During the season of fear I have talked about horror games that either help define the genre, did something unique, or were overlooked by audiences at the time. For the final installment of this years Horror Game Icon, I look back at a game that has defined the genre for the Eight Generation era despite only being a demo.
Silent Hills was to be a reboot of the acclaimed horror series with video game icon, Hideo Kojima at the helm of the project. Joining him was horror film legend Guillermo del Toro, horror manga artist Junji Ito,and Norman Reedus was to star as the protagonist. The game was first announced at Gamescom 2014 when Sony made the demo available at PlayStation Store.
P.T. put players in the role of an unnamed protagonist who is trapped in a hallway that sends him through an endless loop of terror. The setting changes every time the player passes through while encountering a series of new horrors. When the protagonist is finally allowed to leave the house, he stumbles out into the streets of a deserted city.
The moment P.T. reveals itself as a new Silent Hill game being created by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, the gaming community was infatuated. Critics expected it to be another masterpiece while gamers followed every news of its development very closely. A month after its launch, Sony announced at the Tokyo Game Show that the demo had been downloaded by over a million users.
Not much was known about the game and very little details were released but many anticipated that it would redefine the genre. Yet by early 2015, Silent Hills would become the center of one the biggest disputes in the gaming industry.
Despite bringing together two major icons while having high expectations from the media and community, it was officially canceled in March 2015. Silent Hills became the biggest casualty of the Konami/Kojima feud that dominated the gaming industry for all of 2015 and plagued the development of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Adding insult to injury, Konami also pulled P.T. from the PlayStation Store and barred gamers from re-downloading it.
Kojima kept his cool during the dispute and over Silent Hills cancellation but del Toro on the other hand lashed out at Konami. During an interview with Bloody Disgusting about the film Crimson Peak, he expressed his anger over the ordeal by stating,
We were hoping to actually create some sort of panic with some of the devices we were talking about and it is really a shame that it’s not happening. When you ask about how things operate, that makes no fucking sense at all that that game is not happening. That’s the randomness that I was talking about.
Yet the story of Silent Hills did not end after its cancellation as its legacy has lived on thanks to the P.T. demo. Multiple critics and media outlets have listed the demo as one of the greatest horror games. It has also been the inspiration for several indie horror titles along with the “Beginning Hour” demo for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
The demo was a simple demonstration of what to expect in Silent Hills but its eerie atmosphere along with its minimalist style has made it a horror icon. The unknown feeling of what is going while having no way of defending oneself gave players a feeling of being vulnerable. It’s because of this kind of setting has made it an unforgettable title for those who had the chance to play it.
Silent Hills is an example of how a simple demo could have such a profound impact on pop-culture. Hideo Kojima is now working on a new game with Norman Reedus while Guillermo del Toro continues to direct memorable horror films. Despite their best efforts, Konami was the true loser in this fiasco and it’s hard to tell if their reputation will recover.
Were you among the lucky gamers that got a chance to play Silent Hills and what are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comment section.