Last week Konami revealed a new Silent Hill game. After a succession of underwhelming sequels that spectacularly failed to capture the dark, subversive magic of the originals, you'd be forgiven for shrugging this news off. But this new Silent Hill is being developed by Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear series, in collaboration with Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro. Konami, it seems, are finally giving their flagship horror series the love it deserves.
But when I say they 'revealed' the game, I don't mean they sent out a press release or uploaded a trailer to YouTube. During the Sony conference at Gamescom, a demo for a mysterious game called 'PT' went live on the PlayStation Network. Cue thousands of people downloading it, a large portion of which were streaming it on Twitch.
The demo sees you wandering around a house in first-person, unraveling a story about a brutal murder and being lunged at by terrifying ghosts. The horror was slow, atmospheric, and drip-fed rather than thrown relentlessly at you. Sound familiar?
Yes, 'PT' was actually a playable teaser for the next Silent Hill game, which is called Silent Hills. The world found this out when the first streamer to complete the genuinely scary, nerve-racking demo was treated to a scene of a man walking down a foggy street, then a shot of his face—revealed to be Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus—followed by the title, and the familar mandolin of Akira Yamaoka's famous theme.
It's genius, really, harnessing the power of Twitch and social media to announce the game. Kojima has since revealed that that he kept the truth about PT secret, because the unknown is always scarier. It's a marketing stunt, sure, but an exceptionally clever one.
You might be wondering why I'm writing about this on PC Gamer. Well, I'm pretty sure Silent Hills will make it to PC. Another reveal at the end of the PT demo is that the game is running on Kojima Productions' in-house FOX engine; the same used for Metal Gear Solid V, which was recently confirmed to be coming to Steam. FOX was designed with cross-platform development in mind, so it seems likely that we'll see the new Silent Hill on there too.
The engine is capable of some remarkably photorealistic lighting, and PT looks incredible. True to the best games in the series, its use of a mundane setting—an unremarkable hallway in a suburban house—makes the rare moments of explicit horror even more powerful. It's too early to say for sure yet, but it seems like they get Silent Hill.
So why's it called Silent Hills, with an S? There are a lot of fan theories, but the most likely one is that it refers to the fact that, according to the series' mythology, every sinner who's drawn to the evil-infested town experiences their own version of it, manifested by their guilt, fear, or insecurities.
But, equally, Kojima and co. might be ditching the story set up by previous games altogether and doing something different. But even if that's the case, the use of Yamaoka's theme suggests they're not completely distancing themselves. Honestly, even as a huge fan of the series, I wouldn't mind a new start. The backstory got overly complicated in later games, and it might need a refresh. As long as they stick to the basic idea of the town being a sort of supernatural tribunal for bad people.
Some seem to think Silent Hills is a PlayStation 4 exclusive because the PT demo was released on the PSN, but there's no real evidence to back this up. Konami would be mad not to release it on Steam, especially since we now know the FOX engine can run on PC. I'm not sure what direction Kojima and del Toro will take the series in, but it can't be any worse than the recent games.