“It’s ruined by how on the nose it can be”: Silent Hill: The Short Message Has a Serious Issue That Nobody Seems to be Talking About

It has a lot to say... but says all of it, all at once.

SUMMARY

  • The game has many challenging themes that are otherwise in-depth, but thanks to the short experience, may feel a little less justified compared to older games.
  • Unlike the older games, Silent Hill: A Short Message tries to touch on a lot of themes all at once, not leaving much for the players to wonder about later on.
  • This new direction for interactive storytelling may not be appreciated by long-time fans, but may appeal to a larger audience in general.
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Silent Hill games have an ongoing legacy of crafting some of the most horrifying takes on one’s psyche. Whether you’re struggling with the protagonist’s bleak self-esteem, or fighting one’s inner dreams as they make sense of the world; these games make up some of the most thrilling and ruthless video games in recent history.

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However, there’s something about Silent Hill: The Short Message that may feel off to long-time fans, and it’s not a particularly easy topic to discuss. The more you think about the game’s narrative choices, the more challenging it feels to direct, from a creative point of view.

There’s a lot going on here without much time to explain

Silent Hill: A Short Message
The game revolves around a young woman trying to cope with an ongoing sense of feeling out of place.

Silent Hill: The Short Message is quite literally, one of the shortest horror experiences you’ll have in a video game. You may think that it’s going to be a short tale of someone having a really bad day, but there’s a story of a young woman who finds her life wrapped in layers within layers of things that the game doesn’t have the time to talk about.

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We’re looking at themes like self-harm, bullying, teen pregnancy, and much more that hide under the garment of deviant behavior justifying itself in a twisted world. Each one of these themes deserves to be explored when playing the game’s story, but there’s something about Silent Hill: The Short Message that feels awfully different this time around.

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Take for example the narrative direction of Silent Hill 2, where mysteries and stories may not make sense at all in the beginning. However, with time and progression, the game comes to a concluding path where players can decide how the entire narrative made sense to them.

While all of it may seem linear at first, it leaves you with an aftertaste that has you craving for more. This is a feeling new players might be okay with, but long-time fans of the series may struggle to make sense of it.

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Silent Hill: The Short Message, unfortunately, doesn’t do that. Instead, it throws everything at you, all at once, without leaving a sense of vagueness that makes the games otherwise so ridden with mystery.

Silent Hill’s focus on ‘interactive fiction’

Silent Hill new game
Throughout the game, you may be left with a feeling of ‘wanting more‘.

Interactive fiction has been a strong medium for storytellers, and video games try to make the best of it. At least, that’s the direction many games are moving ahead with now, especially those that have a story-rich gameplay element today. However, sometimes this fails to stand on its own, something we found in the case of Silent Hill: Ascension.

It’s almost as if the franchise’s direction is trying to re-find its purpose. Between strong storytelling and walking-simulator-esque gameplay, there’s a devil in the details that has gone missing. Something only certain developers are truly capable of achieving.

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Given Silent Hill’s strong history with this medium, it’s going to be a while until we see how carefully crafted storytelling can match the uniqueness third or first-person gameplay can bring.

Given how this time around, the entire experience feels short-lived, it’s understandable why the creators chose to throw everything in the player’s face right away. Unfortunately, fans might have to make merry with the fact that this is how it will be going forward, and we’ll have to learn to love a direction that’s evolving and finding a new path forward.

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Written by Tanay Sharma

Articles Published: 505

Tanay wears more hats than Red Dead Redemption 2 characters. He's a musician, writer, voice-over artist and adores interactive media. His favourite games are the ones with memorable stories and characters. He's pursuing a master's degree in Behavioural Sciences. No, he won't read your mind.