This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
The early Silent Hill games are held up by some (including me) as the gold standard in survival horror, in particular because they have distinct and interesting aesthetics, great soundtracks and somewhat more original plots than your typical Resident Evil knock-off. As a result of this, a certain mystique has grown up around Team Silent, the original Japanese group of developers who made the first four game in the series. After Silent Hill 4: The Room various other developers – Climax Studios in the UK, Double Helix in the US and Vatra Games in the Czech Republic – have had their own stabs at making Silent Hill games, none of which have won over the fanbase to the extent that the original games did. Consequently, the accepted wisdom seems to be that nobody who isn’t Team Silent is really capable of making a good Silent Hill game.
That might be true. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that Team Silent were able to make a really excellent Silent Hill towards the end of their existence either. But to make that argument, I’ll have to kick off by talking about what they did right.