Hating on the new games is hardly a new thing. I don’t have my old gaming magazines, so I barely remember some of the press, but when I intereviewed Jeremy Blaustein he mentioned that Silent Hill 3 was what it was because people thought Silent Hill 2 was “too psychological.” So , in response to the backlash of some people, they made Silent Hill a direct sequel to the first game, including characters related to that story, the cult, Alessa, Lisa, the whole birthing god stuff, and even blood and rust. So the devs listening to what people were saying about the games is not something that has only happened recently.
A topic on SHC posed the question, What would happen if SH2 and SH3 were reversed? Can you even imagine? People would have had a huge backlash against Silent Hill 2, because it “wasn’t canon” or didn’t follow the same storyline at all. Where were Alessa and the cult? Etc. But no, it didn’t happen that way. Once people got over the initial shock of SH2 being very different, they noticed it was a great game. It also helped to set the scene for Silent Hill being more like a serial than a continuous story.
And that’s why I don’t understand people getting so up in arms about errors or contradictions (unless they are too major and distracting, I suppose): because each game has always stood on its own. I hated Silent Hill 3 when it came out. I thought, You play as a teenage girl and start in a shopping mall? LAME. Of course, I bought it the day it came out and played through it obsessively, anyway. Someone, I began liking it. Other people were starting to like it, too, except for the ones who hated that the cult was back. I do feel it focused too heavily on the cult, and I’d rather leave the cult as a mysterious backdrop to the series, but whatever. It was still an enjoyable game.
One thing I definitely remember, though, is the massive amount of hate that many people had for Silent Hill 4 when it came out. Why? Because it lacked “that Silent Hill feel,” and it doesn’t even take place in Silent Hill. Here are some choice quotes preserved on the forums from the time SH4 came out. I liked it when it came out, but it was certainly quite different. I could be wrong, since I am old and senile, but I seem to remember the time of Silent Hill 4′s release as the beginning of people declaring the death of the franchise. Origins is where stuff started to get messy. I don’t mean the game, but rather, the fanbase. Undoubtedly due to the backlash against SH4 as well as the fan cries for a remake of the first game, Konami decided to do a prequel to the first game. Hey, a sequel worked last time people complained, so why not a prequel? I will admit that I was intrigued and I never really do grow tired of Alessa&Co. It wasn’t perfect, but I found it enjoyable. My main gripe is that it was supposedly going to answer a lot of questions and really give a backstory on Alessa, Dahlia, Lisa, and friends, but it failed to do so. Travis’ character felt like it could’ve been rounded out a bit better, too. Still, for those who didn’t like it, they decided that the series would now be split into two parts: Those games made by KCET, and those games that were not. People decided this was because they weren’t made by a Japanese studio. I digress as usual. I agree that the original teams were a talented bunch. I attribute that to their creativity and talent, not the fact of being born in Japan. And while there is undoubtedly Japanese cultural influences, albeit ones filtered through American horror, I don’t think the problem is necessarily a lack of Japanese people. (And to play the devil’s advocate, just because a company isn’t based in Japan doesn’t mean it cannot have Japanese influence or Japanese people. Hell, Sato has been working on videogames in the USA for year now.)
What makes a good dev team is talent, creative vision, working hard, etc. Which brings us to Homecoming. I played it one time and never touched it again. Many people apparently didn’t even make it that far with the game. Though it had its moments, many declared it a failure and decided the series was dead. Again. They blamed it on Americans, both for developing it and because American Hollywood horror films exist. (I would argue that, even if made in Japan, there would have been a chance that the devs would incorporate elements of recent American horror because it was popular.)
What people fail to understand is that, with videogames, you cannot separate art from commerce. Also, a videogame is made by many people, so there are bound to be errors and inconsistencies sometimes. The Silent Hill series has grown and changed not only because of different teams, but also in response to the fans. It’s always been changing. “Team Silent” was not a homogenous group, and each game has been significantly different from the last. I’m sure all the devs have wanted the games to be good games, and also to succeed commercially. Sometimes, hell, many times, the devs have taken chances to try to improve the series or at least make things more interesting. But anyway, after most people disliked Homecoming, what happens? A re-imagining. IIRC, they first said it would be a direct remake, but then it turned into something else. Basically, the only thing it had in common with the first game were the names of the characters. I thought it was great. It breathed new life into the series. The only reason I can imagine they re-used characters is to gather interest and sort of appease old fans. Maybe. Of course, some were upset. But, even thought I disliked the chase sequences and a lot of it wasn’t as visually interesting as other games, it reinforces the idea that Silent Hill works well as a serial, like watching different episodes of The Twilight Zone. I think Downpour tried pretty hard to retain the “feel” of the series, and certainly had its good points. I was unimpressed by the monsters and some of the visual aspects, though,because these have always been a strong point of the series. But still, my point is that even if Downpour had been awful, I don’t see how this kills the series (well, unless it does so financially). Despite many games having ties to other games, each game can still stand on its own. Even if most of the games were bad, that doesn’t make it impossible for future games to be good, nor does it invalidate the goodness of previous titles.
Though I’ve read many reviews, I still don’t know how Downpour sold or if the series will continue to grow and change. I just think it’s pointless to wish the series would end. In my mind, new games mean new opportunities for playing GOOD Silent Hill games, and I wouldn’t wish for fewer possibilities for good games. Still, if you have lost all hope for the series, I think it’s more logical to quit paying attention to the games rather than trying to argue with people on the internet that they shouldn’t enjoy newer games. And this is coming from a person whose favorite game is Silent Hill 1. It just irritates me that people think, if a game is different from the last, that this is a new phenomenon, and that the first four are a completely homogenous set of games, when they were, in fact, quite different from one another.