Video Game: Silent Hill 1
"The fear of blood tends to create fear for the flesh."
Konami jumped on the Survival Horror
bandwagon after the success of Resident Evil
with 1999's Silent Hill
(now Silent Hill 1
), the first game of Konami's Silent Hill
franchise and (in contrast to Resident Evil
) a more psychological take on the genre.
As single father Harry Mason and his young daughter Cheryl drive to the resort town of Silent Hill for a holiday vacation, Harry swerves to avoid a girl standing in the road and crashes his car
. When he regains consciousness, Harry discovers that his car crashed near the outskirts of Silent Hill — and Cheryl has disappeared. Harry stumbles into Silent Hill in his search for his daughter, and he soon discovers that the supposed resort town seems to have no living residents around.
Harry does meet several people during his search, though: Cybil Bennett, a policewoman from a neighboring town investigating Silent Hill; Dahlia Gillespie, an elderly antiques dealer who offers to help Harry; Michael Kaufmann, a mysterious doctor who only seems intent on survival; Lisa Garland, a terrified nurse who implores Harry to protect her; and Alessa, a strange teenage girl who always seems to show up wherever Harry goes.
When an air-raid siren goes off in the distance during Harry's search, the sound pierces the perpetual fog that covers the whole town...and Silent Hill undergoes a sinister transformation.
We can't really spoil much of the plot of Silent Hill
because the game doesn't explicitly state many facts about its world. The story revolves around one man's personal struggle to find his daughter, his role as a pawn in a cosmic battle between two powerful entities over the power of a god, arcane rituals of an occult variety, reincarnation, possession, drug addiction, and alternative realities. The player receives few explanations for anything that happens
, and the game often glosses over (or completely ignores) key events as it offers up intense imagery and deeply psychological horror to the player.Silent Hill 1
offered a unique "psychological" experience during a period when Survival Horror games relied on "sudden fright" scares and Zombie Apocalypse
-style action (inspired by the success of Resident Evil
). Silent Hill 1's
production team later produced Sony's Siren
series, which also relied on a more "psychological" storyline.
Konami released a remake/reimagining of this game (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
) in 2009.
Silent Hill 1 contains examples of the following tropes:
- Abandoned Hospital Awakening: According to Kaufmann, he simply dozed off in his office and woke up in this hellhole.
- Inverted with Harry, who periodically passes out and reawakens back in the Otherworld Hospital. The only other human in there is Lisa, who cannot leave due to some unspoken inclination.
- Adult Fear: You get to play a parent who is desperately searching a dangerous city for his missing child. You get to spend a lot of time in the dark where monsters are lurking.
- All Just a Dream: The worst ending. A non-canon Dying Dream.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Note the awesome "Study, Dammit!" poster in Store 8. It depicts a hippie pointing a gun at the viewer.
- Arc Words/Catch Phrase/Driving Question: The first thing out of Harry's mouth whenever he runs into another NPC is almost always some variation of: "Have you seen a little girl? Short, black hair, just turned seven last month."
- Armed Altruism: In an act of coolness, Cybil offers Harry her gun.
- Bad Powers, Good People: Alessa has the power to control the Otherworld, which is somewhere below "ability to kill puppies by looking at them" on the good/bad power spectrum. Her goal in using this ability, though, is to keep herself from birthing the cult's god through self-destruction. The main character is the unwitting lackey of Alessa's mother, whose actions could easily bring about the end of the world.
- Beware Of Vicious Dog: Subverted early on; Harry runs straight into a BEWARE OF DOG sign, but find only intestines on the other side. K. Gordon's doghouse, however, is protected by two of these critters (regardless of what Harry says◊).
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Alessa is a bug enthusiast, and her hobby is reflected in the monsters.
- Big Red Button: The school's boiler room, and the hospital's power generator.
- Bittersweet Ending: The canon ending of the game, the GOOD ending. Harry escapes Silent Hill with his life and with a new baby (possibly a reborn Cheryl), but Cybil, Lisa and Cheryl all die.
- Bland-Name Product: The bag of jellybeans containing the Key of Bethor is a knockoff of the Jelly Belly persuasion.
- There are several throughout Silent Hill, like Queen Burger, Convenience Store 8, and Benny's Diner.
- Booby Trap: The fridge in Nowhere. It wouldn't be so bad, except that it's the only one in the entire game and happens without any warning.
- The broken chains and ominous noises coming from inside the fridge should be warning enough.
- Book Ends: The GOOD+ ending has Harry and Cybil find infant Cheryl in the cemetery just like in the opening cutscene. After saving, the opening cutscene of a Next Fear game begins with Cybil in the place of Harry's wife.
- Boss Corridor: Before the fight with Floatstinger.
- The final room in Nowhere is Alessa's old house. Heather revisits it in a later game.
- Bowdlerise: The Japanese and PAL versions replace the Grey Children (which had already been toned down from their earlier versions) with the decapitated teddy bear-like Claw Finger, which wouldn’t have otherwise appeared until much later in the game. Their attacks are the same, though.
- Brand X: All over the place, the most famous of which is the Vestal Gigastore (vestal as in vestal virgin; get it?). There’s also Queen Burger, Fedy-X Espresso parcels, Poston Market, the (S)Hell station with the nautilus shell icon, the Circle 8 convenience store with its 7-Eleven motif, and the AEC restaurant that was apparently inspired by A&W.
- Cat Scare: Played straight until the cat leaves the scene, and then is devoured by an unseen monster; in the Otherworld, the same locker will still act as if being bumped from the inside by the creature, but opening it reveals a blood-coated, but empty, locker.
- Catapult Nightmare: Twice. "Was I dreaming?"
- Ceiling Cling: Hanged Scratchers are known to camp out on the ceiling.
- Chainsaw Good: One of the unlockable weapons for Next Fear mode. Requires gasoline to power, yet that two-stroke engine sounds electric...
- Chekhov's Gun: Two. One is the Flauros, which, like any good Chekhov's Gun, makes its purpose apparent at the right time. The other is the Aglaophotis, which may make its purpose apparent, and only after the knowledge is useful to either Harry or the player.
- Clock Tower: In Midwich Elementery School's courtyard. Harry uses it to traverse into the Otherworld.
- Creepy Cathedral: Harry first runs into Dahlia at the Balkan Church.
- Creepy Child: While not as aggressive or malevolent as most examples of this trope, Alessa's visible manifestations of herself as a child are deeply disconcerting.
- Creepy Circus Music: The carousel boss.
- Creepy Doll: Several eerie little dolls are attached to the wall grating in the school Otherworld, and later a few different dolls can be found in Alessa's bedroom.
- Dead All Along: Lisa, as the only place you ever find her is in the Otherworld; Harry in the (non-canon) worst (bad) ending.
- Deadly Doctor: Dr. Kaufmann; also, a number of parasite-possessed mook doctors.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Harry fights a manifestation of the cult's god in the final battle.
- Do Not Run with a Gun: Harry is the worst marksman in the series by far. Justified in that he's a writer; the manual even says he's never fired a gun before. In-game, this translate into his accuracy dropping like a rock beyond a (very) short range.
- Drop the Hammer: Emergency Fire Hammer. Less a mallet, more like spike on a pole◊.
- Dying Dream: The worst ending reveals the whole game to have been this, but it's not the canon ending.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In addition to being the only Silent Hill on the original PlayStation, there are several oddities in this game:
- This is the only game where its infamous nurses act the way they do because of a living parasite.
- There is little emphasis on puzzles; the bulk of the gameplay is on survival and combat.
- While specific choices during gameplay affect the other games' Multiple Endings, most of them also depend on the behavior of the player. This is the only game where the endings depend on choices alone (In this case, the endings depend on two things: whether Harry saves or kills Cybil Bennett, and whether he finds or doesn't find an important MacGuffin in Michael Kaufmann's apartment).
- A minor difference is that the monsters don't have as much psychological symbolism as the monsters in later games. Instead, they're simply based off of things that Alessa was either interested in or afraid of (dogs, insects, fairy tale monsters).
- Harry, unlike other protagonists, isn't a mentally disturbed person who may have repressed memories. He hasn't gone through any trauma (depending on the ending of some other games like Downpour, this does still happen from time to time) unless you count his wife dying prior to the game. He's just a regular man caught up in some insanity he doesn't understand and doesn't really hit a life changing revelation. He just gets Alessa out of the deal.
- Enter Solution Here: The code to Lisa's room in Nowhere.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Play through the game and note something: only Larval Stalkers and Lisa of everything in the game, never attack, threaten, or antagonize you. And larval stalkers set off the radio, as well as have a mature form as an enemy. Yeah.
- Even the fridge is trying to kill you.
- Fantastic Drug: PTV, a hallucinogen derived from a local plant known as White Claudia. In lieu of a proper collection plate, The Order has been trafficking in the drug to fund its activities.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Alessa's fate as an "incubator" for the cult's god. In the scene before the final boss emerges, Dahlia says the trope's name word for word to explain to Harry what has happened to Alessa.
- Final Boss: The Incubator (Alessa, fused with the cult's god) in the bad endings; the Incubus (the god itself, which Harry can expel from Alessa's body with the item from Kaufmann's apartment) in the good endings.
- Fission Mailed: Beginning a new game involves an introductory scenario in which Harry is ambushed and killed by Grey Children, only to have him wake with a start in the diner.
- Floorboard Failure
- Foreshadowing: "Before you pull the trigger, know who you're shooting. And don't go blasting me by mistake, got it?"
- Four Is Death: The fourth floor of the hospital that appears out of nowhere, leading Harry into the Otherworld.
- Friendless Background: Alessa Gillespie was branded a witch in elementary school due to the manifestation of her telekinetic abilities. If Harry examines the facsimile of her classroom desk in Nowhere, the surface is scrawled with the words "GO HOME", "DROP DEAD", and "THIEF".
- Get a Hold of Yourself Man: Cybil to Harry in the BAD+ ending.
- Golden Ending: Unlike Silent Hill 2, Harry's best bet is to try and save everyone. Cybil and Kaufmann can join him for the final boss fight, although Cybil is (as usual) of little use, while Kaufmann only appears if you helped him recover his vial. The Doc proves surprisingly resourceful in the showdown with Dahlia.
- Having a Gay Old Time: Lisa reminiscing about Silent Hill's past. "Everyone followed some kind of queer religion."
- Heel Face Door Slam: In the Good Endings, Kaufmann comes to Harry's rescue and (painfully) exorcises the demon in Alessa's womb, ensuring Alessa herself will survive long enough to help everyone escape. It's not enough to redeem his douchebaggery towards and eventual murder of Lisa, who shows up to drag him off to Hell.
- Hilarious Outtakes: Only applies to the Bad+ ending and above. Various characters screw up as if they were actors in a film.
- Holy Hand Grenade: The vial of aglaophotis.
- I Can't Reach It: The key inside the birdcage. D'oh!
- The school's rain gutter contains a key lying just out of reach. You'll need to divert the water.
- I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight: Cybil being controlled by the Puppet Nurse parasite. Unless you've collected a key item (and are replaying the game, or have been reading a strategy guide), bullets are the only cure.
- Infinity+1 Sword: The emergency hammer in Alchemilla Hospital's power generator room that's obtainable while in the otherworld. It is the best melee weapon you can find and is really good on Puppet Nurses and Puppet Doctors.
- Justified Save Point: Fish gotta swim, writers gotta write. Harry takes careful notes on his experiences; these notepads come in handy for Heather in Silent Hill 3.
- Karmic Death:
- Dahlia burned Alessa for her to eventually give birth to the cult's god. At the end of the game, she gets burned to death by that same god.
- Kaufmann was abusive towards Lisa and forced her into the psychologically-traumatic job of watching Alessa by using her drug habit as leverage. In the Good and Good+ endings, she hauls him off to his demise.
- Katanas Are Just Better: One of the unlockable weapons for Next Fear mode. Sends you sliding forward on a cushion of air.
- Key Under The Doghouse: Harry will need to get past Fido to enter K. Gordon's house.
- Kids Are Cruel: The Grey Children are the distorted projections of Alessa's abusive classmates. When stabbing Harry, the 'noise' they utter is actually a recording of a child's laughter slowed down.
- Let's Split Up, Gang: Cybil and Kaufmann aren't interested in tagging along with you. Lisa would like to come, but is compelled to stay where she is...
- Lighthouse Point: Dahlia sends you here.
- Macabre Moth Motif: Floatstinger and Twinfeeler, straight out of Alessa's moth display.
- Meaningful Name: Referencing the Brand X entry above, the Vestal Virgin Wiki entry has an 18th century painting of a vestal, done by one Angelica Kauffmann.
- Multiple Endings: They're a staple of the series, and this game features five of them. The ending you get depends on Cybil's fate and whether or not you found an important item in Michael Kaufmann's apartment.
- The "BAD Ending": The worst ending of the game, it happens if you don't get the item and Cybil dies. Everything turns out to have All Just a Dream, and Harry is dead, still in his broken-down car.
- "BAD+ Ending": Happens if you don't get the item and Cybil lives. After Alessa disappears, Cybil asks Harry to escape town, but Harry has lost all will to live.
- "GOOD Ending": Happens if you get the item and Cybil dies. Kaufmann betrays Dahlia and forces the demon out of Alessa; when the deity within Alessa is defeated, Alessa reappears in her final moments to hand an infant to Harry before dying. Harry then sprints out of Silent Hill, making it onto an open road before looking up into the night sky. This is the canon ending of the game.
- "GOOD+ Ending": The best ending, happening if you save Cybil and get the item. It's identical to the GOOD ending, but this time, Cybil escapes with Harry and baby Alessa.
- There is also a joke ending where Harry gets abducted by aliens.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Harry: Twofold: He is being used as a pawn by Dahlia, with potentially world-ending results, and in a more heartbreaking sense, Harry may be able to acquire the means to save Cybil's life before it becomes necessary to do so. The only problem is, he doesn't know he has the means until after he kills her, which would have to make the final encounter that much more sickening for the man.
- Nintendo Hard: Compared to later games in the series, most parts of the Otherworld are extremely hazardous, with the volume of enemies pumped up to ridiculous levels. This is particularly true of the city streets, where darting from building to building is your only viable way to stay uneaten.
- No Name Given: Harry's late wife, who is only seen once, during the opening sequence. Harry doesn't even mention her until his first conversation with Dr. Kaufmann, where he states that she died four years prior to the current events.
- Supplemental material later identifies her as "Jodie".
- Offscreen Teleportation: The carousel boss has a nasty habit of doing this. Whenever you run to the opposite side, the enemy reappears from nowhere, casually lounging on a carousel horse.
- Ominous Multiple Screens: The wall of monitors inside the mall comes to life when Harry comes near.
- Papa Wolf: Harry is willing to fight his way through hordes of monsters and insane cultists to find his daughter.
- Portal Picture: In the school's waiting room, Harry comments that the gory painting is in poor taste. He ends up inside of it in the Otherworld.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The 'worm' controlling Achemilla Hospital's staff. This is the first (and only) instance of Silent Hill's Nurses being linked with an external parasite.
- Ray Gun: One of the unlockable weapons for Next Fear mode. The aliens gave the Konami light gun to Harry after abducting him in the UFO ending. The color of its laser sight varies to indicate the firepower it packs with each shot, which is determined by the rank attained in the previous playthrough.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Once Cybil wakes after being struck unconscious from behind, her irises shine red, and she treats Harry far less hospitably.
- Remixed Level: "Nowhere" is a return trip through Midwitch, Achemilla, the shopping mall, and Dahlia's store.
- Rooftop Confrontation: Harry is diverted to the Post Office rooftop for the duel with Floatstinger.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: The means of close-quarters crowd control provided to Harry. How he managed to stuff six shells into a double-barreled boxlock has yet to be explained.
- Seeking Sanctuary: After the long, horrific experience of the Otherworld school, Harry is drawn to the Balkan church by the sound of its bells. This is perhaps the only part of the game where there are no monsters present on the streets, not including the very beginning.
- Snow Means Death: The snow falling from the sky during the middle of summer. Handwaved as ash from an underground coal fire in the movie.
- Shout-Out: According to Word of God, the plot and nightmare sequences are heavily inspired by Jacob's Ladder.
- The streets in the first map are named after sci-fi, horror and crime writers - Bloch, Bachman, Ellroy, Bradbury, Finney, Matheson, and Levin. Midwich Elementary School, on the other hand, is named after the John Wyndham novel The Midwich Cuckoos.
- Midwitch Elementary's exterior and textures are modeled from — get this — Kindergarten Cop. Even a few of the school posters are identical to the film. Here are some screenshot comparisons.
- Alessa's old teacher, "K. Gordon," is a reference to Sonic Youth bass guitarist Kim Gordon. This is confirmed by the reference to three more teachers who bear the names of "T. Moore", "L. Ranaldo" and "S. Shelley" (Kim's fellow bandmates, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Steve Shelley).
- At the locker room; one of the lockers open up and the locker in front of you suddenly opens, and a dead body wrapped in a bag falls out of it. This could be a Shout-Out to one of the nightmares sequences from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), when Tina's corpse (clad in a body bag) slumps out of a locker.
- The drug the cult is selling, PTV, is named after the band Psychic TV. You can find boxes containing the drug which have the band's full name on them.
- Michael Kaufman is named after Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, the produces of Troma Studios.
- Cheryl Mason, gets her name from the actress Sheryl Lee; who starred as Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks. Furthermore Lisa Garland's surname comes from the actress Judy Garland.
- Songs in the Key of Lock
- The Stinger: Both the good and bad endings have them, though with very different implications.
- Swallowed Whole: This is a big danger when tangling with Split Head. This battle will test your strafing skill.
- Teleporting Keycard Squad: The sewer exit key. Immediately after grabbing it, a horde of Hanged Scratchers chase after Harry, forcing him back the way he came. Hope you memorized where the dead ends are.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything - In the dark Harry is safer with the light off, so monsters cannot spot him at a distance. For traveling long distances Harry is better off running without the light on, consulting the map as necessary. But if it's dark, the game won't let Harry see the map without the light on. Too dark to read the map. is the message. Harry also won't pick up items in the dark. One post-Game Over hint flat-out states that it's impossible to complete the game with the light off.
- This Is a Drill: One of the unlockable weapons for Next Fear mode. Requires gasoline to power, so drill, baby, drill!
- Ticking Clock: Dahlia warns that Harry has to stop the Mark of Samael from appearing all over town, or else reality will be irrecoverable.
- Token Romance: The Good ending kind of suggests this between Harry and Cybil (maybe).
- Tomato in the Mirror: Lisa is actually another Puppet Nurse. Once Lisa ventures into the hospital basement, she starts to put two and two together..
- Turns Red: Shooting at Split Head eventually causes its mandibles to start drooling. That can't be good...
- Twitchy Eye: Lisa invokes this during her fourth appearance.
- Undead Child: The Grey Children in the school evoke this, as do their shadowy counterparts in Nowhere. The Larval Stalkers cause radio interference, but prove otherwise harmless. Some players actually like the little critters (since everything else wants to kill the player).
- Unwinnable by Mistake: At the end of the game, a player gets to see their stats; while the game features a certain number of items, it hides one of these items by making it invisible, which means players who don't know about this item will never get everything.
- Unwitting Pawn: Harry to Dahlia.
"Have you seen a little girl? Short, black hair..."