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Silent Hill: Short Message Review

Published 6/5/2024

Rating : 3/10 Forgettable

Just by chance I was browsing the Sony PlayStation store for any new titles since I completed Cyberpunk ( for the 5th time) and I was ready for a change of pace. I found Silent Hill: Short Message listed for free. Without reading any reviews I scanned the premise, found it slightly intriguing, and dove in. Konami makes a serious point of reporting any suicidal behavior to the proper folks a few times, so I knew the subject matter was going to be heavy.

Turns out, the only thing heavy during my 90-minute playthrough was my controller. A part of me begged to put down the controller and do something productive with the rest of my day -- because playing Silent Hill Short Message was a slog.

Silent Hill: The Short Message is a first-person horror game built on the idea of a time loop in which its tormented main character is trapped. If that sounds familiar, wait until you suffer through it. The game is blatantly inspired by PT (or "Playable Teaser"), Hideo Kojima's guerrilla demo for the never-released Silent Hill title he was once working on and that which was cut short. This game is not Konami running back PT's story without its director. It's a brand-new entry into the series meant to be something of a jumping-on point for players uninitiated with the previous titles. It's neither tied to any past entry, nor a teaser for a future installment.

A fresh start that doesn't cost you a dime, yet deducts 90-minutes from your life you wish you could get back.

Silent Hill: Short Message wants us to know the "The Silent Hill Phenomenon" can happen anywhere: a phenomenon in which people around the world experience the boundary between their subconscious thoughts and reality obscured, causing the manifestation of delusions. The game suggests you can have a "Silent Hill" anywhere, even in a strange German town full of Japanese teens where the game is set. Again, the premise is fine, I think long time players of Silent Hill are open to the idea of other locations, but my problem is the content. The voice acting is poor and uninspired, the script was laughably on the nose, the character graphics are dated, the smart phone conversations are cheap, and the splicing of real photography (memories of Maya using a real actress) are slow and aggravating. A skip button would have been nice.

There are some creepy elements to be found. Monster chases through tight corridors will always get the heart beating, but this can't make up the rest of the game's failures. Here's to hoping this was an experiment and not a sneak preview into future installments. The upcoming Silent Hill 2 Remake, by contrast, looks exceptionally well done.

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