Why Silent Hills is plural, what the Gap in the Door really means, and how we could be looking at a revolution
So, I just spent a sleepless night pouring over the wiki for Silent Hill, and any analysis I could find on P.T. (I don’t own a PS4, so the best I can do is watch tons of playthroughs), so forgive me if this doesn’t make sense.
I was reading an account of the Kojima’s talk at TGS , and something stuck out at me. Well, two somethings, the second one pertaining to what the plural title could really mean, and the first simultaneously explaining a mechanic of this, and raising dozens of new questions.
After talking about how scary the game is, Kojima mentions how the game allows players to quit. Now, I’m pretty sure exiting to the main menu is something that’s been in games roughly as long as the pause screen has existed, so there has to be more to this statement.
As a disclaimer, my theories here are based on the article I read. I haven’t seen a real log or video of what happened, so I’m gonna trust this blogger for now.
First, it seems this comment about quitting came around the same time as Kojima talking about how this game has a different definition of “beating” it (if any at all), suggesting to me that quitting the game mean finishing it. At any point you want. When you exit the game, it’s over. Think the “Do you really want to quit?” dialog from Max Payne games, where exiting the game is described as Max finally giving up. Just this isn’t a neat little meta menu screen, it’s what really happens. What I assume this means is the story isn’t set in stone. Even though there may be a set way in which the story tends to progress, decisions and chance can alter the experience, much like in P.T.
This then leads into the second thing he said that really caught my eye. Now, this may just be how the blogger chose to describe what Kojima said, but if the account is faithful, Silent Hills could be revolutionary. To quote from the blog post,
“…if somebody played the game for only 10 minutes and quit playing because it was too creepy and scary for her/him, then he would have achieved his purpose.”
Acheived. His. Purpose.
Normally, when we play a game, especially something single player like we can assume Silent Hills will be, we do it only for ourselves. There’s no greater power telling us that we need to play the game, no purpose assigned to us other than to do what we want. Now, you could take this statement as meaning the game has as much worth as you put into it, since, presumably, your purpose in playing the game is to get some enjoyment out if it, but this would be the most round about and obtuse way of saying something that shouldn’t even need to be stated in the first place.
The more logical answer is that the game gives a higher purpose to every single person who plays it, with each instance of the game somehow playing an role interconnected with all the other ones. This could explain the games obsession with there being more than one of you. Each game, each Silent Hill exists, somehow affecting the others (or maybe something greater than that, more on this in a bit), somehow interconnected.
This analysis also explains two things that have been nagging us since the first person woke up in that concrete room. Well, actually, before then. The game starts with text reading “Watch out. The gap in the door… Is a separate reality.” Within ten seconds of this, we are presented a door which opens to form something that one could easily call a gap, inviting each player into their own personal reality. This may seem like a slight stretch, but it’s one of the better explanations for a piece of text that is so important that it’s the first damn thing you see.
In addition, the text screen also reads “The only me is me. Are you sure the only you is you?” This has become all but the tagline for P.T., with people arguing over whether it refers to multiple personality disorder, identity theft, a multiverse, or any number of things, all with a few bits of proof to back them up. However, look at it again, now with the idea that each player’s own experience constitutes one of the “Silent Hills,” and it suddenly makes total sense. There is only one world created by the dev team, one collection of environments, NPCs, and the likes. There is only one “me,” the game says, but there are numerous unique players, each acting alone in a shared world, all just another of the many “you"s. Each one as true as the next, if we’re to believe that someone who quits ten minutes in has served their purpose as much as someone who plays for hours on end.
Now, what does this all mean? Sure, you could chalk it up to players having to work together to figure out the puzzles of Silent Hills just like we did for P.T., sharing their unique experiences online, but this is hardly a feature worthy of the title of the game, if you can even call using an unaffiliated forum a feature at all. So, as there always seems to be with this game, there must be something more. However, at this point, it’s hard to make conjecture, given how little we know about the game itself. My best guess, again, comes from Kojima’s recent talk, where, in addition to all this juicy fodder for conjecture, he said the game might be released episodically. To understand what this could mean, look at recent episodic games like The Walking Dead. At the end of each episode, the player is treated to a nice little set of statistics telling you how many other people out there made the same decision. Of course, it wouldn’t be just like this, since, as with earlier, a nice little tally is hardly something to name your game after. Rather, this is just the tip.
Were the game to be released episodically, were the personal realities of each gamer to somehow culminate into something bigger, wouldn’t it make sense that, between episodes, all the things done in each game altered what would happen in the next episode? Episodic games are normally done that way because the developers can’t afford to shell out everything at once, but with a studio like this, that clearly isn’t the case. Thus, an episodic format would have to, in some way, effect the game itself, achieving something that a stand alone product couldn’t. Again, this seems like a stretch, or, at least a leap, but I can’t think of another reason who episodic release would even be considered. No one’s rushing to get the game out, or hurting for money, so there has to be a reason.
Clearly, there’s still a lot more to be figured out here, from how the instances would interact, to what exactly it really means to quit the game. What is for certain is that Kojima isn’t going to just give up the answers. When you make a teaser that hides the game it’s meant to announce beneath so many layers of puzzles and meta-content that it takes the whole internet weeks to figure out how you maybe beat the game, it’s a safe bet that any hints we get from here out will be just that; hints, and damn cryptic ones to boot.
Thanks for reading my long-ass post, I hope it makes any sense at all, because it’s made me horribly late for class, and really tired.
tl/dr: Kojima’s TGS talk about P.T. suggests that Silent Hills will feature an interconnected world that somehow reacts to everything a player does.