Silent Hills Preview - Oh Kojima, you Got Me Again!

Silent Hills

It's Officially Over: Silent Hills is Canceled

It's within a heavy heart that I update this preview. Silent Hills, the collaborative project between Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima has been canceled. This is just one in a string of objectively bad decisions that Konami has made in recent memory. All that we have left is the playable demo for the game known as P.T. and some of us don't even have that.

Don't worry, we'll explain everything in a moment, just gotta dry my tears. Seriously horror fans, this could have been something special, a game-changer for lack of a better word. I mean, we all played P.T. or at least, hopefully we did. It was terrifying, graphically stunning, and endlessly intriguing. Between this and Metal Gear Solid V, Konami was practically printing money.

Then they had to go and fire anyone with an I.Q over ten and assign their business plans to a toddler that can't even spell the word business, let alone run one. I seriously don't know what has possessed them, but it cost us what could have been one of the best collaborations in gaming history.

A Timeline of the Events

The cancellation of Silent Hills is tied directly to the more widespread controversy surrounding Hideo Kojima's departure from Konami. Today we'll cover the events directly related to Silent Hills, but the controversy had other effects on Kojima's projects as well. Let's take a look:

March 19th 2015 -Kojima's name and the Kojima productions logo dissappear from the Konami's website, rumors circulate about Kojima leaving the company and they are confirmed in a statement released by Konami that spoke of a rebranding and restructuring of the company. What did they take a wrecking ball to it?

March 31st 2015-Konami pulls the Kojima Productions logo from the game's website. They told everyone that this was part of their rebranding plans. Cool, so they're fine with lying to our faces too then. Come on, they had to know something!

April 25th 2015 -Rumors are swirling that Silent Hills is dead. Konami announces that they are removing the P.T demo from the PlayStation store. It was removed on April 29th and is only available now to those who downloaded it at least once. There's no way for anyone to download it for the first time.

April 27th 2015 -Konami officially announces that Silent Hills is canceled. On that same day, they remove themselves from the New York Stock Exchange saying that the listing is "no longer economically justified. As far as I'm concerned, Konami's existence is no longer justified.

May 29th 2015 -Konami issues a formal apology to the fans of the Silent Hills project. They attempt to explain that they are working on a "Mobile First" future and only manage to sound even more like corporate idiots dong so.

Shattered Dreams: What Could Have Been

Silent Hills

Image via IGN

P.T was a little taste of what Silent Hills could have been like. It was a delicious morsel that left everyone, myself included, begging for more. The famous movie director and collaborator Guillermo Del Toro, was just as depressed as the fans. This is the second attempt he's made to work on a video game. The first was a horror game in collaboration with THQ who went bankrupt and canceled the project.

During an interview at Comic Con 2015, Del Toro revealed that this second canceled project was the final straw for him. He will never again work on a video game. This is what he had to say:

I Have proven to be the albatross of video games. I joined THQ and THQ goes broke, I join Kojima, and Kojima leaves Konami. I have decided, in order not to destroy anyone else's life, I have decided I will never again get involved in video games. Otherwise, I'll join someone and his house will explode or something."

Okay, so maybe he's being a touch melodramatic, but you really can't blame the man. I mean, what kind of luck does it take to join two projects in a row, both with strong potential, and both get canceled? He did say he was willing to let companies create games based on his work, and he would consult on the project, but he would never again touch the development and creative aspects of video games.

He even went so far as to say "If I join another video game, World War III will start." Like I said, a touch melodramatic. Apparently things were going really well too, which makes this even harder to swallow. Del Toro described the working relationship between him and Kojima as "beautiful," saying that their respective visions lined up perfectly.

Del Toro shared some of the ideas they had in place with IGN after the game was canceled. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Del Toro described the technology they were using as "cutting-edge" designed to push the systems to the limit. He said the game was "atmosphere-drenched" creating a true terror that never lets up.
  • He mentioned some very new concepts that fueled intense series of moments in the game. Clinging to the hope that the project comes back, he declined to describe these mechanics further.
  • Norman Reedus of Walking Dead fame was the lead role in Silent Hills. Apparently he was very excited about the project. Del Toro mentioned a petition online to bring back the project, showing his support for it.
  • Del Toro was shocked at how Konami handled the situation. He described the removal of P.T. and of the game project as a "scorched earth approach."
  • So that's it folks. That's all we have to remember about Silent Hills. This was one of those collaborations that could have shattered the world with its awesomeness, but instead it fizzled out because Konami apparently tried to lobotomize themselves with a rusty spoon and decided to drive the company, and all of its profitable franchises directly into the ground.

    Sorry, I'm frustrated, as I'm sure many of you are as well. Let your rage come through in the comments below and remember this game for what it was: too beautiful (horrific?) for this world.

    Take a trip down memory lane? The original preview is below

    Any gamer that has played one of Hideo Kojima’s games knows that the man sure does know how to weave a deep and complicated story. Metal Gear Solid, his most well-known franchise, has it’s own wiki for crying out loud. Yes, I know a lot of games have their own wiki, but that doesn’t change the fact that the story was incredibly complex. Beyond storytelling though, Kojima is known for his elaborate game reveals.

    Take for example Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Prior to its reveal, a trailer was shown for a game called “The Phantom Pain”, and it was supposedly being developed by a new team called Moby Dick Studios. As it turned out eventually, that trailer was for Metal Gear Solid V, and the studio? They never existed.

    He’s done it again folks, because the same kind of ploy was thrown on us gamers at Gamescom this year when a playable demo was released for a game called P.T. It was developed by 7780s Studios. Playing through the demo revealed that it was not in fact a game called P.T. Instead, P.T. stood for “Playable Teaser” and the teaser in this case was for a new game in the massively popular Silent Hill series. This new one is simply titled Silent Hills, so what does this all mean? Well, there are some clues in the playable teaser, and some interesting theories at work. For starters, let’s recap on the series history for those who haven’t played them.

    It's Just a Town, or Is It? A History of Silent Hill

    Silent Hill is a horror media franchise created by Keiichiro Toyama and published by Konami and its subsidiary, Konami Digital Entertainment. The first four games in the survival horror series were developed by an internal group called Team Silent. The most recent five games in the series were developed by other developers. The series has since spun off into two feature films, spin-off games, and comic books.

    The games are sent in the fictitious American town of Silent Hill. While each game features different characters, the town is the one element that is always present in some form. The series has always been influenced by the literary genre of psychological horror. The characters in each game are “everymen” as opposed to military masterminds or highly qualified people for the job. These are just normal people put into a horrific situation.

    To give you an idea, Resident Evil is the largest competitor to this franchise. That series is more about the guns and the zombies than it is about the psychological horror. A great series, no doubt, but you’re lucky to find a rusted pipe in a Silent Hill game, let alone a gun. The games are known for their intense atmosphere, constricting tension, and utterly gruesome and horrific set-pieces. It’s about more than just shock value though, the games always manage to weave a tale about how this town tortures its victims by playing off of their inner demons.

    Cultists, demons, strange creatures and impossible scenarios are just some of the things you’ll encounter in these games. The last few releases fell of the main path, which left fans crying foul. Now that we have the proven storyteller Hideo Kojima at the wheel, there is once again hope for the series.

    What Does P.T. Tell Us about Silent Hills?

    When Kojima released the playable teaser for the new Silent Hills game, he expected players to spend a week trying to solve the esoteric puzzles. Not surprisingly, it only took a day to crack it, and word spread like wildfire so others could see the big reveal as well. Anywhere you look now, the cat is out of the bag, which is one of the problems I have with the internet and its need to remove all mystery and suspense from announcements like this. I mean, the guy who finished it Soapy Warpig, streamed it on Twitch, which just takes out all the fun of revealing it yourself.

    An interesting thing that P.T showed us was that Norman Reedus would be doing voicework and lending his likeness to the game. While I know him as one of the brothers from the Boondock Saints, most people will probably recognize him on account of his popularity portraying Daryl in the Walking Dead TV series. In addition, it was revealed that one of my favorite movie directors, Guillermo Del Toro would be assisting with production on the game.

    For those of you unfamiliar with Del Toro’s work, he has produced some masterful films including but not limited to: Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Pacific Rim, and Don’t be Afraid of the Dark. The man is a wizard of filmmaking and his creature designs are positively astounding and horrifying which makes him a perfect candidate for working on a Silent Hill game.

    What’s truly astounding is that Kojima said that while the playable teaser does utilize his proprietary FOX engine, the graphics were purposefully lowered to give the game the feel of an indie project, and better suit the persona of 7780s studios, which is just a fake studio to begin with. The demo’s graphics are exquisite though, leaving me wondering how much better the full game could possibly look.

    The name of the faux studio however, does have a cool backstory to it. Apparently in Japan, 7780 is the postal code for a place called Shizuoka. The name is similar to “Shizuka” which means calm or quiet and is a term used by japanese gamers when referring to Silent Hill. With an “S” on the end, it becomes Silent Hills.

    Hidden Secrets and Theories about P.T.

    WARNING, DEMO SPOILERS FOLLOW: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

    1. The image they used for the P.T image is actually a picture of one of the staff member’s backyard. This was part of the attempts to make the game look low-budget. Kojima wanted people to have as little information as possible, because the lack of information made it scarier.

    2. A perfect example of Silent Hill’s brand of grotesque horror. When you are heading through the entrance, and the swinging light has been replaced by a refrigerator dripping with blood, you can hear an echo in the radio broadcast. The radio claims that the father committed suicide using a garden hose, but the echo insinuates that he killed himself with an umbilical cord. Yep, that’s Silent Hill for you.

    3. The bloody fetus (Silent Hill, remember?) that you see in the bathroom sink has been theorized to suggest that the wife was having an affair, and the baby isn’t hers. In addition, the horrific silhouette of her that you see does show a large blood stain on her dress over the abdomen.

    4. Remember how Kojima thought it would take people a week to finish the teaser? Well, he wanted people to work together, which is why there are multiple languages present throughout the demo.

    5. The final puzzle. So many people have finished the demo, and yet, no one can agree on how to properly solve that last conundrum. Some people have suggested taking ten steps, pausing when you hear the laughing, and then taking another ten steps to trigger the second laugh. Others say you have to stare at the fetus to trigger the second laugh, while still others have a different theory.

    The most popular suggestion is that you need to play with a headset plugged in, or using a PlayStation Camera to speak to the ghostly woman. Some theories suggest that this is what triggered the second laugh in all the Twitch streams. It was the audio chatter that did the trick, is what they argue. So, while it didn’t take a week to finish it, the solution still hasn’t truly arisen.

    Granted, there are sites that claim their solution worked thirty times in a row, but I can’t deny that both theories work, so I don’t know which one to give the thumbs up on.

    6. Fans of the series will know that the games usually have a secret ending that reveals the involvement of aliens, or a shiba inu named Mira. There was a radio recording in P.T. that was spoken in Swedish. After those lovely people translated it for us, we discovered that the transmission may be more important than anyone realized. Here is what it said:

    “Close your eyes. Let your ears listen in to the radio. Do you hear my voice? Can you hear the screams of your own soul?

    Let us choose: my voice, which tells the future, or your tormented [struggles?]. Well? What do you choose? You can choose. Your life. Your future!

    Wise as you are, you may already have noticed. As the radio drama from 75 years ago was the truth. They are here, on our Earth. And they oversee and see all. Don't trust the news. Don't trust the police. They are already controlled by them.
    So has it been for 75 years now. Only [our master?] can keep them [at bay]. You have a right. A right to become one of us. So welcome to our world. Very soon, the gates to a new dimension will open.”

    Sounds like aliens to me, just saying. It could be something, and it could be nothing. Kojima has been insistent that P.T. is merely a teaser and does not relate to the full game, but this kind of theme has always been present, so at the very least I would expect one of the iconic alien endings.

    7. The name Silent Hills, in conjunction with the fact that the demo has you looping through the same corridor over and over again has given rise to an interesting theory. Some people are saying that the game may take place in several alternate dimensions, or timelines. It has also been suggested that the name is supposed to represent the fact that Silent Hill is different for everyone, and could suggest an episodic structure to the game.

    My Impressions of the Demo and My Hopes for the Game

    I absolutely love that this was how they decided to reveal Silent Hills. This is an incredibly unique and awesome piece of interactive marketing that does exactly what it set out to do: build hype for the game. On its own, P.T. is a very well structured, intense, and terrifying experience. The minimal controls, the constricting atmosphere, and just a few jump scares all combine to create a true horror experience that keeps your palms sweaty as you desperately grip the controller. It’s a minimal experience that makes the most of what it does, and that, I think is a major victory in and of itself for the genre.

    This is proof that horror in games still has plenty of room to expand. It’s also proof that even demos can become invaluable marketing tools when done properly. I love everything about this reveal, about this trend, and about this move for the industry. Horror games are most certainly making a comeback, but I’m extremely happy to see that this comeback is also bringing with it some bold and exciting new innovations.

    What do I want from Silent Hills? Well, I want more of what P.T. had to offer. I think ramping up the complexity just a tad would help, but keeping is accessible like the teaser will reach a wider audience. I think the balance between simple, and mechanically interesting is where they need to make their mark. Clearly, the atmosphere and the horror are there, so let the directors do what they do best, and I believe Silent Hills will be a new standard in horror, and maybe, just maybe, dethrone Silent Hill 2 as the best game in the series.

    We can always hope I suppose. P.T. is available now to download from the PlayStation Store for FREE, so go check it out! If you’ve played it, what do you think? What’s your opinion on the Silent Hill series? Which game was your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

    Article by - Bradley Ramsey
    Insert Date: 09/10/2014

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