Rolling fog and wailing sirens herald pain to come for the residents of Silent Hill. Unfortunately, the suffering within has recently spilled beyond the confines of that town’s bloodied halls. The culprit is the newest entry in the franchise: Silent Hill: Ascension by Genvid Entertainment. The excitement was palpable when fans learned they’d have a chance to experience new stories with new characters in their favorite horror series. The reality has been anything but pleasant. In the brief time since its release, Silent Hill: Ascension has made some big mistakes. What happened, and should fans now be worried about the remake of Silent Hill 2?
The Premise and Problems of Silent Hill: Ascension
The premise behind Silent Hill: Ascension is interesting. It’s closer to a CGI TV show than a traditional game. The plot revolves around a pair of small-town families and the terrifying consequences when Silent Hill‘s trademark brand of violent weirdness sweeps in. Players tune in daily to watch the drama unfold and influence the action with crowd-driven votes. Unfortunately, it’s all bad news from there. The characters are poorly animated, and the story is chopped to pieces. There’s none of the psychological depth and symbolism that made the original games so popular. If you were hoping for another chance to see Cheryl or James wrestle with their demons, this isn’t it.
You cast votes using Influence Points, which you gain by solving in-game puzzles, interacting with certain scenes, and completing daily and weekly goals. Blending cutscenes, puzzles, and QTEs in this way is an interesting idea, especially with Silent Hill lore behind it all. With every episode, there’s also an important new decision for players to make. The outcome of that decision then becomes canon. It’s more intricate than your typical freemium game, and the Silent Hill name alone has been enough to attract a good deal of interest. The result, however, has been a muddled mess. Fans have expressed their disappointment so loudly that not even the franchise’s iconic music could drown it out.
Monetization and Other Issues
Participation isn’t the only way to acquire Influence Points. You can also buy them with real money. There’s even a Season Pass that auto-completes puzzles for you. Amongst the other Season Pass rewards is a colorful “It’s Trauma!” sticker, which appears to make light of the painful themes the franchise is known for. Some players have argued that the ability to purchase Influence with real money makes the game pay to win. Those with the money decide how the story branches, while those without money sit on the sidelines. It’s unclear if that’s true, but the possibility has already soured player support.
It’s been more than a decade since the release of Silent Hill: Downpour. Spin-offs and guest appearances like that of Pyramid Head in Dead by Daylight can only do so much to whet fans’ appetites. In fairness to the developers, the drought set high expectations. Any addition to the franchise was going to face exceptional scrutiny. That said, fans aren’t upset that Ascension isn’t Silent Hill 5. They’re upset that it’s barely Silent Hill. The closest Ascension comes to embodying the franchise is its imagery. Ascension packs in the requisite amount of blood, chains, and twisted bodies. Unfortunately, that has only exposed the fact that imagery alone isn’t enough.
Silent Hill 2 and Beyond
So how worried should fans be about the Silent Hill 2 remake and other upcoming games? The good news is a different developer is handling SH2. At the helm is Bloober Team SA, the dev behind Layers of Fear. That alone means there’s good reason to think the remake won’t receive the same treatment as Ascension. It’s also worth remembering that Silent Hill 2 is a remake. The original game acts as a blueprint, and Bloober Team SA would have to go out of its way to deviate from the original. It’s not impossible that the devs will ruin SH2 with microtransactions, but it’s highly unlikely.
That said, there are legitimate reasons for concern. Ascension and SH2 are both Konami games, after all. That means the same team that greenlit the awful Ascension decisions could also be weighing in on the remake. Even though most signs point toward the remake being far better than the disastrous Ascension, there’s no way to know for sure until it’s released. Pyramid Head is all about inflicting torment. Let’s just hope that suffering stays in Silent Hill next time.
Silent Hill: Ascension is available for PC, iOS, and Android.