Firing Up Silent Hill on PS1: A First Impression

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

By Anthony Montalbano

Having been a massive fan of anything horror and consuming most of my horror in video game form, Silent Hill has found a way to elude me for nearly a quarter century. The likes of Resident Evil, Dead Space, Alien: Isolation, Alan Wake, Eternal Darkness, The Dark Pictures anthology series, and many, many more haven’t slipped past my grasp like the Silent Hill franchise has seemed to do.

My first taste of the Silent Hill series, other than the movies, was nothing more than the playable teaser aptly deemed “P.T.” back in 2014. Much to many gamers’ and horror fans’ chagrin, this exceptional horror gaming history has taken root in many people’s heads, including mine, and has not let go as Kojima’s split with Konami has sealed the game’s fate as being lost in time forever.

Confined to the hallways of a simple house, this teaser for the unreleased Silent Hill was nothing short of psychologically horrifying tense scenarios and predicaments as you try to figure out who you are, why you’re in this house, and whose house it even is. Extraordinarily atmospheric and haunting sounds and visuals plague every second of this demo, and much like the game disappearing from us, the teaser has as well.

Buying used PS4s with the demo already downloaded on them is the only way to currently play it, seeing as it’s been taken off of the Playstation Network store. Even years later, secrets are still being found for those who still have access to P.T. P.T. seemingly had what it takes to be one of the scariest horror games to date probably, and even this demo is regarded as one of the top horror games out there.

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Fans haven’t forgotten about Silent Hill and still hope for something in the future, including the upcoming Silent Hill 2 remake, but let’s look at the past. I’ve managed to pick up a copy of Silent Hill for the original PlayStation. Outside of emulation, owning a PS3 is the only way to play the game through official means and the only way to physically play the game. It has never been remade, remastered, re-released, ported, or even put up for sale on digital platforms except for the Playstation Store on the PS3.

My first impressions of the game are more-so technical ones; I never truly understood the power under the hood of a PS1 in terms of being able to render real-time and beautiful-looking cutscenes. There’s also something about the ritual of forcing myself to walk down into a dark, cold basement, turning on a massive CRT television and hearing that degausser thrum the TV to live and hearing that all too familiar sound of a PlayStation starting up.

It brings back memories of playing Resident Evil as an eight-year-old and actually being somewhat scared. Nothing can replicate this feeling, you can get close with upscalers and expensive hardware for modern TVs, but nothing beats how these games were meant to be played on original hardware and TV screens of that era.

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

First impressions from a gameplay point of view, the same goes for this as it did with 2014’s P.T. A quiet, atmospheric experience with audio clues as to what’s going on around. And you as you find your way through a desolate and seemingly abandoned town covered in snow and fog. This is another technical feat for the PS1 for the real-time snowfall rendering, while the PlayStation’s composite video feed actually helps the fog look how it should.

Being only a couple of hours into the game, it certainly doesn’t hold your hand. It makes you figure things out on your own to find where to go to progress and solve puzzles also while being chased by horrific monsters with minimal resources. Another quick thing to mention, much like Resident Evil, and unlike modern games, you can’t just save your game and get on with the rest of your day; you have to find save points, but thankfully don’t need those pesky ink ribbons.

You could also risk keeping the game paused and keeping the PlayStation paused and risk power outages, annoying relatives, or anyone else who doesn’t stop to think why this game console has been left on for seemingly no reason. With all this said, Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama had gone on after Silent Hill to create yet another massive survival horror cult hit, Siren and its sequels, Siren 2 and Siren: Blood Curse.

With Silent Hill being handed off to various writers, artists, and directors throughout its timeline, the story about those is for another time. In summary, much like Resident Evil, Silent Hill has opened up and made horror more easily accessible to the mainstream and has become a household name while keeping its name in the horror hall of fame.

All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons

Anthony Montalbano is a contributor for and may be reached at

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