|The REAL Silent Hill Experience
By Rosseter and Fungo
© 2007-2010 by Twin-Perfect.com
Some parts of this video may be considered violent or cruel. Viewer discretion is advised.
SPOILER WARNING: This video contains spoilers for Silent Hill 1-4, Origins, Homecoming, Shattered Memories, Orphan (mobile), the Silent Hill movie and the following list of comic books:
Among the Damned
Dying Inside 1-5
Paint It Black
The Grinning Man
We strongly advise playing Silent Hill 1-4 to completion before continuing.
Rosseter and Fungo sit on a couch playing a video game. Rosseter uses a Nintendo Gamecube controller while Fungo uses a Sega Dreamcast controller. Their improvised conversation indicates that the game is multiplayer and competitive. It is soon revealed that they are playing Silent Hill for the Sony Playstation. Harry dies in the game as Fungo "defeats" Rosseter, and they exchange post-game banter. They set down their controllers.
Hey there, guys!
Hi. I'm Fungo.
And I'm Rosseter.
But you already know that! That was a given...
We were just playing some Nintendo, but since you're here we should probably begin that which you have so fervently chosen to foment your intellectual percipience.
Touché. Silent Hill has become one of the best-known survival horror series in video games, and that is most likely due to its high level of detail, immersive atmosphere, and intricate storyline.
But the intricacy of that storyline also makes it one of the most sadly misunderstood series in gaming history. And that's why we're here.
We're going to explain to you the plot of Silent Hill in its entirety and exactly what makes it a phenomenal game series.
Along with our views on the current games and the future of the series.
We should note that any time we make a point, the proof comes from either the games themselves or from quotes from people who know what they are talking about. We do not say anything we cannot prove, and we do not use anything from third party plot guides unless such guides quote a member of the creative team responsible for the games.
DerFuzhwar enters with glasses of grape soda on a tray.
So, grab yourself a grape soda and join us right here on:
The REAL Silent Hill Experience!
Halfway through the title announcement, Rosseter stops speaking and turns angrily toward DerFuzhwar. He reprimands Fuzh for joining in on the title announcement and sends him back to the kitchen for snacks as the scene fades to black.
01: SILENT HILL
When it was introduced on January 31st of 1999, Silent Hill was unlike any other game at the time. It took the survival horror genre established by series like Clocktower...
Alone in the Dark... and blew that genre right out of your mind, showing what psychological horror could do. While other games would pop enemies out to shock players (to some success), Silent Hill offered the promise of a sudden shock that would never come, keeping the player constantly on edge. But when the sudden shock finally did come, it was usually an image disturbing much farther beyond anything other games were delivering at the time.
The game used the PS1's shortcomings to an advantage, masking the limited draw distance with thick fog and pure darkness, giving the player a sense of being lost and alone, having to rely on a map and flashlight for navigation.
You could use those.
These right here.
Navigate with those.
And just when players thought the game couldn't get any more scary (because it was scary), it would thrust them into a nightmarish mockery of whatever area they were exploring, intensifying their feelings of discomfort even further.
All of these elements are what made Silent Hill truly scary, rather than the fake "fun house" scares of other survival horror games. The game has aged well, since the gameplay and controls remain unchanged through most of the series. Normally when going into the PS1's back-catalog, you find that some games aren't as good as you remember them to be... [e.g. Tomb Raider, Vigilante 8, Tekken 3] But sometimes, the games are exactly as you remember them to be and are still extremely enjoyable. [e.g. Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill]
The game uses the "tank" control style (as some like to call it), where the character only moves forward and backward, while turning left and right. No one seems to like this control scheme, but we cannot imagine Silent Hill without it, especially in a game where the camera angles change so often. The controls are a little sluggish, but they're still better than the controls in Tomb Raider, and look at the praise that game gets! Resident Evil still uses tank controls to this day, and look how that turned out. [e.g. Resident Evil 4]
Combat is a step up from other games in the survival horror genre. It's like what Resident Evil would be if the melee combat were more developed. The gameplay's focus is on completing puzzles and exploring the environment. Item collection is a big part of the game. Rather than being obvious items, like keys or handles, they are interesting objects that pertain to the theme of a puzzle. After beating the game, players are presented with a ranking screen and the possibility of gaining other endings, inviting them to beat the game over and over and over and over again. Much of the horror comes from the harsh and unsettling sound effects and music, but moments of silence add to the suspense and allow the horrific atmosphere to take over.
What really sets Silent Hill apart from any other series is the ingeniously crafted storyline that poses more questions than answers. Players are simply given bits and pieces of information to compile throughout the game, without being told the story outright. In a way, it's a game within a game. Straight through to the end, the player must read into every line of dialog and every image presented in order to completely understand what is going on... What is going on?
The tourist town of Silent Hill, Maine is home to a mysterious cult dedicated to a demon god, presumably "Samael". The cult uses the drug "White Claudia" (PTV) to draw in visitors and initiate them, creating a drug ring and substantial income for those involved. The most fanatical of the cult have a higher goal, however: to birth the god into the world, bringing with him an "eternal paradise" (in reality, a hell on Earth).
Dahlia Gillespie, one of the more influential members of the cult, has a daughter with psychic abilities, Alessa, whom they impregnate with the seed of the god. Alessa, for obvious reasons, opposes this plan, and the stress caused by the incident blows up the boiler and sets fire to the house. She nearly dies, but the cult uses black magic to sustain her until she is ready to give birth.
Dr. Kaufmann, leader of the drug ring and hospital director, assigns Lisa Garland to attend to Alessa in the basement of the hospital, keeping her there under the influence of White Claudia (PTV).
Alessa split her soul into two during the fire, knowing that the plan cannot succeed with only half of a soul. Harry Mason and his wife find the other half of Alessa's soul in the form of a baby, which they name Cheryl. Seven years later, Cheryl is drawn to Silent Hill through the means of a magic spell used by the cult, who seek to reunite the two halves of the soul. Harry Mason has brought Cheryl to Silent Hill as a result, and she immediately disappears upon entering the town.
At this point, Cheryl returns to being an aspect of Alessa. Alessa begins using her aspect to counteract the demonic forces in town through the spreading of the Seal of Metatron. In doing so, she involuntarily projects the nightmare world in which she's been living onto the town. Dahlia, noting that Harry shows particular skill in combating the horrors of Alessa's projected nightmare, begins to use him to get to Alessa's other half.
Dahlia tricks Harry into thinking Alessa is spreading the Mark of Samael and that the mark is therefore the cause of the nightmare. This mark is really the Seal of Metatron and is meant to have the opposite effect of warding off evil. She assists Harry by directing him through the town and giving him certain key items needed in order to progress. Harry eventually catches up with Alessa and breaks her protection with an item called the "flauros". Dahlia takes Alessa to be united with the other half of her soul, and ultimately to give birth to the god.
When Harry finally catches up with them, it is too late, and Dahlia explains that Cheryl and Alessa have reunited into one being. At this moment, Kaufmann shows up to oppose the birth of the god using the substance "agloaphotis". This substance, used to drive out all things evil, does just that.
Aglaophotis drives the god out of Alessa and into the open, where Harry must fight it. Upon defeating the god, Alessa thanks Harry by giving him a new baby, those that did wrong get what's coming to them, and Harry and Cybil run off across the ages.
In Silent Hill 1 there are a variety of endings, four of which are more-so "what-if" endings, and the only real one is the "Good+" ending, which players must earn.
The ones responsible for the game were a group of people working for Konami known as "Team Silent". And those guys? They were pretty good. One of the founding members of Team Silent, Keiichiro Toyama, was the original creator, writer, and director of Silent Hill. But soon after the game came out, he moved on to new projects, including the Forbidden Siren series, which unsurprisingly is about cults, demons, and summoning.
And it's got sirens! Wow!
Believe that. He left the future of the series in the capable hands of Hiroyuki Owaku. Owaku co-wrote the story for the first game, and continued to expand and improve on the lore of Silent Hill after Toyama left. Team Silent's next project was started soon after development of Silent Hill 1 ended. An engine had to be built from scratch, as it was developed for a new piece of hardware:
02: SILENT HILL 2
Silent Hill 2 was released on September 24, 2001, shortly after the Playstation 2 launched, and the animations and graphics are still above some of today's standards. The realistic darkness and fog, coupled with the balance of appropriate sound and silence throughout, make it the first game where it's the atmosphere itself that's scary.
And the voice acting is the absolute best voice acting you will ever hear in any game to date.
The puzzles are smart, well written, and don't undermine the player's intelligence. And best of all, there are four difficulty levels, all with different riddles and solutions, the hardest being "Extra" riddle difficulty...
... but that one is a secret...
The controls had been perfected since times of yore. Instead of the sluggish starts and stops from SH1, the main character really takes off in his floppy clown shoes. Silent Hill 2 takes all of the elements from the first game (gameplay, combat, menu, etc...) and refines them into a fine powder. There is an obsessive amount of detail realized in the environments and especially the story, which is even less direct than last time.
Silent Hill 2, rather than continuing the plot of the first game, focuses instead on the state of the town in the aftermath of Silent Hill 1 as well as giving a bit of the history of the town and its previous inhabitants. The land used to be a sacred place for the Native American tribes of the area. Later, the town was settled as a penal colony, and a prison and hospital were built, the hospital because of a plague that broke out.
Soon after, the first signs of the cult emerged. After the town was turned into a resort area, a succession of mysterious boating accidents tainted the town's reputation as a tourist hotspot. It is because of the town's dark history that the great spiritual power the Native Americans saw in the town gradually became perverted, and it is because of the cult and their experiment with Alessa that the power became related to their demon god. This spiritual power now draws in those with darkness in their hearts, forcing the god's will upon them.
Case-in-point: James Sunderland. James' wife, Mary, was sick with a mysterious disease and sent home from the hospital after doctors deemed her untreatable. James could no longer handle caring for her, nor watch her die slowly, so he suffocated her. That's what I'd do... Later, while repressing his horrible memory, he receives a letter from Mary calling him to Silent Hill (later in the game, we find out this letter never existed, and it was just the town's way of "calling" him). James goes looking for Mary, thinking she has been dead for 3 years.
James' subconscious, with the help of the town's dark power, manifests itself in the form of strange monsters and in the form of Maria, who is Mary reincarnate. James desires to punish himself for the murder of his wife, and the most prevalent display of this is a creature called the "Red Pyramid Thing". The Red Pyramid Thing stalks James throughout the game in the form of an executioner from the prison camp of Silent Hill's past. James also watches Maria die repeatedly as part of his punishment. It is not until the end of the game that James realizes what the Red Pyramid Thing is and is able to rid himself of his guilt.
Throughout the game, James encounters several other characters who all seemed to be similarly damaged and have been "called" to Silent Hill. Angela Orosco, a seventeen-year-old girl, lead a life of sexual and physical abuse from her father. She stabbed him to death and fled to Silent Hill, where she lives through a nightmare of her own. She is looking for her brother and mother, presumably to kill them, too, as she has somehow come to the conclusion that perhaps that will end her pain.
Eddie Dombrowski is a shy guy who always had a dream of playing on the football team, but was ridiculed because of his weight problem. Over time, the anger in him grew, and he eventually sought revenge, killing the coach's dog and shooting the coach in the leg. Eddie's dash from the police lead him to Silent Hill, where he begins his slow spiral into psychopathy. We are shown Eddie's first kill and his twisted conclusion, which results in an attack on James.
Finally, we have Laura, an eight-year-old orphan who befriended Mary in the hospital. Being the only one in the town who is truly innocent, Laura is not subjected to the town's dark forces. Nonetheless, she is instrumental in both James and Eddie's stories.
Just like Silent Hill 1 there are multiple endings. However, this time around they are all the right ending, and the player decides based on how they play the game. If you are reckless and play very dangerously, you get the "In Water" ending, if you like to read up on cult materials and collect ritual artifacts, then you get the "Rebirth" ending, and so on down the line into oblivion.
And the surrounding areas.
After production wrapped on Silent Hill 2, Akihiro Imamura, producer, stepped down as producer of the game. Akira Yamaoka, series Sound Director, took over the position for Team Silent's next big project, Silent Hill 3. In an interview with gogamemusic.com, Yamaoka stated:
"I never had any ambitions, but somehow I was named producer."
- Akira Yamaoka
This statement suggests that Akira Yamaoka may not have been prepared for the responsibilities of the project and might not have been the best choice for the job. Regardless, Silent Hill 3 turned out to be what we think is the best game in the series.
03: SILENT HILL 3
Now, the way the horror is presented in each game is very different. Silent Hill 1 submerges you in horror, ever present and permeating the environments. It sounded harsh, felt dirty, and made the player seek escape. In Silent Hill 2 the horror was more underlying, waiting for the player to uncover it. You were presented with frightening scenarios, which were entirely optional, but ultimately necessary in order to progress. You were forced to do things you wouldn't normally do.
But Silent Hill 3 presents players with overtly gruesome scenes that aren't entirely clear and then invites them to satisfy their morbid curiosity. This, in addition to the adrenaline pumping panic scenarios and disturbing creatures, makes Silent Hill 3 the scariest (I mean scariest) of them all. Added new special effects, seemingly living environments, and perfect, perfect lighting make it look amazing as well. The characters are well-designed, well-acted, and well-presented, and everything (including the pacing, combat, textures, and audio) displays a level of polish that has become Team Silent's signature.
There are absolutely no glitches in the PS2 version of the game. There are no clipping issues, no camera problems, no inventory mistakes, no freezing or loading difficulties. The game is extremely replayable too, allowing the player to go back to collect more weapons, more costumes, and perfect their final score in fourteen different difficulties and three riddle modes. There aren't as many endings, and we assume this is because the game wraps up the story of the events between 1 through 3. Less endings means less confusion.
Silent Hill 3 returns to the original plot of the series, becoming a true sequel to the first game.
After the events of Silent Hill 1, Harry Mason took his new baby, Cheryl, and fled, raising her in nearby Portland where they live in hiding from the cult. Cheryl now goes by the name "Heather". The cult has grown in strength thanks to the efforts of Father Vincent, who manages the cults finances (he also happens to be using the cult as a money making opportunity for himself).
Claudia Wolf, raised alongside Alessa, seeks to revive the cult's original purpose by birthing the demon god again. To do this, she must first find Alessa, and so she hires Douglas Cartland, a private investigator, to track her down. Douglas catches up with Alessa, now reincarnated as Heather, and Claudia sets about awakening the god within Heather (the god must be nurtured with hate and despair). To do this, Claudia convinces Heather that Claudia herself is the one responsible for the nightmare the god is projecting from within Heather, as well as killing her adoptive father, Harry.
Vincent, much like Dr. Kaufmann, opposes the plan, as he would no longer profit from the cult. While he originally planned to kill Heather, he now sees that he can use her to stop Claudia, although before this he tried to dissuade Claudia by having Heather kill her father, Leonard.
Heather, on her path to stop Claudia, must also contend with her "memory of Alessa", for it is that memory that chooses to manifest itself and kill Heather to prevent her from going through the pain that Alessa had to.
In the end, Heather nearly manages to stop the birth of the god with the help of a necklace given to her by her father, which contains aglaophotis. But, Claudia births the god in Heather's stead. Heather fights and kills the god for good, everyone gets to go home, we get to hear possibly the worst ending song in video game history (with the exception of Metal Gear Solid 3), Silent Hill over. Or, at least it should have been...
During development of Silent Hill 3, Yamaoka decided to start a new game as a side project. This side project was a game being developed by select members of the original staff at KCET as an experiment with a new play style in the series. This game came to be known as Silent Hill 4: The Room, released nearly a year after the last game. The staff responsible for this game were basically playing musical chairs with the departments because four of the eight creative minds responsible for the greatness of the series were not involved.
Hiroyuki Owaku and Masahiro Ito, possibly the two most important people in the series development, were done with Silent Hill after number 3. Furin, an administrator from silenthill5.net forums, had an email correspondence with Masahiro Ito, who stated:
"My real intention is SH is over."
- Masahiro Ito
This statement is backed up by his decision to leave the company and work independently as a freelance artist from his own studio (as shown on his personal website). Despite all of the staff changes, Silent Hill 4 was pushed into production, later to be released on multiple platforms on September 7th, 2004.
04: ALESSA'S SACRIFICE
We realize that some of you may be confused after seeing the previous sections about certain points we make; specifically, where we talk about the circumstances surrounding Alessa's impregnation ritual and the actions taken by her as a result. Fuzh here is going to help me explain.
The general belief is that the cult burned Alessa as a sacrifice in the ritual to impregnate her with the demon. Of course, this didn't work because of the splitting of Alessa's soul, and so Alessa was tortured by a never-ending nightmare for seven years. Alessa then decided to take revenge for being burned and "nightmared" and so projected the "Otherworld" onto the town. Right?
Wrong! If you go by what you learn in just the first game, there are many pieces of evidence to support that the fire was an accident. The most pertinent example would be a memo that is not available in either the North American or Japanese releases of the game. The memo was either inserted later or a faulty piece of code was fixed to enable it for the European release, which would indicate the importance of the memo. Otherwise, why bother?
The memo talks about an investigation of the Gillespie house after the fire, which revealed the cause to be a malfunction of the boiler in the basement. This, in conjunction with the "Manifestation of Delusions" article, which makes special mention of poltergeists, suggests that the fear and stress Alessa experienced during the ritual caused the boiler to explode. The memo also talks about how the fire got out of control and burned down five other houses. This, alone, is enough to indicate that the fire was an accident.
Silent Hill 3 contradicts this one time in Harry's notebook when Harry mentions a "young woman burned by her mother as a sacrifice to God". The problem with this statement is that Harry wasn't at the ritual, was he? He knows as much about it as we do. A plausible explanation would be that Harry is going off of what Dahlia told him:
"Stop it before your daughter becomes a sacrifice."
- Dahlia Gillespie
"Dahlia's the one who said it---said that girl was a demon. That she took my daughter for a sacrifice."
- Harry Mason
So, hearing the word "sacrifice", he makes the assumption, like so many others, that the sacrifice is a ritual sacrifice that involves flames.