Remember the good old days? When survival horror was an actual genre, not just a reference? Remember them well, because survival has died a gruesome…
Gamescom provided one of the biggest pieces of gaming news to date: Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, nerdy filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, and Darryl Dixon himself, Norman Reedus, are collaborating on a new Silent Hill video game (tentatively?) entitled “Silent Hills”. STOP-THE-PRESSES! One of my favorite video game franchises is being resurrected by two fanatical creative minds, and the most popular actor on TV’s most popular show? Is this available for preorder yet? If so, please post the link in the comments, ‘kay thanks. As strange as this sounds, it’s 100% true, but what’s really weird is that those three talents together just happen to be one team that can rescue Silent Hill from the foggy depths survival horror obscurity. You can refer to them as the new “Team Silent”.
Legend says Silent Hill was the only franchise that could give Resident Evil a run for its money. From 1999 to 2004, the original Team Silent kept Silent Hill in contention with Resident Evil for the best survival horror franchise. Silent Hill and Resident Evil were the yin and yang of survival horror. If you wanted gory deaths, decapitations, and action-packed finales, you’d probably opt for Resident Evil. However, if you wanted symbolism layered on top of symbolism, cerebral plots, and reoccurring thematic elements, then Silent Hill was your game. Not to say that Resident Evil didn’t have its own ominous atmosphere, just that Silent Hill’s was more haunting and subtle in its execution.
Today Silent Hill 2 is the unanimous favorite among Konami’s fabled franchise, yet you could justifiably favor Silent Hill 1, Silent Hill 3, or even Silent Hill 4: The Room — the dark horse of the series — more than 2. All four were great in their own way, albeit with some better than others. However, Team Silent was disbanded so that Western developers could try their hand at replicating Team Silent’s success. Said developers failed in varying degrees, with the reimagining of Silent Hill 1, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii, coming the closest to Team Silent’s original quadrilogy. I don’t know what it is about Nintendo consoles, but both Silent Hill and Resident Evil rediscovered themselves on them.
Ever since the dissolution of Team Silent, Silent Hill has existed on a subsonic frequency, only noticeable to the most diehard of survival horror enthusiasts; Silent Hill: Book of Memories practically fell on deaf ears. Furthermore, the reproachful live-action movies (the first of which I actually like) kept lowering everyone’s general opinion of the franchise. It came to the point that, whenever any Silent Hill-related property came out, it was only relevant insofar as it reminded people how exceptional the series was in its heyday. That shouldn’t be the case anymore; for the first time in a long time, Silent Hill fans can stop focusing on the past and start looking towards the future.
Hideo Kojima is a certifiable legend in the industry. He’s been involved with various franchises, but he’s most notable for being the godfather of the Metal Gear series. Say what you will about the Metal Gear Series: “The cut scenes are too long,” “The story’s too convoluted,” “Recent installments feel like a cash grab”. Whatever gripes you may have with Metal Gear, you have to admit it’s one of the most polished video game franchises in existence. And most of that has to do with Kojima’s steady guidance. Now, Kojima is applying that same passion to the Silent Hill franchise. Kojima’s involvement in the Silent Hill franchise shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who follow the enigmatic creator. In the past he said that a Silent Hill game done in the Fox Engine (a game engine created by Kojima’s studio) would be “scary,” mainly because, “it only requires scariness by graphics and presentation.” After he said that, it was only a matter of when, not if, he would work on a Silent Hill game. Along with his creativity and oversight, Kojima would also possibly bring Team Silent’s original artist, Masahiro Ito, with him. The latter has been quoted as saying he’d be willing reenter Silent Hill, assuming Kojima’s also onboard.
In as many words, Kojima flat out said he wanted to work on a Silent Hill game. And if you were paying attention, you probably thought to yourself, “I knew it!” when you heard the exciting news from Gamescom What was less predictable, however, was Kojima teaming up with Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus. Del Toro is one of Hollywood’s few uber-nerds. He’s super passionate about every project he’s attached to; a conservative estimate of the projects he currently has in development is about, uh, 50! But whatever Del Toro makes, he makes while being cognizant of the expectations of fans. He sold a $200 million movie based on Japanese Kaiju films about giant robots fighting giant monsters. Despite underperforming at the box office, fans of Japanese kaiju films prefer Pacific Rim over the recent reboot of Godzilla. Del Toro’s foreign films always overshadow his fan-targeted films, but his fan-targeted films are usually a result of their source material, and with Silent Hill, he can service fans while flexing his artistic muscle. At its best, Silent Hill is a smart, thought-provoking horror series, and Pan’s Labyrinth proves he can bring the disgraced franchise back to its peak.
As for Norman Reedus, what can I say? He’s been on my radar since The Boondock Saints, a cult movie that critics back then (even now) couldn’t get a handle on. However, The Walking Dead launched him into the mainstream, and now he has a rabid fanbase that includes EVERY woman on earth. Thanks to the Walking Dead, and Darryl Dixon being the only character on the show that no one hates, Reedus has carte blanche to do whatever wants. What does he do with his newfound fame? He offers his likeness and redneck charms in service of survival horror. Never mind the attention a celebrity like Reedus can bring to the series, he physically has a face that fits in perfectly with the world of Silent Hill. His face is one of struggle, pain, and resolve. He simply looks like the ideal Silent Hill Protagonist… Boy, the stories you can tell around that face; just imagine how messed up his character’s psyche would be.
The Silent Hill series contains arguably two of the top three survival horror games ever created, and a university could easily offer courses on the complexity and depth of the stories told during its prime. And I’m sure that if Konami could turn back the hands of time, they would have never broken up Team Silent in the first place. It was a dumb move that nearly buried one of their greatest franchises. But thanks to three unlikely individuals, Silent Hill is once again on gamers’ minds, and it’s not just to lament how much the series has declined. Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro, and Norman Reedus have given us all something that was in short supply for the many protagonists of Silent Hill – hope.
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