2009′s Silent Hill: Homecoming wasn’t a terrible game, and certainly not an awful stain on the Silent Hill franchise like many fans claim, but it just felt like it was missing…something. And then came Wii-only Silent Hill: Shattered Memories last year, which turned the series upside down a bit, and has inspired a great deal of the design in Konami/Vatra Games’ next entry, Silent Hill: Downpour.
While different from one another, each share the same pseudo-flaw, that being none of the last three Silent Hills were handled by the legendary Team Silent, Konami’s internal team whose last installment was 2004′s Silent Hill 4: The Room. Since then the franchise has been outsource to Climax Group (Origins, Shattered Memories), Double Helix (Homecoming), and now Vatra Games (Downpour).
According to Double Helix artist Kenzie LaMar, it’s not the third-party developers who should be blamed for missteps that are occurring, but Konami. Speaking in response to comments on his DeviantArt page, LaMar said:
“Just remember and never forget that if you don’t like the direction of where Silent Hill went, the only people you can blame are Konami themselves. They are the ones who canned Team Silent and wanted someone else to make the games. And Konami wanted the games to be different. Thats why team Silent was disbanded.“
In the credits of the few SH: Downpour trailers released, there is mention of the title being a (apparently newly formed) Team Silence production.
“From what I heard they were very happy with the games made by Double Helix and Climax … There were a lot of things the team and studio had to deal with when making the game. We really needed more time,” he adds. “They were losing faith in the franchise for years. And to further prove what I am saying, they made an arcade style Silent Hill shoot’em’up gun game!! How Silent Hill is that?!“
“I think people think that because Team Silent didn’t make the game that is why [Homecoming] felt different. The reality is that Konami had us make the game different. They wanted it to be more action oriented. Almost everything that is different in that game was something we were told to do design wise. Art wise, we tried as hard as possible to keep the same flavor as the previous games. … But in the end it was Konami’s decision to change the game not a mistake by our team.“
LaMar goes on to say, “…I will say that the game looked 200% better about a summer before it was released. If it had looked as good as it did about 6 months before it shipped, it would have been considered to be one of the best looking games of the year. Through optimizing the engine and texture reduction, the game ended up looking no where near what it did. It’s sad. I try not to think about it. But it could have been the game I worked on. I’d have to see the footage you are talking about to know for sure.“
Interesting insight, to say the least. Konami hasn’t responded to the comments.