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Silent Hill: The Short Message Doesn’t Tread New Ground, But Gives Hope for the Franchise’s Future

It’s been more than a decade since Konami really worked on anything related to their psychological horror franchise Silent Hill. After a very controversial and widely criticized decision to cancel “P.T” aka “Silent Hills” and their relationship with Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima, the company has struggled to get back on the good graces of gamers following their shift on focus to pachinko slot machines and mobile gaming titles. Thankfully it appears that the video game developer has finally seen the light – reviving so many of their classic IPs and remaking two of their best-selling titles with Metal Gear Solid 3 and Silent Hill 2 all getting remakes that will see release pretty soon for PC and modern consoles.

As a way to test the waters once more and commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original Silent Hill, Konami recently released “Silent Hill: The Short Message” – a free-to-play title exclusive to PlayStation 5 that was released on January 31 on the PlayStation Store. Reminiscent of games such as P.T and Layers of Fear, the game is a first-person psychological horror experience – where players take control of a young girl named Anita as she finds herself inside an abandoned apartment complex in Germany in search of her missing friend Maya. Armed with nothing but her cellphone to communicate with her friends and light the way, she literally ventures into the unknown as dark forces manifest themselves born from the stuff nightmares are made of.

Unlike past entries in the franchise, The Short Message has no combat whatsoever and focuses solely on exploration, puzzle-solving, and running when Anita is stalked and chased by a terrifying monster covered with cherry blossom petals. With only a mobile device on hand to read messages and guide her through the dark hallways of the building, she is forced to face her everything she has struggled with throughout her personal life, as well as finding out the truth behind her friend Maya’s disappearance. The game also forces players to go on a loop if they happen to be caught by the monster, with Anita essentially being incapable of dying until she “finds it” and discovers the truth about her situation and her friend’s disappearance.

As a new entry in the newly revived series, Silent Hill: The Short Message doesn’t tread new ground, but it gives hope for the franchise’s future. Exploring very sensitive topics such as mental health, bullying, and even suicide awareness, the game takes a deep dive into those issues and presents a very relatable tale of a young teenager’s struggles with life and relationships – while also exploring the toxicity that comes with social media and finding acceptance in one’s own family and social circles. It’s a game that shouldn’t be played by the faint of heart, but it’s stories like this that were explored in previous entries and also portrayed Silent Hill as a conduit that forced its victims to face their own inner demons, literally and figuratively, and find some form of closure at the end of their journey.

While we wait for the Silent Hill 2 Remake, this game is a good holdover until that arrives – and it’s absolutely free to download if you own a PS5. Fans may be reminded of P.T and how Hideo Kojima’s vision of the series never came to light, but we all have to move on and hopefully this time Konami stays the course and doesn’t take their fanbase or IPs for granted ever again.

Good Effort 5/10

Silent Hill: The Short Message is now available for PS5 owners to download for free in the PlayStation Store.