Guillermo del Toro and Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hills: What Might Have Been

There’s a lot of unfortunate news coming out of the gaming world lately. Star Wars Battlefront might have some issues, Hideo Kojima left — or was fired from — Konami, and now we have an official confirmation that Silent Hills has been canned.

Before we continue, let’s take a moment to mourn Silent Hills.

Anyone that played the PT, or the Playable Teaser for Silent Hills knows that it was something truly special. Names related to the project include Hideo Kojima — well known for his Metal Gear Solid franchise — Guillermo del Toro, and of course The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus.

Some joke and call it a hallway simulator, which oddly has truth to it, but it was a damn scary one. Even if you didn’t experience any jump scares while playing, you were sure to feel creeped out by one or two things you saw or heard.

It makes me wonder, what kind of game would del Toro and Kojima have come up with during their visit to the mysterious town of Silent Hill. Would Pyramid Head have made a spectacular return? What would they have done with the Mannequins and Nurses?

Knowing del Toro’s creative prowess, we certainly would have experienced something new, but what is the real question.

To give this lovely [cancelled] game a proper send off, we scoured the deep and dark recesses of the PT to see if we could piece together what might have been.

We Would Have Gotten a Rich Backstory

Silent Hills outro with Norman Reedus

Let’s be honest, no one really knows what the hell the town of Silent Hill is. We don’t know what happened to it either, aside from a few “what if” theories that are floating around.

We do know that it’s a small tourist town nestled somewhere in New England, most likely Maine. We also know that many of its inhabitants are unwilling to allow change and influence from the modern world, the outside world, and that they don’t like visitors.

A religious doomsday cult, known as the Order, operates behind the scenes. It’s possible that the entire town is part of the cult, it’s existence serving as direct proof of their unwillingness for change.

Silent Hill has three forms: the real world, the fog world and the otherworld. The real world, is the town as it exists in the real, physical realm.

The fog world is a version of the town that seems to appear when a strange mist rolls off the nearby Toluca Lake. In the fog world we see glimpses of a dilapidated town that has all but sprung to life. It is also in the fog world you begin to see some of the more interesting monsters and characters. It is this version of Silent Hill that we see at the end of the PT — as Norman Reedus walks away.

Finally, we have the downright horrific, otherworld. It appears different to each person who enters Silent Hill, and happens to be a manifestation of that individual’s psyche. Generally, this is where we see the most frightening creatures, sometimes influenced by the visitor’s greatest fears. Think of it as a Silent Hill version of hell.

Silent Hill 2 James and his wife

I believe that del Toro and Kojima would have done great things with Silent Hills, which includes providing a rich backstory for all three versions of the town — or whatever they decided it would feature. Who knows, maybe they would have only used two? The point is that we would have had a better understanding of what was happening and why.

I’m not pretentious enough to believe they would have spoon-fed us every little detail. I’m sure some of it would be offered through lore, exploration and various world elements similar to how the Dark Souls series handles the story.

As it currently stands, you need to play every single game in the series to truly understand what’s happening, at least on a grand scale. That is unfortunate for series newcomers. I also find it a bit sad that Silent Hill 2 gave the most backstory for the town, and some of the more important elements weren’t explored again until Downpour.

It seemed like this would be a reimagining, with a return to the series’ roots. I was really looking forward to that, and I’m sure that sentiment is shared.

It Would Have Been Scary as Hell

PT Silent Hills Red Lisa screenshot

Silent Hill 2 was one of the most gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing experiences I’ve ever had while playing a video game. I admit, if I were to go back now the experience wouldn’t be the same, but at the time it was scary as hell. Since then, I’ve struggled to find not only another game that could offer the same kind of fear and loathing, but a Silent Hill title that at least lived up to it.

When I played the PT, it blew my mind, and made me shit my pants.

I wholeheartedly believe that del Toro and Kojima’s vision for Silent Hills was going to offer the experience I have desired for so long. Again, it’s difficult to explain why without spoiling the fun of the PT for you, but I’ll do my best.

The Audio and Score

Silent Hill Downpour exploration

One of the biggest reasons why I think they were on the right track, has to do with the audio and sound effects in the PT.

Silent Hill 2 was one of the first games to support Dolby Digital when it launched on PS2. As you explored the town, sounds would shift all around you, offering a more realistic sense of direction. It was horrifying to know that something was following you, because of the sounds coming from behind you. The PT used it’s audio just as brilliantly if not more so, and Silent Hills would have probably done the same.

As for the score, Kojima and del Toro both like to augment their games — or movies — with a great soundtrack. I have no doubt that Silent Hills would have been treated the same way.

Silent Hill 4: The Room may not have been one of the best games in the series, but it had an excellent score thanks to Akira Yamaoka. Daniel Licht took over the soundtrack for Silent Hill: Downpour and despite the game’s faults the score remained one of the highlights.

As you can see, there’s a pattern with the Silent Hill series in which the audio and score seems to be part of the experience. Any future titles would be doing a huge disservice to fans if they ignored this staple, but del Toro and Kojima were definitely on the right track.

The Gameplay

Silent Hill 2 Pyramid Head battle

In the PT, you can’t do anything but walk around or zoom-in on the scenery. When I first heard about the demo, and watched some footage of it being played, I thought this was a little ridiculous. After all, how could a game where you simply walk around be scary? Boy, was I wrong.

In the PT you have to continue moving through the hallway, taking a closer look at elements that your instincts are telling you not to. By all rights, you should just stop in place and not move especially when you catch a glimpse of some of the horrifying things you see in the demo. A bloody fetus in the bathroom sink? Yeah, no thanks I’m not looking closer.

There’s nothing forcing you to keep investigating the world, save your ambition and curiosity. The fact that you continue to do so and want to, is a testament to how well del Toro and Kojima designed the PT.

I’m sure the duo would have figured something out for the final game, if only to implement the same brutish combat mechanics we know from the rest of the Silent Hill series. That said, I’m almost certain they would have come up with something that fits their universe and I think it would have been awesome.

Maybe the entire game would have been comprised of walking around, or maybe not? Personally, I’d like to think it would have been something special.

Alas, Silent Hills Is No More

Norman Reedus in Silent Hills

Yes, I know I could be way off. I know I could be looking at this whole thing with glazed eyes, and pure, unadulterated nostalgia. The ugly truth is, the final game may not have lived up to these expectations at all, but now we’ll never know.

Let’s hope the duo decides to work together to create something else, even if it isn’t Silent Hill related.

What were you expecting from [the now cancelled] Silent Hills?

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