Some of the Silent Hill games sit in pride of place among the finest survival horror experiences of all time. Others don't attract quite the same praise. It's true that the franchise's quality went through peaks and troughs throughout its 13-year tenure — mainly because Team Silent, the original development team, disbanded shortly after the release of the fourth game.
When it was announced that Metal Gear creator and industry genius Hideo Kojima had taken the reins in 2015, fans dared to hope the series may finally get back on track. Unfortunately, Kojima's highly publicized fallout with Konami and the cancellation of the forthcoming ninth installment were the final nails in the coffin, and the franchise was put on ice. Despite its patchy history, we still remember Silent Hill very fondly. When it was good, it was so good. Let's look back over the series, as we rank all the games from worst to best.
10 Silent Hill HD Collection
It wouldn't be fair to mention Hijinx Studios’ Silent Hill HD Collection and the games it was intended to honor in the same sentence. That's why this 2012 “remaster” compilation has its own entry, right where it belongs — the bottom.
The first bone of contention came with the inclusion of only the second and third games. Okay, Silent Hill 4: The Room didn't get the warmest reception, and the first would've taken a lot of work to bring up to date, but nevertheless, the package felt incomplete. Those complaints paled into insignificance when the collection arrived, littered with an embarrassing number of glitches and poorly re-recorded voice work. Sadly, the HD Collection is often regarded as nothing more than a lazy cash-grab and a tragic waste of an opportunity.
9 Silent Hill: Book of Memories
The PlayStation Vita and handhelds in general probably aren’t the best way to experience the survival horror genre, but that’s okay — whatever Silent Hill: Book of Memories was trying to bring to the table, it certainly wasn’t scares.
An RPG-lite dungeon crawler set in the Silent Hill universe, Book of Memories has players choose from a handful of one-dimensional characters, battle enemies recycled from past entries, and locate key items as they try to escape another bland, cookie-cutter level. Book of Memories is somewhat playable, but it’s also a completely unnecessary and very out-of-place addition to the Silent Hill line-up.
8 Silent Hill: Homecoming
Silent Hill: Homecoming was the beginning of the end for the series as we knew it. After a slightly disappointing fourth entry, Homecoming was Konami’s chance to take some criticism on board and use the benefits of next-generation technology to invigorate the aspects of Silent Hill that were becoming stale.
Instead, we got one of the series’ most boring protagonists, Alex Shepherd, assets from the Silent Hill movie awkwardly shoehorned into the mix, and another contrived cameo from villain-turned-mascot, Pyramid Head. No spoilers, but this particular antagonist’s appearance in any game other than Silent Hill 2 is some serious shark-jumping.
7 Silent Hill: Downpour
The follow-up to Homecoming improved on its predecessor in many ways, offering a larger, more open world to explore and optional side-quests for the more eagle-eyed players. The storyline and its lead character, escaped convict Murphy Pendleton, also felt like a fresh take on the formula.
Unfortunately, the supporting cast of Downpour leaves a lot to be desired, while many of the monsters are among some of the most poorly-designed in the franchise’s history. The annoyingly persistent humanoid enemies encountered throughout the town have a lot in common with Siren’s terrifying and unkillable “shibito” — but with none of the personality.
6 Silent Hill 4: The Room
Silent Hill 4: The Room was the last to be made by the original “Team Silent.” Developed alongside the third game, The Room was an attempt to move the series in a new direction. It centers around Henry Townshend, who becomes trapped in his apartment. Soon after, a strange tunnel appears in his bathroom, transporting him to various locations around Silent Hill, where he meets bizarre characters and battles hideous creatures.
The Room doesn’t hold a candle to the original trilogy. It has its moments, but the combat is clumsy, Henry and Eileen are no James and Maria, and the second half is nothing more than a retread of areas the player has already visited.
5 Silent Hill: Origins
Developed for the PSP and later brought to PlayStation 2, Silent Hill: Origins is set many years before the first game and explores the events that led up to it. It begins with truck driver Travis Grady discovering a house just off the road to Silent Hill, almost totally consumed by a hellish fire.
Hearing a child screaming inside, he rushes into the blaze and discovers the badly burnt but still-living body of seven-year-old Alessa Gillespie — the tortured child behind many of the terrifying occurrences of the original Silent Hill. Fans of the first game will love the backstory and fan-service on offer here, but there’s no denying Origins is one of the series’ more average entries.
4 Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
A reimagining of the first game that first came to the Wii in 2009, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories isn’t half bad. Sure, it’s a little “Disneyfied” for a more casual audience and does away with combat in favor of motion-control puzzles, exploration, and chase sequences, but its premise is a smart one, making it an interesting spin-off if nothing else.
Throughout the game, the player is briefly taken out of the action and finds themselves in front of a psychiatrist asking seemingly random questions. This is where Shattered Memories excels — each answer the player gives cleverly affects the world around them, the course of the game’s narrative, and even the appearance of certain characters.
3 Silent Hill 3
There can be no doubt that the original trilogy is the pinnacle of the series in terms of quality, but while the third entry is an excellent game, it is most definitely the weakest of the three. A continuation of the original game’s storyline, Silent Hill 3 stars Heather, a feisty teenager dragged kicking and screaming into a world of freakish demons and religious zealots. It soon becomes clear she has intrinsic, unbreakable ties to the town and its otherworldly rituals.
There’s plenty here for new players and long-time fans, with lots of fresh content mixed in with a smattering of recognizable locations. However, narrative-wise, this was where the train started to come off the track.
2 Silent Hill 2
The second game in the series is a masterpiece and only misses out on the top spot by a knife edge. Mild-mannered James Sunderland helms a cast of compelling yet incredibly damaged characters, slotted beautifully into one of the most twisted storylines ever seen in a video game. Then there’s Pyramid Head, the instantly recognizable, nightmarish villain, regarded by many as one of the finest antagonists ever created.
Silent Hill 2 introduces fans to new areas of the town and harnesses the power of the PlayStation 2 to bring it to life in new, exciting ways. The sequel also improves on many of its predecessor’s gameplay flaws, though it still feels oddly clunky.
1 Silent Hill
The game that started it all, Silent Hill redefined console-based horror. As Resident Evil became more action-packed, Silent Hill dialed it back down, focusing on psychological horror, visceral gore, and a fully realized, character-driven story led by a kooky, colorful cast. It’s no secret that the prominent use of thick, cloying fog was primarily devised to hide the original PlayStation’s woeful draw distance, but it only added to the experience. It wasn’t about what you could see, but rather, what you couldn’t.
Many call its sequel the best of the bunch, but the original Silent Hill is an incredible achievement. It looks extremely dated now, and Harry Mason controls like a tank crossing an ice rink, but for fans of pure, unadulterated horror, it doesn’t get better than this.