Hello and welcome to This Door Is Locked, a horror game discussion show for all you horror gamers out there.
In this series we’ll be covering everything from indie gems and retro classics to modern masterpieces and blockbuster giants. So, if you love horror and you love gaming, this is the show for you.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the game, Silent Hill is a survival horror made for the PlayStation One, published by Konami and developed by the now extinct Team Silent.
This was the first instalment in the Silent Hill series, and would go on to spawn a hugely popular franchise; often seen as the biggest rival to Capcom’s Resident Evil series.
The game was released in North America and Europe in February 1999 and in Japan in March 1999 – one of the few times that the rest of the world has played a game before Japan, especially considering Konami is based in Tokyo.
Silent Hill is a third-person game, with real-time rendering of 3D environments, but more on that later. Unlike some previous survival horror games that focused on you developing combat skills over the course of the game, the player character of Silent Hill is an average Joe. You may find better weapons along the course of the game, but there is no levelling up to be done.
Silent Hill follows Harry Mason and his daughter Cheryl as they head off on vacation. Almost instantly, the player is thrust into danger as Harry crashes the car while trying to avoid running down a mysterious girl in the road, and Cheryl vanishes.
The player then takes control of Harry as he searches for Cheryl in Silent Hill. During the game, you’ll encounter many iconic horrors that have become synonymous with the series, such as twisted monsters, eerie fog, a sinister Cult, and the OtherWorld.
There were five game endings are possible, depending on actions taken by the player, including one joke ending, but we’ll come back to those later.
Anyone who has played this game will remember one of its most iconic features; the rolling fog. This actually had a practical reason for being in the game though. To mitigate limitations of the console hardware, developers used the fog effect, as well as darkness when inside buildings, to allow time for the graphics to render.
The outcome was a seriously eerie atmosphere. The creators then coupled this with terrific sound design by Akira Yamaoka, bringing together a truly unsettling experience for the player.
So, once you’ve had a good wander around Silent Hill and met a few of the monsters who have taken up residence, you’ll eventually come across your first human interaction, with Officer Cybil Bennet. Some of you will remember her as the best thing about the Silent Hill film!
The other characters you meet in Silent Hill are a little less helpful than Cybil, who is in a very similar situation to Harry.
You’ll also come across Dahlia Gillespie, one of the cultists, a hospital director, Dr. Michael Kaufmann, and poor Nurse Lisa Garland, who gets a bit of a bum deal in this whole affair.
Along the way, you’ll be given choices in your interactions, which will effect which ending you get. Some choices will be whether or not to kill a character – for example, Cybil is later possessed by a parasite and you two end up duking it out. Killing her, or not killing her after this fight will impact on your ending.
Silent Hill has five endings, depending on the choices you make throughout the game. Four of the endings wrap up the story in various ways, while the 5th is the ‘joke’ ending – something that has become a semi-regular part of the Silent Hill series.
The endings range from Bad to Good, with only one being considered canon (although in this first game, there is some debate as to which of the Good endings is the official canon one.)
The choices in Silent Hill, and across the rest of the franchise are very morally weighted, giving something more meaty for the player to decide rather than left door or right door. You are allowed to decide whether characters live or die, but in turn, this affects the outcome to get at the end.
Will you return to Silent Hill…?
Silent Hill received positive reviews from critics on its release and was very successful, enticing future generations of horror fans to return again and again over the years.
Various adaptations of Silent Hill have been released, including a 2001 visual novel, the 2006 feature film Silent Hill, and a 2009 re-imagining of the game, titled Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The game was followed by Silent Hill 2 in 2001, and a direct sequel, Silent Hill 3, in 2003.
And while Silent Hill 2 is often considered the best of the series, we have to give recognition to Silent Hill 1 as the launchpad from which this incredible franchise was catapulted into the forefront of horror gaming.
Stay safe out there!
Charlotte loves horror in all its gory and, as her alter-ego The Cross Eyed Gamer, plays motion-sickness friendly horror games on her YouTube channel.