Silent Hill is a survival horror video game for the PlayStation published by Konami and developed by Team Silent, a group in Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo. The first installment in the Silent Hill series, the game was released in North America in February 1999, in Japan in March 1999 and in Europe in July 1999. Silent Hill uses a third-person view, with real-time rendering of 3D environments. To mitigate limitations of the console hardware, developers liberally used fog and darkness to muddle the graphics. Unlike earlier survival horror games that focused on protagonists with combat training, the player character of Silent Hill is an "everyman".
The game follows Harry Mason as he searches for his missing adopted daughter in the eponymous fictional American town of Silent Hill; stumbling upon a cult conducting a ritual to revive a deity it worships, he discovers her true origin. Five game endings are possible, depending on actions taken by the player, including one joke ending.
Silent Hill received positive reviews from critics on its release and was commercially successful. It is considered a defining title in the survival horror genre, and is also considered by many to be one of the greatest video games ever made, as it moved away from B movie horror elements toward a more psychological horror style, emphasizing atmosphere. Various adaptations of Silent Hill have been released, including a 2001 visual novel, the 2006 feature film Silent Hill, and a 2009 reimagining of the game, titled Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The game was followed by Silent Hill 2 in 2001, and a direct sequel, Silent Hill 3, in 2003.
Silent Hill opens with Harry Mason's drive to the titular town with his adopted daughter Cheryl for a vacation. At the town's edge, he swerves to avoid hitting a girl in the road, and as a result, he crashes and loses consciousness. Waking up in town, he realizes that Cheryl is missing and sets out to look for her. The town is deserted and foggy, with snow falling out of season, and he begins to experience bouts of unconsciousness and encounters with hostile creatures. During his exploration of the town, he meets Cybil Bennett, a police officer from the neighboring town who is investigating the mysterious occurrences. Dahlia Gillespie, a cultist, gifts him the Flauros, a charm which she claims can counteract the darkness spreading through the town. In the town's hospital, he encounters its director, Dr. Michael Kaufmann, bewildered by the sudden changes in the town, and discovers a frightened, amnesiac nurse, Lisa Garland, hiding in one of the rooms.
Harry can later rescue Kaufmann from a monster, discover evidence of Kaufmann's role in the local drug trafficking, and stumble upon Kaufmann's hidden bottle of aglaophotis, a supernatural liquid that can exorcise demons. Harry comes to believe that a darkness is transforming the town into someone's nightmare, which is why the inhabitants have mostly disappeared. Dahlia urges him to stop "the demon" responsible for it—the girl in the road who appears to him sporadically—or Cheryl will die. Continuing his search, Harry finds himself drawn into a fight with Cybil, who has become the host to a supernatural parasite; the player can choose to save her. The next time Harry sees the girl, the Flauros activates and neutralizes her telekinetic powers. Dahlia then appears and reveals that she manipulated Harry into catching the girl—an apparition of her daughter, Alessa.
Harry then awakens in the hospital again, next to Lisa. Lisa explains that she experienced a sense of deja vu while in the basement, and when he finds her again, she despairs that she is "the same as them". She pleads with Harry to save her, and blood runs down her face; horrified, he flees. Her diary reveals that she nursed Alessa during a secret, forced hospitalization. Alessa's never-healing wounds terrified her, as she fell deeper into a drug addiction fueled by Kaufmann. Finding Dahlia with Alessa's defeated apparition and charred body, Harry demands to know Cheryl's whereabouts: he discovers that seven years earlier, Dahlia conducted a ritual to force Alessa to birth the cult's deity; Alessa survived being immolated because her status as vessel rendered her immortal, while her mental resistance to the ritual caused her soul to be bisected, preventing the birth. One half manifested as the infant Cheryl, whom Harry and his wife adopted. Dahlia then casts a spell to lure Cheryl back, while Alessa was imprisoned within the hospital, enduring unceasing agony as a result of her injuries. With Alessa's plan thwarted and her soul rejoined, the deity is revived and possesses her.
Four different endings are available, dependent on the player's previous actions:
- In the "Bad" ending, the deity merges with Alessa and electrocutes Dahlia before attacking Harry. He defeats it, and Cheryl's voice thanks him for freeing her. Overcome by grief, Harry collapses, and the next scene is that of his corpse in his wrecked car.
- The "Bad +" ending concludes with Harry and Cybil fleeing instead after the deity's demise.
- In the "Good" ending, Kaufmann, now feeling betrayed by Dahlia, demands that she restore the town to normal and uses aglaophotis to exorcise the deity out of Alessa. Harry defeats the deity, and Alessa gives him an infant, the reincarnation of herself and Cheryl. She then helps him escape from her nightmare realm.
- In the "Good +" ending, Harry escapes with Cybil and the baby. In both "Good" endings, a bloody and vengeful Lisa prevents Kaufmann from escaping with Harry. The joke ending features extraterrestrials abducting Harry.