Horror isn’t exactly my genre of choice, but I can’t deny that there’s an inherent thrill to horror games that simply doesn’t exist in other media. Actively interacting with an environment designed to create a physical (if fictional) threat takes the creepiness to an entirely new level.
Even as a squeamish scaredy-cat, I know that Silent Hill is a phenomenal franchise that ended far too soon. So this week, I’ve decided to rank every Silent Hill game from worst to best. While this ranking focuses primarily on main series titles, there’s a lot of phenomenal Silent Hill media out there. I encourage you to check out some of the spin-offs when you get the chance!
Silent Hill Games Ranked Worst to Best
Starting at #8, let’s work our way down to the #1 best Silent Hill game ever made.
8. Silent Hill: Downpour
- Developer: Vatra Games
- Release Date: March 13, 2012
- Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360
First on our list is Silent Hill: Downpour, the most recent Silent Hill title (aside from the P.T. demo). Downpour follows the story of Murphy Pendleton, an escaped convict whose prison transport bus crashes just outside of Silent Hill. With his mind plagued by the horrific death of his son and the guilt of a selfish betrayal, Murphy must survive the manifest threats of the town and come to terms with the twisted cycles of violence in his life.
The gameplay remains relatively similar to that of previous Silent Hill titles. Players fight occasional monsters as they explore the nearly-abandoned town and Otherworld, using firearms and a variety of other improvisational weapons to defend themselves. Downpour offers more opportunities for players to interact with their environment, rewarding exploration with hidden secrets, context for Murphy’s backstory, and a number of NPC interactions that allow players to save or sacrifice innocent bystanders. The game also features a dynamic weather system that affects the spawn rate and behavior of monsters.
Overall, Downpour received middling reviews that criticized the mediocrity of the gameplay. The game didn’t build off the established Silent Hill formula by much, but the few changes that happened were well-received. It’s earned a lower place on our list due to its “open-world” (which can be more confusing than interesting) and a story that falls a bit flat at the end. Downpour’s multiple endings can potentially change the core of the entire story, making Murphy’s character feel pretty undermined, depending on the choices you make throughout the game.
7. Silent Hill: Homecoming
- Developer: Double Helix Games
- Release Date: September 30, 2008
- Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360
In Silent Hill: Homecoming, Alex Shepherd returns to his hometown to find that people have slowly started to go missing. After learning of the disappearance of his father and brother — and watching his mother being kidnapped by a religious cult known as The Order — Alex must venture into the town of Silent Hill to find answers to the secrets plaguing his family, past, and home.
Homecoming’s gameplay takes Alex’s background as a soldier into account, allowing for more precise combination attacks and finishing moves that build on the mechanics introduced in Silent Hill: Origins. Players can also inflict wounds on monsters according to the specific attacks they use. Homecoming also adds multiple dialogue options for interacting with NPCs, as well as puzzle-solving mechanics based on collectible clues scattered around the town, both of which may affect the ending of the game.
6. Silent Hill 4: The Room
- Developer: Team Silent
- Release Date: September 7, 2004
- Platform(s): PC, PS2, Xbox
The supernatural elements start early in Silent Hill 4: The Room. When Henry Townshend discovers a portal to alternate dimensions in his apartment bathroom, he begins to notice a pattern of murders that carry over into his own dimension. Henry must use the clues he pieces together from these other dimensions to identify the murderer, find the link between the victims, and stop the onslaught of death before it’s too late.
Gameplay in The Room features a few modifications to the Silent Hill formula. In this installment, players are limited to only two firearms at a time, with regular access to multiple melee weapons. These melee weapons, along with a few other equipable items, are breakable and must be replaced throughout the game. Players can also charge melee weapon attacks, which deal greater damage but reduce the weapon’s durability.
Also new to the game are immortal enemies that can’t be defeated. To fend off the ghosts of the victims and dispel various other hauntings in Henry’s apartment, players must use special items that nullify or knock down these enemies.
5. Silent Hill: Origins
- Developer: Climax Action
- Release Date: November 6, 2007
- Platform(s): PS2, PSP
As the title suggests, Silent Hill: Origins is a prequel to the first game. The story follows Travis Grady, an unsuspecting passerby who finds himself roped into Silent Hill’s supernatural horrors. As the game progresses, players receive additional context about the events leading up to Silent Hill and its multitude of characters.
Gameplay remains relatively similar to that of earlier Silent Hill titles, though a few modifications are introduced. Players have a few more combat tactics at their disposal, including a grappling mechanic that allows them to escape monsters without taking or dealing any damage. Outside of combat, players interact with the game through puzzles that require them to exploit parallels between Silent Hill and the Otherworld.
The game’s story was widely criticized for its unoriginality. Many players felt that the prequel setup lowered the stakes of the game and made Travis feel like a throwaway protagonist. The gameplay also received mixed reviews, as players appreciated the new mechanics but ultimately didn’t feel as though they added enough to the aging franchise.
4. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
- Developer: Climax Studios
- Release Date: December 8, 2009
- Platform(s): PS2, PSP, Wii
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a sort of reimagining of the first Silent Hill game, revisiting significant characters and locations in a stilted, anachronistic story. The game follows Harry Mason as he attempts to piece together his broken recollection of Silent Hill and his search for his daughter. His memories become warped as he interacts with the Nightmare, a version of the town that’s frozen in time and filled with monsters that chase him throughout his retelling. Harry must survive the horrors of the Nightmare (and the ways it twists his real-world experience) to uncover the secrets of Silent Hill and find his daughter.
The gameplay of Shattered Memories is unique from other installments because there’s no combat element to the game. Harry is unable to fight the monsters that chase him in the Nightmare, fending them off only by running, slowing them down, or briefly incapacitating them until he can escape. The appearance of these monsters is affected by the events in Dr. Kaufmann’s counseling office, as players can complete several first-person minigames that affect the plot and visuals of the story’s retelling.
3. Silent Hill 3
- Developer: Team Silent
- Release Date: August 5, 2003
- Platform(s): PC, PS2
Silent Hill 3 follows Heather Morris, a young woman who finds herself briefly trapped in the Otherworld as she attempts to return home to her father. When she escapes to find that her father’s been killed by a mysterious woman who claims to know about Heather’s ultimate destiny, Heather heads to Silent Hill to avenge her father. Here, she finds the truth of her birth and the role she’s meant to play in the upcoming apocalypse.
The gameplay of Silent Hill 3 doesn’t change much from the previous installments. Players must use various firearms and melee weapons to fight the monsters of the Otherworld, relying on different items and abilities to keep Heather safe. Players can also solve different puzzles found throughout reality and the Otherworld.
Although the game was criticized for its lack of innovative gameplay, it received primarily positive reviews for its story and atmosphere. Many found it to be a satisfactory sequel to its predecessors, telling a unique story while also catching players up on relevant information that they may have missed from the earlier games.
2. Silent Hill
- Developer: Team Silent
- Release Date: February 23, 1999
- Platform(s): PlayStation
Silent Hill is the first installment of the franchise, establishing the core story of the series that would come to be revisited and referenced time and again in future titles. In this game, Harry Mason and his daughter Cheryl get into a car accident outside of Silent Hill, and Harry spends the rest of the game looking for her within the town’s borders. The town is full of mysterious people and occurrences, and Harry must brave them all to get to the bottom of what’s happening in Silent Hill and rescue his daughter.
Silent Hill’s gameplay affects the rest of the series, establishing the foundations of exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving that became characteristic of the franchise. Harry is intended to be an “everyman,” meaning that his combat skills aren’t well-developed, and he can’t sustain many hits from monsters. This puts players on the defensive, making the game’s dark environment and haunting themes all the more foreboding with the threat of death around every corner.
Silent Hill introduced players to a new kind of horror video game, moving away from the intense and visceral action of titles like Resident Evil to a more disturbing, hair-raising type of tension. The game received mostly positive reviews, with players and critics alike praising how the game seamlessly integrated its themes with its gameplay and ambiance for a cohesive and unsettling experience.
1. Silent Hill 2
- Developer: Team Silent
- Release Date: September 24, 2001
- Platform(s): PC, PS2, Xbox
Topping our list is Silent Hill 2, the spectacular sequel to Silent Hill that refines the first game’s formula to deliver a truly haunting experience. The town of Silent Hill once again manipulates its victims with dark manifestations of their psyches. This time, the target is James Sunderland, who enters the town after receiving a letter from his presumably deceased wife. As he explores the town, James encounters other victims that are likewise being punished by the darkest parts of their minds, and all of them must come to terms with their actions or be lost to the town forever.
Silent Hill 2’s gameplay doesn’t evolve much from its predecessor, opting for cleaner controls instead of new mechanics. Although Silent Hill 2 introduces the now-iconic enemy Pyramid Head, the focus of the game is less on combat and killing enemies, and more on merely staying alive.
The game is largely praised for its atmosphere and the looming feelings of claustrophobia, isolation, and dread that follow players throughout the game. The gameplay isn’t anything remarkable, but I personally find the mechanics especially suited for the narrative. Silent Hill 2 is beautifully dark and doesn’t feel the need to equate horror with gore and jump scares. A delightfully chilling experience overall.
Thanks for checking out our ranking of the Silent Hill series! If you’d like to discuss any of our rankings, or if you’d like to suggest another series for us to cover, leave us a comment. We love to hear from you!