Why Silent Hill Has Gone Downhill

Precisely when the Silent Hill series started to go downhill seems to be associated roughly with the disbanding of the original development team, but the reasons newer teams have failed to create games as good as the earlier ones in the series is a much more difficult matter to discern. The intention of this article is to explore the features that made the early Silent Hill games such standouts in order to explain why the series went downhill with later games.

No Psychological Horror

There is a certain lack of legitimate psychological horror in the later games of the series that is the true problem with them. To understand this in a little more detail it is best to first get an understanding of what psychological horror is. gives the following definition of Psychological Horror:

Psychological horror aims to create discomfort by exposing common or universal psychological vulnerabilities and fears, such as the shadowy parts of the human psyche which most people repress or deny

The important point here is that this type of horror exploits or taps into common or universal fears shared by players. The problem is that newer releases of the games have really failed on this specific point.

Silent Hill Creepers Sewer

Take Silent Hill, the first game in the series, as an example. The game very effectively exploited a collection of fears and phobias that are commonly shared by people. Insects featured prominently from cockroaches to a giant moth because humans have a common uneasiness around such things. Silent Hill simply magnified this by making them larger and more aggressive, but still clearly insects. Silent Hill 2 used more abstract horrors, but focused on more emotional adult fears associated with sexuality and murder. Silent Hill 3 focused on fears associated with pregnancy and the female reproductive cycle.

Pacing Problems

This problem is a little more subtle but still prevalent in newer releases of Silent Hill and is no doubt at least partially responsible for it having gone downhill. The core of the issue is that there is a lacking of the concept of ‘Ma’, which is the Japanese concept of negative space. In essence, the silence between claps when you clap your hands. The problem with lacking this kind of stillness is that the player does not have time to think and reflect on what they have seen or expect to see, which is a big part of the build up when it comes to horror. Even the jump-scare variety of horror that is somewhat tedious requires it. Shattered Memories and to a lesser extent Downpour did seem to have a little more stillness than the full-volume Homecoming, but none of them really had a great sense of timing between plot elements.

Too Commercial

Stop including Pyramid Head in everything. Please. Focus on making a good, original game rather than trying to commercialize a game with fan service. Perhaps it is simply time to stop making Silent Hill games.

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