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When I woke up, it was like this. Everyone seems to have disappeared. And it's snowing out, this time of year. Something's gone seriously wrong. Did you see those monsters? Have you ever seen such aberrations? Ever even heard of such things? You and I both know creatures like that don't exist.
—Doctor Michael Kaufmann
After the success of Resident Evil, Konami jumped on the Survival Horror bandwagon with 1999's Silent Hill (or Silent Hill 1), the first game of Konami's Silent Hill franchise. Unlike Resident Evil, Konami designed Silent Hill as a more psychological take on the genre.
Single father Harry Mason is taking his daughter Cheryl on a holiday to the resort town of Silent Hill. Disaster strikes as Harry swerves to avoid a girl standing in the road and crashes his car.
When he regains consciousness, Harry finds that his car has crashed on the outskirts of Silent Hill, and Cheryl is nowhere to be found. He immediately starts searching for her, discovering that Silent Hill is eerily devoid of life, and shrouded in a perpetual, oppressive fog. And when the air-raid siren sounds, the town undergoes a sinister transformation...
During his search for Cheryl, Harry meets several people: Cybil Bennett, a policewoman from a neighboring town investigating Silent Hill; Dahlia Gillespie, an elderly antiques dealer who offers to help Harry; Michael Kaufmann, a mysterious doctor who only seems intent on survival; Lisa Garland, a terrified nurse who implores Harry to protect her; and Alessa, a strange teenage girl who always seems to show up wherever Harry goes.
It is hard to spoil the plot of Silent Hill because very little is explicitly stated. The story revolves around one man's personal struggle to find his daughter, his role as a pawn in a cosmic battle between two powerful entities over the power of a god, arcane rituals of an occult variety, reincarnation, possession, drug addiction, and alternative realities. The player receives few explanations for anything that happens, and the game often glosses over or completely ignores key events while presenting the player with intense imagery and deeply psychological horror.
Silent Hill 1 offered a unique "psychological" experience during a period when Survival Horror games relied on "sudden fright" scares and Zombie Apocalypse-style action (inspired by the success of Resident Evil). Silent Hill 1's production team later produced Sony's Siren series, which also relied on a more "psychological" storyline.
Konami released a remake/reimagining of this game (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories) in 2009.
Silent Hill 1 presents examples of the following tropes:
- All Just a Dream: The worst ending. A non-canon Dying Dream.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Note the awesome "Study, Dammit!" poster in Store 8. It depicts a hippie pointing a gun at the viewer.
- Arc Words/Catch Phrase: The first thing out of Harry's mouth whenever he runs into another NPC is almost always some variation of: "Have you seen a little girl? Short, black hair, just turned seven last month."
- Armed Altruism: In an act of coolness, Cybil offers Harry her gun.
- Beware of Vicious Dog: Subverted early on; Harry runs straight into a BEWARE OF DOG sign, but find only intestines on the other side. K. Gordon's doghouse, however, is protected by two of these critters (regardless of what Harry says).
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Alessa is a bug enthusiast, and her hobby is reflected in the monsters.
- Big Red Button: The school's boiler room, and the hospital's power generator.
- Bland-Name Product: The bag of jellybeans containing the Key of Bethor is a knockoff of the Jelly Belly persuasion.
- There are several throughout Silent Hill, like Queen Burger, Convenience Store 8, and Benny's Diner.
- Booby Trap: The fridge in Nowhere. It wouldn't be so bad, except that it's the only one in the entire game and happens without any warning.
- The broken chains and ominous noises coming from inside the fridge should be warning enough.
- Book Ends: The GOOD+ ending has Harry and Cybil find infant Cheryl in the cemetery just like in the opening cutscene. After saving, the opening cutscene of a Next Fear game begins with Cybil in the place of Harry's wife.
- Boss Corridor: Before the fight with Floatstinger.
- The final room in Nowhere is Alessa's old house. Heather revisits it in a later game.
- Bowdlerise: The Japanese and PAL versions replace the Grey Children (which had already been toned down from their earlier versions) with the decapitated teddy bear-like Claw Finger, which wouldn’t have otherwise appeared until much later in the game. Their attacks are the same, though.
- Brand X: All over the place, the most famous of which is the Vestal Gigastore (vestal as in vestal virgin; get it?). There’s also Queen Burger, Fedy-X Espresso parcels, Poston Market, the (S)Hell station with the nautilus shell icon, the Circle 8 convenience store with its 7-Eleven motif, and the AEC restaurant that was apparently inspired by A&W.
- Cat Scare: Played straight until the cat leaves the scene, and then is devoured by an unseen monster; in the Otherworld, the same locker will emit pathetic meowing sounds, but opening it reveals a blood-coated, but empty, locker.
- And then a nearby locker bursts open and a mutilated body falls out. Quite the scare for the uninitiated.
- Catapult Nightmare: Twice. "Was I dreaming?"
- Ceiling Cling: Hanged Scratchers are known to camp out on the ceiling.
- Chainsaw Good: One of the unlockable weapons for Next Fear mode. Requires gasoline to power, yet that two-stroke engine sounds electric...
- Chekhov's Gun: Two. One is the Flauros, which, like any good Chekhov's Gun, makes its purpose apparent at the right time. The other is the Aglaophotis, which may make its purpose apparent, and only after the knowledge is useful to either Harry or the player.
- Clock Tower: In Midwitch Elementery School's courtyard. Harry uses it to traverse into the Otherworld.
- Creepy Cathedral: Harry first runs into Dahlia at the Balkan Church.
- Creepy Circus Music: The carousel boss.
- Dead All Along: Lisa, as the only place you ever find her is in the Otherworld; Harry in the (non-canon) worst (bad) ending.
- Deadly Doctor: Dr. Kaufmann; also, a number of parasite-possessed Mook doctors.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Harry fights a manifestation of the cult's god in the final battle.
- Do Not Run with a Gun: Harry is the worst marksman in the series by far.
- Drop the Hammer: Emergency Fire Hammer. Less a mallet, more like spike on a pole.
- Dying Dream: The worst ending reveals the whole game to have been this, but it's not the canon ending.
- Enter Solution Here: The code to Lisa's room in Nowhere.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Play through the game and note something: only Larval Stalkers and Lisa of everything in the game, never attack, threaten, or antagonize you. And larval stalkers set off the radio, as well as have a mature form as an enemy. Yeah.
- Fantastic Drug: PTV, a hallucinogen derived from a local plant known as White Claudia. In lieu of a proper collection plate, The Order has been trafficking in the drug to fund its activities.
- Fission Mailed: Beginning a new game involves an introductory scenario in which Harry is ambushed and killed by Grey Children, only to have him wake with a start in the diner.
- Foreshadowing: "Before you pull the trigger, know who you're shooting. And don't go blasting me by mistake, got it?"
- Four Is Death: The fourth floor of the hospital that appears out of nowhere, leading Harry into the Otherworld.
- Friendless Background: Alessa Gillespie was branded a witch in elementary school due to the manifestation of her telekinetic abilities. If Harry examines the facsimile of her classroom desk in Nowhere, the surface is scrawled with the words "GO HOME", "DROP DEAD", and "THIEF".
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Cybil to Harry in the BAD+ ending.
- Having a Gay Old Time: Lisa reminiscing about Silent Hill's past. "Everyone followed some kind of queer religion."
- Hilarious Outtakes: Only applies to the Bad+ ending and above. Various characters screw up as if they were actors in a film.
- Holy Hand Grenade: The vial of aglaophotis.
- I Can't Reach It: The key inside the birdcage. D'oh!
- The school's rain gutter contains a key lying just out of reach. You'll need to divert the water.
- I Know You Are in There Somewhere Fight: Cybil being controlled by the Puppet Nurse parasite. Unless you've collected a key item (and are replaying the game, or have been reading a strategy guide), bullets are the only cure.
- Infinity+1 Sword: The emergency hammer in Alchemilla Hospital's power generator room that's obtainable while in the otherworld. It is the best melee weapon you can find and is really good on Puppet Nurses and Puppet Doctors.
- Justified Save Point: Fish gotta swim, writers gotta write. Harry takes careful notes on his experiences; these notepads come in handy for Heather aka Cheryl in Silent Hill 3.
- Karmic Death:
- Dahlia burned Alessa for her to eventually give birth to the cult's god. At the end of the game, she gets burned to death by that same god.
- Kaufmann was abusive towards Lisa and forced her into the psychologically-traumatic job of watching Alessa by using her drug habit as leverage. In the Good and Good+ endings, she hauls him off to his demise.
- Katanas Are Just Better: One of the unlockable weapons for Next Fear mode. Sends you sliding forward on a cushion of air.
- Key Under The Doghouse: Harry will need to get past Fido to enter K. Gordon's house.
- Kids Are Cruel: The Grey Children are the distorted projections of Alessa's abusive classmates. When stabbing Harry, the 'noise' they utter is actually a recording of a child's laughter slowed down.
- Let's Split Up, Gang!: Cybil and Kaufmann aren't interested in tagging along with you. Lisa would like to come, but is compelled to stay where she is...
- Lighthouse Point: Dahlia sends you here.
- Meaningful Name: Referencing the Brand X entry above, the Vestal Virgin Wiki entry has an 18th century painting of a vestal, done by one Angelica Kauffmann.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Harry: Twofold: He is being used as a pawn by Dahlia, with potentially world-ending results, and in a more heartbreaking sense, Harry may be able to acquire the means to save Cybil's life before it becomes necessary to do so. The only problem is, he doesn't know he has the means until after he kills her, which would have to make the final encounter that much more sickening for the man.
- No Name Given: Harry's late wife, who is only seen once, during the opening sequence. Harry doesn't even mention her until his first conversation with Dr. Kaufmann, where he states that she died four years prior to the current events.
- Supplemental material later identifies her as "Jodie".
- Offscreen Teleportation: The carousel boss has a nasty habit of doing this. Whenever you run to the opposite side, the enemy reappears from nowhere, casually lounging on a carousel horse.
- Ominous Multiple Screens: The wall of monitors inside the mall comes to life when Harry comes near.
- Portal Picture: In the school's waiting room, Harry comments that the gory painting is in poor taste. He ends up inside of it in the Otherworld.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The 'worm' controlling Achemilla Hospital's staff. This is the first (and only) instance of Silent Hill's Nurses being linked with an external parasite.
- Ray Gun: One of the unlockable weapons for Next Fear mode. The aliens gave the Konami light gun to Harry after abducting him in the UFO ending. The color of its laser sight varies to indicate the firepower it packs with each shot, which is determined by the rank attained in the previous playthrough.
- Remixed Level: "Nowhere" is a return trip through Midwitch, Achemilla, the shopping mall, and Dahlia's store.
- Rooftop Confrontation: Harry is diverted to the Post Office rooftop for the duel with Floatstinger.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: The means of close-quarters crowd control provided to Harry. How he managed to stuff six shells into a double-barreled boxlock has yet to be explained.
- Snow Means Death: The snow falling from the sky during the middle of summer. Handwaved as ash from an underground coal fire in the movie.
- Shout-Out: The streets in the first map are named after sci-fi, horror and crime writers - Bloch, Bachman, Ellroy, Bradbury, Finney, Matheson, and Levin. Midwich Elementary School, on the other hand, is named after the John Wyndham novel The Midwich Cuckoos.
- Alessa's old teacher, "K. Gordon," is a reference to Sonic Youth bass guitarist Kim Gordon. This is confirmed by the reference to three more teachers who bear the names of "T. Moore", "L. Ranaldo" and "S. Shelley" (Kim's fellow bandmates, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Steve Shelley).
- According to Word of God, heavily inspired by Jacob's Ladder.
- At the locker room; one of the lockers open up and the locker in front of you suddenly opens, and a dead body wrapped in a bag falls out of it. This could be a Shout-Out to Tina being inside a bag from one of the Dream Sequence. from A Nightmare on Elm Street.
- Songs in the Key of Lock
- The Stinger: Both the good and bad endings have them, though with very different implications.
- Swallowed Whole: This is a big danger when tangling with Split Head. This battle will test your strafing skill.
- Teleporting Keycard Squad: The sewer exit key. Immediately after grabbing it, a horde of Hanged Scratchers chase after Harry, forcing him back the way he came. Hope you memorized where the dead ends are.
- This Is a Drill: One of the unlockable weapons for Next Fear mode. Requires gasoline to power, so drill, baby, drill!
- Ticking Clock: Dahlia warns that Harry has to stop the Mark of Samuel from appearing all over town, or else reality will be irrecoverable.
- Token Romance: The Good ending suggests this between Harry and Cybil.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Lisa is actually another Puppet Nurse. Once Lisa ventures into the hospital basement, she starts to put two and two together..
- Turns Red: Shooting at Split Head eventually causes its mandibles to start drooling. That can't be good...
- Twitchy Eye: Lisa invokes this during her fourth appearance.
- Undead Child: The Grey Children in the school evoke this, as do their shadowy counterparts in Nowhere. The Larval Stalkers cause radio interference, but prove otherwise harmless. Some players actually like the little critters (since everything else wants to kill the player).
- Unwinnable By Mistake: At the end of the game, a player gets to see their stats; while the game features a certain number of items, it hides one of these items by making it invisible, which means players who don't know about this item will never get everything.
"Have you seen a little girl? Short, black hair..."