Return to the hill.
While Konami is continually deciding to parade the remnants of the Silent Hill universe in pachinko machines and quick cash grabs, many indie developers have channelled the original message of the series and successfully created games that continue its ethereal, psychologically-driven lineage.
Since Halloween is on its way, we’ve listed seven excellent indies inspired by Silent Hill – it’s time to get spooked.
Lone Survivor is so close to Silent Hill it often feels like it could be a lost spin-off or sequel. Instead, this 2012 gem takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a man in a totally-not-creepy surgical mask attempts to make it through his apartment building. That journey, however, is littered with horrible monsters and psychological phenomena as the boundaries between reality and fiction blur.
The game’s apartment is strongly indebted to Silent Hill 2’s Blue Creek Apartments, but Lone Survivor is more than its inspirations. By using a hub-style gameplay loop, Lone Survivor differentiates itself from Silent Hill effectively. Players must return to the man’s apartment to save, pass time and sleep to stave off madness.
Often, returning to old rooms and going to sleep changes the layout of the apartment and soon a simple journey across an apartment building becomes a labyrinthine effort.
6. Cry of Fear
Starting out as a Half-Life mod, Cry of Fear transcended its mod status to become one of the most celebrated indie horror efforts in recent years. Players assume the role of Simon, a man who has recently fallen victim to a hit-and-run, leaving him disabled and mentally broken. However, soon after the accident, Simon finds himself back on his feet in a familiar yet deeply disturbing reality.
The game blends Source gunplay with some inventive monster designs, excellent level design and a healthy dollop of Silent Hill-like atmosphere. Plus, it’s free-to-play, so you have no excuse!
How can an RPG Maker game be scary? Those are just basic sprites, right? Well, The Witch’s House flies in the face of horror games that rely on aesthetics and production value alone to be frightening; it’s proof that good scares come from atmosphere, writing and music.
In The Witch’s House, death is literally around every corner with a series of booby traps littering the game’s classic setting. The title’s puzzle-solving elements are akin to Silent Hill, whereas the game’s body horror is inspired heavily by Silent Hill 3. However, The Witch’s House is an excellent choice, too, for fans of older, 16-bit horror titles like Clock Tower.
The game was released in 2012 as a freeware title before seeing a paid-for remake last year.
Do you ever get creeped out by horror films on videotape? There is something about the graininess of the format that adds to the effectiveness of a good scare. CONCLUSE, a 2018 title which saw glowing reviews on release, understands the power this aesthetic has and knows exactly how to use it.
Players assume the role of Michael Benson, a man searching for his missing wife, Carolyn. After almost giving up after three years of searching, Michael receives an anonymous tip that his wife is in the town of Hell, New England. Setting off to find her, Michael finds himself in a grained-out world with increasingly disturbing inhabitants.
If you were a fan of Silent Hill’s use of monster design and atmosphere, then give this a shot.
3. Lost In Vivo
Those with claustrophobia should look away now. Lost in Vivo contains all a good horror needs, but the way it plays with the concept of space is its most terrifying aspect.
Gameplay opens with the player taking a walk with their service dog. Rain is pouring and the night feels truly wretched, but things get worse when your dog is forced down a broken sewer drain. You of course chase after it, only to find yourself lost in an ever-constricting underbelly of horror.
Lost in Vivo channels PlayStation One-like graphics, harkening back to memories of Silent Hill’s low-poly but utterly terrifying art direction. If you don‘t have claustrophobia now, you will after playing this.
Taiwanese developer RedCandleGames broke through with this horror hit in 2017. By channelling a Silent Hill-esque sense of horror through a deeply personal and political storyline, the studio managed to create a game whose dread is not only due to its content, but the real-life horror that inspired it.
Telling the tale of 1960s Taiwan under martial law, this unique game not only wrangles with the recesses of the human psyche but also the deep complexities of historical guilt.
Frictional Games is a master at indie horror, but SOMA is perhaps the strongest indicator of how indebted its games are to Silent Hill. SOMA’s discussions of alienation invoke memories of Silent Hill 2’s utter sense of isolation. Set in a seemingly abandoned underwater station, protagonist Simon Jarrett must navigate a strange, subterranean world. With enemies that seem to be a mix of robotic parts and underwater fauna, SOMA continues to occupy a space in the creases of your amygdala long after the credits roll.
With an inventive narrative, unique art style and, best of all, an ocean of atmosphere, SOMA is a superb game, but it’s also evidence that Silent Hill’s style of horror will live on far longer than Konami’s antics.
Blood pressure still normal? There’s still time before Halloween to fix that. We’ve lined up all the best free horror games for you to tiptoe through before the big day, as well as gathering all the creepiest indie game villains for a fear-fest!