Two Games That Might Fill That Silent Hills Void
In 2014 a little horror demo was shown at E3 called P.T. Also known as Playable Teaser. And it was a demo that you could download as soon as they announced it. The demo had you wandering through a creepy, super realistic, hallway (several times over with different effects) trying to solve puzzles and discover what secrets were hiding in the demo. Along with all that you were trying to avoid a creepy ghost.
The online community pulled together to figure out the fairly difficult puzzles and find all the secrets. It wasn’t too long before it was discovered that P.T. was actually a teaser for a new Silent Hill game, dubbed Silent Hills, and was helmed by none other then Hideo Kojima and Guilermo Del Toro. The Silent Hill fanbase proceded to lose it’s collective mind with excitement. A new Silent Hill game was coming!
Of course it wasn’t too much longer after that Konami decided to stomp on the hearts of many gamers and pull the plug on the very promising project. Ever since, players have been clamoring for something that could have been. Especially Silent Hill fans.
Thankfully a few developors have stepped up the particularly daunting task of filling that gap left behind. As a huge Silent Hill series fan myself, I’m happy to see people at least trying to achieve that goal. We have had a need for a quality Silent Hill game for some time. Silent Hills had so much potential to bring back a series that was, quite frankly, lacking in quality as the series went on. It was taken away from us but the the two following games, Allison Road and Visage, show some promise. And they just might fill that Silent Hills void.
Allison Road popped up about a year after Silent Hills bit the big one and was called a spiritual successor to P.T. The gameplay is very similar to P.T. and has you looking around your townhouse trying to discover the mystery of your past and the house itself. There is a lot of interactivity with objects and some subtle, yet terrifying interactions with the spirit haunting the house.
This game almost followed suit along with Silent Hills and was announced as being canceled after things didn’t work out with publisher Team17. Before that Allison Road started out as a kickstarter that was later canceled when they switched to a publisher. At that time Allison Road was no more. But last year, creator Chris Kesler announced that Allison Road was being revived. Although in smaller, albeit more refined, scope. The game is now being developed by their new company Far From Home which consists of Kesler himself and his wife.
I’m glad to see that this didn’t die off completely. The announcement of Allison Road hit news shortly after Silent Hills was canceled. And since it was being toted as an homage to the P.T. demo It was a bit of a kick you while your down kind of situation when it was canceled as well. Based on the gameplay video Allison Road might fill that void that P.T. left in our hearts.
The gameplay is very similar to P.T. except that you are exploring a whole house instead of a hallway. As the protagonist you will be trying to figure out puzzles or looking for certain objects. In the demo things start out pretty quiet. In fact nothing really major happens until the last bit of the video which works. You will find yourself on edge for most of the time even though nothing is happening. At the end you can see some pretty major influences from Silent Hill.
Although it hasn’t been officially announced, Keslar and company are looking into making a version for PS4 and other platforms. There isn’t much else to go on but it looks promising and I hope to see it come to fruition. Whenever that may be.
One of my fondest (I guess you could call it that) memories of the original Silent Hill was that feeling of isolation and being drawn into another world. When the sirens started blaring you knew something was going down. It was about to hit the fan as they say. When you were sucked into the other world, part of what made it scary was that the world felt very unfamiliar and you felt isolated. Chances of escape seemed so far away.
Visage seems to draw upon this influence of Silent Hill with the other world concept. “A world that no human eyes should ever see…” as the trailer tells us. What starts out as a typical haunted house affair quickly turns into an otherworldly horror as doors suddenly lead to other dimensions altogether. That’s not to say that the regular house sections themselves are not frightening. It’s very atmospheric and chilling as you can see from the gameplay below.
In Visage you are trying to escape a house that has a dark history which unravels as you play the game. The house itself is set in the 80’s and, in my opinion, is extremely well done. There looks to be a lot of attention to detail here. This is one of the few games that I’ve looked at and thought “this house looks lived in”.
While a lot of horror games take place in decrepit, abandoned houses, the house in Visage looks like you could see someone living there at any moment. There are items scattered about and messes just like any normal house. I think that makes it more realistic and more atmospheric. It counters with our expectations of a lived in house. If a house is abandoned you almost expect it to be haunted. But a house that looks like someone lives there makes a comfortable space scary when you realize it's not safe.
When the house makes a strange noise or you see something scary, this hyper-realism makes it, well, more real. That level of detail is much appreciated. This was something P.T. did as well. Visage seems much larger in scope and more polished then Allison Road in that regard. That realism really brings you into the game.
Just last week a trailer was released for Visage that shows more of the otherworldly aspect and also gives us a tentative release date for this year. I have high hopes for this game as well to fill that Silent Hill void that is in my dark, aching soul.
In all seriousness I’m glad to see the gaming world trying to keep Silent Hill alive in one form or another. Even if it isn’t an official release. Silent Hill had a big impact on my life back on the original playstation. I had many late, sleepless nights and many long days with the game stuck in my head. Both Visage and Allison Road are unabashedly drawing a lot of influence from the series. Especially from the promise that was P.T. that we’ll never fully get.
I know they aren’t going to be exactly the same. While the sound and music seem fitting for both games, we still don’t have Akira Yamaoka bringing his distinctive flavor of music and sound effects. Of course we haven’t had that for awhile. And I know both games take place in a totally different universe so there won’t be any direct connections in that sense either. I’m aware that these aren’t going to perfectly replace the void that is left from the promise of Silent Hills. But hopefully these two games, and other various projects, can take enough influence from the Silent Hill series and P.T. to scratch that itch.
“There was a HOLE here. It’s gone now.”
7/3/2017 Christopher D. Anderson