Op-Ed by William Kee
It’s been a while since a game has really gotten me excited. Not since my high school youth, albeit that was only a couple of years ago now, but since I’ve been through college and out the other side, my passion for games has diminished progressively.
And so it only seems to add salt to the wound that the news of Silent Hills’ cancellation brings me back to the very reason why games haven’t brought me to a pitch of excitement: it’s because I choose to not get my hopes up anymore.
That’s not to say that I don’t express a specific interest in the medium or its collection of goodies, I do find new games to be pushing the boundaries of innovation and storytelling, but with that said, maybe that’s the same reason why my interest has diminished over the years.
It’s not so simple anymore. You either have games that are too linear with no replayability, games that are incomplete at release and require numerous patch work in order to run smoothly, games that are forced into pushing out annual releases (eg. Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty), and the games that build up so much hype, only to crumble into dust, shattering hundreds and thousands of players’ dreams.
That is what happened with Silent Hills in the past week, and yes, to sum up, it is a downer.
The very potential of a Silent Hill game developed by Hideo Kojima for one, one of the most well-known game developers of the last three decades, and Guillermo Del Toro, a truly inspiring filmmaker and storyteller who has weaved such tales as Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, and the upcoming horror film Crimson Peak.
And the cherry on the cupcake was Norman Reedus, a ever-popular star of the Walking Dead franchise who would’ve been a breath of fresh air to a stale cast of protagonists in recent years.
But I don’t have to tell you all that, you knew the star power that was behind this game.
And not only that, but in August of last year, we were greeted by the first glimpse of Silent Hills through its Playable Teaser (P.T.) which was not only horrifying, but also heavily inspired by the series’ origins, and visual capabilities of the engine it was built on. It brought back into the limelight puzzle-solving in a new and interesting way.
Although I never got a chance to try P.T., and believe me, I’m more upset about that now than I ever was, I was blown away by the visuals, the sound design, the level design and the character design. It was unsettling to just sit with my headphones on and just join in on another player’s walkthrough of P.T.. I felt unease just by living vicariously through somebody on Youtube, and believe me, that is something I have never felt with a horror game to date.
So in March 2015 when it was revealed that Kojima was fired from Konami, we all quickly jumped to the worst case scenario. I know a lot of people were worried about the development of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but let’s be honest, Silent Hills was the game in question.
Phantom Pain is already far enough into development that cancelling it now would be absolutely ridiculous, and would be worse on Konami in the long run. And in the end, the Metal Gear franchise has always been Kojima’s baby, and even Konami couldn’t take that away from him.
But Silent Hills? That’s a Konami product. And I’m not too sure of the details involving Kojima’s departure, but I’m sure it was a combination of creative differences with Konami, and issues involving the FOX engine or something to that extent in the use of the development of the overall game.
So fast forward to April 26, 2015. Reports have surfaced from Del Toro, Reedus and an anonymous tip to a video game news website stating Silent Hills has been cancelled.
Soon after Konami made a statement to Kotaku:
Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic ‘Silent Hills’ project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued.
In terms of Kojima and Del Toro being involved, discussions on future Silent Hill projects are currently underway, and please stay tuned for further announcements.
The Playable Teaser is also being pulled from the PlayStation Network this week, so it may still be available if you want to try it, but I think it may just make players more upset than they already are.
And as somebody who feels that they’ve lost faith in gaming over the years, this just adds another nail in the coffin. And not just for games, but this is a striking blow to the survival horror genre in general.
The two biggest franchises in survival horror video game history, Resident Evil and Silent Hill, have both been dealt terrible blows over the years. They may be able to redeem themselves someday, but right now, the near future seems bleak for both.
And the one thing that stood out in that statement above is in regards to Konami’s continued commitment to new Silent Hill titles.
Well after this announcement, Konami has got to step it up moving forward with their Silent Hill games because Kojima and party set the bar pretty high.
I hope that the Silent Hill franchise can find its footing again, but it’s going to be a long road ahead before I can put my faith in the series again.
With files from Kotaku