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Thursday, October 27, 2022

A Definitive Ranking of the ‘Silent Hill’ Video Games

For nearly a decade, Silent Hill existed only in our restless dreams, with Konami refusing to finance any new projects and not even facilitating the rerelease of previous games. Sure, there was a spark of hope when Hideo Kojima revealed P.T. and his plans for a franchise reinvention, but that promising endeavor was soon replaced by Pachinko Machines and crossovers in other games. That’s why, for the longest time, fans had come to accept that their favorite survival horror series was finally dead.

Of course, that all changed with Konami’s recent Silent Hill Transmission, which revealed not one, but five simultaneous projects meant to bring the series back to its former glory! As a life-long fan of the series (Silent Hill was actually what got me into horror in the first place), I was naturally ecstatic. And with the cursed town possibly receiving new arrivals in the near future, I think this is a good time to re-evaluate the previous entries in the franchise through a definitive ranking of every Silent Hill game.

After all, while I believe that every single game in the series has something to love about it, some of these titles are clearly better than others.

While the following list is obviously based on personal opinion, we’ll be following a couple of rules in order to keep things simple. First of all, we’ll be ignoring Pachinko Machines, Mobile Java games and Arcade titles, as these are exceedingly difficult to track down and aren’t even canon in the series’ main story. We also won’t be including P.T. as it was quite literally a playable teaser and not a complete game (though it remains one of the best SH experiences out there).

With that out of the way, don’t forget to comment below with your own personal ranking of the games if you disagree with this one.

Now, let’s step into those foggy streets for our Silent Hill ranking…

9. Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008)

Silent Hill ranking homecoming

The problem with adaptations is that if they’re too successful, they can end up overshadowing the original IP. Unfortunately, SH: Homecoming is a good example of this. While the original project was meant to be more in line with SH2 and focus on subjective psychological terror, the developers eventually decided to make the game look and feel more like Christophe Gans’ 2007 movie.

The ensuing product isn’t exactly a bad game, featuring some appropriately creepy monsters and our first ever high-definition romp through the titular town, but it’s clearly not up to par with the rest of the series. On the plus side, the game features a great soundtrack (obviously composed by series veteran Akira Yamaoka) as well as some memorable shout-outs to Jacob’s Ladder, a major inspiration for the franchise.

8. Silent Hill: Book of Memories (2012)

Until Konami’s latest announcement, SH fans were deeply afraid that Book of Memories would be the franchise’s last gasp. While I don’t think the game is as bad as some critics have made it out to be, as it takes a couple of risks and is actually one of the better western RPGs on the PlayStation Vita, I was also disappointed that the last official Silent Hill game was somehow a handheld dungeon crawler that focused on multiplayer action rather than a memorable narrative.

That being said, the game has plenty of easter-eggs for long-time fans and the soundtrack boasts a couple of memorable themes. Even the dungeon crawling is legitimately engaging if you can get a couple of friends to go on this nightmarish journey with you. That’s why I think it’s a better game than the derivative Homecoming despite only barely being a horror title.

7. Silent Hill: Downpour (2012)

Silent Hill ranking Downpour

A completely original psychological thriller about a convict on the run, featuring a unique take on the titular town and a main theme composed by Korn? Sign me the hell up! Sure, Downpour has its fair share of technical issues and often doesn’t feel like Silent Hill game at all, but I appreciate the developers’ commitment to making this sequel feel like a brand-new experience.

From Daniel Licht’s surprisingly engaging soundtrack to the recurring rain motif, there’s a lot to love about Downpour even if it’s still not up there with the best in the series. Unfortunately, the game remains imprisoned on the seventh generation of consoles until Konami decides to rerelease it…

6. Silent Hill: Origins (2007)

Another handheld title (though it was eventually ported to the PS2), Origins is a weird little passion project that shouldn’t be as good as it is. Originally meant to be an action/horror/comedy hybrid with a greater focus on combat and a story influenced by Scrubs, the development team eventually changed their minds and decided to make the game more similar to the original Silent Hill by turning it into a short and sweet prequel.

The prequel narrative doesn’t really add anything important to the overarching story and the game revisits a few too many familiar locations, but this was the last time that a Silent Hill game truly felt like a Silent Hill game (especially with Yamaoka returning with tracks inspired by the first title). That’s why I think it’s still worth tracking down.

5. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009)

A quasi-remake of the first game, this underrated Wii title exists outside the main series continuity, but it’s still one of the most fascinating explorations of the franchise’s obsession with psychological horror. I especially appreciate the game’s constantly evolving monster designs and lonely winter aesthetic, as well as its commitment to horror by not allowing players to fight back.

As usual, the game contains yet another great soundtrack by Yamoka (which features some of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn’s best vocal work), but it’s also a rare example of the Wii-mote being used to instill terror – with the controller serving as your phone while you receive chilling voice messages from damned spirits. Spooky!

4. Silent Hill 3 (2003)

It’s hard not to recall the bubble-gum melody of Yamaoka’s You’re Not Here when bringing up this classic title, but SH3 is also notable for being one of the creepiest entries in the franchise. Tackling teen pregnancies, elder gods and murderous cults, the only real problem with the story here is that it’s more of an expansion of the first game’s themes than a standalone narrative.

That being said, SH3 features some of the best puzzle, monster and sound design in the series, and it’s hard not to root for Heather as she comes to terms with her cursed legacy. Hell, I even enjoyed Adelaide Clemen’s performance as the character in the much-maligned Silent Hill: Revelation.

3. Silent Hill (1999)

The game that proved that survival horror could do more than simply recreate the schlocky thrills of B-movies, the original Silent Hill feels like a good Stephen King novel brought to life (complete with super-powered children and a quiet New England town becoming overrun by monsters). While the Lynchian characters, bizarre monster design and evil cult elements are interesting enough on their own, the dreary atmosphere is the real star of the show here.

A couple of technical limitations and a jumbled narrative keep the game from being the absolute best in the series, but I think that this is still a must-play for any fan of survival horror or Kindergarten Cop. No, seriously!

2. Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004)

The black sheep of the original Team Silent games, this is my personal favorite survival horror title and one hell of a scary experience. The only game in the series where the protagonist goes through hell despite not having anything to do with the titular town, The Room works as a playable J-Horror film that takes place inside an urban nightmare.

While some fans may not appreciate how this surprisingly tragic story is only tangentially related to the previous titles, I think the unique narrative is a breath of fresh air. From the disturbing Twin Victims to the giant Eileen head, the game has no shortage of completely original nightmare-inducing visuals, and they’re all boosted by one of the best videogame soundtracks of all time (composed by – you guessed it – Akira Yamaoka).

1. Silent Hill 2 (2001)

Silent Hill ranking games

There’s not much that hasn’t been said about this interactive masterpiece, so it’s pretty obvious that the Dostoyevski-inspired SH2 takes the number-one spot. Not only is the title responsible for most of what the general public knows about the Silent Hill franchise (from Yamaoka’s Promise to Pyramid Head himself), but it’s also a damn good case for videogames as an artform.

It may not have the technical flair of the games that succeeded it, but there’s a reason that this is the title that Konami is choosing to remake, and I personally can’t wait for Christophe Gans’ upcoming adaptation of this genuinely compelling story. I just hope the live-action version of James doesn’t encounter his iconic chainsaw.

The post A Definitive Ranking of the ‘Silent Hill’ Video Games appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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