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‘Silent Hills’ Isn’t Dead Yet

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Last week, the Internet exploded when rumors surfaced that Kojima would be leaving Konami. Kojima was removed from the company’s list of executives and his branding was erased from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain promotional art as Konami went to work erasing Kojima Productions from existence. It seemed like the relationship between the two had soured, and while we still don’t have the full story, we do know that it’s bad.

A joint statement recently confirmed that Kojima will stay long enough to finish Phantom Pain, but his tenure likely won’t last much longer than that. After three decades together, two hugely influential names in the games industry will be parting ways.

As much as I’d like to memorialize the two, there just isn’t time. We can get to that after they let us know they’ve noticed the elephant in the room. The world wants to know, just what in the hell is going to happen to Silent Hills? This is the series’ last chance at staying relevant. It’s the game that’s keeping one of the genre’s most beloved franchises from finally, quietly, fading into obscurity. If this game dies, Silent Hill will almost certainly die with it.

I don’t know about you, but that terrifies me. So before we get into this, here’s something to put a smile on your face, because the rest of this article might get a little heated.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. At least not yet. Konami still owns the IP, they own the engine that powers it, they have a talented team of developers, and I think we can assume that while it’s still very early in development — it was only ever given a nebulous 2016 release window — some progress has to have been made on it. This is progress that Konami isn’t likely to throw that away easily, especially since it’s one of the few properties they have left that people care about.

If that’s not the most depressing thing you’ve heard today, it might not have sunk in yet. Silent Hill is currently one of Konami’s most promising brands, because aside from Metal Gear and Dance Dance Revolution, they don’t have a whole lot going on right now.

The company is very active in Japan, but not so much anywhere else. Pro Evolution Soccer is forever stuck in FIFA’s shadow, Castlevania isn’t nearly as popular as it once was, and that’s not even taking into account last year’s abysmal Lords of Shadow sequel. They’re relying heavily on the success of MGS V, which I’m sure will do great, because that’s one of the few brands they have left that large numbers of people still get excited about.

It feels strange to say it, but for the first time in years, Silent Hill has our attention. It has the world’s attention. Kojima’s publicity stunt with the P.T. demo was nothing short of genius, and it was also exceedingly effective. Even non-fans had their attention piqued when this happened.

A not-insignificant portion of our anticipation for Silent Hills came from the fact that Kojima would be directing it. That was exciting, but I’d argue his involvement was overshadowed by one of the other names that were — and are still, as far as we know — attached to it: director Guillermo Del Toro.

Kojima has name recognition among gamers, but Del Toro has it everywhere else.

Guillermo Del Toro is hot right now. Most of us fell in love with him around The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, or if you’re really into movies, Cronos did it for you. For the rest of the world, it took a massively successful vampire-themed TV show and some giant robots battling Kaiju. How long it took isn’t the point, we’re all on the same page now, and that’s what matters.

Silent Hills came to be because of this director. Kojima and Norman Reedus signed on after the fact — the deal is between Del Toro and Konami. I would have liked to see where he took it, but Kojima can be replaced.

I touched on this earlier, but I feel its importance can’t be stressed enough. Silent Hills has a lot of momentum behind it. Its reveal took over the Internet last August, and fan theories, discussions, and trailers like the one below have kept it in the spotlight ever since.

This game has a level of awareness that the franchise has never had before. Even in its prime, Silent Hill didn’t have this much excitement surrounding it. This series will never have as good a chance at being successful than it does now. If Konami wants to bring it back, this will almost certainly be their only chance to make it big again.

Some of this hype can be attributed to our wanting a good Silent Hill game for years now, but a lot of it also has to do with how much the horror genre has grown right now.

Scary is mainstream, and I’m sure Konami would like to take advantage of that.

This whole situation sucks. I’ve been dreading the moment I jump online only to see the headline “Silent Hills Cancelled!” and while that may very well happen, I’m going to try and stay optimistic. Because as bad as it might look right now, I think there’s as good a chance at our seeing this game release as we might see it get lost in dreaded development limbo, alongside so many other promising horror games.

Konami has handled this with absolutely no grace. This is a communications breakdown and they should be ashamed of how poorly they’ve been treating their fans. The only way they can make this up to us is by bringing us an unforgettable horror game, and they can start by opening their damn mouths already. If Konami hopes to survive this transition, they’ll need to do better than this.

It’s worth mentioning that while I have reached out to Konami for a comment, as my finger hovers over the ‘Publish’ button, they have yet to respond. I doubt that’ll change, but if it does, I’ll be sure to update accordingly.

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