Silent Hill: the first game I experienced fear with

October 31st, 2023   •   By Gio

silent hill fog

Silent Hill, released in 1999 for the PlayStation, holds a special place in my own gaming history. It was the first game that I couldn't bear to tackle alone. Honestly, I always had a friend by my side during those rather eerie sessions.

Before Silent Hill, I had my share of spine-tingling experiences with Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2. They were, without a doubt, scary in their own right. Yet, Silent Hill offered something entirely distinct.

What set Silent Hill apart was its atmosphere. It managed to create a unique sense of dread and unease from the start, which never truly left you. Even though the game's graphics may not have been as visually impressive as Resident Evil's, Silent Hill didn't need fancy visuals to haunt your dreams.

A fog-shrouded town, eerie visuals, disturbing sound, grotesque creatures, puzzle-solving …

😱

The story

The game follows the protagonist, Harry Mason, as he searches for his adopted daughter, Cheryl, who has gone missing in the mysterious town of Silent Hill. Harry's journey into the town begins after a car accident, where he awakens to find Cheryl missing.

As Harry delves deeper into the town and uncovers its dark secrets, he meets other characters, including a police officer named Cybil Bennett and a nurse named Lisa Garland. He eventually learns about the cult of the Order, at the heart of the town's supernatural occurrences.

Seven years ago, a young girl named Alessa Gillespie was burned alive by the town's cult. Alessa's soul was split in two, and the other half reincarnated as Cheryl. The cult is now trying to resurrect Alessa and their god, and Cheryl is the key piece to their ritual.

The game has five possible endings, depending on your decisions as a player. In “the good” ending, for example, Harry saves Cheryl and stops the cult's ritual. In “the bad” ending, Harry fails to save her daughter and she is sacrificed by the cult.

Silent Hill and the use of psychological horror

Unlike many other horror games that rely on jump scares and gore, Silent Hill focuses on “psychological horror”. This is why the game stood out for me and why it is so terrifying.

First, the ambiance on its own is quite unsettling. The use of darkness, dense fog and eerie lighting creates a sense of isolation and disorientation, making you anxious about what might be lurking just out of view. The game's sound design also contributes significantly to it. The sound of Cheryl calling for her father, distorted radio static that signals nearby monsters and other ambient sounds all add to it.

Second, Silent Hill introduces the concept of an ever-shifting reality. The town and its environments transform, and you’re left wondering what is real and what is a manifestation of the characters' psyches. In fact, the monsters are often linked to the personal fears and traumas of the characters.

Furthermore, the game presents you with moral choices that influence the story's ending, adding an element of psychological tension.

piano silent hill

The impact of Silent Hill

Silent Hill had a great impact on the video game industry. Here are some very concrete examples of it:

  • Resident Evil 4 is considered to be one of the greatest survival horror games ever made. The game's director, Shinji Mikami, has said that Silent Hill was a major influence on the game.

  • Likewise, Glen Schofield, the creator of Dead Space, has said that Silent Hill was one of his favourite games, and that it had a major influence on Dead Space.

  • The Silent Hill film franchise has grossed over $200 million worldwide. The films have been praised by critics for their dark atmosphere and faithful adaptation of the game's source material.

Why are copies for the original Silent Hill (PS1) so expensive?

The game was released over 20 years ago, and it is estimated that only around 1 million copies were ever produced (PAL + NTSC). This means that there is a relatively small number of copies of the game still in circulation.

Let’s also keep in mind that Konami has not re-released Silent Hill on any modern platforms. Therefore, the only way to play the game legally is to have a physical copy of the game.

Ultimately, the Silent Hill series has a dedicated fan base and has continued to be successful, and the first installment is considered a classic in the survival horror genre. Essentially, any Silent Hill game is a valuable collectible item these days.

silent hill copy ps1

Where to buy Silent Hill for Playstation?

The best way to experience the game is to play it on a Playstation 1. You can find copies of Silent Hill (PS1) on Mage, starting from £85.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to thin your collection and sell any Silent Hill games, you can list them on Mage and allow others to enjoy one of the most terrifying sagas out there, if not the most!

Here’s a list of all the Silent Hill games by the way, beyond the first installment:

Silent Hill 2 (2001)

Silent Hill 3 (2003)

Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004)

Silent Hill: Origins (2007)

Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008)

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009)

Silent Hill: Downpour (2012)

Silent Hill: Book of Memories (2012)

Happy Halloween and game on everybody 🎃

Gio

Gio

A normal lad talking about games and Mage stuff.