Broken Silence: Femme Fatale

The Silent Hill series is home to many diverse characters. Men, women, and even children have walked the streets of the powerful town. Only one female has been a protagonist though. Heather Mason, AKA Cheryl, AKA Alessa was the only female that we the players could control in the Silent Hill series (canon titles) Yes, Heather’s role as the lead in Silent Hill 3 was extremely important, because of her ties to The Order, but why haven’t we seen another game starring the opposite sex? Now that the series appears to be branching away from The Order, we should be able to jump into the shoes of a female character with her own trauma and issues.

Harry Mason: a simple man who liked to pick up stray babies on the road; James Sunderland; a man who smothered his wife and forgot about it; Henry Townshend: a door stop; Travis Grady: a trucker with mommy issues; Alex Shepherd: a soldier with parent issues; finally, Murphy Pendleton: an escaped convict that we don’t know too much about—he’s probably not a lady though. These are the male protagonists of the series. Six men, one woman. Those numbers make me think it’s about time we see another woman take the lead in the next Silent Hill game.

Silent Hill does not ignore the ladies. We just haven’t played as any but Heather that had their own game. Angela is an extremely tragic female character in the series. Her past dealing with sexual and physical abuse from her father brought her to the town in Silent Hill 2. Her story is a great example of a female character that could have been player controlled. Don’t think that I’m calling for any potential female leads to have to have their trauma be based on some type of sexual abuse. Angela is just a great example of a tormented woman in Silent Hill.

Thinking backwards in time, it would be quite interesting to play as a female in the town’s past. Perhaps Jennifer Carroll, a founding member of The Order. Konami did tease some interest in bringing the series to a different time period. The town’s past is ripe with opportunities to provide some old school scares. As long as they don’t attempt to explain the town’s power so no mystery remains, I’m cool with that.

The Silent Hill series has many women of power. Dahlia Gillespie, Claudia Wolf, Alessa Gillespie, and Margaret Holloway had positions of power; whether it be influence in The Order, or over the town itself. To be fair, there were also female characters who were weak or broken; those who fell into the damsel in distress stereotype: Eileen, Lisa, Maria, Elle. As well as those in between.

Maria was completely manifested from the town. She was brought into creation for James. Outside of the Born From A Wish scenario in Silent Hill 2, her story is open to much exploration. There was a lot of unspoken emotion on her part about her existence. In Born From A Wish, Maria is shown to share some memories with Mary, and despite being created for James by the town’s power, she still exhibits her own consciousness. Sadly this was not further explored at the time, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I wish the extra scenario was longer. Playing as a character like Maria was interesting, and I believe there is room for another fascinating female protagonist in the future of the series. I doubt the same type of story twist will be applied, because it has been done, and fans would see it coming for miles, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Several men have entered the foggy town of Silent Hill, and it’s due time we see it through the eyes of a woman once again. One of my favorite aspects of Silent Hill 3 was how Heather reacted to the world around her. Despite being tough and resilient, she provided a female perspective to the whole ordeal that I thought made it more memorable. Am I calling for a character that’s a vulnerable female stereotype? No; simply a character that brings qualities only a woman can provide. I’ll leave it up to readers to think about potential ideas on this.

We’ve seen the guys get the glory for braving Silent Hill, and I think it’s time for a new girl to get the chance.

  • Xoc

    You know I was thinking… Maybe they can bring the older Laura back.

  • Petrol

    I’ve been dying to have more female protagonists in horror games!

  • Xander

    I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not sure if I agree with you entirely. For me, one of the great things about Silent Hill was that, while it was trying (and succeeding) to be a horror movie, it didn’t really fall into any of the horror movie stereotypes, one of those being the “Last Girl”. In a way, having a bunch of male protagonists, yet still making them seem helpless made everything seem much more dangerous. And, if you think about it, to have an actual Silent Hill game, the protagonist has to be/feel/act vulnerable.

    That being said, though, Silent Hill could use more female protagonists (not Rose, though).

  • Ryan D

    I completely agree, something about playing as heather really made SH3 scarier. Heather seemed more realistic, her character was more outspoken and relatable in my opinion then almost all other silent hill protagonists. I think it would be great to see a female protagonist in the next SH it’d shake things up a bit

  • Astraea

    THANK YOU. SERIOUSLY THANK YOU for writing this article. Its what I’ve been saying in past Silent Hill forums and I thought no one was listening or thinking that themselves.

    Seriously, guys aren’t the only ones with issues. As a female myself I don’t understand why they haven’t. There is so much out there for them to explore in a female psychological standpoint. :/

  • http://www.alchemillahospital.net Amy Balot

    Yeah, it does feel like about time. I thought Heather was perfect, a believable girl protagonist that wasn’t another crappy stereotype. Still, I’d be happy with any protagonist that is well written. I wouldn’t mind a slightly older main character, either, on that note.

  • jeeves86

    For sure, the series needs some female protagonists. But I can imagine that it’s hard to design a female protagonist that isn’t a stereotypical video game damsel (i.e.: isn’t hypersexualized, or doesn’t appear to be too vulnerable. The industry caters to young men with exactly that kind of stereotype and straying too far away is pretty risky, even if it is for Silent Hill.

    I totally agree with Amy – an older protagonist would be nice to see. With age comes inevitable regrets, and doing questionable things holding onto that youth. Could make for some interesting stories.

    • Murphy Pendleton

      An older protagonist (as in senior citizen) would be unviable in a horror game wouldn’t it? Realistically, under the duress horror circumstances they wouldn’t be able to be cope physically (as in unable to partake in combat against monsters and escape from them. Wouldn’t they likely get a heart attack?) or emotionally.

      An older protagonist would also mean the target audience (generally the youth) wouldn’t be able to effectively to relate to him or her, unless he or she is embroiled in a universally afflicting conflict of some form.

      I think what they could do is have a protagonist and develop him throughout his or her lifetime, as Ubisoft did with Ezio Auditore. I though this was quite effective, as the time he entered his latter stages in life we readily identified and connected with him and his quest. However having a character recurringly visit Silent Hill would be unfeasible, as Silent Hill is a place where you visit to prove your worthiness in having your sins purged and cleansed or be punished for them and become trapped (“full circle”) in the process.

  • Seta

    Yes, with every new SH announcement I’m hoping for another female mc, but lately it’s always about tough guys. Yeah, they do have some weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but it’s still not the same. Most of the scariest parts in the Forbidden Siren series for example were when you were controlling a little girl who could do absolutely nothing against her enemies but run and hide. It doesn’t have to be like that the whole game, as just running away for a whole game makes it too repetative (see Shattered Memories), but it would make a nice change for a part of the game.Or make her old enough to fight back a little while still being weak.

    The following comment includes SH2 spoilers:
    @Xoc: Don’t think they will do that. There are many Laura haters in this world (does not include me). Furthermore that would require additional tragedies to happen to Laura after we got to see her. Because in SH2, she’s still quite pure, and so is her Silent Hill. No monsters, nothing to fear, just a foggy, empty and very lonely (which is indeed related to her past!) town. Would be quite boring to visit such a version oh SH… :/
    Oh, and: We don’t know if she could ever leave SH. In any ending except the Leave ending she makes no attempt to leave the town, and she has nobody to return to anyway. And nobody who could drive her. She probably just keeps roaming around there until she starves or something like that.
    And in the Leave ending she attempts to leaves with James, but we know (for example from SH4) that James never came back from SH , so…

  • Henrik

    Also waited for a new female hero a long time now.

    Vatras reason for making Murphy a male is that we would identify ourself with him better???

    I mean am I that shallow that I a male could not identify myself with a women?

    I mean I though Heather was and still are one of the most realisticly portrayed video game characters ever and yeah felt and identified myself with her alot anyway in many ways.

    I wonder if that a reason Konami and other Silent hill producer asked themself,player wont identify themself with a female protaganist that much?

    Wrong thinking in that case what if Murphy would have been a female prisoner that would maybe been even more interesting, what could she been done murdered an abusive boyfriend/husband or maybe her own child.

    Which would have been a deep plot seeing as most other mothers would defend a child with her life and as protective as a lioness but guess she could been one of the more bad parent like Dhalia but more realistic take?

    Or is she innocent.

    A female Murphy could been awsome.

    But I still hope we will see yet another female,I know Vita Book of memories will let us create our own hero/heroine but I dont think it will be the same especially if characters are without a voice of their own.

    No I hope for atleast one more female protaganist in a main series title.

    Little of topic I guess Silent hill SM had a female protaganist too while not playable though but the memories Harry experienced was about a young women’s pain and suffering for obvious reason revealed at the end but yeah prefer a playable women.

  • roque

    I used to be OBSESSED with Maria. I came up with this whole crazy backstory about how she was a murdered stripper from the “real” Silent Hill who got snatched back from the edge of heaven and shoved into a reconstructed Mary body… I see it as plausible, since it’s basically what happened in Exorcist III and we already know Team Silent was heavily influenced by that movie…

    Ahem. Anyway. Good editorial. “Henry Townshend: doorstop.” LOL

  • Tony

    Heather was my favorite Silent Hill protagonist, so for a one time thing, Konami pulled off a female protagonist pretty well. I’d like to see them give it another go, if only to keep some variety in the game. A child protagonist would also be interesting.

    A commenter mentioned using Laura as an adult for a protagonist. . .I like that idea. It sort of follows the disturbing, ongoing theme that, even when the story ends for the character, Silent Hill never really lets you leave.

  • Tam

    Silent Hill seems to work great with female protagonists. Heather was perfect – strong, but still vulnerable enough to create the right atmostphere. They also did something with her which was interesting, and rare in the world of gaming, even Silent Hill itself. They made her like a normal girl, rather than a porn star with massive jugs. And she was still very pretty. Her beauty wasn’t distracting from the game though.
    It’d be amazing to see someone like that again. Not a clone of Heather, but… keeping with the anti-hypersexualization.
    I like my characters human. It makes them easier to relate to, regardless of their gender.

    But, as said before in the comments, a child protagonist would be very interesting, and would gain alot of kudos, as someone very young would be hard to do. They wouldn’t have had much time to build up that much grief, so whatever the kid had done, it’d be very, very bad. The heightened vulnerability would make the game slightly scarier, too.

  • roque

    Bring back Cybil!

  • Blake

    totally agree! I really loved playing Heather in Silent Hill 3, even though I’m a dude. She was spunky and had an attitude that no male in the series had come close to. Most males in the series were boring (not sure if sterile is really the word I’m trying to use here) as hell to play, and that’s fine, but Heather shows Silent Hill fans that you can kick ass and be interesting.

  • Rafael V.

    Lisa is such an amazing character. I wouldn’t consider her “damsel in distress” at all. She was a tormented woman who had already met her fate. There was nothing she could do about it; it just took her a while to figure that out. Her last scene is memorable! I also like Eileen very much. She could even put up a fight, regardless of her deplorable state. But I strongly dislike that secret nurse uniform of hers the player can unlock; so unnecessary!