Welcome to Silent Hill… you must die. I have to credit that joke to the Game Grumps, of course, but I couldn’t resist. We will be ranking the Silent Hill series today, and it only seemed fitting. Now there are SO MANY games in the series, so we’re going focus on what’s considered the main story, not the spin offs. That means we won’t be looking at the strange arcade game in 2007, or the mobile or most of the handheld games that were later ported to other systems. That’s eight games in total, so let’s get started!
Remember… Spoilers Ahoy from here on out!
Unranked: Silent Hill: Origins
Firstly, some transparency. There is one handheld game that is counted in the list of the main series, Silent Hill Origins. Released on the PSP and the Playstation 2 in 2008, this was a game that I missed completely. Due to that, I can’t really rank it and call myself and ethical game journalist. So I’m going to sit it here with a bit of an honorable mention. On to game #7.
7: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Released on the Wii and later on the PS2 and PSP, Shattered Memories, the seventh in the series, was a game that could have been better if not for the main platform it was released on. The Wii isn’t completely without horror games, as Resident Evil 4 was released on the platform, but the cheery sounds on the Wii kind of caused a disconnect for me at least when trying to play the game. I haven’t tried it on the PS2, where I would bet it plays a lot better, but the Wii mechanics also made the game seem strange. Though the story was fun, something that can be said for pretty much the whole series.
6: Silent Hill: Homecoming
The sixth in the series, Homecoming was supposedly going to be one of the first horror games that would adapt to the player. The intentions of the Silent Hill franchise is to scare the Hell out of the player, and the thought of a horror game that learns how you play and adapts to be even more frightening sounds amazing. As a huge horror gamer, I really wanted this one to be great. The setting, opening in a hospital, was disturbing and had great potential. Sometimes the game felt a little rushed, though, making it easy to turn off and walk away from, and that’s never good.
5: Silent Hill: Downpour
The most recent game kind of falls in the middle due to the fact that it returned to the formula of being trapped in a desolate town. Again, Downpour was supposed to adapt to the player, and in some cases (such as mine) perhaps it adapted a bit too much. The enemies were disturbing, of course, and would become even more violent during rain storms. If you find yourself trapped and it’s raining, there will be problems. There were some interesting new ideas in the game, such as the number of choices you have as a player. For instance, you can save people or you can out right ignore them and deal with the consequences, they’re more or less just side quests. The world is very open, giving Downpour a very non-linear feel. All of the melee weapons in this game break, so defense is always going to be a struggle. Sometimes that can make the experience fun, other times, when you’re surrounded and have nothing to grab, it can cause a rage quit. The story is interesting, though, and worth a shot for anyone who likes horror games and the Silent Hill series.
4: Silent Hill 3
I may catch flack for putting the third game in the series as the fourth best, but it was a game I kind of had trouble getting into. It was more of the same, though it did give us the first and only female protagonist in the main series. It also cemented the fact that abandoned amusement parks are no longer amusing. In fact, they’re nightmare machines with demented human-sized bunny mascots that are out to kill you. After playing this game, you will never look at an amusement park the same way again. This game did have some fun puzzles, though, something that a lot of horror games seem to leave behind. Being scared out of your wits and having to solve a puzzle at the same time, that’s a challenge I will always accept.
3: Silent Hill 4: The Room
This game is one of my favorites, and I think it’s mainly because of the concept. One day, you wake up to find chains on your front door and you can’t unlock them. There’s something wrong in your apartment and there’s no way out… save for the portal that’s appeared in your wall. Worst problem, besides the fact that your apartment is haunted and it’s getting worse by the minute, is that you either have to stay there or go to Silent Hill. Good luck! That idea is nightmarish to me, and I love it. Being confined in such a way can give almost anyone anxiety, and it happens right off the bat. The graphics may not quite stand the test of time, but the concept was so very different compared to the others. Sure, you’re going back to Silent Hill, but rather than wandering the city, you’re only allowed to go to certain places before coming back to your apartment. The isolation is very effective, especially when your apartment starts to attack you.
2: Silent Hill 2
The dark story of Silent Hill 2 along with the ability to revisit this horrifying town was too much to pass up. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but I will say this. First: Pyramid Head. This is the game that gave us one of the most iconic video game monsters. He’s huge, he drags a heavy blade behind him, and he’s there to punish. He seems to be a guardian of the town, a demon trapped perhaps. There’s no killing him, all you can do is run and hide. I finished Silent Hill 2 in possibly the worst setting, a cabin in the mountains during the winter. I had thought everyone else was asleep and, as an insomniac, decided I’d play. I had the volume low and never once really heard anyone wake or stir. The next morning, though, oh did I get it. At some point, everyone had individually woken up and gone back to sleep only to end up having nightmares. Whoops! Silent Hill 2 is worth playing, and the graphics have aged pretty well. Just be prepared for a dark and depressing story… and if you get the “right” ending, you might find the whole town is run by a dog.
1: Silent Hill
The first is still the best, as it’s the one responsible for all of the others. This game gave us the most disturbing video game town in history and I doubt it will ever be topped. We learned that nothing is what it seems when you’re in Silent Hill, and to be prepared for anything. It also gave us a whole new reason to fear air raid sirens. As an American, those sirens normally mean a tornado, but in the town of Silent Hill, it’s an entirely different warning. The first time any gamer heard that sound then saw the world around them start to deteriorate… welcome to Silent Hell, the other side of Silent Hill. We had no idea what we were in for, and it was absolutely wonderful.
Honorable Mention: PT
It’s amazing how a simple Playable Trailer changed the landscape of horror games. Almost everyone who played it was scared out of their wits. It clearly inspired the latest Resident Evil along with dozens of other horror games. Despite the fact that the actual game, Silent Hills, was cancelled, we were at least able to experience PT. If there is a new chapter coming in the Silent Hill series, let’s hope it picks up where Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima left off.
If you’ve never played a Silent Hill game, try one. The first game is available on PS3 at least, but somehow was left behind in the HD Collection that was released in 2012. Despite this, the HD Collection is probably the best place to start, as you will get games 2 and 3 Though maybe someday soon, we’ll get a remastered Silent Hill where we can all relive that first experience. A girl can hope. If you haven’t played this series before, give it a shot! And if you have, let’s discuss. And lastly, to everyone, happy gaming!!