(CONTENT WARNING: A good chunk of these games are violent, and cruel, and discuss reproductive themes. If this isn’t for you, I’d suggest another one of my posts!)
My journey with horror started at an early age but nothing influenced my horror preferences more than the Silent Hill franchise. I’m not even talking about the games. My first exposure to Silent Hill was the 2006 movie by Christophe Gans.
I looked at Pyramid Head and knew this was going to be the thing for me.
Ten-year-old me sitting on the couch watching this occult religious horror fest. That was a core memory for me. To this day I still get uneasy in heavy fog (along with an obsession with the occult)
So, I scrambled to the family computer and slammed into Silent Hill.
I was awed. We had a PlayStation (well, PlayStation 2). It was available on PlayStation. I took the small amount of jar change I had and pestered my mom about it. It took me three months scrounging change to save up for it.
We went to GameStop, and they only had Silent Hill 3. Screw it, I’ll take it.
I get home, fight back my brothers for the PlayStation, and binge-play it. It scared the fuck out of me. I didn’t get nightmares, but my dreams were weirdly inspired by it.
Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill 3 is a survival horror game released in 2003. It is the third game in the series. It can technically be played on its own, but it is a direct sequel to the first Silent Hill game. I recommend playing all of them in order, just for lore and story’s sake.
Our game starts with our protagonist Heather, trapped in an old rusty nightmare-fueled fairground. As she tries to escape it by climbing over a track, she gets hit by a carriage. She awakes in a cafe (in a shopping mall) only to be relieved that it was only a nightmare (for now?). She calls home to her father but is interrupted by a sketchy, get-in-the-van, looking man who wants to have a chat. She hides in the bathroom and climbs through the window to escape. Surprise, the alley she escaped into is blocked by junk. So, she finds a back door.
Things get weirder than they already were. It’s dark like the lights are off but something worse is going on.
There’s a shop that’s still open. Nothing suspicious about that, right?
Wrong! There’s a monster feasting on a corpse! Heather finds a gun on the ground and kills the monster. She flees but something is still off (minus the fact that she found a face-eating monster, but still.)
I won’t spoil the rest because everyone should play this game, but I will mark when spoilers will be discussed… The lore is top-tier.
This game shook me. The horror works on so many levels it’s insane.
Heather is an extremely vulnerable character which works for this game. She is limited in self-defense as there aren’t many weapon options.
The atmosphere of the game is dark and claustrophobic, which is backed by several things. The first and most notable thing about this franchise is the soundtrack. Honestly, these games would be nothing without the soundtracks. It adds a special touch to the games that I feel most horror media lack. Second is the camera angles, they fit into the theme. Finally, the game’s designs are utterly terrifying. It forms a film of suspense that pulls you into Silent Hill. These all leave you feeling disgusted with what had gone on.
Another thing that I enjoy is that it’s not open-world, like the previous games but is level based. The puzzles are reasonable and come with difficulty settings if you struggle with them. The game is dark enough to be spooky but not too dark so that you can’t see anything.
The voice acting is, in my opinion, some of the best in the franchise. The text can be clunky though. Movements are tricky if you’re not used to Silent Hill games.
The monster designs are phenomenal and fit the themes perfectly.
Heavy themes of motherhood lace this story.
Heather is the reincarnation of Alessa, a young girl who was forcibly impregnated and then roasted alive to bring about a god by her mother. This cycle restarts with Heather, as the cult isn’t quite done yet. The game pulls no punches when it comes to it as well. It fuses the themes of rape, forced pregnancy, and disquieting cycles of rebirth. Hell, the first boss is a phallic worm (that seems to travel in and out of holes.). Other monsters carry the theme as well.
The final boss can be fought after you jump through a vaginal-like shape at the altar.
There’s a cut scene, confirmed by the creator, that the cycle wasn’t truly broken and there’s a new baby.
I honestly think that Heather’s moods are a nod to partum depression and hormonal mood swings. I enjoyed her as a character. She takes all this trauma in a poker face, sarcastic, stride.
Other notable themes are adolescence, identity, and personal agency.
Young me was not sure what the hell all of this was until I got older and the lightbulb lit.
(Also, the true red god is Valtiel and you can’t convince me otherwise.)
I’m really interested in the new Silent Hill game coming out. Silent Hill f.
Floral horror? A potential franchise reboot? Sign me up but I’m still not getting my hopes up too high.
I wish that this franchise had more publisher support so it could be more publicly recognized alongside Resident Evil. I am disappointed they canned the project with Guillermo Del Toro, Normal Reedus, and Junji Ito. More than disappointed. Could you imagine the duo of Del Toro and Ito?
What a waste of creative genus.
I hope you found this post enjoyable. Have any questions or opinions? If so share them in the comments.
Happy Thursday everyone!
2 thoughts on “Silent Hill 3: A Horror Game Done Right”
It’s interesting to me that you place SH3 above SH2, but I played 2 first and think it’s a masterpiece. Perhaps part of it is a case of one’s first always being the most impactful because all the concepts and narrative tools are new and exciting.
I’m intrigued by Silent Hills f and the most hopeful for it, even though it doesn’t really look like Silent Hill to me so far, and I am absolutely dreading the Silent Hill 2 Remake based on what I saw in the trailer. It looks like Konami, as usual, missed the mark on literally everything that made SH2 such a gem, and opted to make a generic 2010s horror game as a quick cash grab.
I’m not feeling good about it.
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I enjoy 2 but something about the third is special to me. As for F, perhaps it takes from the occult aspect of the first few games or an off-branch of the cult. I’m intrigued to see where it goes, especially with Ryukishi07.