Konami’s classic horror series Silent Hill is now backward-compatible on Xbox One, Microsoft has announced – in the form of the Silent Hill HD Collection, and Silent Hill’s largely unloved fifth outing, Homecoming.
Silent Hill HD Collection initially released on Xbox 360 and PS3 back in 2012, and features two games: Silent Hill 2, a bona fide candidate for best video game ever made (according to me), and its immediate follow-up Silent Hill 3 – which, slightly confusingly, is more closely connected to the first Silent Hill game on PS1, unhelpfully not included in the package.
Silent Hill 2, if you haven’t yet been introduced, follows the plight of James Sunderland after he returns to the town of the title, having received a letter from his dead wife. It’s fair to say that, some 17 years after its original PS2 release, Silent Hill 2 shows its age in places – but its startling imagery and audio work, bravado narrative, and surreal, suffocating ambience still make for some of the most affecting gaming moments ever committed to code.
Silent Hill 3, meanwhile – which turns its gaze toward teenage protagonist Heather Mason – is a little more conventional in some ways. It favours a more traditional storytelling approach over its predecessor’s all-pervasive symbolism, but it still knows how to wrong-foot its audience where it matters – the fact that Silent Hill itself doesn’t show for almost half its run-time is one of my favourite tricks, making the eventual arrival of its hellish streets a perversely comforting reunion.
So then, Xbox One owners now have the opportunity to experience one undeniable horror masterpiece and one less dazzling, but still excellent game. Which would all be wonderful if it wasn’t for the fact that both remasters in the Silent Hill HD Collection are exceptionally poor efforts, and far from the best way to sample a legendary series.
Digital Foundry exhaustively summarised the Silent Hill HD Collection’s shortcomings at the time of release – but perhaps all you really need to know is that, in a series best remembered for its iconic, fog-shrouded streets, the remasters didn’t even get the fog right. That said, original PS2 versions of both games are somewhat harder to come by these days, so there are limited official alternatives if you want to experience these two highlights of horror gaming.
(EDIT: As noted in the comments, it seems that PS2 originals are currently a lot easier to find than they were when I last tried to replace my copy of Silent Hill 2 – although you’ll obviously also need an appropriate way to play the game once you’ve bought it).
As for Silent Hill: Homecoming, that released on Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2008. It was built specifically for the then-current console generation, and offers a decently engaging, somewhat modernised spin on the series’ core formula. It manages a handful of memorably unnerving set-piece moments, but it does feel rather too in awe of its forebears to find its own voice, and suffers as a result. At least Konami’s continued attempts to develop the series in the west did eventually give us the marvellously idiosyncratic Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
If you’ve an original Xbox 360 disc copy of the Silent Hill HD Collection or Silent Hill: Homecoming, you just need to pop it in your Xbox One for the console’s backward-compatibility magic to kick in. Or, if I haven’t completely put you off, both games are available to download digitally on the Microsoft Store, priced at 8.74/$10.49 USD and $19.99 USD respectively. Homecoming, for some reason, appears to be absent from the UK store.