Since the franchise's inception in late 1999, the Silent Hill franchise has struck gold by serving players with a sweet blend of storyline and gameplay features in order to create an engaging, immersive atmosphere for the player to enjoy. Although similar to its closest competitor of the time, Resident Evil, Silent Hill had an edge over Resident Evil as it an injected an essence of pure fear into a standard adventure game rather than short-lived "jump scares" as was done in Resident Evil. The result? One of gaming's most iconic franchises that has seen multiple follow-ups, spin-offs, comics and even two films which were poorly rated by many reviewers. In true CGUK style we embark on a journey not only to order this franchise from best to worst, but to identify why each game deserves the spot in which it has been placed. We invite you to sit back, turn down the lights and follow us as we trek through one of gaming's scariest franchises! Enjoy.
Starting from the bottom, Silent Hill: Homecoming embraces 8th position with its decadent, wound-infused claws. The first thing that needs to be said is that Silent Hill: Homecoming isn't a bad game, infact, it is a very good one for that matter; however, compared to earlier entries into the Silent Hill franchise Homecoming did nothing radical to move the franchise forward apart from a partially superior combat system (when compared to previous entries). Once again throwing the player into the nightmare-eque holiday resort of Silent Hill, Homecoming introduced the world to Alex Shepherd - an ex-soldier sent home due to being injured in combat - on his twisted descent into the rotting depths of Silent Hill. The reason Homecoming took 8th position was due to it following an ageing formula that had been copied and pasted countless times since the franchise's origin. By this point the series had few factors that could differentiate it from the original (excluding graphics) and to the hardcore, Homecoming was just another Silent Hill thrown onto the market by the series' American developer (who began turning the series from brilliant to average and even abysmal when they replaced the original team) who seemed to show little regard for the series due to the afore mentioned lack of direction. Regardless of Homecoming's flaws, the game continued a successful yet decaying formula which no doubt would've pleased the loyal fans of the iconic series. Furthermore, the lack of change can be viewed as positive as it would've allowed the new fans experience what everybody experienced 10 years prior in 1999.
Next up: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories! Released in late 2009 Silent Hill: Shattered Memories set out to reinvent the crumbling series and succeeded in doing so; however, it became clear that Shattered Memories' direction was not the one the developers wanted to take due to a return to the classic formula by the next release. Shattered Memories is re-imagining of the 1999 classic which followed the desperate struggle of Harry Mason as he searched high and low for his missing daughter, however, there are some catches as Shattered Memories completely removed the ability to wield weapons and eradicated the enemy variation previously seen in the series. So far, it doesn't sound very good. A game based on running away? The reason Shattered Memories belongs here is because of that very reason. The formula partially succeeded in re-injecting the shock and tension that previously flowed through the veins of the classic. Although tense at the start, the "chase sequences" in which Harry had to run through narrow corridors to escape pursuing enemies grew tired by the end of the game. Had Shattered Memories not had a satisfying narrative, strong voice actors, attractive graphics and an interesting exploration function using the phone then it would belong at the bottom this list. Shattered Memories was primarily based on exploration but the sense of fear was squashed out of the game everywhere but in the "chase sequences" as the player quickly discovered that enemies were only present during the "chase sequences" which resulted in a moderately tame experience. Furthermore, to veterans of the franchise the story would've been familiar thus limiting the affect it would've had. Fortunately, as with the original, Shattered Memories came with multiple endings which would've added replay-value and helped sustain the game's lifespan.
The next title on our list is the original team's last game: Silent Hill 4: The Room. For the first time Silent Hill left the town in which it is set in order to approach a more chilling, unique take on the ageing series. By this point the series' swansong - Silent Hill: 2 - had gone and hopes were high for a return to top form following the brilliant, but less satisfying than its predecessor, Silent Hill 3. In order to keep the franchise fresh not only did the team distance the setting from the actual town of Silent Hill, but they also removed the flashlight, made the protagonist's bedroom the central "hub" which connected the player to every location and also added a new weapon system in which weapons became breakable - a notable leap the series had made. The radical change that Silent Hill 4 underwent when compared to previous entries was to introduce a new type of fear in the game. Rather than being teased with few, unexpected enemies, Silent Hill 4 threw enemies carelessly at the player in order to induce a sense of dread, fear and discomfort. The outcome? A very successful change for the series which helped relieve the series' constantly increasing sense of pressure from fans demanding a game more like the second entry.
The reason Silent Hill 4 has been placed here is because although it was a very good game with an interesting yet complicated storyline, the game failed to amaze. As mentioned before, the series began to feel old by this point and the combat system was clunky and tiresome for a game that so heavily relied on melee combat. Unfortunately Silent Hill 4 fell short in reinventing the series' formula and came across as just another survival horror game. On the plus side, however, Silent Hill 4 contains one of the best main theme songs seen in the series. For this reason alone I have decided to embed the main theme rather than the trailer. Give it a try, press play on the video to the right and read this article whilst doing it. It's magnificent to say the least.
Marking the iconic series' debut on the PSP, Silent Hill: Origins succeeded in delivering the classic Silent Hill formula to gamers on the go. Following the story of Travis Grady, the player quickly discovered not only the secrets of the wretched town, but the dark past of Travis himself. An area in which Origins excelled was in the graphics, storyline and a continuous trend of the series: its soundtrack. Origins' soundtrack succeeded in failing to disappoint which contributed to creating an atmosphere reminiscent of that in a numbered Silent Hill game. Silent Hill: Origins was a mixture between Silent Hill 4 and Homecoming. This is because it gave the player a 3rd person camera and saw the return of breakable weapons, therefore, Origins can be called a hybrid between Silent Hill 4 and 5 which is expected as Origins was designed to be a prequel released slap-band in the middle of the 4th and 5th entry into the series. Graphically Origins looked wonderful for a handheld version, while the later PS2 version graphically fell short, the PSP version succeeded in delivering the player with satisfyingly sharp graphics for a handheld game. Therefore, the superior version is the PSP version (or the first version as the PS2 version is a port) as it has superior graphics and doesn't have irritating control issues. What's more? Origins featured some of the series' most terrifying locations, for example, who could forget the structurally impressive Atraud Theatre? Or how about the nerve-shattering Asylum? If one thing's clear it's that Origins excelled in reviving old locations (such as the hospital) and introducing new locations such as the two previously mentioned stars of the game. However, as the case with 4, Silent Hill: Origins fell short in introducing new features to the series despite how great it was which made it feel like yet another repetitive continuation of the 4 games prior to it. This is what gives Origins 4th place on our list, it didn't exactly do anything wrong, but it also didn't do anything major to move the series forward.
The next game on our list will come as no surprise. Being the latest in the series, Silent Hill: Downpour utilizes the newest modern technology in order to deliver both an engaging story and satisfying gameplay. Silent Hill Downpour introduced a new take on the Silent Hill series, now, like never before, the player jumped into the worn-out shoes of Murphy Pendleton, a vicious ex-convict who knows how to handle a weapon. For the first time the series took an alternate approach to the classic formula, that's right, Downpour introduced an open-world style of play into the decade-old franchise both refreshing and revamping the decaying formula. In addition, Downpour introduced "side-missions" in order to add additional hours to the gameplay and keep it interesting through mini-stories both interesting and varied. On the negative side, however, Downpour's enemy design was repetitive and grew tired by the game's conclusion; the effect being that the game felt like a step-back from the previous entries, however, this was Vatra Games' first entry into the series so all can be forgiven and hopefully we'll see the series return to top form by the next entry. Furthermore, Downpour's music was a considerable step back from Akira Yamaoka's masterpieces seen in the previous games, but despite this Downpour still succeeded in delivering a genuine Silent Hill experience which would appeal to both newcomers and series veterans.
The game belonging in third place of the series' top 3 is coincidentally Silent Hill: 3. Acting as a sequel to the original Silent Hill, the third title threw the player into the warm-fluffy boots as Heather Mason as she unwillingly embarks onto a blood-soaked journey into the decrepit depths of Silent Hill. Not only did Silent Hill: 3 achieve excellence in the plot, but it also succeeded in delivering the player with a terrifying new roster of enemies, chillingly gritty environmental designs, eerily realistic voice acting skills and enough bonus content to satisfy those with a one-way ticket and those with a return pass to Silent Hill. Compared to its predecessor, the spectacular Silent Hill: 2, Silent Hill 3 arguably had a less engaging storyline without emotion as a predominant theme. Despite this the game still succeeded in offering an incredibly immersive storyline that satisfied the core and hardcore gamers alike. The reason Silent Hill: 3 received 3rd position our comprehensive list is due to its timing. Following Silent Hill 1 & 2, Silent Hill: 3 brought little to the table and acted more as a fan-service to continue the series and satisfy the avid fans by offering a more than satisfactory conclusion to the steel-hearted Harry Mason's story in Silent Hill.
And The Top Silent Hill Games Are...Rather than put two individual paragraphs for the top 2 games I've decided to merge them into a single paragraph in order to increase the interest of this concluding paragraph. In second place belongs... the original Silent Hill and before that is the superb follow-up, Silent Hill: 2. Compared to other entries in the series Silent Hill: 2 and the original have a certain degree of spark that faded in later releases. Whether it be the pure nostalgic value, the"feel" of the games or the storyline themselves, Silent Hill: 2 and the original deserve the top spot on our list. Silent Hill takes place in 1999 when Harry Mason loses his daughter in Silent Hill after an unexpected car-crash. Following this, Harry awakens to find his beloved daughter missing. As the story unfolds the secrets of Silent Hill and Harry himself are revealed to the player thus leaving a lasting impression on the player thanks to the sheer power and impact these factors have.
Silent Hill: 2 is widely believed to be the most powerful, emotionally-engaging survival horror game ever made. These factors certainly reveal themselves towards the latter quart of the game which comes at the best time possible in order to leave its mark on the fearless player. But don't think the game shows its true colours towards the end, oh no! Silent Hill: 2 shows emotions such as fear, love, panic in various parts of the game's narrative. Therefore, not only do we believe Silent Hill: 2 offers the perfect blend of storyline and gameplay mechanics in the series, but in the entire genre of survival horror games too. For years survival horror games have striven to reach the heights set by the critically acclaimed follow-up to Silent Hill, but none have achieved that goal.
Thankyou for reading. We hope you enjoyed this article, be sure to listen to the Youtube video embeded to the right of this text. Some of the eagle-eyed may notice we missed out the Vita game, well, the reason for this is because it doesn't follow the traditional gameplay mechanics of Silent Hill (and plays out more like a dungeon crawler) so we decided to leave it out. If it belonged anywhere we'd place it in 9th position due to missing the series' high quality mark constantly enforced by the main entries.