Will the Cancellation of Silent Hills Haunt Our Nightmares?

Konami hasn’t officially cancelled the planned next entry into the Silent Hill horror video game series, “Silent Hills”, but the version many video game fans were hoping for, with longtime “Metal Gear Solid” director Hideo Kojima, film director Guillermo del Toro signed on to help with the story as a creative consultant and The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus playing the lead character, is officially not going to happen, or at least not as planned. And this absolutely sucks, because “Silent Hills” looked like it could have truly been the next evolution of horror games.

“Silent Hills” has fallen apart, less than a year after releasing a playable trailer (cleverly titled “P.T.”), which was in essence, a brilliant marketing strategy, only revealing the actual game it was teasing, “Silent Hills” at the very end along with Reedus in the rain. “P.T.” was released last summer, sort of under the radar, and isn’t exactly a demo of “Silent Hills,” but was more along the lines of a concept demo to show the vision and vibe of the “Silent Hill” game Kojima and del Toro’s team were making. The demo is a winding hallway in a creepy house, and you end up walking through a door only to loop back around to where you started, except every time you loop, things change. You might not notice them at first, but the subtle creepiness of the house and the sounds you were hearing gave way to some of the biggest scares I’ve ever played in a video game (and certainly the biggest since I was a teenager).

silent hills pt

You can pretty much only run through the halls, with no jumping actions or weapons of any kind. There aren’t any real enemies, though you can “lose” the demo. Once you got to the end, the “Silent Hills” teaser ran, but initially there wasn’t a clear way of unlocking the trailer that worked consistently (though a reliable way has since been found). If this peaks your curiosity at all, the free “P.T.” demo is still available on PlayStation Network (PlayStation 4 only),  but it’s going away forever on Wednesday, April 29, so if you want to have it (or keep it), download it. If you’re lazy, the end trailer is also here.

So while “P.T.” will live on for some lucky few (as long as their PS4s last, at least), it’s still a bitter disappointment to miss out on what was already one of the most intriguing upcoming games. The “Silent Hill” game series often lived in the shadow of the more-popular “Resident Evil” series, but the RE games were survival horror games in the sense that you needed to scrounge up ammo and health and save it, while the early “Silent Hill” games were as close to interactive horror as the PlayStation 1 and 2 would allow. The more recent SH games have deviated further and further away from the core horror at the heart of the series (and also reviewed poorly, leading to poor sales), and the most recent “Silent Hill” game released was 2012’s “Silent Hill: Book of Memories” for the PlayStation Vita, which was a role-playing dungeon crawler, of all things.

If Konami was going to bring the “Silent Hill” series back to the public eye, they needed top convince fans they were going to do the series justice, particularly on next-generation consoles. “P.T.” got many fans, including myself, excited. It was my first true “holy crap, I’m playing games of the future” moment on my PS4, and was truly scary as all hell. I was tired of just shooting ghosts and monsters with guns. I wanted to have the poop scared out of me by a video game, and “Silent Hills” looked like it was shaping up to be on point, with a well-regarded game director in Kojima, an acclaimed horror director in del Toro, and Reedus, star of television’s biggest horror show.

The short version of what happened is Kojima had some sort of a falling out with his longtime company, Konami, and announced he’d be leaving the studio after the next “Metal Gear Solid” game. The silence on “Hills” was deafening, with Reedus confirming via Twitter he was no longer involved, and del Toro following suit.

It was too good to be true, but it was, and now it’s been snatched away. Yes, “Silent Hills” could certainly have been a terrible game; plenty of games have had fantastic demos and awful final products. Maybe “Silent Hills” would end up looking nothing like the “P.T.” demo. Maybe that was all the scary they were able to put together. These scenarios are all plausible.

And while there’s probably been no other time in the history of video games with such a variety of game types, too many of the “AAA” game types (the big releases, such as “Metal Gear Solid,” “Call of Duty,” “Assassins’ Creed” and so on) are simply boring versions of what companies know will sell, and “Silent Hills” looked like it might not be boring. That’s not to say “Silent Hills” was a sure-fire slam dunk, it was a risky type of game, but the level of talent fronting it such seemed like it was a worthwhile gamble, particularly for a series that had been stuck in neutral for years, and for a studio in Konami, which honestly doesn’t have a lot going for it at the moment, other than the upcoming “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” (which Kojima will finish before leaving the company officially). “Silent Hills” looked like it could have shaken up the doldrums of the usual annual release serieses.

No, we have no idea if “Silent Hills” was going to be a good game, let alone a landmark one. But being teased with “P.T.” only to never even know the final vision of “Silent Hills” might be the biggest scare of them all, and immediately becomes one of video games’ biggest “What if?” discussions, forever haunted by what could have been.

Ed Carroll
Ed Carroll
Ed Carroll is a television and entertainment writer at Monkeys Fighting Robots, and also writes about Major League Baseball and other entertainment things at EverybodyHatesCleveland.com. Ed lives in Cleveland and enjoys watching the Indians and Cavs, in addition to playing video games and binging on television.