Silent Hill is a survival horror game series created by Konami’s Silent Team. The first part debuted in 1999, and the most recent one was released just a few days ago. Furthermore, the history of the Silent Hill town has made a significant impact on pop culture, serving as inspiration for two films, a comic series, and novels.

Over the course of 24 years, 10 titles have been created, each featuring an intricate and deep storyline. While games in the series don’t have to be played in order, each of them is filled with various references and connections to other installments. That’s why understanding the lore and Silent Hill timeline is crucial to fully enjoy the world presented by the series!

Would you like to learn the origin story and plot explanation of the Silent Hill series and find out how to play the games in order based on their chronology? Feel free to continue reading!

Origins and Background

The history of Silent Hill town dates back to a time before the colonization of America. The native people residing in the area considered it sacred, calling it “The Place of Silenced Spirits.”

At the end of the 17th century, European colonists settled in Silent Hill. Because this place held special meaning for the Natives, they were unwilling to give it up. Unfortunately, the invaders, who had the advantage of numbers, easily drove away the native inhabitants of these lands, cursing the place with their arrival. Only a few of the European settlers were aware of the strange energy surrounding this place.

One of the aware individuals was Jennifer Carroll. She decided to establish the Order that gathered people who believed in the extraordinary powers of Silent Hill. Unfortunately, not everyone liked her actions, and in 1692, she was burned at the stake. She was posthumously declared a saint (mainly by cult members) and honoured with a monument bearing the inscription “What happened here will never be forgotten.”

The Games: Chronological Exploration

Here’s the list of the games ranked in order with the story explained:

Silent Hill: Origins

Released in 2007, Silent Hill: Origins is technically the fifth instalment in the Silent Hill series, but its events take place 7 years before those of the first game.

In Origins, you play as Travis Grady, a truck driver plagued by nightmares. During a route near Silent Hill, Travis notices a young girl standing in the road. She gets scared and starts running away, with Grady chasing her. In pursuit, he reaches a burning house, from which he manages to rescue the girl, who turns out to be Alessa, a character known from the first game. Unfortunately, Travis loses consciousness shortly afterward.

Upon awakening, Travis finds himself in Silent Hill and is determined to find the girl he rescued earlier at any cost. However, this won’t be easy, as he must confront his own demons from the past along the way.

Silent Hill

Released in 1999, Silent Hill is the story of Harry Mason.

Harry, along with his adopted daughter Cheryl, sets off for a holiday to the peaceful town of… Silent Hill. Unfortunately, they have an accident on the way, resulting in Harry losing consciousness. When he awakens, he is horrified to find that Cheryl has disappeared, and the town is shrouded in thick fog.

Unaware of the lurking danger, Harry embarks on a search for his daughter. Soon, he learns about her true origins and her connection to Alessa.

Silent Hill 2

In 2001, another instalment in the Silent Hill series was released.

This time, we get to know the story of James Sunderland, which is entirely unrelated to the previous instalment. At the beginning of the story, James receives a letter from his wife, who died 3 years earlier.

The letter contains information that James’s wife is waiting for him in Silent Hill in their “special place.” Without much thought, he sets out to Silent Hill to discover the truth. However, uncovering the real cause of Mary’s death might be painful for him.

Silent Hill 3

Released in 2003, Silent Hill 3 continues the story from the first game.

Seventeen years have passed since the events of the first Silent Hill. Heather Mason, the adopted daughter of Harry Mason, wakes up from a nightmare in a shopping mall restaurant.

After a short phone conversation with her father, she is approached by a mysterious detective, Douglas Cartland, hired by “The Order” to find her. Heather returns home to discover that her father has been killed. Her mission becomes finding her way to Silent Hill. During her journey, Heather learns that to end this nightmare, she must uncover her true origins.

Silent Hill 4: The Room

Released in 2004, the fourth instalment in the Silent Hill series introduces us to an entirely new story

Henry Townshend, who resides in Room 302 of Ashfield Heights Apartments (in South Ashfield, near Silent Hill), wakes up and is horrified to discover that the door to his room is chained shut and cannot be opened in any way. Even his neighbours do not hear his cries for help.

After several days, a loud commotion is heard from the bathroom in his flat. There, Henry discovers a large hole in the wall. He decides to use it as an escape route. However, things do not go as planned because instead of finding freedom, he ends up in an alternate world. This world was created by the previous occupant of Room 302, serial killer Walter Sullivan.

Silent Hill: Homecoming

In 2008, the sixth instalment of Silent Hill was released.

This time, our protagonist is Alex Shepherd, a discharged soldier who returns to his hometown, Shepherd’s Glen, after his service. Unfortunately, he finds that much has changed in his hometown.

The town has become deserted and engulfed in darkness. To make matters worse, Alex’s father and younger brother have gone missing, and his mother, deeply depressed, does not even notice her son’s return. Alex decides to search Shepherd’s Glen and the nearby Silent Hill to find his family members. During his journey, he uncovers dark family secrets and the connection between these two towns.

Fun Fact: At the beginning of the game, you see Alex travelling in a truck. Behind the wheel is none other than Travis Grady, the protagonist of Silent Hill: Origins.

Silent Hill: Downpour

Developed by Vatra Games and published by Konami in 2012, Silent Hill: Downpour is the eighth instalment in the Silent Hill series.

This time, you play as Murphy Pendleton, a prisoner who ended up behind bars for stealing a police car. During his time in prison, Murphy kills one of his fellow inmates. After a riot, Pendleton, under the supervision of the prison officer Anne Cunningham, is transferred to another prison. Unfortunately, during the bus ride, the prison bus crashes near… Silent Hill.

Upon regaining consciousness, Murphy desperately attempts to escape, unaware that something much worse than prison awaits him in the town.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Released in 2009, the seventh instalment in the Silent Hill series is a reimagined story of the original game’s protagonist, Harry Mason, searching for his missing daughter, Cheryl.

Just like in the first game, the car in which Harry and Cheryl are travelling gets into an accident. However, this time, Harry’s search for his daughter in the nearly abandoned Silent Hill is interspersed with psychiatric sessions with Dr. Kaufmann.

The choices you make in the game shape not only Harry Mason, but also the people he meets and the places he visits.

Silent Hill: Book of Memories

Released in 2012, another instalment in the Silent Hill series doesn’t resemble its predecessors in any way. The game’s action takes place in 2010.

The player-created character receives the Book of Memories as a birthday gift. It’s a book that describes their entire life. Before going to sleep, the character decides to “improve” their memories, unknowingly setting in motion a series of consequences. From that moment on, every night, when they fall asleep, they are transported to dark locations where their main goal is to survive and find an exit. Each time they manage this feat, their entries in the book become reality.

Silent Hill: Book of Memories is the first game in the series to be a dungeon crawler in multiplayer mode.

Silent Hill: Ascension

Silent Hill: Ascension had its premiere on October 31, 2023.

This production offers an entirely new style of gameplay, combining the game with a live-action experience. The title is referred to as a social experiment because not an individual player, but all participants will decide on its course—even the creators don’t know in which direction the game will unfold.

The game doesn’t connect narratively to the other entries in the series and, in essence, lacks a traditional storyline.

Spin-offs and Adaptations

Films

Over the years, the Silent Hill brand has been expanded to include two films. The concept of the 2006 film was undoubtedly drawn from the first instalment of the Silent Hill saga. 

The film introduces us to the Da Silva family, with Rose as the main character, her husband Chris, and their daughter Sharon. The girl is plagued by nightmares, the solution to which seems to be hidden in the titular town of Silent Hill. Rose decides to take her daughter to Silent Hill in the hope of resolving the issue with the child’s nightmares. Unfortunately, they have an accident on the way. After regaining consciousness, Rose is horrified to find that her daughter has disappeared. She embarks on a journey to find her in the dark Silent Hill.

As you may have noticed, the main difference between the film and the game is the main characters. The film’s Rose and Sharon replaced Harry and his daughter Cheryl. Chris Da Silva is also a new character because in the game Harry was a widower.

In the game, Dahlia performs a ritual to burn her daughter Alessa and sacrifice her for the birth of her god. In the film, it is Dahlia’s sister, Christabella, who carries out this act. She is the leader of The Order.

There is also a difference in the endings of both productions. In the game, Harry saves a baby (the reincarnation of Cheryl and Alessa) and escapes the town with her. In the film, Rose recovers her daughter, but they remain trapped in an alternate reality.

Silent Hill Revelation from 2012 is a film adaptation of the third instalment of the Silent Hill game series. Both the film and the game tell the story of Heather, a teenager, which is the 17-year-old version of the film’s Sharon from the first part of Silent Hill. Heather has been plagued by nightmares for a long time, where a mysterious town (Silent Hill) appears, but she has no idea what they mean because her father keeps her true story a secret.

In the film version, about 7–8 years have passed since the previous events, whereas in the game, the events take place 17 years later. Another significant difference is that in the game, Heather’s father dies, while in the film, he is kidnapped and saved by his daughter at the end of the film, although he does not leave Silent Hill but stays in the town to find Rose.

Finally, the final battle. In the game, Heather must face it, with the newly born god, which is remarkably similar to Alessa. In the film, the ultimate battle takes place between Claudia, who turns out to be a demon, and Pyramid Head, who, somehow, becomes Heather’s protector.

Interestingly, there soon will be another film. This time, the story is supposed to be based on the second instalment of the Silent Hill games and tell the story of James Sunderland. The premiere is expected to be around 2023/24, but whether and when it will happen remains to be seen.

Comics and Novels

The success of the Silent Hill series was so great that, in addition to films, books, and a series of comics were also created. In total, there are ten comics: Silent Hill, Dying Inside, Among the Damned, Paint it Black, The Grinning Man, Dead/Alive, Hunger, Sinner’s Reward, Past Life, and Anne’s Story.

However, only nine of them have seen the light of day so far. For unknown reasons, the Silent Hill comic (1999) was never published, although Konami reportedly still intends to release it.

Regarding the connection between comics and the game, only one—Anne’s Story—has something to do with the series. The plot of this comic is based on Silent Hill: Downpour, and the main character is prison warden Anne Cunningham. The rest of the comics create independent stories that are not related to the game in any way.

So far, four books have also been released: Silent Hill: The Novel, Silent Hill 2: The Novel, Silent Hill 3: The Novel, and simply Silent Hill. The first three books are related to the first three instalments of the Silent Hill game series, while the last one, released in 2006, is based on the first Silent Hill film. As of now, all four books have been published only in Japanese.

Summary

Let’s be honest, in the world of survival horror, Silent Hill is almost a symbol and a flagship title. Many other games were inspired by this iconic series, and the venerable second instalment of SH still ranks among the best games in the genre ever. What stands out in these games is the intriguing storyline, the dark and mysterious setting, the spine-tingling soundtrack, and the innovative approach for its time.

These qualities have proven to be the recipe for success for Silent Hill. A success that few horror creators have managed to replicate. Looking at the game that has emerged recently and the announced film, it’s safe to say that Konami has not yet said its final word!