Reactive Narrative in Silent Hill

I love Silent Hill.

As a franchise it wavers in quality, but when it hits its stride it provides an experience that cannot be fully matched in any other form of media. The psychological narrative of even the worst entry is attempting more than entire genres of gaming.

Here is Climax Studios discussing how Silent Hill: Shattered Memories learns the psychological preferences of a player, and then subverts them.

When working on my upcoming interactive comic (Pixelton: The Helmet of Infinite Win) I realized that I’d created an interactive experience that had very little interactivity. The ability for a piece of art to react to your fears, hopes, and desires is why I started writing this book. So, a great deal of time has been spent finding ways to give a more immersive and personal experience to the reader.

The goal here, as seen in Silent Hill above, is that the reader is clueless to the customization taking place. It is seamless. But once the trick is revealed to them it has an even more awe inspiring result. There was a trick – and it was under your nose the whole time.

  • Ola Hansson

    I don’t think Interactive Comics of the form you descrive (being the hero/choosing the route/branching narrative) are feasible or even a wortwhile pursuit in the age of video games. I DO think there are lots of possibilities for comics and video games to cross pollute and merge though. Comics offer a lot to video games but I don’t think games has anything to offer comics, which I view as a mature medium brim filled with all form of fantasy, drama, documentary, education and more for all ages and sensibilties.
    Games like Daniel Benmergu’s “Storyteller”, my own “Strip ‘em all”, loveshack’s “Framed” and more are just a few computer games who adopt the form of comics and achieve something new in gaming. As comics they are, however, inferior to the real thing.

    • Pixelton

      Hi Ola,

      I agree that interactive comics may not be feasible or worthwhile in the age of the video game. I’ve been thinking about this project as my merger between the two, so the samples you shared are inspirational.

      Kind thanks and congrats on the success of Strip ‘em all! Very interesting ideas there.

      You may dig this, which errors a bit closer on the comics end: Infinite Corpse.

      I suppose it all boils down to form versus content. We haven’t yet found that right mix that attracts both groups. It either works for the “form is king” kids or the “story is everything” crew. I hope it is possible to appeal to these very different audiences and desires.

      - Josh

  • Ola Hansson

    Thanks for the link to Infinite Corpse, Josh. It will certainly take me a while to plough through!

    Yes, it is very hard to find a mix that attracts both groups. I guess it will take years of experimenting and iterating before I’m pleased with Strip ‘em all. Right now we are taking a small break from it and are working on some interactive comics based on old arcade games. They will still have panels to rearrange but they will also feature animation, randomization and be score based.

    Hope you can find a way to make Pixelton work! I’d be very happy if there is a market for comic-game-hybrids. By the way, I too LOVE Silent Hill and though Shattered Memories isn’t my favorite entry (Silent Hill 1 and 2 are) I find it almost shockingly clever and impressive in so many ways I can’t really grasp … Just genius.

    • Pixelton

      That sounds AWESOME! I’ll keep an eye out because that sounds brilliant.

      Agreed that Silent Hill 1 and 2 are mind-bendingly amazing. I never mention them because I almost assume that the world considers them among the best video games ever made. 2 really made more of an impact on my life than I think any other artwork!