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Silent HIlls has faded into the heavy fog of the titular town once and for all, ladies and gentlemen. It’s short lived life has been snuffed out. Maybe Del Toro should have used a health drink.
Way back last year, when the mysterious downloadable game P.T. showed up on the Playstation network, people flocked to play it, try to figure out just what was up with the terrifying new short horror title. They walked down the same hallway, over and over again. Felt fear claw at their spines as each loop changed just a little bit more. A story of murder and intrigue in the background. A radio that seemed to speak almost directly to the player character at times. Of fractured home life, and in clear contrast to Harry Mason…terrible fathers. A hint that perhaps…perhaps whatever was going on had to do with layering realities. “the only me i me, are you sure the only you is you’ brought a particular chill down my spine. The themes and terror P.T captured were engaging, fascinating…and swept the net by storm.
Fast forward to a mere nine days after release, when the game’s difficult and unexplained puzzles were finally solved by a brave youtuber. The final part of the game was revealed…and we all found out that P.T. was none other than a shocking playable teaser for a BRAND NEW silent hill game! Not only that, but one developed by a union of great minds, starring a famous actor! Guillermo Del Toro, a brilliant horror director, paired with Hideo Kojima, who is considered a master of video game storytelling…working together! to make an installment of a series they both love! A ripple went through the fan community. Excitement! for the first time in a while, the fans were given something to talk about. Sure. There were doubts over whether or not the pair could pull off a silent hill game faithfully…but P.T was a good start! And nobody could say no to a new Silent Hill game…especially one with the possibility of a cool theme.
Enthusiasm built over the next year. Even though development was quiet, I personally got incredibly hyped up for the game, talking eagerly with friends about how I thought Kojima would bring his unique style to the Silent HIll universe. Fan speculation was rampant, spirits were high…. we all should have known it was too good to last. The siren blared through the night sky. The world around us rippled, and faded into a desolate industrial landscape of rust and grime.
and there stood Konami, great knife in hand.
Trouble began in March. Strange things began to happen at the Konami headquarters. A media lockdown, the removal of Hideo Kojima’s radio show, and the complete removal of the Kojima Production’s brand. Metal Gear Solid lost it’s “a Hideo Kojima Game” tagline, and many other small, and bizarre events. Konami was tight lipped when asked questions, releasing only vague and unhelpful press releases that they were doing some sort of ‘internal restructuring and re imagining it’s branding.
“In accordance with the recent change in production organization of all of Konami, Kojima Productions, as well as other internal production companies, has had its name, etc., changed to move into the corporate headquarters work structure.”
They reassured and reassured people that MGSV was still coming out, and Kojima would finish working on it before departing. But no word was said about the Silent HIlls project. People asked, repeatedly. Sending requests for information, begging to know the fate of the Silent HIll series. No information was given. At all.
Confirmation then came. Yeah, Kojima was leaving Konami for good. Yes MGS would come out, and he considered it the final Metal Gear. Konami then went silent about Silent Hills once again.
The death knell came for me today, when I opened my browser to see a notification. Silent HIll news. Eagerly I went to look , only to find worrying news. Del Toro and Reedus both spoke out about how the game was over. Finished. They were very sad that the project fell apart. I dug a little deeper.
I found the most worrying news of all. Konami has officially killed Silent Hills in a statement to Kotaku.com. To quote the website
“Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic ‘Silent Hills’ project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued.
In terms of Kojima and Del Toro being involved, discussions on future Silent Hill projects are currently underway, and please stay tuned for further announcements.”
Silent Hills, and all that it could have been is now gone. Sure, they claim they will make new silent hill titles in the future…maybe even allow Kojima and Del Toro to work with them on it. But…The likelihood of that happening seems to be pretty bleak. Konami has been moving it’s corporate structure away from the gaming industry as of late, and with the cancellation of the contracts with the minds and personalities who were going to be involved doesn’t bode well for future participation.
I can only hold out hope that Konami cares enough to release a new Silent HIll game sometime in the near future… and perhaps assign a developer that cares, or has ideas as good as Kojima and Del Toro seemed to have with P.T.
I will mourn the fact that fans will never get to see what could have been. The fact that we never will have an answer as to whether or not Kojima and his team could have made a proper Silent Hill title. To see what unique touch he and his coworkers could have brought to the famous title.
So it comes to this. Silent HIlls has sunk deep into the recesses of Toluca Lake, drowning the ideas that were born from it. We can only hope that it doesn’t suck the rest of the franchise down with it.
Hi all! I’m headed back up to Rochester Friday morning 4/17 for the Tora-Con anime convention! Its a busy time, so I won’t be able to do Promise for a couple of days, but I’ll be daily again once I get back on Tuesday!
On the brightside, if anybody else is planning to be at Tora-Con, message me and we can meet up!
Home: A Unique Horror Adventure is a game that I played on the PS4, with pixel style graphics and a promise of spooky atmosphere. Now may I say, I’m a girl who loves her mystery horror. If there ever were two genres meant to be slammed together to create perfection, it was those two. Unfortunately, Home delivers more on the mystery, and not so much on the horror.
At the game’s outset you wake up in a room, with muddy shoes, blood and absolutely no memory of what’s going on. Not a good way to wake up in the morning, I can imagine. It’s stormy out, and there’s a corpse just outside the room. Quite obviously you’re not exactly in the best situation. Then the plot starts, which I will simplify as ‘The Hangover, with 30% more murder’. That’s the story in it’s basic nutshell. You have no memory. The player character will make comments as he goes, and looks at things, and you have a branching path system to explore and investigate the events of the town to try to piece together the truth. You must unravel a mystery. Are you a murderer? Is your friend? What’s up with the memory loss? Are you an alcoholic? Why were you in some sado-murderer’s house anyway? Was it some kind of murder orgy? I hope not!
It’s an interesting way to tell a story for sure. I’m not going to say much else about the story itself, because those who are interested will want to figure out what’s going on for themselves… even if ultimately there may be no answer. The story that relies entirely on the idea that you, as a player, interpret then events differently than someone else will. That’s the crux of the game’s storytelling. And I’ll admit, I found this approach fascinating. I talked a bit with my fiance about what we thought the true events could be, and discussed it for an hour before forgetting about it and going to sleep. The problem of course with this method of storytelling is you need to leave it open ended enough to leave that room for interpretation. This means that a lot of the story points are vague, difficult to follow, and most damningly…light on the emotional impact when something big happens. It doesn’t help that the entire playthrough, my fiance kept making ‘Mary, could you really be in this town?’ jokes at me.
Despite its problems the story had an interesting flow to it, and the mystery was pretty engaging for one so loose and ultimately unfruitful. In the end you go on deciding on the events you believed to have happened, confirming them, and letting your character go on his merry (or decidedly unmerry) way, confident that their point of view is correct.
While I did enjoy the story more or less, there were …how do i put it? Oh yes. A crap ton of problems. Namely, it got pretty boring, pretty fast. Part of what’s at fault for this has to do with the gameplay, which I’ll go over later. But the point I want to talk about now is the horror aspect.
For a game that bills itself as a Unique Horror Adventure, I was never horrified. I’ve been scared by pixel horror games before. Yume Nikki unsettled me. The Witch’s House caused a chill near the end, I was genuinely frightened by parts of Ib, etc. Let it not be said it the pixel’s that made the experience tame for me. In fact the pixels are actually beautifully done. The shading and shadows are good, the backgrounds are nicely done. The character even has some subtle movements (like a limp) that I felt were cleverly put in. Eyes stare at you from the distant background of the woods…it all SHOULD be scary.
But nothing scary ever happens. It sets up scares, then doesn’t pull through. A cat meows in the first hallway, and scampers away, making a very cheap jump startle….but not much else. Lights flicker…and that’s it. Creaks and groans in a dark factory building build suspense that something might happen but it never follows through. In the end, I learned to expect that nothing would come of the bumps and sounds and staring eyes from the abyss beyond the fence. What was called a horror amounted to one guy wandering through the dark woods, muttering to himself about how he really hopes he can find his credit card, because it really sucks he dropped it! When did he even do that! Wow what a putz!
Any horror that came from the truly gruesome moments (for a given value of gruesome), was highly diminished by increasing predictability; refusing to really play up the scare, and…frankly, by the lack of any horror before. My response to finding yet another corpse in someone’s bedroom was ‘Is that supposed to be my friend? He literally looks like the last three corpses I’ve seen today’.
I will say flat out, I was disappointed. It promised horror, and ended up being kind of a light thriller with a high dose of mystery. I wasn’t horrified. I didn’t feel even a tinge of fear crawling up my spine. I more felt very mildly intrigued with a side helping of slightly bored. The only real fun came from using the things you find in the environment to figure out whodunit. But past that, there isn’t much else.
Speaking of not much else to do! Lets go over the game mechanics!
Control-wise Home is incredibly simple, and repetitive. Move from side to side. Click ‘X’ to interact with things. Scroll through your inner monologue, walk a bit, hit another button to push a block or open a door. You can also do this nifty thing where you point your flashlight up and stand on your tiptoes…but it always looks like he’s striking a dance pose. I end up mashing the button over and over to make the possible murderer dance to a fistpump worthy beat. Disco Killer style.
The simple controls figured out, we shove off into the world of gameplay! Most of the game involves…walking! Thats pretty much the extent of it. Walk to different places. Investigate stuff, and occasionally use a keycard or other item to open something, or solve an incredibly simple puzzle. It doesn’t even throw any quick time button presses at you. It’s one of those games. And while I feel these simple mechanics can be good for getting a story across interactively, this one kind of falls flat. The areas can take a little bit to walk through at your meandering, unalterable pace, which means it starts to drag halfway through, and what little interest I had at that point began to drain away like water in strainer someone had decided to punch extra holes in.
It was all too easy to lose interest when there was nothing much going on for half an hour of your less than 2 hour runtime. Walking can be well and good, if its a build up to horror, but here it felt like mere tedium broken only by another sameface corpse. I got tired of seeing those pretty quick.
I finished Home in around an hour and a half. And that was taking the time to poke at it. It’s short, and the story has an interesting angle to it, with the whole….perspective thing. But I didn’t find myself that much of a fan. It has good replay value, because of the ability for internal reinterpretation of its narrative, but that’s only if you can stomach the idea of replaying it. With it’s decent visuals but sub-par scares, limited story, and all around sort of boring run-time…Home was the kind of game that just made me want to wander away and play me some Silent Hill.