Broken Silence: Following The Road to a Silent Hill Reboot
A year ago, I would have laughed at the very idea of writing an article like this. But here we are. It’s been a long, cold, dark five years since Silent Hills and the Kojima/Konami fallout seemingly killed the series for good. I would often mock the very idea of Silent Hill coming back, once even offering to eat my shoe if Kojima’s Death Stranding turned out to be a Silent Hill title (thankfully I was right). I simply had no hope left in me, and even contemplating what form the franchise would take if Konami ever did decide to bring it back — their recent catalog did not stir any positivity inside me.
Recently, however, there has been an awakening. From somewhere within that grim outlook, a spark has ignited a possible road forward. You’ve no doubt heard the rumors and rumblings of Silent Hill being reborn with a new title, some have been quick to wave it away, others still have held on to each new scrap of potential information. I’ve decided to gather that information in one convenient little spot, starting from the beginning and going all the way to the ‘now’. At the time of this writing, all of this is still rumor and speculation — nothing has been revealed one way or another, and Konami’s only response to the rumors thus far has been to deny them. Regardless of that denial, something is happening with Silent Hill. Take all of this information any way you like, the point here isn’t to convince you of anything; I only want to put all the pieces on the table. You can be the judge of whether or not it makes a picture.
Where exactly to start is a bit hard to tell, as a lot of little things happened before the ball really seemed to start rolling. Obviously the very beginning is really just the end of the previous generation of the series — P.T./Silent Hills. That’s a bit too far back though, and it’s been talked about to death. Following that event, Konami went into somewhat of a hibernation regarding games in general.
In early 2017 Konami began marketing that they were seeking developers to join their team, specifically noting the need for ‘Game Programmers, Designers, Planners, Network Engineers, Server Programmers, Scenario Writers, and developers with either home console or mobile experience’. While it may have been the very first glimmer of hope, I should point out that Silent Hill is noticeably absent from all of this ‘now hiring’ marketing. A few months later, however, Super Bomberman R released a Pyramid Head costume for the player character. Chibi and smol, it was remarkable in that it was the first time Konami had publicly acknowledged Silent Hill (outside of Pachinko machines) since P.T. was taken down off of the PlayStation Store — two whole years.
A year later, Konami filed new trademarks for Silent Hill in the US and another in Canada a year after that. Some got hopeful, but it ultimately turned out to be for a second gambling machine. That said, almost immediately before that machine’s reveal, Konami’s European president Masami Saso gave an interview with gamesindustry.biz about the future of the company as a whole. It’s a mostly uninteresting read, generally talking about mobile markets and the success of the PES series, but at one point Saso talks about the ‘third pillar’ of Konami’s entertainment structure — console games. He didn’t talk about it much, but it piqued my interest:
“Even with new platforms coming out, we believe high-end console games are the most important. We challenge for innovative ideas and technology within our console games and apply them to other devices, so we will continue to put effort into our console games. We also plan to increase our portfolio. In addition to the multi-device titles for PES and Yu-Gi-Oh, we plan to work on projects with other globally known IPs in the near future.”
It struck me as funny timing that this statement followed closely behind the announcement that the Japanese government was going to crack down hard on Pachinko machine regulation — which would be very damaging for one of Konami’s three pillars. But that hope wasn’t to last — what looked to be the final nail in a coffin that appeared to be made entirely out of nails appeared out of nowhere. Konami allowed the SilentHill.com web domain to default, and for weeks the webpage was available for purchase. It’s presumably been re-acquired by Konami since (or a plucky fan with an extra 10k laying around). Doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot, especially as the page had essentially been parked for a decade before that, just acting as a way to search for the series titles.
Generally speaking, things looked grim. Grimmer perhaps than they’d ever been back when Silent Hills had been canceled and the future of the series was merely unknown. All of this seemed to point to a pretty definitive “It’s dead, Jim.” And then the rumors started.
Early this year, Resident Evil leaker AestheticGamer/DuskGolem dropped a bombshell on all of us.
I’ll mention there is a couple new Silent Hill games in the works. Konami about two years ago reached out to various developers to pitch ideas for two Silent Hill games, one a soft-reboot of the franchise, the other an episodic TellTale/Until Dawn-style game to go alongside the reboot. I don’t know anything more than that though, but I sure do hope Konami’s given it the appropriate budget and found the right developer to make those games succeed.
We were particularly excited, as this actually lined up with some rumblings we’d heard through our own channels, but had chosen not to report on for fear of exposing the parties that leaked it to us. It was also interesting timing, lining up the comment that Konami started looking ‘about two years ago’ — which would line up with Konami’s hiring of new developers in 2017. Regardless of our own excitement and AestheticGamer’s track record with Resident Evil (which is damn near impeccable), everyone was assured that salt had to be taken with this information. It just wasn’t worth getting hopes up and a rumor is just a rumor until stated otherwise by Konami proper.
And then Konami proper talked about Silent Hill, saying the name out loud, in public, for the first time in 5 years. PCGames Network reached out to ask about the rumor and a Konami spokesperson responded:
“We cannot share anything at this point, but we are listening to customer feedback and considering ways to provide the next title”
If there was any one thing that truly sparked a turning point in this whole story, it was that. Following up almost immediately was the startling reveal of a third Silent Hill film, which took everyone by total surprise. The director of the first film had been giving a very casual interview with a French film site, Allocine, when he commented briefly on projects he had in the pipeline. He’s been working on a Western Fatal Frame/Project Zero film adaption for ages, which he mentions, but then out of nowhere:
And we’re also working on a new Silent Hill. The project will always be anchored in this atmosphere of a small American town, ravaged by Puritanism. I think it’s time to make a new one.
I cannot think of a more inexplicable way to announce the third entry in that franchise, but that’s how it happened, so here we are. About a month later, Pyramid Head (and Silent Hill creatures in general) designer Masahiro Ito made a few weirdly cryptic tweets about his beloved monster. Right before AestheticGamer’s leak, he’d revealed on Twitter that he had been hired on as a “core member” of some unknown project and that he hoped the title “wo[uldn’t] be canceled.” That verbiage caught the attention of a lot of fans, drawing lines between that statement and the cancellation of Silent Hills.
Now to properly explain this next bit, way back in 2017 Ito was asked if he’d consider joining a reborn Team Silent to work on a new game, and his one stipulation was “If it’s not [a] sequel and I don’t have to use Pyramid Head or can kill him in the opening.” Fast forward to February of this year, and Ito made an inexplicable tweet out of nowhere:
Pyramid Head, R.I.P.
— 伊藤暢達/Masahiro Ito (@adsk4) February 28, 2020
Fans immediately drew a connection between that and his early comment about killing Pyramid Head, and it sent fans buzzing with theories and excitement. Following that, we actually entered the ring on our own. In early March, we were able to speak with multiple insider sources about the development of a new Silent Hill game and broke the story. From our report:
We have a trusted source regarding this news, and another source has corroborated with us that Masahiro Ito (creature designer for the first four titles in the series) is indeed working on a Silent Hill game as previously speculated. These same sources name Sony as the driving force behind bringing the series back.
Keiichiro Toyama (director and writer of the original 1999 Silent Hill) and Akira Yamaoka (composer for the majority of the franchise) are also returning alongside Masahiro Ito. The trio will helm a “soft reboot” of the Silent Hill series, possibly just called Silent Hill. SIE Japan Studio, which possibly includes team members from “Project Siren,” the group behind Siren: Blood Curse for the PlayStation 3, will be behind its development in some capacity (either in full or in part). Our source states that this title has been in the works for about a year. Our second source — which has no connection to the first — was aware of Ito’s involvement in a new Silent Hill title and informed us of that information some time ago.
Along with that we also touched on a rumor regarding a revival of Silent Hills, although that had much shakier footing than that of the other leak. Konami denied the contents of our report when we reached out to them for comment, stating:
“We’re aware of all the rumors and reports but can confirm that they are not true. I know it’s not the answer your fans may want to hear. It’s not to say we are completely closing the door on the franchise, just not in the way it is being reported.”
With or without our report, however, the rumors continued to spread. The month following our story, manga artist Suehiro Maruo (known for The Strange Tale of Panorama Island and Ultra Gash Inferno) posted to his Instagram about visiting Konami in order to work on what he pretty blatantly teases as being ‘Silent Hills‘. No subtlety about it.
Perhaps he was just teasing us, no? Fans can often read way too much into stuff, like that time that RE2‘s original director went to Capcom HQ (most likely when he was invited to try out REmake 2). Well, the story doesn’t end there — but we now enter a new stage of this story.
Amidst rumors and questions, it could be argued that the majority of fans still had zero reason to believe any of it was actually happening. And then suddenly, things…started to happen.
In May, asymmetrical multiplayer game Dead by Daylight revealed that their next DLC was to be entirely based on Silent Hill, to the shock of everyone. Heather (renamed to her birth name, Cheryl) Mason, Pyramid Head, Midwhich Elementary, and a bunch of cosmetics based on the first and third games were announced to be joining the game. All playable, and even including a special remix of the Dead by Daylight menu theme by Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka. It was pretty wild, and I can’t really describe just how hyped I was waking up and seeing that in my work inbox. That hype reached a fever pitch the following day when that manga artist, Suehiro Maruo, suddenly turned up again. Once more he took to Instagram, posting an Instagram story that read:
The timing couldn’t have been more impeccable for inciting hype. This wasn’t just a one-off, easy to misinterpret comment like Masahiro Ito’s “RIP Pyramid Head” Tweet. Just like Maruo’s earlier Instagram post, this was being very direct as to what he was talking about. Whatever it was specifically that “we” had just started, it was undoubtedly tied to Silent Hill.
The Dead by Daylight DLC dropped and it was pretty awesome. I loved it personally, and I’ve been rockin’ Survivor’s boats with Pyramid Head like crazy since release. Some fans had hoped that Silent Hill might show up alongside Resident Evil 8: Village during Sony’s E3/Not E3 streaming event in June, but when it skipped the event, fans started to drift back towards disbelief. Maybe there really was nothing going on and our cages all got rattled for nothing.
Just after the Sony event, fans discovered that the Silent Hill Facebook page, which had been idle since November of 2017, was suddenly posting again. It had been doing so since March (long before the Dead by Daylight DLC was announced), with a small post about a new hoodie baring the Halo of the Sun sigil becoming available for sale. When the DLC was announced, the page continued to update fairly regularly up through the 31st of last month, with both marketing for the DLC as well as posting about community events like charity streams.
Following up that interesting development, Konami’s official Twitter account posted a blank video that simply played the Silent Hill 2 air raid siren. Fans went nuts, and the Konami PR person tried to settle everyone down, stating that they were merely “watching streams of Dead By Daylight and thought [they] would share the noise and feel of being hunted.” Oh well, right? Well…not so much. They followed up one last time when the rabble wouldn’t settle down, and it’s… perhaps the lynchpin to any possible belief or doubt in this whole affair.
We are sorry we got people fired up. Anything official would come from first from @SilentHill or an event or something, not from us. We were just being fans and enjoyed the noise/memories. Sorry everyone, did mean to kill your Friday mood.
— Konami (@Konami) July 31, 2020
If you didn’t catch it, and it took a little while for most to do so, that @SilentHill account is…brand new. Opened just two months ago, this apparently official Silent Hill Twitter account has been quietly sitting there, tweeting out ads for merchandise, the Dead by Daylight DLC, and liking/retweeting fan art. Its last tweet was on Aug 21, advertising Pyramid Head’s new costume for Dead by Daylight. This Twitter account’s existence was a sudden surprise to pretty much everyone, especially as it really doesn’t look all that official. Fans have taken note that it’s following streamers along with console manufacturers (and even site contributor Thomas Duff, because he asked nicely).
There has been a Silent Hill Twitter account, still is technically — but only in Japan. The original Japanese Silent Hill Twitter account remains inactive, its final Tweet being sent in 2014, although to be fair, Dead by Daylight might not be big in Japan like it is in the West, at least not enough to be worth firing back up again. As such, it’s truly fascinating to watch multiple English language official Silent Hill social media hubs fire up, all at once. One could easily wave them away as simply being used as an aid for the new Dead by Daylight content but Behavior Interactive presumably can handle their own marketing. As far as I can tell (and correct me if I’m wrong) Twitter accounts for other guest franchises (like SAW and Halloween) have never mentioned Dead by Daylight on their social media platforms. Netflix briefly touched on the Stranger Things DLC, but that was it, and it wasn’t on the Stranger Things Twitter account.
These social media accounts aren’t just being run by some random fan, these are official arms of the Konami marketing branch, and as such must follow directions from Konami’s PR and are run by employees of the company. Simply firing them up for the sake of marketing a DLC that’s about to be made old new in just a few weeks and then going quiet again forever seems like it’d be kind of a waste of money, and time, especially when Behavior can (and has been) handling marketing on their own.
UPDATE 8/30: Following this up, just hours after this article was published, a new physical edition of Dead by Daylight has been announced. This edition will be bundling in the Silent Hill DLC, and even giving it a nice jucy spot on the front cover!
Update 8/31: Earlier today it was discovered that Konami has finally released the entire (excluding a few bonus editions and expanded versions) soundtrack collection for Silent Hill on the Western version of Spotify. Interestingly, this release contains a major surprise for fans that followed the score for Book of Memories since its release. The final track on the album, Love Pslam, secretly included Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka on guitar for the piece, and producer Tom Hullet has explained in the past that it was done both without Konami’s permission and that the inclusion was something he wasn’t even sure they were ever aware of. For the first time since its 2012 release, this Spotify version credits Akira Yamaoka as being involved with the track (previously only crediting singer Mary Elizabeth McGlynn).
Update 9/2: Our EIC noticed that Konami has booked two separate hour-long sections of this year’s TGS stream. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything, Konami was also present at last year’s TGS, showing off a collection of mostly mobile games. It’s better to assume that this year will be more of the same, but worth noting anyway. We’ll be watching Konami’s streams on Saturday and Sunday, that’s for sure.
For now, that’s where the story ends. AestheticGamer recently commented on Silent Hill once more, simply commenting that it was ‘still in dev‘ when talking about several future releases he’s privy to. From the lowest of lows to (while perhaps not the highest possible) highs, the winding road on the way to a new entry in this series has been quite the adventure to follow. Could it be possible that after so long lost in the fog, the series could finally be reemerging? Anything’s possible, and I actually have hope in my heart for the first time in a good long while. There’s still plenty of reason to doubt though.
While all of this went on, there were plenty of other, some very convincing, theories and threads on the subject. From the Black Hound incident to the Never Be Game Over subreddit, there were many scrutinizing gazes at ‘evidence’ that was very convincing. Some of it even became straight-up conspiracy theories after a certain point, and as each possibility was laid to rest, it seemed that there was simply no chance of resurrection. That’s part of why I find all of this so interesting — these are not putting together random, unrelated pieces together, or reading in between lines that were never really there. The evidence collected here (besides rumors and our own sources, which you’re welcome to take or leave) relates directly to the actions of Konami and other industry professionals and studios.
There’s no telling what exactly is in store for the future of this beloved series. The point of this article, as stated before, is not to try and convince you — rather, let you come to your own conclusions. New game, new pachislot machine, just a new line of T-shirts, who knows. This is everything we’ve collected over the course of this year, and I truly hope it leads somewhere. We’ll find out, someday. I just hope it’s soon, for better or worse.