If Konami wants to revive Silent Hill, we’ve got some ideas on how to do it

Ask any dedicated fan of Konami’s Silent Hill and they’ll likely agree that 2012 was both the best and the worst year for the franchise. That year saw the release of not one but four different Silent Hill projects: the mainline title Silent Hill: Downpour, the spin-off handheld game Silent Hill: Book of Memories, the Silent Hill HD Collection, and the second Silent Hill movie, Silent Hill: Revelation. The only problem was that all four projects received poor to middling reviews at best, proving beyond a doubt that the series had lost much of the luster it had built up in the early 2000’s.

More recently, Silent Hill was set to make a triumphant comeback in 2014 when Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima and famed film director Guillermo Del Toro unveiled their new joint project, Silent Hills (development on Silent Hills had ironically begun in late 2012). Unfortunately, Kojima’s messy split with Konami shortly after effectively killed Silent Hills less than a year after its unveiling. Now, after five years of dormancy, it looks like Silent Hill might be poised for another resurrection.

If such is the case, we’ve got a few suggestions for Konami to ensure Silent Hill’s return is as strong and as memorable as possible.

Waking from a Nightmare

Up until just recently, it looked as if the Silent Hill franchise was doomed to a fate of pachinko machines and recycled merchandise. Then, rumors started popping up in late January that not one but two new Silent Hill games have apparently been in development over the past two years.

Konami responded to the rumors with a typically canned and cagey “no comment,” but if the rumors are true then one of the in-development games will be a soft reboot of sorts while the other will be an episodic game ala Telltale. Mere days after the rumors first popped up, film director Christophe Gans (who directed the original 2006 Silent Hill movie and who has long touted his deep love for the series) seemingly confirmed that he’s working on both a Fatal Frame movie adaptation and a new Silent Hill movie.

In short, there could potentially be a lot of new Silent Hill material on the horizon, which naturally leads to speculation on what sorts of themes and content the new games (and movie) might include. Monsters, psychological horror, puzzles, Easter eggs, and, naturally, the namesake town of Silent Hill are all obvious contenders, but if Konami really wants to make a memorable splash, it’ll need to both surprise fans with something new and pay homage to the Silent Hill IP’s storied past.

Devil in the Details

A soft reboot of the original Silent Hill would certainly work, especially if it was done in the style of Capcom’s recent Resident Evil remakes. Resident Evil 7 might be another template for Konami to consider, building up a seemingly standalone story and unique gameplay mechanics that eventually weave back into the ongoing saga of Silent Hill itself (2008’s Silent Hill: Homecoming sort of attempted to do this but didn’t quite stick the landing).

We’re not suggesting that Konami do something gimmicky like make a first-person Silent Hill game (though we wouldn’t object to an off-shoot VR experience). However, whatever developer Konami signs on to make the new game should feel encouraged to think outside the box and see what clever new gameplay concepts they can come up with. After all, if there’s one thing the Silent Hill series is known for (other than terrifying interactive nightmare scenarios, of course), it’s creative gameplay.

There are so many moments from specific Silent Hill games that stick out in fans’ minds simply because of how much they managed to play with conventional expectations. Entering the amusement park in Silent Hill 3, the combat-based puzzles from Homecoming, how rain and water altered the environment in Downpour, the constant run-ins with Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2, and the shifting nature of the titular room in Silent Hill 4: The Room all demonstrate just how good the series is at keeping players uneasy and on edge.

It’s that sort of creative sweet spot that Konami needs to tap into for any new Silent Hill games it has in the pipeline, that fine line where a player both dreads what’s around the next corner but also feels totally compelled to look anyways. More importantly, the story and gameplay need to strike a harmonious balance or else the entire experience suffers (otherwise solid later entries like Homecoming and Downpour sadly learned this lesson the hard way).

Unreliable Narrator

The other potential Silent Hill game Konami has reportedly greenlit, the episodic one, has a ton of potential right off the bat. Games like Until Dawn, Resident Evil Revelations 2, and, yes, Telltale’s The Walking Dead have all proven that making a game episodic is a great way to build up anticipation (and encourage multiple playthroughs).

Again, Konami doesn’t have to completely ape the episodic formats that have already been done, but it can certainly look to them for ideas. An episodic Silent Hill game where players got to control a different character and explore a different part of the town in each episode is an appealing prospect, especially if each episode had its own standalone story (one of Downpour’s strongest components was the myriad of horrific and oftentimes tragic side-stories players could come across).

Previous Silent Hill games have been quite clever in their use of time manipulation, character perspective, and dialogue to accentuate the tragic stories they tell and ensure that big reveals hit with maximum impact. An episodic game might struggle a bit to maintain a consistent tone, but the beauty of Silent Hill is that there’s potential for so many types of stories to be told.

Enjoy Your Stay

As of this writing, no new Silent Hill games have technically been confirmed, so it’s important to keep expectations in check. However, it’s also hard not to get excited over what Konami might be announcing later this year during E3 or some other major gaming convention.

When Konami axed Silent Hills in 2015, it dealt a heavy blow to the entire Silent Hill community, one which many fans still haven’t forgiven it for. Granted, there was no guarantee that Silent Hills would have been a good game, but bringing the Silent Hill IP back into the limelight now would do more than just revive a beloved franchise, it would rekindle the faith that numerous Silent Hill fans have since lost. Everybody loves a good comeback story after all, and reviving Silent Hill, no matter what form it’s in, would be just as good for Konami as it would be for the fans.

The Silent Hill series already has a number of solid games to its name, but with a new console generation on the horizon and fans champing at the bit over a single rumor despite the slim number of details, now seems like the perfect time to remind gamers what truly masterful psychological horror looks like.