Konami is on the cusp of a revolutionary if risky venture with Silent Hill: Ascension, a project created in collaboration with Genvid Entertainment and Bad Robot Games. It's described as a "massively interactive live event" (MILE), which is due to release later this year. It challenges conventional gaming norms and transforms the viewing experience into something a lot more game-like by giving audiences collective control over the narrative's unfolding. But, instead of clarifying things with its latest trailer, all Konami did was create more questions, which may not be the worst thing at all.
According to Genvid CEO, Jacob Navok, a veteran in the cloud gaming industry and the man spearheading this project, his goal is to bring Silent Hill to the masses in a format that blends traditional gaming with interactive storytelling.
In an interview with Polygon, Navok explains that it's inspired by events like Twitch Plays Pokémon, which showed a million people could play a cloud game together, steering the narrative collectively. But, with Ascension, Navok wants to create a product where audience participation shares the story, something akin to a real-time, interactive system that's a hybrid of cinema and gaming.
Novak explains, "I want to create a product where if you shout hard enough, loud enough, if the audience does it together, Frodo will listen to you."
These are bold words that audiences have met with apprehension. Some critics argue that Ascension's premise, while very innovative, risks straying too far from the core of the original Silent Hill games.
The original Silent Hill games established themselves as peak psychological horror by focusing on characters wrestling with very real and relatable personal trauma. Each game subtly explored these themes with masterfully rendered manifestations of the character's hidden thoughts. In contrast, Ascension appears to pull this subtext into the spotlight, going for what appears to be a less nuanced type of storytelling that isn't indicative of the Silent Hill experience.
However, Navok remains optimistic about the project, admitting that the biggest challenge lies in the creation of branching narratives that are equally as compelling. The team knows how much responsibility is on their shoulders to create outcomes that will stay on everyone's minds, regardless of the viewers' choices.
Whether or not Silent Hill: Ascension will be the groundbreaking event its creators envision or fall short of expectations remains to be seen.
One thing, however, is certain: Silent Hill: Ascension will offer an interactive experience unlike any other when it comes out later this year.
As we await its launch, this fresh and audacious take on a beloved franchise promises an adventure that Silent Hill fans and newcomers alike won't want to miss.
As a worst-case scenario, Silent Hill: Ascension will serve as a lesson for Konami as it tries to revive the psychological horror franchise. Silent Hill: Ascension is just one of the many projects based on Silent Hill that are currently in development. While it's easily the most experimental, the biggest one has to be Bloober Team's Silent Hill 2 Remake, which will be met with high expectations following the release of the Resident Evil 4 Remake.