or when you are at the “Dr’s Office” overall, a great find, and I plan on getting it again for a play through every winter.
My first understanding of the first game came late, and after SHSM, so i followed a lot of the logic from that game, but with a few small differences, noticed the games are complete linear titles, Silent Hill however was a masterpiece in its own sense, and for its time had amazing graphics, compared to other games at that point. The story is deep, leaves you with a constant fear that something will pop out and getcha, the music is an ambiance mess, instilling fear in any queasy player, and the monsters were terrifying with high speeds and strange distorted noises. What got me in this game were the puzzles, they were hard, and PlaySation was at the end of the period where games required smarts and strategy, one puzzle everyone has trouble with is the Piano puzzle, unless you know the placement of keys, get ready for a struggle.
Silent Hill may be dated, but it is a very deep game, and I still have my copy to this day. I rarely play it, but every now and then I pull out the old PS1 or even use the PS3 download and get to work, as anyone who is a fan of the series, they should all play this game at least once.
Silent Hill: Downpour
Silent Hill Downpour was my first Silent Hill game on an Xbox, got it for Christmas, as always, with the guidebook, and played it a lot. It was hard at first, so I could only beat it on normal difficulty, but just until a year ago, I got it for PS3 and was able to beat it with no trouble on hard. The game was frustrating, and the monsters were lazy, but it was fun, and was the last true Silent Hill title I played besides Book of Memories. The game had depth, but it was darker than I thought, especially when you see a child get strangled later on. Either way, the game had a lot of mechanics I liked, mainly recurring weapons, and even side quests, something I have yet to finish to completion, but I intend on getting the platinum for it, because I love the series so much.
You play as Murphy Pendleton, a prisoner that is being transported to another prison but the bus he is in crashes, freeing him of his cage, and allowing him to make somewhat of an escape, but he ends up in hell as the town starts bringing back his past in unruly ways. Silent Hill Downpour isn’t my favorite in the series by far, but it is still a fun play.
Silent Hill 3
My least favorite in the series, mainly because one factor, it’s hard as shit, and features multiple harder difficulties upon completion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game, but like The Room, it felt clustered, gave me claustrophobia with its tiny areas, but the game also had good things about it. Like the first title, it had unnerving music, strange monsters, and a great story which expands after the first game, all in all a great game if you can get past a few small problems. Silent Hill 3 is also the first and only title in the whole series to feature a female lead, something I personally felt was very empowering, and Heather herself is a very powerful character. Silent Hill 3 wasn’t the last game by choice, in fact it is hard to come by, and I was lucky when I saw it in my favorite video game store Video Game Exchange for the low price of $20. I was able to play the disk fine, and I spent many days playing it.
Silent Hill 3 was one of the first games to actually, truly feature swearing, unlike Downpour that swore way too often, 3 used vulgarity at the right times, every time, and at this point in my life I was sexually frustrated, and the game knew how to target ones sexual psyche, in a very perverted way. It made me uncomfortable in many instances, but I did enjoy playing through it. It’s such a shame the HD collection butchered the voices so bad, it’s almost unplayable.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Silent Hill: Book of Memories is a stand alone dungeon crawler, which should be rated T if anything. It features music from Daniel Licht, who also composed the score for Downpour, and honestly, if you are playing online, it’s quite fun. This along with a Vita were my graduation gifts from high school, and I spent a lot of my free time playing this game, and got all the way up to level 30 or so. The game featured a level up system, character customization, power ups, unlockables, and even DLC! The content featured skins to play as James Sunderland or Heather Mason, and also rehashed the game entirely with new enemies and new weapons. It was the first game and last game I played that featured DLC, and is still the last of the “main” titles in the series. I only managed to play online successfully once because the matchmaking was terrible with its servers. The verdict, if you are such a fan of the series, and you must play every game, give it a try, it can be very fun.