Silent Hills Cancelled; Was It Too Good To Be True?

Konami has confirmed to multiple news outlets today that Silent Hills is no more.

Silent Hills was to be the return to form of returns to form: a AAA release, with superstar talent behind it, on a new generation of consoles after years wallowing in the mire. Announced by way of last year’s P.T (a horrifying experience which doubled as a “Playable Teaser”), the game stole the show at Gamescom last August after the cryptic demo revealed that Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro were creating a new Silent Hill game. Not only that, but it would star The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus.

Obviously the news that this supergroup is breaking up before their first album is shattering. Fans of the Silent Hill series, which dates back to 1999 on the Playstation, were holding their collective breath as rumours began to swirl over the weekend that the dream was over. It was confirmed today that that is indeed the case. The question on everybody’s lips is: why?

Well, there are a few things to consider. Chief among them is the well-publicized feud between Konami and their auteur developer, Hideo Kojima, which saw the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain stripped of all branding that mentions the usual “A Hideo Kojima Game” above the title. Of course there’s probably more to it than that, but the general assumption is that Kojima will leave the company altogether once MGSV is released in September. Whatever animosity between them may or may not have led to the cancellation of Silent Hills, but it’s easy to put two and two together.

It’s also pretty fair to say now that Konami has just become one of the most hated companies in the gaming world. In one fell swoop they’ve incurred the wrath of the internet gamer hive-mind. Expect incensed boycott attempts and probably boos from the crowd at E3. It’s interesting, worrying even, to see how easy it is to slip from the goodwill perch and fall into the sea of consumer hate.

But really, the biggest question is, should we be surprised? Isn’t one of the most relevant and long standing sayings ever “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is?”. Looking back on the ending of P.T, that cutscene in which the names are slowly revealed now seems absurd. A good Silent Hill game that fully realises a return to the critical acclaim and relevance the games enjoyed between 1999 and 2004 is the wet dream of those who played the series on PS1 and PS2. After some so-so entries on PSP and a questionable HD collection bundle, Silent Hills was going to be huge. I had never bought a Silent Hill game before. I was going to buy this one because P.T  sold me so much. The idea of announcing a game via its demo (with that demo being pretty damn decent too) was genius, the hype was through the roof, everybody was talking about Silent Hill, it became cool to stream the series on Twitch, and Konami ruled the world, it seemed. To go from a marketing department’s idea of perfection to a long, long Neogaf hate thread is a shocking turn of events indeed.

Would Silent Hills have been good? Well obviously it’s nearly impossible to judge; we only have P.T  to go on. But of course, if it was anything like P.T  was, we were on to a sure-fire horror hit. Fans might have worried a little bit that the game was going to be too “mainstream”, too “jumpy” and lack the more psychologically disturbing aspects of the first games, which is understandable, but I feel like the game was in good hands. Guillermo Del Toro’s twisted mind has given us the eerie Pan’s Labyrinth, and his upcoming movie, Crimson Peak, is certain to be a chiller when it launches in October. As for Kojima, it certainly would have included Kojima-tricks such as fourth wall breaks, innovative use of peripherals (to beat P.T you literally talk to it), and maybe a few grandiose set-pieces or two.

All this makes it all the more heartbreaking that we won’t be going back to that foggy town. Of course, only the folks at Konami really know the truth. The best we can do is chalk it up to the fast-moving and business-driven nature of gaming and say “oh well”. Silent Hills joins the pantheon of promising projects never to see the light of day, alongside Superman Lives, Alejandro Jodorowski’s Dune  and the original “wooden planet” concept for Alien 3. 

Of course this doesn’t mean another Silent Hill game will never ever happen. But really, do you think such a game could ever be as good as this could have been?