The well-known Silent Hill series has defined the survival horror genre into what gamers know and love it as today. Its franchise is recognizable as Friday the 13th, Halloween, Resident Evil, and even Yakuza franchises.
Based, in part, on a real town in Pennsylvania that’s been on fire since 1962—after an attempt to burn out the coal mines went horribly awry—the Silent Hill games certainly set the stage for fear.
Though each game’s central premise is different, most of them focus on the terrifying magic in this creepy town, and how a protagonist with no combat experience must fight to survive.
These are all the Silent Hill series games, in order of release:
- Silent Hill (1999)
- Silent Hill 2 (2001)
- Play Novel: Silent Hill (2001)
- Silent Hill 3 (2003)
- Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004)
- Silent Hill: The Arcade (2007)
- Silent Hill: The Escape (2007)
- Silent Hill: Origins (2007)
- Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008)
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009)
- Silent Hill: Downpour (2012)
- Silent Hill: Book of Memories (2012)
- P.T. (2014)
Silent Hill (1999)
As the first game in the series, Silent Hill established its locale as a spooky, fog-filled town that seems abandoned.
The developers used fog because of the graphical limitations inherent in the Playstation at the time, but the setting quickly became synonymous with the series.
Harry Mason, the protagonist, searches the town for his missing daughter. Along the way, he encounters supernatural menaces around every corner.
Silent Hill 2 (2001)
In this game, you follow James Sunderland. He travels to Silent Hill to find his dead wife, after receiving a mysterious letter supposedly from her. She claims she’s alive and waiting for him in Silent Hill.
The following year, a director’s cut of Silent Hill 2 was released. It features more scenes and gameplay, for fans who love the original version too much to stop playing.
Play Novel: Silent Hill (2001)
Released exclusively for the Game Boy Advance in Japan, this game never made it over to Western audiences.
It follows the same story as the first game but is presented in visual novel format.
Silent Hill 3 (2003)
Silent Hill 3 follows Heather. in something of a departure from the rest of the series.
This game reveals how the monsters in Silent Hill are shaped by a character’s fears.
Whereas Silent Hill 2 seemed to exist separately from the first, Silent Hill 3 is a direct sequel to the first game.
Starting to get confused about the timeline? Buckle up, because it doesn’t get any easier.
Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004)
This is the first game in the series that doesn’t take place in Silent Hill.
It follows Henry Townshend, as he starts to notice paranormal phenomena in his apartment building in neighboring Ashfield.
The player tries to navigate through the locked-down building, and escape from the horrors therein.
Silent Hill: The Arcade (2007)
This game follows Eric and Tina, two new characters. The pair has ended up in Silent Hill and must now try to escape.
Meanwhile, Eric suffers nightmares featuring a girl and an old ship.
The Arcade introduced a multiplayer feature, so two players can partner together for the game’s entirety.
Silent Hill: The Escape (2007)
This mobile title is not considered part of the core series and performed poorly commercially due to its lack of a tie-in to the franchise.
Players must find a key on each level, to open each of the ten stages’ doors. There’s also a shooter element, as you fight familiar enemies—Evil Nurses, for example.
You can change camera viewpoints by tilting your phone, and have to tilt it just right to reload, but these somewhat clever elements can’t compensate for the lack of plot.
Silent Hill: Origins (2007)
This game is a prequel that follows Travis Grady, who ends up trapped in Silent Hill after saving a little girl from a burning building.
As he tries to track down what happened to her, he meets characters from the past few games.
Interestingly, this marked the first game in the series developed in the West, and specifically for Western audiences.
Despite that, it was released in Japan as well. There, it’s known as Silent Hill: Zero.
Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008)
Alex Shepard is a soldier who has just returned from the war to find his family in tatters. His father and brother are gone, and his mother is unresponsive.
As Alex and the player search for answers about what happened to his family, they both learn more than they ever wanted to know about the supernatural—and how easy it is to tear a family apart.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009)
This game is a reboot of the original Silent Hill, and once again follows Harry Mason.
The plot differs significantly from the first installment. Also, it features various sessions in a psychologist’s office, where the player must complete multiple tests.
Your answers inform the monsters in the game, thus tailoring them to be scarier for you, specifically—not the protagonist.
This game does not technically count as a survival horror game, because you are incapable of fighting back against the supernatural. As an installment in the franchise, however, it’s pretty enjoyable.
Silent Hill: Downpour (2012)
Murphy Pendleton, an escaped prisoner, finds himself stranded in Silent Hill amongst terrifying monsters.
The game allows you to either explore by foot or by subway. Multiple choices dictate whether Murphy saves NPCs or lets them die, which affects the ending you experience when gameplay finishes.
Downpour gives players a more open-world approach than previous installments and grants you an opportunity to wander around Silent Hill and find clues.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories (2012)
This game for the PlayStation Vita features the first example in the franchise of a player-based protagonist. You make the choices about your character’s life, then reap the consequences.
Essentially a dungeon-crawler, Book of Memories allows players to collect items and interact with puzzles to then progress to the next level.
People had very mixed reactions about this game, since it was such a departure from the main series.
Undoubtedly the scariest of the Silent Hill games, P.T., short for Playable Teaser, originally served as the introduction of a game called Silent Hills.
That game ended up being canceled, and P.T. left the Playstation Store…but not before some lucky people had the chance to play and download the game for themselves.
A short game that doesn’t take much more than an hour to play through, it features a looping element where you continuously walk through the same house, with only tiny changes you must search hard to find.
Like any long-running video game series, Silent Hill has experienced its ups and downs. Some games land perfectly; others flop and never quite recover.
Overall, fans love the franchise for its consistently eerie setting, unique premise, and even joke endings. No spoilers, in case you’re new—but sometimes a dog has his day.