I've been really intrigued by the PT Demo of Silent Hills and what it might be teasing about the future of the series. What's most exciting for me is how it's gotten gamers who weren't familiar with Silent Hill or had always wanted to find out more really interested. And for good reason. It's not everyday you can get Guillermo del Toro, Hideo Kojima, and Norman Reedus together for a project, a fusing of minds and mediums unlike any other. Here are some of the references to the original Silent Hill series I found, which, admittedly, are just theories, but theories fueled by some very cool implications.
Creepy Babies and a Hole in the Bathroom:
(Video: NEPHTIS ZERO)
Let's start with the weird baby in the bathroom. I've talked in an earlier article about the killer babies with knives in the first Silent Hill as well as the portal in the strange bathroom in Silent Hill 4. But when I saw the deformed baby in the sink, crying helplessly, I immediately thought of the end of Silent Hill 3 when Heather Mason vomits up a baby "god" in fetus form. This god is what the Order, the creepy cult of Silent Hill, has been waiting for, hoping it would usher in their Paradise. Things in Silent Hill 3 took a disturbing turn when the villainess, Claudia Wolf, ate the barfed fetus and metamorphosed into a dark goddess herself, who Heather then proceeded to obliterate. The connections between the Order, deformed babies, and the tragic past of Silent Hill immediately came to mind when I entered the bathroom, which leads me to...
One of the seemingly more obvious references to the original Silent Hill during the demo is the writing on the wall that reads: "Forgive me, Lisa. There's a monster inside of me." Lisa Garland is a nurse who first appeared in the original Silent Hill and took care of Alessa Gillespie when she was burned by her mother, Dahlia, in a ritual sacrifice to resurrect the dead god. What makes Lisa so compelling is her artifice; she seems caring and thoughtful, but is wracked by the guilt of her selfishness in not wanting to take care of a burnt Alessa anymore, a darker underbelly that corrupts everything about her that is pure. The inclusion of the name, Lisa, could be coincidental, but considering how integral she has been with the mythos of Silent Hill, I would be surprised if there wasn't a connection. Also, in Silent Hill 4, the fourth victim of the serial killer, Walter Sullivan, is named Steve Garland. A pet store operator, Steve was killed by a submachine gun and Sullivan proceeded to kill all the animals in the store as well. It's not certain if there's a connection between Steve, Lisa, and even the PT demo (some have suggested the female ghost is the dead wife, Lisa, who clearly looks different from the Lisa in the original game), but it seems to indicate Kojima and del Toro will either be tying in with the original games, or reinventing them entirely, albeit with some of the characters we associate with the series. I'm thrilled either way.
This is a shorter reference, but a few times in the lower right corner of the screen, the load icon is represented by three circles that look an awful lot like the Halo of the Sun from the Order. Surrounded by words written in Elder Futhark (which is the oldest form of the Runic Alphabet), the letters describe the Order's principal beliefs—that a long time ago, gifts and sacrifices were given to the sun who then birthed a new god who tried to usher in Paradise. The Order will do anything it can to bring about this rebirth again and it wouldn't be a far stretch to assume they will be in the new Silent Hills. Then again, in Silent Hill 3, the Halo of the Sun was used as a mark indicating a save point (save/load = resurrection), and it could just be the game's way of saving your progress, registering your actions, and creating new permutations based on the random things you've looked at. While I'm talking about SH3, one other visual cue I was reminded of in the hallways of the PT demo when the lights go red and everything speeds up, was the Borley Haunted Mansion (as well as the Void in Silent Hill: Downpour) in which a red light follows you down two hallways that look similar. If the crimson fog catches up to you, you die.
I've always wondered why the radio starts crackling when monsters get close to the protagonist. As you're near the end of the hallway in the PT demo, you'll hear the crackle on the radio and then hear about a vicious murder involving a family. What's particularly unnerving is how detailed the killings are described. I know the monsters in Silent Hill are mainly subconscious projections in physically monstrous form by the protagonists (whether it's their guilt or their fears).What if those personal horrors were projected in audio form? What would someone likes James Sunderland (from Silent Hill 2) have heard on his radio as his guilt intensified with the approach of those monsters? Would he blot out the voices accusing him so that it would only be radio static? Or would he hear something similar to what the Norman Reedus' character does? Either way, I'm expecting some very cool updates on the way the radio works in the new Silent Hills.
First Person View:
A few people have already pointed out the similarities of Silent Hills to Silent Hill 4: The Room. The Room involved a man stuck inside an apartment, never able to leave, similar to the theme of an eternal hallway stuck in a permanent loop until he is able to exorcise whatever demons are within. Also similar is that while your character is stuck inside the eponymous room, the perspective is in first-person, lending an uncanny voyeuristic feel to it that I found terrifying. The final reveal pulls the camera back into third-person mode. Could this be hinting that the new game will take place in both perspectives? Or maybe it'll be your choice? (On a total side note, the image and text below reminds me of both Twin Peaks and Silent Hill 2's creepy letter)
In Silent Hill 4, the ghosts are victims of the serial killer Walter Sullivan, and they can't be killed, which is part of the horror of the game. Those ghosts follow you everywhere. Who are the ghosts that pop up in PT? Are they your victims? Are you one of the victims? Is one of those ghosts the one actually narrating the ending? Could one of the toys they hint at be supernatural tricks like locking you in an eternal hallway? While the monsters in Silent Hill have always been gruesome, there's something far more disturbing about pale bloodied ghosts that haunt you eternally. Honestly, with how scared I was of the teaser, I think the full game may make me, as Kojima put it, sh-t my pants.
The Phone and Akira Yamaoka's Silent Hill Theme:
(Video: Jusst SomeMusic)
The phone is off the hook but hearing the call is the final key to unlocking the true ending of the demo. It's a common trope in horror, and one that is a big part of Silent Hill (once again referring back to part 4, there was a phone with no outside connection that would ring). "The gap in the door… It's a separate reality." Is the phone that connection to the other reality? The phone tells you you're chosen, but for what? In the Other World, normal laws no longer apply. "Are you sure the only you is you?" There have been suggestions that this could be referring to parallel dimensions or even the possibility of multiplayer. Is it possible that every playthrough of the game will be completely different? Kojima did say, "I wanted people to get together, cooperate," in part because of the foreign languages that pop up in the screen. Reddit user Hack-n-Slashley did a loose translation of the words that flash on the screen, which I'd been wondering about. Will this new Silent Hills require collaboration on a deeper level? Obviously, we're a bit away from specifics, but the fact that I'm online searching and that I'll be wondering every day until it actually comes out is a testament to Kojima and del Toro having succeeded in creating what must be one of the best teasers in gaming history. The inclusion of Akira Yamaoka's Silent Hill theme assures me that we're in good hands and while his name wasn't in the credits, I would be surprised if he wasn't involved in some manner for the final product.
*These are just my theories in relation to the Silent Hill connections and please also keep in mind the final note at the end of the demo: "This game is a teaser. It has no direct relation to the title." Having said that, I can't keep on wondering, what is the significance of the talking bag; are those numbers (204863) really a reference to Kojima's birthday, syllables for numbers amounting to "Look at the bathtub," or something more insidious that'll be revealed later (a plant reference to populus trichocarpa which may or may not be coincidental?); and is the ending narration as meta as some people are suggesting (a whole commentary on the series itself)? Finally, I'm really curious to know, what connections have I missed and what are your theories?
Peter Tieryas writes about weird connections and theories at tieryas.wordpress.com.