This Is The End(ing) 02.06.12: Silent Hill
Posted by Gavin Napier on 02.06.2012
Silent Hill helped revolutionize the survival horror genre of video games! But does its ending hold up to the rest of the game? 411's Gavin Napier takes a look!
This is your introduction to This Is The End(ing). The point and purpose of what we're going to be doing here on a weekly basis is to enlighten and entertain you, our fellow gamers, on the best and worst endings in video game history. I know that this is the internet, and it's a requirement to disagree with everyone on everything that exists on the internet, but when we say "best and worst", just try to remember that not only are such things subjective, but we're right and you're wrong in any matter of disagreements.
Who are we? Well...we are Gavin Napier and Adam Cheek. We play video games and we're older than people that play video games should be. That means we have experience and perspective and things like that. Hell, he owns Pong and I was the first kid on my block to beat Mike Tyson. Beat those credentials.
For the sake of accuracy, we'll try to keep this to games that, you know, we've actually beaten. Or at least seen beaten. At some point, we'll run out of those, but until then we won't have to blatantly make anything up. Suggestions for which endings you'd like to see analyzed are welcomed, but we promise nothing.
You'd think this would be obvious, given the name of the column, but I'll go ahead and put it here just in case you missed the entire premise:
For the first set of ending reviews, I originally suggested that we do something classic. You know, something that really went back to the foundation of gaming and that we could work forward from, in a nice attempt to show how games have evolved along with the audience that plays them. My suggestions got shot down, due to silly things like Spy Hunter not having an ending or something about "kill screens don't count as endings." I finally compromised, and we figured we could take a look at something that would give us a little extra material, thanks to the magic of multiple endings. The fact that it's a classic game that spawned a long running series of games with multiple endings doesn't hurt, either. Without further adieu, we present to you the first subject (victim?) of This Is The End(ing)...
Released in 1999 by Konami, Silent Hill was a combination survival horror and psychological thriller game. Game play consisted of combat, puzzle solving, and some good old fashioned roaming around looking for stuff, all from the classic third person view. There was no HUD to keep track of your character's status; that was on a separate menu that you would have to check every so often. There's a simple but effective map system to guide you along the way, which would later be emulated by Batman: Arkham City in some aspects. In a nod to the intelligence of gamers (as well as a neat wrinkle to the story that added some depth to the characters), street names, characters in Otherworld, and creatures that you must deal with have names inspired by authors and books that Alessa enjoyed.
In the game, you play as protagonist Harry Mason in a third person view, as he searches for his missing adopted daughter throughout the multiple realities of Silent Hill. Completing this task requires puzzle solving abilities, as well as the ability to beat things about the head and torso with various melee weapons and a mild proficiency in firearms. For what it's worth, the game case and the instruction manual are full of close-ups of human heads in various states of visual distortion. Enjoy that. It pretty well sets the tone for the game in terms of weird creepiness.
Harry sets off into the fog of Silent Hill, armed with a flashlight and not much else to begin with. The first NPC you come in contact with is Cybill Bennett, a police officer who has responded to the wreck that renders Harry unconscious in the game's opening. He later encounters Dahlia Gillespie, a Dr. Michael Kaufmann, who is the director of the hospital in Silent Hill, and Lisa Garland, who was a nurse at the hospital under Kaufmann.
There comes a point in the game where Harry must do battle with Cybill, who is under the influence of one of the Otherworld's demonic creatures. Your decision to save Cybill or kill her has a direct influence on which of the game's endings you see. Similarly, you'll come to a point where you find Kaufmann wrestling with a demon in a bar. Whether you manage to save him or not also affects which ending you receive.
For the purposes of the two endings we're looking at today - the "good" endings - Harry has a final showdown with Samael, who is one version of god in the Silent Hill world. Samael, or the Incubus, comes about as a rejoining of Alessa and Cheryl once Harry and Cheryl passed into Silent Hill. Defeat Samael here, and you'll be treated to...
Silent Hill features 5 endings, one of which is a joke. As would become the standard for Silent Hill (and other survival horror and an increasing number of games in general), there were "good" endings, "bad" endings, and bizarre endings. If you know anything at all about the world of Silent Hill, you know that the idea of a truly good ending is kind of a sick joke. Much like another of my favorite games from the 90's, Twisted Metal Black, even the best of endings carries some very dark undertones.
The "good" ending for Silent Hill 1 was unlike anything that most American gamers had seen to that point. Japan has always been ahead of the curve on weirdness in culture, not just video games, but this game gave North American audiences a sample of what was going on across the Pacific. We're still waiting on the vending machines that spit out used women's underwear, so we can go ahead and confirm that Japan is still lapping us in the weirdness race.
In the "good" ending, Harry defeats Samael the Incubus, which turns into Alessa - or at least her better half. She in turn, gives Harry what he believes is his adopted daughter Cheryl back. Most likely, this is actually Alessa allowing herself to be reborn in "our" reality as a child to be raised by Harry. This will allow Samael to be birthed again through her into our reality, instead of being trapped in Otherworld. See? The good ending allows a malevolent deity to be born into our reality through a little girl so that we all eventually have to deal with Pyramidhead and nurses. In case you weren't aware up to this point - Silent Hill is kind of f'd up.
Alessa points Harry towards the light so that he can escape with Cheryl/Alessa, and he takes off. As Harry leaves, we cut back to see Dr. Kaufmann attempting to follow Harry out into "our" reality. He's stopped by perhaps the only truly good person in Silent Hill, Nurse Lisa. Lisa restrains Dr. Kaufmann and traps him in the hellish world of Silent Hill, and he gives a pained scream as she drags him down, preventing his escape. In the final scene, we see Harry escaping into the snow.
The "good+" ending tried to offer a little more cheer to players. It's as close to a happy ending as you'll get until your pets show up in later versions of Silent Hill endings. Wait, what? Never mind. That's another column. Here's the "good+" ending from Silent Hill on Playstation.
Largely the same as the "good" ending, we still see Harry take what may or may not be his daughter out of Silent Hill, and we still see Dr. Kaufmann get pulled into the abyss. In this version, though, we see Cybil, the police officer that has attempted to help Harry, also escape Silent Hill. The final scene of the "good+" ending sees Harry and Cybil in a graveyard, holding the baby that they rescued from Silent Hill. Why a graveyard, if everyone is alive? I don't know.
How did we get here?
By beating the game.
The "good" ending is accomplished if you manage to save the evil Dr. Kaufmann earlier in the game, in that bar fight with a demon that we mentioned, but let the relatively noble Cybil die. Quite the set of morals, no? I mean, one is a literal psychological horror that lives in the nightmare alternate reality of Silent Hill, the other is a real police officer trying to help you even though she has zero clue what in the blue hell is actually happening around her. So you get rewarded for saving what may be a figment of your imagination and letting a cop die. I feel like Ice T would be proud of this criteria.
The "good+" is awarded to you if you save both Dr. Kaufmann and Cybil. Seems fair. Save them both, get the best possible ending...that leaves you in a graveyard.
The flip side of the coin would be Silent Hill's "bad" endings, along with one they tossed in just for fun. If you're reading this, it means the guys that run this place have enough faith in us to at least get two columns out. We'll finish out the original Silent Hill endings and move on to something else after that. Before we go, though, I feel like it's only fair to shine a little light on some of the least rewarding endings in video game history. The endings that you worked hours and hours to get, probably on crappy games that you didn't even really enjoy playing.
You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones you rented and only had for a weekend and were determined to beat just on principle. If you're any kind of gamer, you've done this more than once. We've all shared in this pain and rage. The first honorary inductee into the "Castle for Other Princesses" Hall of Video Game Shame is....
Released in 1986 for the NES, Ghostbusters charged you with the task of helping our fearless heroes conquer Zuul, just like in the movie. And by just like in the movie, I mean in ways that the movie never even mentioned, attempted, thought about, or would use as deleted scenes on the 45th Anniversary Blu-Ray re-release as produced by George Lucas. Anyway, should you manage to conquer Zuul, here's what you got for your troubles:
CONGLATURATION! You just earned some poorly spelled engrish words along with a rockin' midi file of the hit song Ghostbusters, from the soundtrack of Ghostbusters, on the Nintendo game Ghostbusters.
Also included are some credits featuring Japanese names which may or may not also be spelled incorrectly.
That's all we've got for level 1-1. Level 1-2 will tackle the rest of the endings for Silent Hill. Use the lovely comment section down there to let us know what you liked and what you hated (unless you hated everything and feel the need to insult our mothers). Your feedback will help us tweak this column into something that doesn't make you want to punch us in the face. Let us know what games you'd like to see the endings for reviewed. See you next week!