Silent Hill is a classic horror series that has been around since the PlayStation 1. Despite the fact that Konami does nothing with the series anymore besides doing Silent Hill-themed skateboards, the series is still known as one of the most iconic horror franchises in gaming. Since it’s October, it’s a great time to play a lot of spooky games, but when first getting into the Silent Hill series, it can be daunting in terms of which games to play and how you access them nowadays. The classic games, believe it or not, can be played without breaking the bank, so here is a beginner’s guide to the Silent Hill series.
How do I access the games?
The first Silent Hill game was only released on the original PlayStation and is very expensive. A physical copy is worth over $160, according to PriceCharting at the time of writing. You do not have to resort to emulation, though, if you want to play it. This game is available for purchase for only $6 on the PlayStation 3 store. You must still own a PlayStation 3 and need to do some tinkering in terms of adding money to the wallet, but this is still the cheapest official way to play the game. You never know when Sony will officially shut down the PlayStation 3 store, so it’s best to get this game as soon as possible.
For the rest of the original games, Silent Hills 2 through 4, the easiest way to play for modern gamers is on PC. Silent Hill 4 is available through GOG for $10, and Silent Hill 2 and 3 can be found online as well. I recommend these versions for modern gamers because of how well they work on modern PCs. You may need a few community patches to fix some issues, but the process isn’t a total pain. There are also mods available, like the Silent Hill 2 enhanced edition, that can make the games even better. I still prefer and recommend the PlayStation 2 versions if you have deep pockets, but for modern gamers, the PC is the cheapest and easiest way to play them.
If you want to play on console, get the Xbox versions of Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 4, as they are much cheaper than the PS2 copies. Unfortunately, Silent Hill 3, for whatever reason, didn’t receive an Xbox port, so a PS2 copy of that will cost over $150, according to PriceCharting, at the time of writing. For the Silent Hill games that weren’t made internally at Konami, it is a bit harder to access them. Silent Hill: Origins was not released on PC, so you will have to obtain either a PlayStation 2 or PSP copy. The superior PlayStation 2 version is over $100 at the time of writing, according to PriceCharting.
For Silent Hill: Homecoming, get it on Xbox via the Microsoft Store and play it on an Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S. Homecoming is on Steam, but it’s $40 compared to $20 on Xbox. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is another expensive one. For a while, the PlayStation 2 version was the only one that was expensive, but the Wii and PSP versions have since rocketed in price. The ideal version to get is the Wii copy since this game was built from the ground up on Wii. That version is over $85 at the time of writing, according to PriceCharting.
Silent Hill: Downpour is more simple to get. No PC version this time, so the best bet is to get a physical copy on Xbox 360 and play it on an Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S. You can’t buy this game on the Microsoft Store currently, but physical copies go for $42 at the time of writing, according to PriceCharting.
What Silent Hill games should I even play?
The first four Silent Hill titles are an absolute must-play for any horror game fan. The first game can look rough by today’s standards, but I would argue that the PS1 look adds to the horror. There are a number of retro horror games out now, mostly by Puppet Combo, but in those games, you can see how that visual look affects the horror. Silent Hill 2 and 3 are the best in the series. SH2 has a better story and can be analyzed for hours, while SH3 is the scariest entry in the series with its improved sound design. Silent Hill 3, visually, holds up extremely well for a game this old.
Silent Hill 4, even to this day, is still a controversial game in the community. The only issues I have with it are the lacking sound design and some of the annoying backtracking, but besides that, Silent Hill 4 is still an excellent horror game. It’s different from the previous games in a good way that spices things up. People complain about the gameplay differences, but I think the change is warranted. This is the fourth game of the series, and after all, one common complaint from reviewers of Silent Hill 3 back in the day was that it was too similar to Silent Hill 2. Silent Hill 4 was the last game in the series to be developed internally at Konami.
For the rest of the Silent Hill games, they can be skipped. None of them are good horror games, but there are some good qualities to a few of them. Silent Hill: Origins is the only game after 4, which I think is okay. Exploration has that Silent Hill feel, and it is fun exploring these new locations introduced in this game. The music and sound design are also pretty good. This might be the best soundtrack of the later Silent Hill games. I will admit, at points, the game did scare me, but purely because of the sound design.
The monsters are really lackluster and are copies of older creatures from the series. Origins’ story doesn’t make any sense at all for the prequel to the first game. The world switching is also not good for a Silent Hill game as that removes the dread from the Otherworld when you can just switch back to the normal one at any time.
Silent Hill: Homecoming might be the worst in the series. The graphics were poor even back when it came out. It feels a lot like an action game with combo-based melee combat, which doesn’t fit the series. The story is a step above Origins, but it’s still not good for a Silent Hill game. Homecoming has way too many things taken from the Silent Hill movies that you’d think this game must take place in the movie’s universe, but it’s not. Pyramid Head returns in this game for two scenes and serves nothing but fan service. It has no impact on the story. I liked some of the puzzles, and the game is an easy 1000 gamerscore on Xbox, but that’s almost all the praise I can give this game.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, while not being a good horror game or Silent Hill one, is very well made for the Wii. It is one of the best-looking games on the system. Using the Wiimote to perform actions like using your phone was enjoyable. All the numbers you see in the environment can be used on your in-game phone, and you can even call the Konami customer service number. The game also has good replayability, but I don’t see many people actually playing through this title multiple times. Shattered Memories is not scary, and the chase sequences are dull at best and irritating at worse, with the occasional maze-like maps. The story is an oddball in the series and disconnected from all other games.
(Video by: Portable Modern Gamer)
Silent Hill: Downpour is also one of the worst games in the series. For this game, they went full open world this time around, and it’s handled very poorly. Most of the time, you’ll be lucky to even come across enemies in the town. There are side quests, some of which span the entire game, but even with them, the town feels empty. Why make this an open-world horror game when you don’t put stuff in your open-world?
The story is promising at first, with a very attention-grabbing intro, but as the game moves on, it just falls apart. The endings not only change the conclusion but change what occurred in the plot, to begin with. This just overcomplicates things. You also can’t skip cutscenes, which right off the bat removes the replayability in the title for many people. Downpour is also not scary in the slightest, and for a 2012 game, it looks really bad.
A Beginner’s Guide to the Silent Hill Series – Conclusion
Silent Hill 1 through 4 are absolute must-plays for any fan of the horror genre and are still some of the best horror games ever made. For beginners of the Silent Hill series, don’t even bother with the games past SH4. For more experienced Silent Hill players, I would suggest Origins to a certain extent, but only if you can get it for cheap. Origins is not worth the price point it currently has on the market. I would also suggest Shattered Memories if you’re a Nintendo Wii enthusiast and want to play the various horror games on it. Shattered Memories does utilize the Wii well, so I would recommend it to those people.