Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Silent Hill (サイレントヒル) is the title of a survival horror video game franchise, produced by Konami. As of 2004 there are five games available (one available only in Japan), all of which were released to strong sales and critical acclaim. The Silent Hill games are distinguished from other games in the same genre, such as Resident Evil, in that the focus is far more on character, story, and atmosphere rather than action and violence. The games' storylines unfold like that of a film, and multiple resolutions are possible depending upon what decisions the player makes during gameplay. Often, the player is left to wonder whether or not a sequence in the game has actually occurred in reality.
What is Silent Hill?
Silent Hill is the town in which the stories are set, and is, apparently, something of a resort town. The Silent Hill in which the games take place, however, has become deserted and isolated from reality, shifting between this world and the Otherworld, populated by fearsome monsters and demonic entities.
The second game in the series also suggests that the town may be a metaphorical incarnation of a person's troubled psyche, or perhaps a kind of purgatory in which a person is judged for past sins. The protagonist of the game is trapped in the town and can only escape by resolving a personal issue that has been tormenting him.
The third game continues the notion of the battles between good and evil forces. Numerous fan forums and message boards have sprung up on the Internet in the years since the games' introduction, where the symbolism and themes in each game are enthusiastically discussed.
The fourth game has more focus on locality than the previous ones in that, for example, the protagonist of Silent Hill 2 is drawn to Silent Hill by his past (a letter from his dead wife telling him that she is waiting for him there), yet the main character of Silent Hill 4: The Room, is less a protagonist than a reluctant hero. Nothing in his own past draws him in, and and it is sheer chance that brings him into contact with the other Silent Hill. Especially notable in this game is the duality of Silent Hill. Henry (the protagonist) can look out of his windows and see the normal, everyday life of his home in the town of South Ashfield, but throughout the game he also visits a variety of twisted places, many of which seem to be connected to the town of Silent Hill.
The games' visual design has come in for strong praise, depicting dark, fog-enshrouded, decaying environments enhanced by chilling (and very sudden) sound effects. Composer Akira Yamaoka has provided atmospheric and emotional music for the series, which ranges from melancholy piano solos to heavy rock pieces. Many fans and reviewers have referred to the Silent Hill games as among the most frightening ever made.
Silent Hill (1999)
Seven years ago Harry Mason and his wife found a baby by the road and adopted her as their own, naming her Cheryl. Though the wife soon passed away from a disease, Harry Mason continued to love Cheryl as his own daughter.
At the start of the game we find Harry Mason and Cheryl going to the town resort of Old Silent Hill for vacation. Strange events occur before they have even entered the town. A cop on a motorbike drives past and only moments later Harry sees the bike lying by the side of the road and the cop is nowhere in sight. Soon afterwards a figure suddenly appears on the road, Harry turns the car and slides off the road. When he regains consciousness Harry discovers that Cheryl is missing and he finds himself in the midst of the evil slowly engulfing Silent Hill, "a world of someone's nightmarish delusions come to life."
Several easter eggs, hidden references and a large amount of pop-culture references can be found throughout the game. As an in-joke for horror fans, most of the town's streets in the first game are named after popular horror and suspense novelists, such as Ray Bradbury, Ira Levin, Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz and Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King). If you care to look carefully enough, the word "Redrum" can be seen written on a door in a street, referring directly to Stephen King's The Shining.
Silent Hill Play Novel (2001)
Released on Game Boy Advance only in Japan. The game featured a related and unrevealed plot in Silent Hill 1. An incomplete, visual translation can be found at Silent Hill Heaven A plot guide detailing the Boy Spring Scenario, in which you play Andy who lives in the house next to Harry and Cheryl Mason, can be found hereat Gamefaqs.
Silent Hill 2 (2001)
Three years ago James Sunderland's wife Mary passed away from a terminal disease. James, still grief-stricken from the loss, has received a letter from his late wife telling him to meet her at their "special place" in Silent Hill. James, uncertain whether this is real or a bad hoax, travels to the old tourist town and finds a mist-shrouded hell full of crawling monsters. While searching the town's decrepit buildings for clues, James encounters other lost souls like himself, including a little girl who seems to know a great deal about James' and Mary's relationship, and a mysterious young woman named Maria who is the spitting image of Mary.
The Xbox version of the game, subtitled Restless Dreams (Inner Fears in Europe), featured an additional scenario where players controlled Maria. This level was included on the PlayStation 2 version when the "Greatest Hits" edition was released (also known as Platinum Edition). The title of the original scenario with James is called Letter from Silent Heaven. The one featuring Maria as the protagonist is named Born from a Wish. This scenario was also included in the Director's Cut version of the PC edition.
Silent Hill 2 does not have a direct narrative continuity to the first game, but shares locations with the third game, and a few allusions in Silent Hill 3. The fourth game expands upon some of the town's history as related herein.
Silent Hill 3 (2003)
Seventeen years have passed since the events of the first game. Heather is a normal teenage girl who loves to shop and has a sharp attitude about almost everything, but one Sunday the past catches up with her. Avoiding a stranger who claims that he is a detective, sent to find her, Heather suddenly finds the environment transformed into a strange decaying landscape. She attempts to escape the horror to her home and her father, yet on the way she faces a mysterious and forgotten secret.
The third game is directly tied to the first Silent Hill.
Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004)
Henry Townshend, living in South Ashfield, a town neighboring Silent Hill, one day finds himself mysteriously locked in his own apartment. He cannot escape through either the windows or his front door, which has been chained shut from the inside. No one, not even people standing directly ouside his front door, can hear him when he pounds on the door and cries for help. After five days of entrapment Henry finds a hole that has opened up in his bathroom wall. He is about to venture into the madness of Silent Hill.
This installment of the series features revised controls, modifications to the item menu and map, and segments that are played from a first-person perspective. The plot of the game expands upon the history of a serial killer mentioned in Silent Hill 2 and of the cult that seems to control the town.
However, Silent Hill 4 was not originally slated to be a Silent Hill game. The Silent Hill team of designers planned for it to be an original concept for an original game not affiliated with any other franchise. After the general pre-production of the game, Konami decided that launching a new franchise was too large of a marketing risk, and instead opted to convert the game to a Silent Hill title. The connections to the second Silent Hill game, including the story of the serial killer, were added when the game went into full production.
Silent Hill Comic Books
A series of comic books written by Scott Ciencin with artwork by Ben Templesmith, Aadi Salman and Shaun Thomas published by IDW Publishing.
Silent Hill: Dying Inside (2004)
Released as five issues,with the first two dealing with a doctor and patient, while the final three cover a group of goth kids.
Silent Hill: Among the Damned (2004)
Concerns a soldier dealing with survivor's guilt.
Silent Hill: Paint it Black (2005)
In this we find an artist drawn to Silent Hill when he needs to find inspiration for his latest work.
Inspirations and references
This section is for trivia and speculation concerning the series, and contains spoilers.
- The movie Jacob's Ladder has much the same theme as Silent Hill 2 of a personal purgatory. The monsters in Silent Hill 3, with their heads jolting in strange ways, resemble that of the disfigured human-creatures in the movie. Another strong reference is the use of the name Bergen Street for the subway platform to which Heather, the main character, tries to make it in the game. Bergen Street station played a significant part in Jacob's Ladder and the setting looks very much alike.
- Much of the style of the first game's abandoned town setting is said to have been inspired by the movie Phantoms. The movie is based on the book Phantoms, which is written by horror novelist Dean Koontz; as noted above, one of the streets in the first Silent Hill is Koontz St.
- The cult series Twin Peaks is also supposed to have had an influence on many aspects of the games.
- A song in Silent Hill 3 is titled "Sickness Unto Foolish Death". This might be a reference to the existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard's theory on despair, which he wrote in his Sickness Unto Death, an existential concept to describe the state we're in when we have to make choices in a world of uncertainty. This state is the "loss of self." Looking at the third installment of the series with this theme in its context, it could be seen as Heather's difficult choice of vengeance vs. submission to the Otherworld of Silent Hill, and how she loses her self-awareness in the process of determined vengeance.
- One of the end songs in Silent Hill 2, "Angel's Thanatos", is most likely a reference to the Freudian idea of Thanatos. It is the desire to give up life and return to non-existence. As the song precedes the ending in which James commits suicide, it makes sense.
- Silent Hill's Samael appears to be based on Baphomet. It is widely believed by players who have not played the original version that Samael was the final boss and that this entity is the presiding demon who is twisting reality in Silent Hill. In fact Samael was never present in Silent Hill. Dahlia, the old woman in the first game, lied about the Seal that Harry possesses, and it is in fact the Seal of Metatron (which reappears in Silent Hill 3). The confusion arose from poor translation in the game from Japanese to English, and in fact God was only refered to as Samael one time in the game. Both Samael and Metatron are taken from the Kabbalah.
- Wheelchairs are recurring features in the series. In Silent Hill 1 a boss, Cybil, is found lying in a wheelchair. At one point in Silent Hill 3, Heather passes a glass wall. On the other side is an empty wheelchair outside of a room in what appears to be a mental institute. This strongly resembles a prominent image in the movie Session 9 . Another wheelchair can be found lying on the floor, its wheel still spinning, resembling a shot in Jacob's Ladder. In Silent Hill 4 wheelchair is actually an enemy which cannot be beaten.
- Silent Hill series official website
- Official Silent Hill 2 site (Konami Europe)
- Official Silent Hill 3 site (Konami Europe)
- Official Silent Hill 3 site (Konami Japan)
- Official Silent Hill 4 site (Konami Japan)
- Akira Yamaoka's website
- Gamespot's Silent Hill 4 site - Previews, screenshots, movies, walkthroughs (Playstation 2)
- Nursery Cryme - Files and general info on Silent Hill
- Central Silent Hill - Information and FAQs
- Silent Hill Heaven - Information and a Silent Hill forum
- Gamingredients Silent Hill coverage
- Weird World of Silent Hill - Fan site
- Publisher of Silent Hill Comic Books
- Unauthorised fan-based Silent Hill movie trailer (Quicktime)
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