This post was authored by Richard Donaldson. You can find him on Twitter @RickTheThird.
The Internet has a propensity for taking part in the time honored tradition of wild, mass guessing from time to time. Sometimes- well, a lot of the time, actually- it causes a lot more harm than it does good. It can bring the hype train up to impossible speeds, making the inevitable stop at the station called “Reality” all the more painful when it comes, or in more serious cases it can harm people, companies, products, and more for the worse. Such is the nature of going by the gut and not on real facts.
But sometimes, wild mass guessing can be nothing but good old fashioned fun. Usually, this happens when a developer launches some form of an alternate reality game, and tasks the Internet with hunting down clues as to what is really going on. Other times, when a game releases a teaser loaded with vague clues and bizarre images, we just go through and hunt down every last piece of information that could be important. It’s fun, exciting, and mostly harmless. So, let’s engage in a little bit of our own speculation on the newest mystery of gaming, the Hideo Kojima/Guillermo del Toro installment of the Silent Hill franchise, recently announced under the guise of a new IP called P.T. It is called Silent Hills.
Why in the hell is it called Silent Hills?
It would be easy to write it off as a silly title made for marketing purposes. The P.T. demo even plays with that idea; the title at first only shows the words “Silent Hill” before adding the “s”, working off the current standard of titling reboots after the original title in the series (Tomb Raider, for example). There have been inane additions to the titles of games for the purpose of making them more “sellable”, to be sure. But we have to remember who it is we’re dealing with here. Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro are not people who do things without purpose. They are both creators obsessed with detail, and with making those details part of the larger narrative (I’m not sure there’s a filmmaker alive who packs more detail into a frame than del Toro. See Pan’s Labyrinth for proof). As such, we must assume the reason is tied to the narrative of the game.
I think we can crack the reason for calling it Silent Hills by looking at the town itself.
As a series, Silent Hill has always been, for better or for worse (and the worse is far more often), about the human mind. The series has always attacked human trauma, sadness, regret, and guilt. Every protagonist of the series has been some shattered person, wrecked by emotion and tragedy. Harry Mason, the protagonist of Silent Hill, is constantly haunted by the death of his wife early in his marriage, and attaches all his memories of her to his daughter Cheryl, whom he found under odd circumstances. James Sunderland of Silent Hill 2, the game that P.T. seems to most emulate in terms of tone, is haunted by the same event. All of them, for one reason or another, end up in the same town, chasing demons and encountering horrible monsters, but curiously, none of the games seem to exist in the same version of Silent Hill. The town changes, alters, almost never being the same as the last game in which it was seen. The geography shifts, cracks in the earth appear, buildings come and go, and the town is never the same.