What The Silent Hill Leak Could Mean For The Survival Horror Series

Konami has once again failed to stop its upcoming Silent Hill projects from leaking into the wild. Earlier this week, reliable insider AestheticGamer uploaded a number of screenshots and concept art from the rumoured project on Twitter, only to have them quickly removed by a DMCA takedown courtesy of Konami. This is awfully suspicious, suggesting the leak is completely genuine as the company scrambles to stop the spread.

Some materials include a headshot of the protagonist and several screenshots from the game’s environments, alongside a piece of concept art from legendary creative Masahiro Ito - monster designer and art director on the original trilogy. If all these are fake, someone has gone to an incredible amount of trouble to fabricate so much for a game that apparently doesn’t exist. Many of these assets date back to 2020, meaning whatever iteration of Silent Hill this was could have changed dramatically, and might not even be in the works anymore.

Related: Bloober Team Isn’t The Right Studio For Silent Hill

I’m conflicted, because on the surface many of the environments, motifs, and themes hinted at throughout these leaked assets fail to understand the psychological horror that defines Silent Hill. The original four games from Team Silent delved deep into the confines of human consciousness to reflect our deepest fears, projecting very real monsters into their worlds inspired by the trauma of characters whose own existence was questioned by both ourselves and the narrative, resulting in an experience where what was real was always unclear. It was unsettling, but future entries and those who sought to capitalise on its success failed to replicate such brilliance.

While nothing is confirmed and I’m left to come up with my own theories, the leaks seem to suggest that this new Silent Hill will follow a young female protagonist dealing with the struggles of self-worth, bullying, and body image issues that corrupt her enough to open up a portal into the otherworld. Here, we see her fears manifested in corridors strewn with random notes and scribbles, many of which bark insults at our potential heroine only to further the insecurities she is trying so desperately to overcome.

A small petite figure with its head and limbs defined by protruding blossoms of paper and stationery awaits at the end of two specific pieces, hinting that perhaps this creature is an enemy similar to Pyramid Head or even our protagonist herself falling victim to the nature of her own nightmares. On the surface this is a compelling theme for Silent Hill to tackle, even more so if the bullying and personal insecurities are emphasised by the familial issues present in some aspects of the leak. It could be set in Britain too, which is a killer idea.

We see a living room filled with growing piles of discarded rubbish, with an abandoned cot hinting that perhaps even a child has been left behind in the midst of this mess. Another screenshot features a message which when translated from the original Japanese seems to suggest that either our protagonist is a young mother being contacted by social services regarding the neglect of her children, or she is instead the daughter of abusive parents who she is trying to find a way to escape from. The real picture is blurry right now, and I’m drawing conclusions from only a handful of materials. But either of these scenarios is a strong foundation for a horror game, especially one with the complexity of Silent Hill, but themes this sensitive can be so easily fumbled if the wrong talent is in charge of things.

This is where Bloober Team comes in. The Polish studio signed a strategic agreement with Konami back in 2020, so the two companies could work on games together, which followed shortly after it was confirmed to be working on a existing horror IP with significant clout. That sure sounds like Silent Hill to me. After the successful release of P.T. and the sudden cancellation of Silent Hills, we saw Bloober Team capitalise on its popularity with the release of Layers of Fear, Layers of Fear 2, The Observer, Blair Witch, and finally The Medium. None of these games have an original bone in their bodies. Layers of Fear clearly pulls from Silent Hills with its characters and themes, while The Observer is just Blade Runner - it even stars Rutger Hauer as Detective Daniel Lazarski as he explores a rain-drenched cyberpunk locale pulled straight out of Ridley Scott’s cinematic masterpiece.

As for The Medium, it was basically just Silent Hill with a failure to understand the nuance that made Konami’s franchise so iconic. It tried so hard to follow in Team Silent’s footsteps with a narrative that explored controversial themes like child abuse and neglect, but its writing was so crass and insensitive that any desire to conclude with a poignant message failed. It also just wasn’t scary, with the split-screen mechanic slowly growing derivative as you ran away from boring monsters and otherwise flaccid threats. It was a bad game.

Now we have no idea if Bloober Team is behind Silent Hill, but there are a number of hints throughout the leaked materials that suggest it might be. The lacking subtlety in its themes and rather creative language being used to emphasise our heroine’s suffering screams Bloober Team, purely because it doesn’t know how to weave horror into an overarching story without beating us over the head of what we should be afraid of and what themes it hopes to explore. Silent Hill is so beloved because it keeps us guessing as we’re pulled into its twisted environments with the desire to learn more, even if this curiosity will ultimately be our downfall. The Medium nailed parts of this aesthetic, but the core was hollow. If it can’t even manage to produce a worthwhile homage to Silent Hill, it can’t be trusted with the real thing.

The leaker also mentioned the names ‘Anita & Maya’ alongside SMS messages being a potential mechanic. The two names could refer to siblings associated with the above screenshots and story details, or something else entirely. In addition, this isn’t the only Silent Hill game in development, meaning that Bloober Team might be on one, while Sony or similar development partner is at work on another like previously rumoured.

All of these leaked details could belong to Bloober Team or another studio entirely, there is no way for us to know beyond speculating or waiting for an official announcement. I just know that I don’t trust Bloober to do this IP justice, nor do I believe Konami in its current state understands the appeal of Silent Hill beyond knowing it is a property it has in the bank and can abuse for potential profit. It did Metal Gear Solid dirty, it did Contra dirty, it did PES dirty, it even did Castlevania dirty, why would it turn over a new leaf for this?

The idea of a new Silent Hill game - or two if rumours ring true - is so exciting, but if they’re only going to result in us feeling underwhelming and wishing for the glory days to return I’d honestly prefer they weren’t made at all.

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