Finally, Silent Hill Is Leaving The ‘Tough Angry Dudes’ Behind

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The other day, we were treated to the reveal of three new Silent Hill games. Of course, there was the long-awaited new version of Silent Hill 2, brought to us courtesy of the Bloober Team. There was the spin-off Silent Hill: Townfall, which is being made by indie developer No Code, who delivered the excellent text-based puzzle horror anthology, Stories Untold. Finally, and perhaps most exciting of all, is Silent Hill F, which will take place in 1960s Japan, with a symbolically charged trailer that focuses on a young woman staggering down a street that is apparently being invaded. by some kind of malignant floral matter.

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The trailers all looked excellent, teasing three very different-looking games that, in their own way, evoke something Silent Hill had been missing for years before its hiatus in 2012; the trailers were witty, thoughtful, and free of the idiotic excesses that games like Silent Hill: Homecoming and Silent Hill: Downpour were loaded with (the fact that the trailers for both had the old “screaming people inside a big car going around down a highway” trope tells you everything you need to know).

The trailers for the new batch of Silent Hill are, like the games of yore, smart, subtle, and most importantly, free of the gruff, tough guys that made up most Silent Hill protagonists of the later days. There was Travis the Trucker from Silent Hill: Origins, Alex Shepherd from Homecoming, a Special Forces soldier returning from duty (or so you think for much of the game), as well as Downpour’s escaped convict Murphy Pendleton (who, in In case you thought it was a Shawshank Redemption style case of mistaken identity, stab someone in the prison showers right at the start of the game just to show you what a tough bastard he is). With all due respect to Norman Reedus, who was to be the lead for Kojima’s canceled 2015 game Silent Hills, it seemed like it would have been a high-profile continuation of that trend.

It was a bad time for the series, when it seemed like the various western studios that Konami outsourced all these games to thought that what made Silent Hill 2 so special was its annoying male lead who could hit monsters with a piece of wood. . Led by these dimwitted heroes, the Silent Hill games of the last few days upped the bland, crushing depictions of tormented masculinity, while forgetting much of what made the previous series good.

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All of these guys were representative of Silent Hill’s identity crisis before the series went into its (probably much-needed) hiatus. Now, I’ll be the first person to say that not all of those Silent Hills of the past few days were bad games, they were just a far cry from the brilliance of the Silent Team’s outings. The biggest problem with the post-Team Silent games (with an honorable exclusion for the underrated Shattered Memories) was that they succumbed to the trend of games at the time towards action and combat, though that was never the series’ forte. And in a classic case of late 2000s thinking, what better protagonists for combat-oriented horror games than truckers, convicts, and an assortment of tough guys?

I still can’t help but laugh at how ‘fight first, think later’ some of those guys were. There’s no better indication of that than the first supernatural combat encounter you had in Downpour, where in one scene, Pendleton immediately starts pummeling a man who managed to get the upper hand on one of the first monsters you fight in the game. As he does so, the monster kills the man you were already beating up, then turns on you, and the fact that you just killed this guy for no reason (even when he says ‘you got it all wrong’) is never pondered by our ruthless bad boy antihero. Not much later in the game, you have a dubious choice between comforting a suicidal or taunting him, but even before you do, it seems like everything you say to him is just wrongmisguided and rooted in a toxic perspective.

Of course, there’s one sad middle-aged man returning for the new generation of Silent Hill, and that’s James Sunderland, the Silent Hill 2 protagonist who, it has to be said, is looking for. particularly sad puppy face in the trailer for the new version. But Sunderland was different from what came after. He was meek, unheroic, even somewhat feminine in his stature. He didn’t need to have a profession or background that just screamed ‘trauma’ (in fact, he was an employee), because the story that unfolds throughout Silent Hill 2 shows that there are many traumas that can befall those who live perfectly mundane lives. Sunderland wandered Silent Hill in a dreamlike state of repressed guilt and denial, instead of frowning at everything he saw, or clutching his head and yelling because ‘Ahhh, the traumas are too many!’ Unlike those that came after, Sunderland was a subtle character in a world that oscillated elegantly between reality and symbolism.

In a way, bringing back Sunderland, the original ‘sad common man’ from Silent Hill, represents a kind of reset for Silent Hill’s troubled relationship with the troubled men, because he’s the one the series really got right on. Based on the teasing of the next generation of Silent Hill, 10 years and the hiatus of an entire video game generation might be just what Konami needed to remind us that there’s much more to Silent Hill than angry men with problems.

NEXT: Should Silent Hill 2 Remake Use The ‘Over The Shoulder’ Camera?



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