Video game trailers too often take the form of pre-rendered, or worse, live-action short films, demonstrating nothing about how a game plays, or sometimes what it even is. The above “playable teaser”, released this week on the PlayStation Store, doesn’t reveal much either, but it is at least interactive, and the few names it does announce are intriguing as hell - or silly as hell, as with the name of the game it teases, Silent Hills.
The other names are Metal Gear godfather Hideo Kojima, The Walking Dead’s sole watchable actor Norman Reedus, and director of most upcoming movies Guillermo del Toro. It’s a genuinely exciting mix of talent. Self-described “chicken” Kojima has been teasing out his desire to make a Silent Hill game for years, and with del Toro’s formidable storytelling and creature design skills on the table, there’s potential for a really great horror game here. Reedus, meanwhile, is probably grateful to work on something that isn’t The Walking Dead. Even if it is called Silent Hills.
It’s always fascinating when filmmakers cross over to work in video games. Like their trailers, games today spend much of their time aping cinema’s narrative and visual tropes, but when a filmmaker starts working on a game, you get the sense they want to try something different. One of last year’s best games, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, was directed by Kopps helmer Josef Fares, and it’s a truly innovative and affecting work that fundamentally would not work as a film. That's the kind of experimentation I'd like to see from a Guillermo del Toro-driven game. Here’s hoping he and Kojima (also trained as a filmmaker) have bigger ideas for freshening up the Silent Hill franchise than just calling it Silent Hills.
Let’s also give a big shoutout to YouTube user Soapy Warpig, who demonstrates the true value of a playable teaser: the fact that said teaser emerges to the world through Let’s Play videos. I admire her reaction to the reveal. Her shrill, English-accented cries to the Creator are those of pure, uncomplicated enthusiasm.
But not even Soapy Warpig can muster any love for the title Silent Hills.