How to Fix Silent Hill: Angela Orosco

Secret leaked title screen from the newest Silent Hill game, "Silent Hill 8." Naw, I'm just yanking your chain, I drew this in MS Paint. Or could you tell?

So real quick I want to go over why the "8" in Silent Hill 8 makes no sense. There are only SIX main games, there is ONE legitimate spin off, TWO "phone games" that are actually kinda neat, but video games don't go on phones, so they don't even count as spin offs, then there is the Silent Hill Play Novel, which I don't know what that counts as, and lastly there is homecoming, which is unplayable, not an actual Silent Hill game let alone a spin-off (it takes place in a different town, by the way), and even if it did count it had the working title of "Silent Hill V," which is 5. 0rigins came out before homecoming, making it the fifth game, so even if we could number homecoming it would be woefully out of place. On top of that, the sixth game is a sequel to the bad ending of the first Silent Hill while being simultaneously a "reimagining" of it. It's one of the main games, but calling it Silent Hill 6 is like calling Return of Godzilla by the name Godzilla 16. It's technically correct, but don't ever fucking say that outloud where real people can hear you.

The good thing is of course that SH8 is merely a working title, and it will most likely release with some vapid and pretentious sounding sub-title that has nothing to do with the actual game.

Here, I wanted to write about the next logical game in the series that should be made, but for some reason what I assumed was obvious to everyone else was less apparent than making a game about some jailbird no one gives a shit about. I learned to stop being humble in high school, but I still like to think that other people can generally have ideas as well, especially the really obvious ones. Not the case. Looks like I'm the genius.

Well since I'm the most talented person in the room (which is rather frightening considering the MS Paint drawings I did for this post), I might as well fill you in on what should be happening.

Quick question: In  most fandoms, where the fanbase shares similar interests (hence the fandom existing in the first place), there is usually a broad consensus of opinions on what constitutes "the best." It is often heretical to suggest otherwise. For example: G-fans unanimously agree the first Godzilla is the best, and most agree that Godzilla vs. Mothra, GMK, DAM, and Godzilla vs. Biollante are among the highest ranked. Godzilla's Revenge is usually considered the worst, but that opinion is being changed in current times. Among Alien fans, the first and second films are considered superior to the rest, and the 6th one, AVPR, is considered the worst. Fun fact: my favorite has always been Alien 3, since the first one bores me and the second treats the monsters with too much disrespect. So what do Silent Hill fans consider the absolute masterpiece of the series?

Silent Hill 2. It's just the best one. Ask any fan, it's always SH2. This is followed by 1 and 3 (not in that order, just in general), then usually 4, and finally 0rigins, which is hard on many fans because they are really snooty assholes that have a hard time admiting the Silent Hill formula is not only extremely easy to perpetuate indefinately, but the "soulless americans" actually made a better game than Team Silent did. Twice. In a row. And it's better than two of the original four. I don't know what the fanbase at large thinks about Shattered Memories, because after the american games came out the fans have become unapproachable assholes to the umpteenth degree, and I don't really associate well with people like that. Go on Silent Hill Heaven's forum for five minutes and you'll see what I'm talking about. Those people are monsters.

So if SH2 is the best, why the hell does the first game and the religious version of the otherworld get so much damn attention? Granted, SH3 and SHSM were both warranted and all, but where is the damn Angel... whoops, I was going to build that up more.

Whatever. Here's the thing: we need to see Angela and Eddie's adventures. It so fucking obvious and I've never even heard anyone bring it up before. We know how they moved through the town when they were there, we know what their choice of endings would be, we know what their otherworlds looked like, christ, we even know what monsters they fought! But most of this is stuff we haven't seen, and with characters as wonderful as Eddie and Angela, the desire to play through as them is huge. So what roadblock was put up that keeps Konami from figuring this out?

And that's just the easy one. There's tons of shit already waiting to be elaborated on. Remember SH4 being based off memos from 2 and 3? And the arcade game was the same thing, but with the little baroness? There are so many stories litering the town of personal greif and loss that it's just insane to ignore. SH8's protagonist has nothing to do with the inmates of Toluca Prison, it takes place in modern times and his bus only crashes in Silent Hill, it isn't a destination. But damn, wouldn't you kill to play as the wrongfully hanged man from that puzzle in the labyrinth? He was hanged anyways, so right there that's one ending, but maybe there's another where, after confronting some manifestation of his being unsure who the villain really is, the real criminal who framed him gets killed by Pyramid Head (or whatever iteration he might exist in), and our hero is pardoned.

If you just bother to look, you can keep this up for decades without writing any new material. The games write themselves, I'm telling you.

So now I want to go over what the Angela/Eddie game would be like. I want to start with Angela, because she's my favorite non-monster character in the entire game. Heck, she's almost better Pyramid Head.

Just thinking about this scene gives me goosebumps.

Angela has been sexually abused since childhood. At the time of SH2 she's 19 years old. After graduating high school, she runs away from home, but is found by her father who tries to bring her back. Angela stabs him dead. Her brother too. Plus, her mom said she deserved it. Fuck James and fuck Eddie, this is the girl with the real problems. In the real world, these are the kind of non-religious people whose worlds really do look like the otherworld. No one character quite encapsulates Silent Hill like Angela does, nor does it look like any new character will. Hence, all the elements needed to make a full-length game for her are already well apparent in SH2, and no extra stuff needs to be done.

For level progression, her prologue involves her running away to the cemetary and transitioning from the otherworld to the fog world, which is novel, and illustrates that she has been living in her own hell for a long, long time, and isn't just now coming into it. She'll have to meet a monster that isn't so obvious before getting to the cemetary in order to establish that there is something "wrong" with the town. Then she meets James.

For the fog world, there is no real reason not to keep it as the "mist world" it was for James, but I think removing plastic sheets in favor of gaping holes or blankets might serve Angela better. Mist is a good theme, as is the water that permeated every instance of James' worlds, since we can connect this back to rape victims taking a shower in order clean themselves metaphorically. Right away we get a real life behavior caused specifically by mental trauma, so the otherworld writes itself, like I said.

She ends up at the apartment more or less the same time as James. Her route there should most likely have her follow back to her apartment, because 1) revenge is sweet, but killing another human is hard to do, the combined effects should put Angela in the same place as James in that her memory becomes a little skewed 2) she should develop a positive image of her mother, so we can yank the rug out or redeem depending on the ending, as well as establish a reason to live, and 3) becuase she didn't take the knife with her, and common sense says you should hide the murder weapon. So to the apartments will be backtracking, only this time through the "shower" world instead of the "rape" world. Yes, I'm going to call it the rape world for the rest of the article.

Angela's monsters can be modified from the SH2 cast, as many of them already have sexual themes. Not only does this allow us to keep the lying figure (one of my favorite monsters) and turn it into a bondage monster (you can never have too many of those), but we finally get another Mannequin which, surprise surprise, is ALSO one of my favorite SH monsters. Creepers should probably stay, due to them being seen as a common thread as well as there association with filth. Actually, they should be really fucking common.

So Teddy Bear monster? I vote yes, but don't don't fight it until later. If you just yank out an evil teddy bear at Wood Side, it's not going to work. There needs to be a build up where the teddy bear becomes one very significant stuffed animal that Angela viewed as a security item, and as the game goes on, we reveal how as the abuse kept happening she felt betrayed by the bear until it became just as bad as her father, fully turning it into a very upset little girl's personal demon. THEN we make her fight it. Also, it goes without saying the bear should have little circular drops of blood on the crotch and a ripped open stomach.

We don't see Angela again until the Labyrinth, and she has no earthly reason to be in a hospital, so we need a new place for her to run to after fighting a boss. You could make the teddy bear the apartment boss, but that might be too soon. Another good idea is to have an "Abstract Brother" monster that, in the real world, is actually her brother. This is when she kills him. Actually, that's much better than the teddy bear, and it propels her forward by putting her on the run.

The most logical place for her to go is to school. Angela DID graduate from high school, so we've got to figure there were many times when she tried to tell someone what was happening. For whatever reason, be that no one believed her or maybe the principal raped her too, high school never really was the sanctuary it should have been. The moment she realizes this, via a note in the principal's or school nurses office directly stating the faculty ignored her, is when the otherworld kicks in. From now until the hotel she will be in the rape world, where flesh and pistons are much more prominent than flames (but of course, for her, there is always fire). New enemies in the school might be larval stalker or mumbler types, only larger because they are high school aged. We can expect to see countless memos about how her depressing effects her grades, gets her in trouble with the admins, she maybe runs with the Goth kids for a while, and maybe even a wild party where a fellow student attempts to take advantage of her. Once again, this writes itself. As the high school reflects on her as no longer being a naive child, the teddy bear boss would fit here. Later it becomes a common enemy.

The abstract daddy shouldn't look exactly the same. Don't forget that in this scene James knows what happened to Angela, and uses imagery from his head involving smothering Mary to conjure up the two writhing figures on a bed. That's important for James, because it ties into his guilt, and we see Abstract Daddies in the hotel later. For Angela, the monster probably just looks like her father... but larger, more monstrous, and with prominent knife wounds.

Angela doesn't have to go into the SHHS to get to the labyrinth, and in fact it wouldn't make sense if she did. The sewers are the first thing that come to mind. They'll fit in nicely with the piston imagery, her constantly running and hiding, and I've never seen a flaming sewer before, but I don't guess it would be very inviting. Here there are going to be recurring monsters, especially teddy bears, visibly-in-a-straight-jacket figures, creepers (giant creepers... JEEPERS creepers), new mannequins (maybe call 'em "pretty toys" or something?) but now is the absolute latest we can introduce the phallic worms. I think this would be perfect, because if we use the classic "giant sewers" video game trope, we can make the penis monsters fucking enormous, which is sure to make everyone who plays the game extremely uncomfortable. It's a wierd thing about western audiences that monsterizing feminine or female atrobutes is acceptable and down right wanted, but phallic monsters really tend to creep people out. Myself included. Hence, there's no better imagery to use for Angela than a giant, growling penis monster. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this shit just writes itself.

The sewer will be mercifully short, because Angela is going to retreat further and further into herself. She's been in the rape world since she realized no one in the world was ever sympathetic to her, and her depression will spiral out of control, losing grip on reality all together and ending up in the labyrinth, which is much larger, longer, and all around mazelike than James' ever was. The newspapered walls that James sees outside of Angela's boss room are his delusion, his mind's way of telling him to wake up after just assuming Angela was fine. As stated above, her Abstract Daddy wont be all that abstract, otherwise, the rest of the room will be the same, and that'll be the look of the whole damn maze. The fire replaces the water from James' maze, being a painfully overt metaphor for hell. Whats worse, shes going to have to navigate down there in order to solve puzzles. The fires will eat away at your life down to 1HP, but will never kill you. The message here is you have to kill yourself, because otherwise the pain isn't going to stop. Also, this will drain your health drinks down to nothing, making the suicide ending a chore to avoid. We expect Angela to die, though, so it's natural to work to keep her alive if you want a different ending.

No we come to a problem: in SH2, James, not Angela, kills the Abstract Daddy. This can be handled two ways: 1) we let James do all the work in a cut scene, and avoid the boss fight altogether, or 2) ignore James' perception, since they're both crazy anyways, and have the normal boss fight, only have James deliver the final blow. I favor the last one because it establishes how the events of the game are entirely subjective and only occur in the protagonist's heads, and it also makes Angela's suspiscion of James more justified if the player only sees him come in at the last minute. After the fight, Angela (who realized earlier that her mom was not on her side) decides to seek out her mother to finish her revenge plot once and for all. Even if you get the suicide ending, Angela has got to stop running. This triggers the transition back to the shower world, and Angela climbs out of the sewers to find she is all the way on the other side of the lake (I hate the Toluca Lake sequence).

What her connection is to the hotel isn't entirely clear, but we know from SH2 that now she is looking for her mom again, and this is after we realize her mother was not on her side. She could be just wandering blindly, and thats not unheard of in Silent Hill games, but I really want there to be a reason. So, let's say that either initially, wrongfully, or actually, Angela's mom was sympathetic to a point where they may have gone as far as getting a divorce. If not that, Angela and her mom could have at least stayed at the hotel for a few nights away from Thomas and her brother. We start to make Mrs. Orosco into a good guy again and try to give Angela something to live for. If we have to have a new enemy, let's use a smaller version of Abstract Brother.

Memos left around the hotel give conflicting viewpoints about her mother's role in Angela's abuse. The turning point back into the rape world will be a home video her dad made. This would be an emotional high point on its own, but Angela finds the tape in her mother's camcorder.

When James sees Angela on the flaming staircase, she has only just arrived. The player wont see james at first, but will walk down the stairs towards a glowing white robed figure. At the bottom, the flames burn away at the image and reveals James, who, and I want to stress this, LOOKS LIKE SHIT. His clothes are damp and torn, he's got blood all over him from the townspeople he slaughtered, his eyes are sunken and bloodshot, he's been crying for hours, and he has a gun trained on Angela, who doesn't seem to notice.

It's important for Angela to see James beaten, because throughout their adventures, James has been the only one with a somewhat hopeful outlook. Everytime Angela meets James, he tries to keep her from killing herself. He takes away her knife, he kills a boss monster, and he tries to console her after realizing what she's been through. In short, he's tried to be the good guy the whole time. In this scene in SH2, Angela asks for her knife back, and this time she's going to get it too, and there's got to be one last nail in the coffin. If you'll remember, the entire reason Angela appears at this point in the original SH2 is to sap James' will to live. That should be mirrored for Angela. When she see the hero defeated and without the person he'd been looking for the whole time, she realizes the whole thing is a joke, and turns back up the stairs, which are burning as she climbs higher...

...and higher, and higher, and higher, and higher until she reaches paradise. Remember, in games where religious wackos manifest the otherworld, it is refered to as paradise, being the lands where God dwells. Angela becomes surrounded by a sea of fire and then finally, nothingness. Here she confronts her mother at last, and from here on out which ending you get comes into affect.

I figure there are at least four endings, suicide, murder, mama, and UFO, of course. The suicide is obvious, and her mother will fulfill the "you deserved it" nonsense, and after fighting the boss monster (the mom, obviously), we'll get to see that the monster actually kills Angela, then summons the dad and brother to eat her corpse. She commited suicide before meeting James in this ending.

The murder ending is similar in that she was dead the entire time, but here her mother admits that she was bullied into letting it happen. In fact, Thomas tracked them down to the hotel and dragged them back home. In this ending, Angela gets her revenge on the beaten mother monster, who dies screaming "I'm sorry, I never wanted to hurt you." When we zoom out to the real world, the mom finally grew some balls when the dad, and this is important, RAPED ANGELA TO DEATH. That, it turns out, got the cops involved. Mrs. Orosco is heartbroken, of course, but her and her son (who, it turns out, isn't a bad guy after all and was still at least beaten by his drunk dad) are able to move on with their lives, making Angela into a martyr.

In the mama ending, the mother is only an illusion, representing her anger that her mother wasn't able to help her. She never endorsed the violence, but again, she was not able to stop it. With the monster defeated, Angela manages to shake her delusions and return to the real world. She really did kill her father (but probably not her brother), but her mom finds her at the hotel in time, and the two run away together and start a new life. It might be better to have her acquited and then go on with her life, but either way she lives on with her actually good mother.

In the one true, canon ending, her mother reveals that she is a space monster and Angela is half alien. Rather than come up with an excuse to fight the monster, the two fly away on a UFO and live a happy life with the rest of the aliens as well as Harry, James, Eddie, Eric, Tina, Travis, Mira, and the captain of the little baroness.

It writes itself, but I really enjoyed getting that off my chest. Oh, and for completeness sake, the name of her mom is Martha, and her brother is Jason. Just so they have names.

I'm gonna stop here for right now, but expect Eddie's outline and my third, original idea to pop up soon.


Religion in Silent Hill

I feel like writing about this all of a suddenly.

From a short comic by Ito that came with the SH0 soundtrack. PH, who I think is named "White Hunter" here, skewers the Angel because he has been "programmed" to do so, but does not know why. He has been waiting on that pillar for who knows how long to fulfill this duty. The Angel, then, exists specifically to summon the man with the triangle head. It's a self-defeating prophecy, and is my favorite part of the entire religious mythology of the Silent Hill series. It just wraps everything up so well.

So I finally finished Shattered Memories after a 6 month break related to a horrible glitch that erased my entire save file ('M' has snuck into the Otherworld). I loved it, and it would have been my third or even second favorite of the series if it wasn't so embarassingly unfinished. I also finally got a PSX emulator working and beat the first game a few months before Shattered Memories came out, so it was really fresh in my head when I began playing SHSM. Because of this and other reasons, the first games inferiority to everything else became really striking. Let me explain:

I was really interested in the series since 2000, when I first heard about the experiences people had while playing it. I was never too big on Playstation back then, and I really couldn't care less about Resident Evil back then, so it just sort of never stayed on my radar long enough for me to get into it at the time. By the time the second one came out on PS2, I still wanted to check it out, but it was so not happening then. I was all "what the hell? just put it on Gamecube!" Oh well. It was around 2005 when I found out there was a third one and even a fourth one, and since I actually had a PS2 when I found this out, I jumped on the horse. SH2 and SH3 were everywhere, so I got 'em both for like $30 (that's combined), and a few months later I found SH4 lying around at an EB. I looked for the first one all over town, but it no longer existed, apparently, and it took me four years to get a Playstation emulator to work.

Because of the almost hilariously broken market of video games, you can only but games that are less than 4 years old, and so by necessity SH2 became the first one I played and finished. I was working on 2, 3, and 4 at the same time, but finished each in order. Needless to say, I was completely blown away. Silent Hill was easily one of the best games I've ever played, right up there with Primal Rage, Cubivore, and Let's Win Forever. The best part about it was that, like the end of Godzilla vs. Destroyah, now matter how many times I play through it, I become a sobbing mess from the last Pyramid Head fight until the end credits.

SH3 is... eh. It's every bit as cool, wierd, and disturbing as 2, and if anything the oppresion and isolation are even stronger in 3 than in 2, but I had no fucking idea what was happening, and there was no build up to the dad's death, and we don't even see him alive. The whole time playing the game I was just like "I DON'T CARE!" I can feel sympathy for someone losing their father, but how am I supposed to know if that was real or just something Heather imagined? It didn't even look human.

The last I'll say about SH3 other than it made much more sense after playing the first one (and since I played 2 first, my impression of the series dictates that a direct sequel is automatically the worst idea, hence 3 is near the bottom of my list) is that I really liked the idea of the Otherworld being created by blind faith rather than guilt and sadness. Here, all the monsters have roles and titles, and we see ceremonial monsters that never attack Heather but are important to the framework of the religion which created them. I also REALLY like killing God with a shotgun at the end. SH3, for all it's faults about requiring familiarity with a previous game, does save itself with a really kick ass utilization of the forces of the Otherworld and subjective reality.

Plus, that fukuro lady is hot as hell.

And of course, SH4 went back to the normal SH formula of not being a direct sequel, but making alot of sense in context with the others, not that it needs to because it's a very personal story to begin with. Not a fan of breakable weapons and the whole charging thing, and I nearly got killed by a Rubber Face, and still can't manage to get anything other than the absolute worst ending, but it's all good.

So then the movie came out. Since it was sort of an adaptation of the first game, I figure I'd let it fill me in on the details about the first game so that the third could make more sense. Bad idea. My opinion of the movie was way too high, and it completely ruined the first game for me. In the movie, we have the same basic framework of the first game with Alessa and everything, and it uses the idea that instead of personal issues of the main character, the Otherworld is created by the blind faith of the religious people in the town. Unlike SH3, the religion is much more overt with it's characters, and is quite proud to be dusting off, of all the myth cycles in all of history, the christian "God," which is much more refreshing and understandable than the isolated nature of the... well, I'll just say it, the cult from the games.

The film is quite clearly about large religions and the maddening effects of blind faith and insanity. It also envelopes Sharon's mother and Cybil Bennet the cop who specializes in busting pedos, which is a statement in it's own right about the old myth that says a mother could lift a car over her head to save her child. Rose gets put through the fucked up subjective reality that the religious people have chosen to live in, and she does it selflessly to protect her child. It's awesome. Plus, Sharon and Rose never get out of the fog world... hmm...

It's one of the best monster movies ever, in short. I could go on and on about how Tatopoulos fully redeemed himself and how it's amazing that a greek guy who nearly killed Godzilla is actually on the same technical level with Eiichi Asada, but I want to move on.

In 2007 I bought a PSP a week before 0rigins came out because I was... excited. In the intervening year I became really engrossed in the mythology of the series, and now had a much better idea of the differences between the film and SH1. I even saw a let's play or two. So I thought I was totally prepared for everything that would happen in SH0. I wasn't. SH0 is exactly like every other Silent Hill game, and as such it has the same gameplay, themes, art style, music, and every other aspect is duplicated perfectly. So if you liked 1, 2, 3, or 4, you'll love 0.

Everything was going fine in the game. I save Alessa from her batshit insane mother who still clutches religion like Charleton Heston's cold dead hands and enter into the "Ash World." I wind up at Alchemilla hospital (which is new to me) and meet Lisa, nurses, and lying fig... whoops, I mean "straight-jackets." Then Alessa shows up and I pick up this fucking weird triangle thing. I don't get it.

The game progresses like this with me fighting me repressed personal demons and at the end of each level I fight a boss and get another weird triangle. Well, Travis, meaning both me and the fictional Travis I'm playing as, is not stupid and together us Travises are getting tired of being strung along in some stupid game. I was willing to pull Alessa out of a fire to save her, but when collecting trinkets involves me fighting my dead dad who hung himself when I was 8, that's way out of line. To date, I have never sympathized more with a protagonist in any game than Travis Grady. And that's not just because we have the same first name. See, what I began to discover is that I was playing two games: a Silent Hill game where I fight my own tangible psyche, and a Zelda-like game with giant bosses, fetch quests, and a fantastical back story involving literal interpretations of mythical creatures.

I just want to point out right here that Silent Hill 0rigins is still my second favorite of the series, right after SH2. I don't really feel like I need to explain this any more than saying "Artaud Theatre," and you should get it. There are, of course, many other factors that effect my opinion of this game, but even if it wasn't up to snuff in any other way, the Otherworld library set, and really the whole stage at Artaud Theatre would cinch it. I cannot express in words how much I love the fucking theatre level.

And one of the other reasons I love this game so much is the way it handles this completely mood breaking idea that there is a literal psychic battle between physical Gods in the real world happening at the same time. Travis, of course, doesn't give a shit about any of this. Dahlia is an incomprehensible madwoman, so we aren't going to get an explanation from her. Kaufman is a doctor and is only in it for the money, though, so when he starts saying crap about splitting souls and casting magical summoning spells, my heart sank through the floor. What the fuck happened!? Alessa was the only person in the town I could fully trust, and she bought into this crap as much as Dahlia.

When the final level comes around, I finish constructing the "flauros," which fucking floors me. Flauros? What the fuck is Flauros doing in purgatory and heaven? If the game uses the Order to manifest the Otherworld, then the creatures inside it must reflect the religious beliefs of those who see it. Flauros is a FUCKING GOETIC DEMON, not an angel, and NOT A FUCKING TRIANGLE!

I knew then, of course, that in SH1 Dahlia mumbled something about Sammael, so the first thing I figure is that this is some sort of mythological misdirection intended to either confuse me or make me believe Alessa is responsible for the Otherworld. As myself, I already know that the Otherworld isn't physically real and only exists because I believe it does. Travis Grady, then, by witnessing his father's death over again, can't possibly think the Otherworld is tangible. He never lets us know for sure, but judging from his actions, it's pretty much assured that he not only isn't falling for Dahlia's crap, but he can't even understand it.

So why does Alessa want a triangle named after a Goetic demon? In game, the rationalization for retreiving the object is to make Alessa's psychic powers stronger so that she can take control of the Otherworld and turn it on those who had hurt her... just like in the movie, but this time it's turned into a quest to find the Triforce to slay Gannon. It's fucking retarded.

Now, I beat the game (Travis sneaks into the secret headquarters, is gassed, and then kills God, who was hiding in the "Flauros," apparently) and I come up with a theory: the triangle is a fetish object that has no real power. Alessa's psychic abilities are part of the Otherworld manifested by Dahlia, who sees her daughter rebelling against the ceremony as the devil's work. Lisa and Kaufman are gullible and scared out of their minds. In the film they mention Alessa's psychic powers, but there is doesn't even need to be rationalized away, as it is simply a non issue and a cop out buzzword thrown around by clueless characters who cannot comprehend whats actually happening to them. In SH0, it is a fetch quest, and all the memos in the Otherworld library in (Antonin) Artaud Theatre are essays about psychic abilities. Here, it can be rationalized away, but the notion that they were trying to say Alessa LITERALLY had the superpower of Telekinesis has always bothered me.

Now I finally play the first game. Oh my god is sucked soooooo bad. We can't even get to the hospital before Dahlia start yapping about some incoherent nonsense nobody gives a shit about. This game disobeys ever law of the franchise that has been set since it was released. Here, it is made explicitly clear that the Otherworld is a REAL TANGIBLE place you can drive to in your car. It was created by Alessa with telekinesis, and she really did SPLIT HERSELF IN TWO. Nothing is figurative. The closest we get to a good Silent Hill game here is the line "the Otherworld, a world of someone's nightmarish delusions come to life." But this doesn't mean subjective reality, this means that the monsters have literally come to life. Like, they are every bit as real as dinosaurs and cats. Real, living, breathing creatures. Created by a girl with Telekinesis.

Surely I need not explain why this is fucking retarded. But here's the thing that bothers me: SH2 came after SH1. Every other game in the series makes it quite clear that the Otherworld isn't nightmarish delusions "brought to life," but simply the nightmarish delusions in and of themselves. SH3 is a direct sequel to the first game, and even here we see subjectivity work itself into every aspect of the design and story of the game. SH0, as I just discussed, starts at the very beginning, and at the first manifestation in 1973 the Otherworld is created by Travis's rough past, Dahlia's madness, and Alessa's ordeals. The psychic powers and physical artifacts that control the Otherworld are brought into the story, but, as I said above, these do not explain themselves very well and are far easier to comprehend as Dahlia's manifestations of her blind faith in religious symbols than any actual psychic or physical battles taking place.

So why then is Silent Hill (1999) so wildly different from it's sequels? The game itself is as good as any other SH title, and the part about Harry not giving a shit about the craziness and just wanting to find his daughter that translated so well in the movie is still there. So... what happened?

And I don't have a real answer. I've though about this for a long time now, and I can't figure it out. There is simply too much that we can't ignore to make sense out of it. For example: I'd known for quite a while that the first game revolved around Cheryl and Alessa, who were "split" from each other. The film used this as well. But up until I played through the game, there were any number of ways to explain this. In Silent Hill, you see Alessa and Cheryl in the same room, with a visible age difference, and in two endings we actually see the infant Heather, who looks exactly 17 in SH3. There's just not a way to fudge it. The Otherworld in SH is not a result of blind faith, it is the result of Alessa's fears and psyche. The religion actually triggered her to create the Otherworld, which contradicts what we see in SH0 where the Otherworld uses Alessa, Dahlia, AND Travis to define itself, and Alessa and Dahlia merely battle for control over it.

And then there's God. Now, I really like that they brought God back from the dead. I think there is kind of a stigma in Western cultures that bringing God back in a modern interpretation is kind of dumb or not wise or uninteresting or something like that. I mean, we just don't see her/him that often. You could say that this has something to do with people who still believe in God, but few of those people actually exist, and theres no good reason to give a shit about them anyways. Throughout history, God has been one hell of a monster who has influenced the real world in ways completely beyond the capacity of any other mythological figure in history, so to me bringing God back is a really, REALLY cool idea.
On top of that, the way that they brought back God is downright inspired. Due to the nature of Silent Hill, God only exists as an antiquated belief whos followers are so fanatical they can make the monster appear in their image as part of the Otherworld. The first time God appears, though, is in SH1, where it is said to be exactly that, a real monster with real powers that can really affect the natural world.

In this iteration, God is the product of man (a much more fitting origin story), when a man and woman offerred a snake and a reed to the sun, God was so moved that it was born to these two individuals. This means we have a creator deity and a sun diety that openly acknowledges within it's own mythology that it was born of a man and a woman. Yet it is still worshipped as a creator. The religious parts of Silent Hill mythology are full of contradictions like this, and thats what makes them so wonderful.

Other beings in the religion are agents of God. There's Lobsel Vith and Xuchilbara who are supposed to lead people in obedience to God. Xuchilbara is more elaborated on as it is also the angel of resurrection and is either synonmous with or employer to Valtiel and Pyramid Head. Valtiel is responsible for shifting to and from the fog world and the otherworld and watches after the fetus of God to ensure her birth.

Pyramid Head is really interesting in the mythology of the series because he one of the main figures of the pantheon who actually becomes a very personal monster for everyone who sees him. His introduction in SH2 has him being a historically accurate and ceremonial garbed executioner from the town's past, when he is really James' personal punisher created by the guilt he has regarding his wife. In SH0, PH (now the Butcher) is much more extraverted and works with a blind rage not seen in any other version (he is also the only version to alter more than some minor cosmetic details). The Butcher is associated with roadkill and Travis's repressed anger about his parents. In the bad ending of this game, Travis actually gets "recruited" as the Butcher, but for most of the game his status as judge jury and execution is simply abused, as he rounds the town slaughtering monsters out of rage rather than any real reasonable punishment.

PH also appears in the arcade game and Silent Hill: Shit-cuming, but here he's just there to be there, he has no signifigance.

In the aforementioned White Hunter comic, Pyramid Head is shown blindly obeying the will of whoever happened to manifest him in that way (it is stated not to have anything to do with 0rigins, so it isn't Dahlia or Alessa). Here he has only one victim to punish, and he has no idea why, and he simply stands on a pillar rather than pursue it. The Angel in the comic is one of my favorite Silent Hill monsters ever, if only because he has a trumpet that shoots bullets. It's hard to read much into the Angel, but it's easy to assume it gets it's orders directly from God, Xuchilbara, or Lobsel Vith. If the orders were to send it to PH, then I'm guessing it follows Xuchilbara, who is the immediate boss of Red Pyramid, hence the Red part. Xuchilbara probably resurrects his one Angel over and over, sending it to it's doom. It accomplishes nothing, but it's awesome.

Also Lisa. Lisa Garland is unique because she at first appears to be a normal human who has become stuck in the Otherworld, but later realizes that she is actually one of the monsters, and the real Lisa Garland is already dead. We don't see her monster form until Fukuro and SH3, and it's hot as hell, and all she really does is twitch around while Valtiel does... something. I'm not sure, but it has great significance. So Lisa matters in some way to the overarching mythology, but I can't quite figure out how. I'm only bringing her up because she's so hot.

One thing I've always wondered is how the religious people in Silent Hill explain the non-religious monsters. The closest to an explanation we get is "they've come to see paradise" or whatever the line Claudia gives in SH3, and in this game the monsters are just cultists, so Claudia doesn't seem them at all anyways. But what about Dahlia coming across a Groaner or Air Screamer? It had to happen, right? How do you suppose she handled that? If she believes the Otherworld is the work of God or Alessa's psychic powers, what does that make the abstract representations of a little girl's fear of big dogs running around the town?

Whatever. Last thing I'll do here is write down my list of favo flavos. This is the order in which I prefer the Silent Hill games, and also the order in which you should actually play them.
1. Silent Hill 2
2. Silent Hill 0rigins
3. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
4. Silent Hill 3
5. Silent Hill 4: The Room
6. Silent Hill
...and that other one isn't a real Silent Hill game, it's a fighting game, and not the good kind.

P.S. I'm an extremely optimistic fan for most things most of the time. The one time I had a fanboy hissy fit prior to the release of something was when I heard they were going to make King Ghidorah a good guy in GMK. That movie turned out pretty good, so it all worked out. Homecoming was something I was totally prepared to like, and was really behind those guys even with all the fans pissing and moaning. I thought "combat isn't a strong suit for Silent Hill, so I guess it could be tweaked to make it a little more fun." I didn't realize that they would add the dodge manuever that destroyed fighting games, and made it mandatory to learn the special moves. In a SH game, the pushoverness of the enemies combined with the unlimited ammo and the natural fear of the monsters means that you never, ever die once in any of the games. I died once in SH0, and then I ran, and things worked out. In SHV I was killed by a fucking nurse because I didn't dodge. Good thing I didn't pay for it.

So I'm not really enthused about Silent Hill "8" (it's either 7 or 9 depending on what you count), and this is mostly due to the music and the trailer. The music is fucking terrible, even though Akira Yamaoka has said he's totally fine with continuing the series even though he no longer works for Konami, and even if he doesn't come back there are plenty of people out there who can actually do even better than Akira, industrial, trip-hop, and all his styles are actually pretty easy to get right. It's called "Broken Notes," and it's amazing. There is no excuse for a terrible soundtrack. But more than that the trailer is really fucking boring. I find it almost impossible to care about whats happening.

I hate to say it, but this time around I really am one of those pissy fanboys who you can never please. Sorry, but Silent Hill is too easy to do right for me to be forgiving about this.