Silent Hill: The Short Message, the new P.T. paves the way for the future of the series

The game is called Silent Hill: The Short Message, it is free, and it desperately wants to be P.T. The Short Message is a first-person survival horror game very similar to P.T.

in several aspects. There is no combat, and we are pursued throughout by a mysterious creature, just like in P.T.

It is also free, rather short (about 2 hours), and quite unsettling. It is the modern-day P.T.

of Silent Hill, a glimpse into the future of the series, defining the tone of what the franchise is and could be in the future. In The Short Message, we play as Anita, a teenager facing the loss of a loved one.

The girl ends up in a large building called Villa, located in the fictional German city of Kettenstadt. Villa was supposed to be renovated and transformed into a high-end destination for the wealthy, but COVID – which is explicitly mentioned in the game – radically changed the plans, and the building fell into ruin.

It is now used as a canvas for street artists, covered from top to bottom in beautiful graffiti. Maya, Anita’s dearest friend, is one of the artists who has turned Villa into the home of her works, decorating the walls and posting photos of her work on social media with wild success.

Anita has also dabbled in art, but, as is often the case in life’s lottery, she has never had online success like Maya’s, which weighs heavily on the young girl’s mind and heart. This is the premise: a story of friendship, love, loss, and solitude in the digital age.

It is also a story of suicides, broken hearts, and bullying, and it does not shy away from these themes: the game has some extremely heavy scenes that are truly distressing, especially for those who have experienced mental illness. These are interesting themes, mostly well executed, but they lack many nuances that, in our opinion, are necessary to tell these kinds of stories.

Awkward dialogues, often banal imagery (post-its with insults thrown at Anita are posted in all the hallways), and some lines that are not really the best – all of this doesn’t help. It is often inelegant, clumsy, and awkward… and truth be told, this isn’t even the worst part.

The Silent Hill series, despite the opinions of many, has not always been particularly subtle; on the contrary, most of the time, it is rather explicit and direct. In terms of gameplay, The Short Message is quite simple: we spent most of the time simply walking through mostly empty hallways, examining the objects we came across, and reading conveniently placed exhibits.

The atmosphere is very much like any Silent Hill, with the right amount of light, a perfectly fitting soundtrack, and virtually no jump scares – and that’s just perfect. Occasionally, however, we were forced to navigate a series of corridors being chased by a beautiful yet terrifying monster made up of cherry blossoms.

These sections have a puzzle game aspect and, further into the game, require good memorization and reasoning skills. If Silent Hill: The Short Message indicates the direction of the Silent Hill series, then Silent Hill will be a bit of a mess in the near future.

It is not necessarily a negative thing; sometimes the best games come from such messes, but – if Konami insists on tackling such heavy themes – it is necessary to treat them with a certain amount of nuance. And, with a bit of luck, the Silent Hill games of the future will offer us just that.

*Written by Oliver Brandt for GLHF* © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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