R.I.P. Silent Hill

Last week, Konami parted ways with Hideo Kojima, one of an ever-shrinking number of game developers who could be considered an auteur. One of the casualties of this parting was Silent Hills, a PS4 installment of the Silent Hill horror series Kojima was to develop with director Guillermo del Toro (and starring Norman Reedus, of The Walking Dead). This despite the popularity and excitement generated by a demo of the game, called P.T., which Knoami announced it was pulling right before officially cancelling the game.

Silent Hills‘ cancellation might not be the end of the series, but the news has been greeted as an obituary in some corners of the gaming world. Not without reason, either: after four stellar games, from Konami’s internal “Team Silent” group, a series of lackluster, outsourced titles cropped up. Silent Hill: Homecoming was a transparent attempt to capitalize on the Resident Evil franchise’s transition to action/shooter gameplay, jettisoning the kaleidoscopic visions of mundane Americana and psycho-sexual horror for adolescent thrills and bland monsters. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories showed more promise: a loose remake of the original game which emphasized running from the town’s horrific manifestations, there’s at least an effort at engaging with psychology and symbolism, but it’s a trace element in an adventure game broken up with chase sequences. It’s too mechanical and neat, lacking the ratcheting tension which Team Silent mastered. Finally came Silent Hill: Downpour, which had Homecoming‘s bland monster concepts and Shattered Memories‘ lip-service psychological horror. It passed with little notice. After those disappointments, the sudden, inexplicable end of a high-profile attempt to rejig the franchise, along with showing the door to an acclaimed developer like Kojima, can’t help coming across as final.

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