Following the review of Silent Hill 3 on Twin Perfect’s "The Real Silent Hill Experience", DerFuzhwar, Fungo, and Rosseter assert that Silent Hill 3 should have ended the series: "Silent Hill over".
Twin Perfect declares "Silent Hill Over".
They don’t seem to have any confidence that Vatra or any other developer will be able to replicate the success of Team Silent, and that future installments are only going to dilute the quality of the series as a whole. Although they appreciate Silent Hill 4 for making a contribution to the game’s universe, they also say that it was not necessary to make, as Silent Hill 3 wrapped up the story of the franchise successfully and satisfactorily.
While I do agree that the outside developers have completely squandered their opportunities with Silent Hill so far, I respectfully disagree with Twin Perfect's position that the series should be terminated. I still think there is plenty of material in the context of the first four games that is left to explore.
Some concepts for possible Silent Hill games
Here are some different ideas for concepts that could still be explored or expanded upon. These can all either be individual games, or two or more concepts could be combined into one narrative:
The fate of Cybil Benett
Given the lack of resolution to the debate over whether the Good or Good+ ending is canonical, and an increasingly shaky foundation on which the Good ending's canonicity stands, we could have a game that explains what happens to Cybil Bennett after Silent Hill.
The game could depict Cybil returning to Brahams to report on the events in Silent Hill, but before she gets there (or shortly after), she is forced back into the Nightmare by a group of cultists who have pursued her and Harry after the end of the game (possibly lead by Claudia’s father Leonard - you know, to tie stuff together). Alternatively, maybe she reports on the activities of the cult in Silent Hill (particularly the drug smuggling) to the Brahams department, and maybe that report gets her assigned to investigate the activities of the cult and drug-smuggling ring in Brahams. That investigation would obviously have ties to Silent Hill, and probably to cultists (again, possibly Leonard), and therefore could invoke the power of the god similar to how Claudia invokes the power at the mall in Silent Hill 3.
If this drug ring were known to local authorities, and the drugs were being sold to tourists, then it's reasonable to assume that the local police, police in neighboring towns (such as Brahams or Ashfield), and possibly even the F.B.I. would be investigating it. This could be the centerpiece to a plot of a possible Silent Hill sequel or spin-off.
This game could fill in some of the events that directly involve the cult between the events of the first and third games, expound upon Leonard’s character and how he ends up being condemned to a mental institution, and perhaps explain how Claudia and Vincent rise in influence within the church’s hierarchy.
Silent Hill from a different point of view
Alternatively, if Konami wants to keep making Silent Hill games, an obvious game idea would be to just remake the first game, but entirely from the point of view of Cybil or Kaufman. Kind of like how the movies Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima both depict the same events, but from opposite points of view.
Silent Hill 5: an actual follow-up to Silent Hill 3 and 4
A real Silent Hill 5. A direct sequel to Silent Hill 3 and Silent Hill 4, in which we find out how the cult has dealt with the failed attempt to rebirth the god, the failure of the 21 Sacraments ritual, the death of their spiritual (Claudia) and financial (Vincent) leaders, and the escape of Heather. Do they try to rebirth god again? Do their beliefs shift somehow? Does the cult disband altogether? Do they relocate?
Homecoming (I think) tried to address this issue by implying that cult members may have relocated to Shepherd’s Glenn and started following new traditions. But Homecoming states that the cult in Shepherd’s Glenn has been active for generations, and it’s too dissimilar to really be thought of as the same cult. Also, the whole thing happens in Alex’s mind while in a mental institution, so none of it needs to be taken seriously.
Residents returning to Silent Hill
People moving back into Silent Hill after the town is repaired. We are never really told where everybody has gone prior to the first game, or if the holes in the road are the result of Alessa’s actions or of some accident or natural disaster (an earthquake, series of sinkholes, freak blizzard, or collapse of a sewer/subway system). In any case, collapsed areas of road have been fenced and walled off by Silent Hill 2, and reconstruction efforts appear to be underway. Some of the locations that James visits appear to be in the process of being repaired and/or remodeled, so it is very likely that the town is being prepared for re-habitation.
Repair efforts seem to be going on in Silent Hill following the events of the first game.
We could maybe play as a returning resident. Do the residents know about the activities of the cult over the past years? Do they know about Alessa and Heather and what happened? How does the sudden return of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people affect the spiritual power of the town since gaining power and turning to evil since the return of Cheryl/Alessa/Heather?
This idea could even be the basis for a multiplayer game in which each player plays as a different resident or members of the same family.
A game about Silent Hill being a tourist town
Similar to the above idea, except instead of focusing on the return of the town residents, the game can be from the point of view of tourists visiting (no point in breaking from tradition, right?). They could be revisiting, say, the re-opened amusement park, or to go camping/fishing at the lake, or visiting the nearby national park, or some other tourist attraction in the area. These people could then be dragged into the activities of the cult or otherwise affected by the town’s spiritual power (but hopefully not in a copy of Silent Hill 2’s plot).
A national park near Silent Hill? Sounds like a possible setting for a new game! The "lost in the woods" motif worked fairly well in Alan Wake.
Again, this idea could maybe even be the basis for a multiplayer game.
An actual contemporary "Origins" story
Origins and Homecoming should be decanonized, and I would welcome any game that comes along and corrects the mistakes made in those games.
As such, a present-day "Origins" story would be welcome, in which we get a perspective from descendants of the Native American tribe that used to inhabit the region and considered Silent Hill to be a "sacred place". Perhaps we could have a character that visits a nearby Indian reservation, or even play as a character living on the reservation.
This game could also deal with the early history of the town, such as its original founding, the forced relocation of the native residents, the establishment of the Civil War hospital and prison, etc.
Perhaps a Native American curse was cast on the town due to their anger at being forcibly removed by the United States government, and that curse started the spiritual power down the path of becoming evil and is the cause of the string of "bad luck" experienced by the town; i.e.: the epidemic that necessitated the hospital, disappearance of residents and tourists, the "accidental" sinking of tourist boats, the Little Baroness going missing, the mayor and other developers suddenly dying, and maybe even the events leading up to the abandonment of the town prior to Silent Hill.
The sinking of the Little Baroness on Toluca Lake is one item in a string of "bad luck" events that tainted the reputation of Silent Hill. Could these events have possibly had a singular cause? Perhaps that should have been the subject of an "Origins" story, rather than a flawed re-interpretation of the first game's events that took place within the context of a half-assed story ripped off from Silent Hill 2.
A true Origin story as a prequel
A more long-term, true "Origins" prequel that takes place in the 1700s or 1800s during the initial settlement of the town, the outbreak of the epidemic, the forced removal of the Native Americans, the outbreak of the Civil War, or so on would be interesting. Similarly to the above idea, this game could discuss how the Native Americans viewed the spirituality of the town, could establish that the cult was founded by Christian settlers who were influenced by the very "real" effects of the Native American spiritual beliefs, and could set a precedent for why the spiritual power starts to become evil.
Such a game could even look to Eternal Darkness as inspiration and tell several separate, but linked, events depicting significant events in the town’s history and relating them to a central narrative.
Future Silent Hill games could take inspiration from games like Eternal Darkness and tell stories that provide historical background in context of a larger narrative.
Expectations for Silent Hill Downpour
As for what I expect from the upcoming Silent Hill Downpour game: I have mixed feelings. From the gameplay standpoint, I have my doubts. The quality of the game has definitely been questionable from the videos I’ve seen. Combat has looked clunky and sloppy in some previews that I’ve seen, and I’m still not sure how well the whole "open world with sidequests" mechanic is going to work in a game that should have a very strictly-guided narrative. I am fairly confident that Downpour will end up being the best game to bear the name "Silent Hill" that has been released after KCET stopped developing them.
But despite senior associate producer Tomm Hulett’s hopes for the contrary, I’m not going to judge Downpour on its merits alone. If you want to build a game that stands on its own, then make a new IP. If you want to put the title "Silent Hill" on it, then I sure as hell am going to judge it relative to other "Silent Hill" games. And that is where I have my biggest doubts. Based on what I’ve read and heard from interviews and previews, Downpour looks like it’s going to be more of the same: a game that is "Silent Hill" in name only.
It looks like Downpour is going to try to be another self-contained, stand-alone game that will probably rip off of Silent Hill 2 whenever it can. We have the "stereotypical" disturbed protagonist with clouded past. In this case, it’s a prison inmate. We’re not told what he’s in jail for, but based on the theme of rain and water, I’m going to guess he drowned somebody. And then he probably forgot about it. Because that’s what happens to everybody who goes to Silent Hill. Except for Harry. And Heather. And Henry. Which is only three-fourths of the series as it was created by the original developers.
Ok sure, Heather had forgotten that she was Alessa, but that was literally another life, so that is excusable. And the fact that she had forgotten her former identity is explicitly declared at the beginning of the game. It's not the big, plot-twist ending.
Downpour will likely have nothing to do with the cult or the god of the town. It will likely have nothing to do with any established characters or events. It’s not even going to be about the same Silent Hill that we know about. Vatra has created a whole new section of the town that is supposedly separate from where we’ve already been, and is supposedly a massive metropolis with a subway system. It will likely have only loose connections to the town’s history, but hopefully it will steer clear of the false history that the movie created. And I’ll grant that so far, everything I’ve seen implies that the movie is not going to influence the game all that much.
A composite image I found on a forum of Silent Hill Downpour's map added onto the existing map of Silent Hill from the previous games (including Origins, but not Homecoming). So apparently, Vatra just made up a whole new town and tacked it on near Silent Hill!
But it just seems like the story is not going to be a story that has anything to do with Silent Hill. It doesn't seem like it's going to add anything meaningful to the game universe that pushes an overarching narrative any further. We're not going to learn anything new about the game world other than having arbitrary new characters, locations, and monsters added that don't fit in with anything else that already exists.
But I could be wrong. It's happened before.
My plan is to buy Downpour used from Gamestop or eBay and play it. Then, if I like it, I will trade it in towards a new copy so as to support the publisher and developer and hopefully encourage them to do an equally fine job in future games. I have no problem spending the money if it is deserved. But I'm not going to just blindly throw money at Vatra and Konami just because I'm a Silent Hill fanboy. But if they do impress me, then I will support them with my wallet.
I’ve even gone the extra step of proposing ideas for continuing on with the series. Whether or not they are good ideas is for my readers, and maybe some potential developers, to decide. I can hope that Downpour and other future Silent Hill games will pick up where Team Silent left off with Silent Hill 3 and 4, and add something meaningful to the overarching narrative. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
By the way, I'm also planning on picking up a used copy of the HD Collection off of eBay, Amazon, or Gamestop when one becomes available at an affordable price. I am curious to see how the visuals and re-recorded voice work turns out, but I still don't want to support the idea of HD remakes for games that don't need them - particularly if the remake involves any changes to the game's content.