A Silent Hill by Bloober Team, the devs behind the Xbox Series exclusive The Medium, is one of the biggest rumors this week. Something is in the air, as it follows the debunked conspiracy that Blue Box Studios’s Abandoned on PlayStation was a secret P.T.-style project by Hideo Kojima. If you told me that we’re going to be talking about a Dino Crisis revival by PlatinumGames next week, I’d believe you.
But let’s rewind a little. This Wednesday, the studio behind Layers of Fear and Blair Witch, entered into a partnership with Konami. In a statement, Bloober Team explained that they will be sharing information and technology as well as serving as joint developers on unnamed projects. It’s a pretty vague description of their partnership, but it hasn’t stopped the speculation foundries from firing up.
Remarks dating as far back as February from the Kraków based developer suggest that they were working on Silent Hill. “We’ve been working for more than a year on another gaming project, another horror IP, and we’re doing this with a very famous gaming publisher,” CEO Piotr Babieno told GamesIndustry.Biz. “I can’t tell you who. I can’t tell you what the project is, but I’m pretty sure when people realize we’re working on it, they will be very excited.”
These comments have caused fans to speculate that the project in question is the next Silent Hill, the iconic horror series that is being reportedly shopped around for developers by publisher Konami. So it’s understandable that with Wednesday’s announcement, fans of horror videogames have concluded that this is about as confirmed as you can get.
But I don’t know if Bloober Team working on the next Silent Hill would be the good news some people seem to think it is. On the one hand, it means that Silent Hill isn’t truly dead, despite the very high profile cancellation that Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hills was subjected to. But on the other hand, is Bloober Team even the right um, team for the job? And does Konami even understand the Silent Hill brand?
Consider that while any Silent Hill by Bloober Team will display the same technical excellence of Blair Witch or Observer, it will likely exhibit some of the worst excesses of games like Layers of Fear and The Medium. Never mind getting Silent Hill right, I’m not sure I want to see any Silent Hill game that makes villains out of the mentally troubled and makes cheap use of self-harm and other acts of violence for moments of shock. Among all of Bloober Team’s accomplishments, sensitive, nuanced writing in the service of thoughtful, provocative horror is not one of them.
As for Konami, the publisher isn’t really known these days for having the best interests for their franchises let alone a keen understanding of what makes them so beloved. I try to maintain good faith when it comes to publishers and developers, but when the past decade of Silent Hill has been merch, a pretty despised movie, a very wretched pachinko machine and um, a skateboard. it’s kind of hard to think of the publisher as being remotely protective of the property’s integrity. I mean, they couldn’t even get a Contra revival right.
I’d like to be proven wrong. Maybe Silent Hill is the game that Bloober Team is ready to strut its stuff on, maybe they’ll hire better writers, maybe they’ll persuade Konami to really get down with what would make Silent Hill great again. Maybe they’ll set aside some of their more reprehensible writing quirks while incorporating the political commentary that gave The Medium some texture.
But it unlikely. Bloober Team needs to take some big leaps to get to where they need to be as creators. If there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s another attempt by Konami to slap Pyramid Head onto anything they can sell, not only completely missing the point of what Pyramid Head is about, but reducing him to mere mascot. A Silent Hill by Bloober Team is going to be a tough sell not just for me, but for the die hard Silent Hill fan devotees who want something real.