When the original Silent Hill hit the shelves in early 1999, it partially changed the way we look at survival horror video games. To that point, we had Resident Evil and that was a massive success, but Silent Hill was something totally different. You didn't control a police officer or someone with combat skills. It made everything scarier because you never felt safe.
A lot went into creating this game and making something that became iconic in pop culture. It spawned multiple sequels and two feature-length films. But how did it all get started? There are plenty of behind-the-scenes facts about the first game that would probably surprise you. We've ranked the 10 best of them.
10 There Are A Bunch Of Mock Locations
When strolling through the streets of Silent Hill, you'll notice that a lot of the ideas for locations are original. However, some are mockeries or parodies of popular places in real life. Most of them are blatantly obvious but still fun to find.
Scanning these streets will see you run into a gas station type of store with a large "8" on the logo that looks very much like a 7/11. You can find a strange McDonald's ripoff and a Burger King one called "Queen Burger." Most players were probably way too scared to search these out.
9 The Creators Were Outcasts
A few months prior to Silent Hill being released, Konami took the world by storm with Metal Gear Solid. This ended up becoming a huge franchise for the company, but that wasn't what they expected.
Not much was expected of the team behind the game. They were mostly castoffs who had previously developed games that didn't do so well. Some of the members were even reportedly on the verge of getting fired. This group even threw out the original concept for how the game should feel and the gamble paid off for them.
8 The Streets Are Named After Authors
As previously noted, a lot of the aspects around the small town of Silent Hill are original ideas. To find your way around, you probably brought up the map several times. if you paid close attention, you might have noticed that the streets are named after authors.
Among these names, you'll find Ira Levin, Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, and Ray Bradbury. There's even a street named after Richard Bachman, which is a pen name for Stephen King. The catch is that they're all horror authors, which fits right into the world of this game.
7 You Can Easily Beat The Final Boss
Throughout almost any video game, you will encounter several boss battles. They're meant to test you as a gamer and be the toughest fights of the entire game. That's often especially true for the final boss you face at the end of the story. But there's a simple way around the last boss in Silent Hill.
It is a case where you're rewarded for a reckless strategy. If you meet the final boss and have no ammo, you're automatically going to win. When the fight starts, all you have to do is cycle through your weapons to show that you have no ammunition. The boss will see that and die on the spot.
6 There Are A Bunch Of Movie References
We already mentioned all of the horror authors that get a nod, but there's more. A whole bunch of famous horror movies get referenced throughout the game. It made sense for the creators to do this if they wanted to be known alongside those properties in horror lore.
The obvious ones are to The Exorcist and The Shining. However, the game didn't stop there. The theater in town was playing Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as Die Hard. If you get a chance to play through the game one more time, search for these references, because there are plenty.
5 Cheryl Was Named After A Twin Peaks Character
In case you haven't noticed a trend, the team behind Silent Hill were big fans of entertainment within the genre. They made sure to pay respect to as many as they could with this release. One way was by naming one of the game's most important characters after someone from the series Twin Peaks.
Twin Peaks was a blend of mystery, horror, and drama that took place in a small town. Sounds like Silent Hill to us. In the game, Harry Mason searches for his lost daughter Cheryl. She was named that as a nod to actress Sheryl Lee, who starred on the show. It's not as on the nose as Ellie looking like Ellen Page, but we got it.
4 It Was Foggy So It Could Hide Bad Graphics
Seeing things throughout the town of Silent Hill is incredibly difficult. The visibility is lax pretty much from start to finish. A lot of the game is set in darkness, but even the daytime scenes make it so you can't see out much further than what is right in front of you. That was done for two reasons.
On the one hand, it added to the frights. You would hear things offscreen that you couldn't see, and fear of the unknown is terrifying. However, the other reason this was done was to cover up bad graphics. The game didn't look all that impressive and the fog was used to hide a good chunk of that. We think it worked out perfectly.
3 The School Is Based On Kindergarten Cop
This will always be one of the weirdest things in Silent Hill history, and it isn't even something scary. Midwich Elementary School plays a major part in the game and is one of the most iconic settings of the franchise. If you pay close attention, you'll find that it bears a striking resemblance to the school from the 1990 film Kindergarten Cop.
Yes, that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where he played an undercover officer posing as a teacher is in Silent Hill. Some thought it was a small coincidence, but there's too much proof. The architectural design being nearly identical is just the start. Search and you'll find a school bus, medicine cabinet, and drawings on the wall that are all from the film.
2 The Creators Added Random Sound Effects
We previously mentioned how the fog added to the fear a player felt while walking through the town. That was just the beginning. The creators behind the game took things a step further when they decided to use that to their advantage.
Knowing that gamers couldn't see far out ahead of them, sound effects were added at random to throw them off. You could be running to your next objective and suddenly hear a baby crying. It was enough to make you stop in your tracks and left wondering what that sound was. Breathing, footsteps, whispering and more were also added in to really mess with your mind.
1 It Is Based On A Real Town...Sort Of
So there isn't a haunted place where all of the elements from Silent Hill happen in real life. That being said, there is a town that the game is based on. Centralia is a near ghost town in Pennsylvania. It has seen its population dwindle from 1,000 to 5 over the past forty years.
The reason for this population decline? In 1962, a coal mine fire started and has never stopped burning. Yes, it has been burning for several decades and isn't going to stop. Centralia was condemned, but some residents chose to stick around. They were allowed to live there until their death if they choose to. Reportedly, they don't appreciate visitors, so this may not be a place you want to vacation to.