The Silent Hill games are some of my favorite gaming memories. The PSone era Silent Hill had me shitting my pants every time I heard an air raid siren, and the plot was both goofy and suitably surreal. Somehow when I was younger I had no problem with all the backtracking, poor graphics, poor gameplay etc; I was too immersed in this town of personal torment and all its little secrets.
Fast Forward to Silent Hill 2. Do I even
need to say that it is my favorite game? It's my favorite game. Ever. It is still as entertaining to me to play and think about as it was the day it was released. The sheer weight of all the psychological metaphors, the town that was mysteriously crippled and yet familiar with it's visitors, and the abandonment of all that cult nonsense made the game into something that has yet to be recreated - the most unforgiving in-depth character analysis ever presented in a game. Not to mention the fact that the game never once relies on "jump scares" to get your attention. Instead, it slowly turns what you understand to be real on it's head; the building sense of dread at times so unbearable I found it difficult to progress for fear of what was going to happen.
The important part was the revelation that nearly everything anomalous James sees in the town is actually a part of his severely damaged psyche. Once you discover that **SPOILER ALERT YOU RETARDS** James has repressed the memory of murdering his wife, things start to become eerily meaningful. What I'm talking about of course, is motherfucking Pyramid-Head.
Ahh Pyramid Head. Perhaps the most iconic enemy in the survival-horror genre, fans immediately latched on to the mysterious figure dragging his 80 pound knife through our nightmares. This, unfortunately, causes problems.
You see, Pyramid head only makes sense in the context of Silent Hill 2. He is a physical manifestation of James' most base and violent sexual frustrations. He rapes shit right in front of you, is shaped like a penis, and attacks you with phallic objects. When you finally "kill" the two pyramid head bosses at the end of the game, they impale themselves and Leave James two essential items for proceeding to the final confrontation; a pair of eggs.
Did you get that? He literally defeats his sexual aggression - or at least his fear of it - and physically RECEIVES HIS BALLS BACK so he can, you know, PROCEED.
That is why when you see Pyramid Head in any other context outside of Silent Hill 2, you should be completely out-there confused. You should actually be saying something along the lines of "WHY IS JAMES' PENIS HERE RIGHT NOW."
Amidst the fandom, something got lost in translation. Pyramid head became intertwined with the games stupid, goofy, inconsistent cult sub-plot. He became fan service.
Now I can forgive the movie. They really did nail the visuals of Silent Hill. The scenery was all perfectly horrifying, the transformation from real to "otherworld" was a great technical feat, and Pyramid Head actually looked really really really cool. Movies are allowed this kind of thing. They are trying to take an old video game plot and make it accessible to a wide audience. In exchange for an inconsistent plot and some fan service, we got a fucking MOVIE. Good on them for trying as hard as they did to make the nonsensical cult plot work on screen.
At this point in the games, however, Silent Hill was kind of a paranoid schizophrenic. SH3 actually went back to the cult plot to provide us a game that was more combat oriented, fan-aware, and visually horrifying.Then SH4 came along and decided it was a Ghost story/slightly different cult story. It becomes increasingly clear that there was never really meant to be a canonical plot, and the the longer people spend trying to develop one the more crippled Silent Hill becomes as an IP.
Look at Origins, for example. Someone decided that the fans really wanted to see the beginnings of the cult. And maybe they did. I, personally found Silent Hill the most effective as a metaphor for the psychological problems of it's inhabitants. Silent Hill 2 did it so well, and left the potential for more visitors so open that I really got my hopes up for the future.
Well, it's the future. I am hella disappointed with the new games. Homecoming was a gut punch to anyone like me who thought SH2 was the high point in the series. The game became less psychological horror and more about knife fights. Having a physically capable character made the enemies much less frightening, and the appearance of Pyramid Head IS JUST WRONG OK I DON'T WANT TO DISCUSS IT ANYMORE OK.
I suppose there IS Shattered Memories to consider.... But I haven't played it yet! It looks like a promising experiment, but the pacing issues seem like a valid complaint. I'm sure I will come to begrudgingly love it along with the first 4.
So now we have Silent Hill 8 to be looking forward to. Or something. I mean, I guess I'm willing to look forward to it. The previews show promise. The graphics are suitably crummy, I'm sure the voice acting is terrible as always, and the main character is already shown as tied in with the town's more explicit horror-aspects. He's a prisoner, you see, and it appears that his "otherworld" experience is a claustrophobic endless series of cages! Awesome! And no Goddamn Pyramid Head. Yet.
Augh this is like expecting the next Weezer album to not suck. I JUST WANT TO BELIEVE IN YOU RIVERS CUOMO.
The point I guess I've been raving and rambling about is that when I see a new Silent Hill, I don't want it to be full of the same enemies and themes - they are supposed to be unique and meaningful in the context of their original games, and reuse simply devalues them. And holy hell I could talk about SH2 forever.