- "Silent Hill" refers to multiple subjects. See Silent Hill for more uses.
It was released for the Sony PlayStation in North America on January 31, 1999. It was re-released on the PlayStation Store for PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3, but not for PlayStation Vita (however, it can be played on the Vita via PS3 Remote Play or by transferring the game manually from the PS3) or PlayStation 4.
Silent Hill 3 is a sequel set seventeen years after the game, while Silent Hill: Origins is a prequel taking place seven years prior to the game. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a re-imagining of the game set in another universe, sharing the game's original premise.
The 2006 film Silent Hill is a loose adaptation of the game's characters and plot, set in a different universe.
Silent Hill, Maine, is a quiet American resort town known for its very peaceful ambiance, but the memories of a tragic house fire seven years ago, in which a girl named Alessa Gillespie "died", still haunts the town and the townsfolk. Having had his wife Jodie die of disease four years ago, Harry Mason is a single parent with an adopted daughter Cheryl. Harry is still in grief from Jodie's death, and to help his mental state, Cheryl begs him to take a relaxing vacation to the resort town of Silent Hill, and Harry gives in.
Due to car troubles, Harry and Cheryl arrive in the outskirts of Silent Hill at night, following the winding mountainside road. While driving on the outskirts of the town, Harry sees a girl (an astral projection) walking across the street. Harry swerves his car to avoid hitting her and is knocked unconscious by the resulting car crash.
Harry wakes up later to find that Cheryl has disappeared and is forced to venture into the snowing, fog-covered town to rescue her. At first glance, Harry notes that the entire place, or at least Old Silent Hill, seems to be abandoned. Harry leaves the area to look around and sees Cheryl running away, and he immediately hurries to follow her. Chasing her through the streets of Silent Hill, he finds himself running down a small residential road and into a dark alley.
The sky suddenly turns dark, a siren blares in the distance, and when Harry lights the area with a lighter, he finds that his entire environment has altered into a darker realm. The road pavement has been replaced by rusted metal grating and platforms, and the walls are a dark, grimy series of mesh and chain link fences. Everything is covered in rust and blood, tipped with barbed wire, and the shapes of hanging bodies are discernible behind the mesh. The sounds of industrial clanking and grinding metal form a constant cacophony of ambient noise. With nowhere to go, Harry follows the alley and finds the disturbing body of a mutilated corpse hanging on a fence before him. Moments later, he is attacked by small, child-like monsters, and despite his best efforts, Harry is eventually overwhelmed and "killed".
He wakes up in a deserted diner called Cafe 5to2. An officer named Cybil Bennett from the nearby town Brahms appears, and after a brief conversation, she provides him with a handgun and leaves to look for help. In the diner, Harry arms himself with a map, a knife, and a flashlight. As Harry attempts to leave the diner, a radio on a nearby table starts emitting static, causing Harry to investigate it. A flying creature crashes through a window and into the store and assaults Harry. Harry defeats the monster with his handgun and stands there in disbelief for a moment before leaving the diner. Harry soon encounters other monsters on the foggy streets, and he quickly discovers the radio's usefulness when it emits intensifying static as monsters grow closer. Following a clue left by his daughter, Harry eventually finds his way to Midwich Elementary School to search for her.
From his initial inspection, the school itself has been long since deserted. Instead of students and teachers, Harry finds many Grey Children or Mumblers. He works his way around, eventually unlocking the clock tower in the school's courtyard. Upon reaching the other side of the facility across from it, he is surprised to find the world has once again shifted into the Otherworld. Once more, the already-dwindling light is reduced to nothing more than what Harry's flashlight can produce, and the surfaces have all undergone a frightening shift back to the metal grating and uneven platforms. In the Otherworld school, Harry travels to the boiler room. Inside, light is cast by a flaming corpse, illuminating a creature known as Split Head – a large lizard with its head split in half. With its defeat, everything turns to darkness, and then the light returns to reveal an ordinary boiler room. A girl, Alessa Gillespie, is leaning against the boiler, and she turns to Harry before disappearing into thin air.
Confused, Harry departs from the school. He hears a church bell ringing in the distance and heads to the Balkan Church, where he sees a woman praying at an altar. She turns to meet Harry, and in a conversation that he has difficulty understanding, she reveals herself to be Dahlia Gillespie. She gives Harry a mystical item called the Flauros and tells him to make haste to the hospital. Before Harry can ask any questions, Dahlia leaves, and Harry exits the church. He crosses a bridge that leads to Central Silent Hill.
Harry arrives at Alchemilla Hospital, where he encounters Michael Kaufmann, a doctor who is as bewildered as Harry about the current circumstances. Shortly after this meeting, Harry may obtain a red liquid known as Aglaophotis, whose great purpose is later revealed, by using a bottle. Harry endures another shift to the Otherworld, transforming the medical facility into the world's twisted version of the hospital, infested with monstrous nurses. Along the way, he also meets Lisa Garland, a terrified nurse. Though she knows much about the town and its history, he is unable to get answers before he is transported back to the Fog World, where Dahlia reappears and tells him that the "Mark of Samael", a strange symbol he has seen in various locations, must not be completed, lest "the darkness" devour the whole town.
Meeting up with Cybil, who has seen a girl out on the lake, the pair find a hidden altar in an antique store, but Harry disappears out of sight of Cybil, much to her confusion. Harry, meanwhile, finds himself back in the hospital with Lisa, who gives him directions to the lake, but also tells Harry she feels she's "not supposed to leave". On the way to the lake, Harry passes through some sewers and enters the Resort Area.
The player may determine Kaufmann's fate (and the game's ending) by choosing to assist him in Annie's Bar and doing a sidequest. Canon-wise, Harry saves Kaufmann and fulfills the sidequest. Kaufmann is thankful, but his business presses him onward. Harry finds a motorcycle stash of a mysterious red vial in a gas tank, and Kaufmann reappears and angrily snatches it away.
Soon after, the Otherworld nightmare begins to take over the town entirely. Regrouping with Cybil and deciding to stop the mark's completion at Dahlia's desperate request, Harry heads to the lighthouse, while Cybil's goal is reaching Lakeside Amusement Park. As an unknown assailant attacks Cybil, Harry once more sees Alessa and the "Mark of Samael" at the top of the lighthouse before heading to the amusement park himself.
On the amusement park's carousel, Cybil appears, possessed by a parasite. The player may choose to save or kill Cybil, once again affecting the game's ending; if Harry wishes to save Cybil, he must use the red liquid he obtained at the hospital on her (thus achieving one of the "plus" endings). However, Cybil is killed by Harry in the regular Good and Bad endings. With Alessa appearing once more, Harry unwittingly uses the Flauros to trap her. Dahlia appears, revealing that she manipulated him into confining her, as he was the only one who would be able to get close to her, and that Alessa is in fact her daughter.
With Alessa's powers out of control, Harry awakens to find himself back in the distorted world resembling the hospital, known merely as Nowhere. He finds Lisa, and she bleeds from every orifice in front of a horrified Harry, who flees when she approaches him, though he is clearly sympathetic. Lisa's diary, left in the room, explains that she was the nurse who attended to Alessa in return for a drug she was addicted to, PTV, which Kaufmann supplied. In Nowhere, Harry witnesses a flashback of a meeting between Dahlia, Kaufmann, and two cult doctors discussing Alessa's hospitalization and the rebirth of God.
Harry soon finds Dahlia and possibly Cybil if he saved her previously (Cybil's survival may or may not be canonical), as well as a figure in a wheelchair wrapped in bandages: Cheryl and Alessa recombined, with Alessa's astral projection sitting nearby. Both the flashback and Dahlia's words explain that Dahlia sacrificed her daughter to fire seven years ago in an attempt to nurture and bring about the birth of the god worshiped by a fanatical cult, the Order, of which Dahlia is a priestess, and that the god now resides within Alessa's womb. In doing so, Alessa split her soul in half to prevent God from being born. The other half of the soul manifested itself as Cheryl, whom Harry and his wife found as a baby on the road outside of Silent Hill and subsequently adopted.
In the present, Alessa called Cheryl back to Silent Hill so that her full power would be restored. Alessa would then inscribe several Seals of Metatron around the town and purge Silent Hill of reality, killing herself to prevent God's birth. Alessa manifested herself as an astral projection in the town to place the marks Harry has seen in an attempt to keep the god at bay. Dahlia also reveals that the "Mark of Samael" is the Seal of Metatron, and Dahlia used Harry as her pawn. With Alessa's plan defeated and the two halves of her soul now back together, the god creature begins to manifest itself.
In the Good and Good+ endings, Kaufmann appears and throws a vial of Aglaophotis at the god, expelling the Incubus from the Incubator's back. In the non-canon Bad endings, Kaufmann doesn't appear, and Harry faces the Incubator. Both forms kill Dahlia instantly before turning its attention to Harry, who ultimately defeats it.
There has been some debate over which ending of Silent Hill is canon. While it is a fact that the Bad endings can not be canon as Heather Mason is not "born" in these endings, there has been debate whether or not Good+ can also be considered canon.
The Book of Lost Memories states that that the basic Good ending (in which Cybil also dies) is the "orthodox ending connected to the third game." However, in a section regarding Cybil and Harry's relationship following the Good+ ending in the Book of Lost Memories, writer Hiroyuki Owaku stated that what happened to Cybil was "left to players' imaginations". When asked if Cybil was dead, developer Masahiro Ito bluntly responded, "Yes, I remember Cybil is dead." When asked the meaning of Owaku's statement, he replied, "If you choose 'good+' ending among them, she is not dead, maybe."
Director Keiichiro Toyama, who left Team Silent after Silent Hill and was not involved with latter entries, initially stated that he intended the Good ending to be the true ending, and he believes Owaku developed Silent Hill 3 around the first game's Good ending. However, Toyama changed his mind and also considers the Good+ ending to be "a true ending".
The novelization uses the Good+ ending; however, the canonicity of the novelization is arguable as it was also written by Sadamu Yamashita, who was not involved in work on the games.
- Good+ (Complete the Kaufmann sidequest and save Cybil): Cybil tries to shoot Dahlia, but fails, and Alessa and Cheryl merge, becoming the Incubator. Kaufmann then appears, shooting Dahlia and throwing the Aglaophotis at the Incubator. When hit with the substance, the Incubator falls to the ground, screaming as the Incubus emerges from her back. The Incubus kills Dahlia, Harry then fights and defeats the god, and the Incubator gives him a baby (who is revealed to be Heather Mason in Silent Hill 3) and shows him the escape route. Harry, Cybil, and Kaufmann try to escape, but a blood-covered Lisa Garland appears and drags Kaufmann with her into the abyss. Harry and Cybil continue their escape, but the Otherworld is collapsing too quickly for them to make it on their own, so the Incubator uses the last of her power to stop the world's destruction in order for them to escape. The Incubator is then consumed by the flames, and Cybil and Harry escape together with the baby. The song for this ending is "Tears Of...".
- Good (Complete the Kaufmann sidequest and kill Cybil): Alessa and Cheryl merge, becoming the Incubator, but Kaufmann appears, shooting Dahlia and throwing the Aglaophotis at the Incubator. When hit with the liquid, the Incubator falls screaming to the ground as the Incubus emerges from her back. The Incubus kills Dahlia, Harry defeats the Incubus, and the Incubator gives him a baby and shows him the escape route. As Harry escapes, Kaufmann tries to follow him but is stopped by Lisa. The flames consume the Incubator, but Harry safely makes it to the highway on the outskirts of the town and stares up at the sky, bewildered at everything that has happened. The song for this ending is "Killing Time".
- Bad+ (Don't complete the Kaufmann sidequest and save Cybil): Alessa and Cheryl merge, becoming the Incubator, and kill Dahlia. Cybil then appears and tries to kill Dahlia, but fails. Harry then battles Incubator who, after defeat, thanks Harry. Harry then collapses in sorrow over the loss of his daughter. Cybil walks over to Harry, smacks him out of his grief, and tells him to go as the Otherworld collapses around them. The song for this ending is "She".
- Bad (Don't complete the Kaufmann sidequest and kill Cybil): Alessa and Cheryl merge, becoming the Incubator, and kill Dahlia. Harry then battles the Incubator who, after defeat, thanks Harry and says goodbye. Harry collapses in sorrow over the loss of his daughter. Harry is then seen bleeding from his head, unconscious in his car, which suggests that everything that happened in Silent Hill was just a dream, conjured by the failing synapses of his dying brain. This ending is ironic because at one point in the game, Harry foreshadows this by wondering whether everything that is happening to him is just a dream that he is having in a hospital after a car crash. The song for this ending is "Esperándote", sung in Spanish.
- UFO: When Harry uses the Channeling Stone for the fifth time on top of the lighthouse, a group of UFOs is seen in the sky. As the UFOs land, the cutscene changes the style to a roughly animated picture show. Harry tries to ask the aliens if they have seen his daughter, but is shot down and brought into their spaceship. The UFOs take off, and the credits roll in a fashion similar to the 3D billing effect commonly used for horror/supernatural projects in the early/mid-1900s.
The objective of the player is to guide Harry Mason through the barren town of Silent Hill as he searches for Cheryl. The gameplay consists of combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving. The controller vibration is used to indicate Harry's heartbeat and will vibrate on low health.
The game uses "tank controls", where the player must imagine they are controlling Harry as a tank. Harry can jump backward if the player holds square and down. Due to the mandatory tank controls, it is essential that the player learns how to shoot and walk back at the same time.
The player must regularly enter an inventory screen to check Harry's health, use items, and equip different weapons.
Harry confronts monsters in each area with both melee weapons and firearms. A portable radio alerts Harry to the presence of nearby creatures with bursts of static. Harry's flashlight illuminates dark areas, but when it is switched off, he has a greater chance of eluding enemies.
- Main article: Silent Hill Original Soundtracks
Silent Hill Original Soundtracks was released in Japan on March 5, 1999, by Konami Music Entertainment, Inc. and contains music from the game. All tracks are composed by Akira Yamaoka, except for "Esperándote", which was composed by Rika Muranaka.
Silent Hill received generally positive reviews, gaining an 86/100 and 84.99% aggregate at rating websites Metacritic and GameRankings, respectively. The game sold over two million copies, which gained Silent Hill a place in the American PlayStation Greatest Hits budget releases.
Silent Hill had a huge impact and legacy on the survival horror genre since its release, showing what horror video games could be capable of. In its series, it has spawned seven more main installments, comics, two films, and more. It has also had a significant influence on horror and narrative-driven video games as a whole, showing the extent of how video game stories could have emotion, depth, complexity, and meaning. Notably, the game touches on themes such as family, religion, spirituality, grief, etc.
Silent Hill was the first fully 3D third-person survival horror video game (except for OverBlood, but the "horror" and "scariness" of that game is agreed to be borderline nonexistent). In contrast, Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark used pre-rendered backgrounds, whereas Clock Tower was in 2.5D and had a point-and-click interface. System Shock was played from a first-person perspective, making Silent Hill a pioneer of the 3D third-person format.
While today's standards greatly date them, the graphics of Silent Hill were praised for its time, showcasing the power of the Sony PlayStation. Fog and darkness were heavily used to disguise the limitations (draw distance) of the hardware. Along with the grainy and pixelated textures, also from hardware limitations, most reviewers felt that these factors worked in the game's favor; IGN described it as "adding to the atmosphere of dilapidation and decay" and giving the game a "distorted" and "nitty gritty" feel.
The game was also commended for its use of the DualShock's vibration feature, which reviewers commented added to the immersive quality of the game. The game's use of lighting and sound were also applauded for their tension-building quality.
Less well-received was the voice acting, which was found average overall by reviewers and accompanied by long pauses between lines that served to spoil the atmosphere. Some reviewers also took issue with the vague story, which left many questions unanswered and due to the multiple endings failed to provide any real closure. The tank controls and camera angles were also criticized for being clunky.
- The exact year the game is supposed to be set in is unknown. Harry's Jeep is a 1986-1995 Jeep Wrangler, clearly evidenced by its front grille and headlights. A shop in the game says "since 1987", implying the game is not set before 1987. The handgun is a Smith & Wesson Sigma, which entered production in 1994. However, Alex Shepherd's diary, when the date is highlighted under the ink stain, says 1983.
- The next page of the diary says that Silent Hill 2 is set "10 years later, in 1993". However, it has been corrected to say "1998". This obviously implies the first game is set in 1988.
- It is also possible that the game was intended to be set in the 1990s and it was later retconned to the 1980s to better suit Silent Hill 3, which would be set too far into the future (2007-2016) when Silent Hill 3 was to be released in 2003.
- The item menu's color is different depending on the game's difficulty setting. Green represents Easy, blue represents Normal, and purple represents Hard.
- On higher difficulties, more enemies can spawn in specific areas. It may also spawn stronger enemies in place of ones that would typically be encountered.
- The European demo version of Silent Hill replaced Grey Children with Mumblers.
- Attaching the Konami Justifier to the PlayStation will result in the Hyper Blaster being unlocked.
- At the game's beginning, when Grey Children or Mumblers first attack Harry, he may attempt to run back the way he came, but will only discover that the gate has suddenly locked.
- A video of Cheryl crying can be seen on a television inside the Silent Hill Town Center. If the video is paused, an image of Alessa can be seen every few frames.
- When the player first gains control of Harry Mason, if they choose to go back and examine Harry's crashed car, Harry's thoughts will read, "My car... Too smashed up to drive. Where's Cheryl? I pray she's safe".
- During Dahlia's monologue to Cybil in the Good+ and Bad+ endings, she calls the Seal of Metatron the "talisman of Metratron" (captioned "talisman of Metraton"). Similarly, in every ending but "UFO", Dahlia tells Harry "the time is nigh" (erroneously captioned "The time is neigh").
- Trevor Brown, the artist who did the illustration of Alessa in the Japanese reprint copies of the game, did not like the result. When asked on his official Tumblr, he deemed the work as "embarrassing".
- Although the game doesn't mention it, the game has a hidden extra options menu. To access it, open up the Options menu and press L1, L2, R1 or R2 to open an additional menu. The player can change the blood color, weapon control mechanisms, view controls and more from this menu.
- If the player doesn't want to hold a button to run all the time, they can change "Walk/Run Control" to "Reverse" so that Harry runs by default and holding the button will walk.
- The bullet adjust option is only unlocked following completion of the game. Starting with x2, the multiplier can go as high as x6, one for each of the five endings and one for achieving a perfect 10-star ranking.
- Silent Hill Secrets and Unlockables
- Silent Hill Perfect Navigation
- Silent Hill: The Novel
- Play Novel: Silent Hill
- Silent Hill: Mobile
- Official site (Japanese)
- Silent Hill on PlayStation Store
- Silent Resort - An in-depth website about the first game
In magazines and articles
|Silent Hill games|
|Main series||Silent Hill · 2 · 3 · 4 · Origins · Homecoming · Shattered Memories · Downpour|
|Ports / Adaptations||Play Novel · Mobile · HD Collection · Slot machine · Escape · Return|
|Spin-offs||The Arcade · Orphan · Mobile 2 · Mobile 3 · The Escape · Book of Memories|
|Crossovers||Dead by Daylight: Chapter XVI - Silent Hill · Dark Deception: Monsters & Mortals - Silent Hill|
|Cancelled||Silent Hills (P.T.) · Cancelled projects|
|Production||Konami · Team Silent · Climax Studios · Double Helix · Vatra Games · WayForward Technologies · TAKASAGO|
|Extras||Inspirations · Features|