Silent Hill is a landmark survival-horror game developed and published by Konami. With its trademark fog and mature storytelling, Silent Hill became the first survival-horror game to rival the Resident Evil series in terms of popularity. Silent Hill differed from the variety of "RE clones", in that it focused on psychological horror over violence and action.
The game stars Harry Mason, an every-man author taking his daughter on vacation to the town of Silent Hill. There's five endings possible, a tradition of most PS1 survival-horror games.
Silent Hill opens with Harry Mason driving to the titular town with his young daughter Cheryl for a vacation. At the town's edge, he swerves his car to avoid hitting a girl in the road; as a result, he crashes and loses consciousness. Waking up in town, he realizes that his daughter is missing and sets out to look for her, finding the town deserted and foggy, with snow falling out of season. He encounters police officer Cybil Bennett, who works in the nearby town of Brahms and a fortune telling cultist, Dahlia Gillespie, who gives him a charm, the "Flauros" and hints at his daughter's whereabouts. He also meets a nurse suffering from amnesia, Lisa Garland, who worked at Alchemilla. He also encounters a symbol throughout the town, which Dahlia claims will allow darkness to take over the town if it continues to multiply. According to Dahlia, the girl from the road is a demon responsible for the symbol's duplication.
When Harry next encounters the form of the teenage girl, he demands to know where Cheryl is but is refused. Dahlia appeared and revealed that she manipulated Harry into catching her daughter; Alessa, since only he could approach her apparently due to his connection with Cheryl and her reaching out to him. Harry awakens in a logicless void known only as "nowhere" and encounters Lisa again, who realizes she is "the same as them" and begins transforming; he flees, horrified. Seven years earlier, Dahlia had conducted a ritual that impregnated Alessa with the cult's deity through immolation; Alessa survived because her status as the deity's "vessel" rendered her immortal. One half of her soul went to baby Cheryl, whom Harry and his wife had adopted. Sensing Cheryl's return, Alessa manifested the symbols in the town to prevent her capture and likewise the birth. During the endings in which Cybil survives, Dahlia reveals these symbols to be repellent and protective by nature. With Alessa's plan thwarted and her soul rejoined, the deity is revived and possesses her.
Four different endings are available depending on whether Harry saves Cybil or discovers a bottle of Aglaophotis at Kaufmann's apartment, or both cause why not bro?
The objective of the player is to guide Harry Mason through the treacherous town of Silent Hill, to try and find his daughter Cheryl. Silent Hill's primary gameplay loop consists of traversing the town overworld, going to different locations around the town, and proceeding to solve puzzles there as well as dodge, avoid, and kill enemies in your path. The game uses a third-person view with fixed, 3D-tracking camera angles. Harry confronts enemies with firearms and melee weapons, a series staple. Being an everyman, Harry is not very adept in combat. A portable radio is found early on, emitting static to let Harry know when enemies are afoot, as well as a flashlight to pierce through the town's darkness and fog. The town is navigated using maps found in each specific area.
The development of Silent Hill started in September, 1996. Despite the profit-oriented approach of the parent company, Konami, the developers of Silent Hill, Team Silent, had much artistic freedom because the game was still produced as in the era of lower-budget 2D titles.
Eventually, the development staff decided to ignore the limits of Konami’s initial plan, and to make Silent Hill a game that would appeal to the emotions of players instead. For this purpose, the team introduced a "fear of the unknown" as a psychological type of horror. Artist Takayoshi Sato corrected inconsistencies in the plot, and designed the game's cast of characters. The names and designs of some Silent Hill creatures and puzzles are based on books enjoyed by the character of Alessa, including The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle and Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
The soundtrack for Silent Hill was composed by sound director Akira Yamaoka, who requested to join the development staff after the original musician had left.