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SILENT HILL: Ascension
Revives a beloved franchise and then kills it at the same time | Review - Silent Hill Ascension

Revives a beloved franchise and then kills it at the same time | Review - Silent Hill Ascension

944 View2023-11-06
Silent Hill: Ascension is an ambitious interactive horror television series set in the iconic universe of the Silent Hill video game franchise. Developed by Genvid Technologies and Behaviour Interactive in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment, the project marks a significant departure from the traditional survival horror gameplay that has defined the Silent Hill series. Instead, Ascension adopts a format reminiscent of interactive storytelling games like Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology while integrating a unique app-based or web-based interactive component. The game playable on both Android, iOS, or via web-browser.

With multiple possible paths and branches in the story, an interactive narrative led by viewer participation, and a worldwide streaming platform, Silent Hill: Ascension aims to redefine the Silent Hill experience.
+Innovative social and presentation format
+Multiple possible paths and branches in the story that will take months to finish
-HUGE departure from traditional Silent Hill gameplay
-Limited Interactivity
-Cannot directly impact the narrative by yourself alone
-Story is unengaging
-Graphics are underwhelming for a pre-rendered animated series
⭐️Score: 2/10

📖Story and Premise
The story follows a diverse ensemble cast, each haunted by their own personal demons and battling against the traumatic horrors that threaten to consume them and their children, and the only escape from these psychological horrors lies in the decisions made by the audience in real-time. This premise provides a fresh perspective on the Silent Hill series, moving beyond the confines of the titular town to explore the psychological horror that can manifest anywhere in the world. This storytelling approach offers a broader canvas for exploring the psychological horror genre and attempts to create a truly global and immersive experience. Well, the attempt is novel and

The storytelling is a one of a kind experience, truly. but ultimately, a detriment to the whole Silent Hill experience. For the first week (daily scenes/episodes are released) that I’ve experienced, the story is unengaging, the scenes are too long and drawn out released on a daily basis that just doesn’t stick with you like a normal series would. Moreover, you cannot significantly influence the narrative on your own because it necessitates a collective effort for all the choices – or rather votes.

However, after the series finale which is estimated to be six months from now, there will be a New Game Plus speedrun with the canonical outcomes disabled, showcasing alternate story branches and deleted scenes. So, I am much more excited about the series finishing and the game being released as a singular experience for everyone.

🎨Graphics and Art Style
The graphics in the game are pre-rendered and are only shown as streamed videos on the app much like Netflix or Youtube. However, the computer animation isn't entirely modern CGI in terms of quality and still looks like something that could be rendered in real-time in-engine with modern gaming consoles. This is a bit disappointing as they could have leveraged this CGI nature and come up with some pretty impressive scenes instead.

In terms of Art Style, it retains the dark, foreboding, and eerie atmosphere that Silent Hill is known for. The visuals effectively convey the sense of dread and unease that is the hallmark of the franchise

Here's where Silent Hill: Ascension takes a significant departure from the traditional Silent Hill gameplay. Instead of the tense exploration and survival horror elements, the game adopts an interactive storytelling approach. Viewers engage with the story through a mobile app or the official website, making decisions that impact the direction of the narrative.

The gameplay, if it can be called that, involves participation in daily puzzles, minigames, and quick-time events. These activities are designed to earn "influence points" which are then used to vote on narrative outcomes. The choices viewers make are themed around three paths: Suffering, Redemption, and Damnation, which influence the story's direction.

However, it's essential to understand that the gameplay is minimal compared to traditional video games. Ascension leans more toward an episodic streaming experience, with the interactive elements serving as a way to engage the audience and influence the story's progression. 5-10 minute scenes release on a daily basis, which forms the on-going story of the game, that is expected to take months to conclude.

The series unfolds like a traditional television show, with episodes released periodically. Scenes release on a daily basis, which is then forms into a weekly episode that is planned to span up to six months. However, the defining feature is the optional real-time interactivity, where viewers play an active role in determining the story's direction.

Every scene is live-streamed, creating an immersive experience where viewers can participate in the story's evolution. The use of an official site and mobile app facilitates engagement, allowing users to make decisions and interact with other viewers.

The format also includes a live chat box, chat emotes, stickers, avatars, leaderboards, and contribution histories, fostering a sense of community among viewers which will look very similar to Twitch’s format. There's also the interesting feature that lets participants enter a daily contest to have their custom avatars featured in the series, which adds a layer of personal involvement, for those who are willing to spend money on microtransactions.

🕹Interactivity and Choices
Interactivity and choices are at the core of Silent Hill: Ascension's appeal. Viewers earn "influence points" through daily puzzles and minigames, and these points are used to vote on narrative outcomes. It's a novel approach that empowers the audience to influence the story direction. The fact that viewers can collectively dictate the story's path is both unique and challenging.

The game's interactivity revolves around collective decision-making. Character fates are determined by the choices made by the community, and the aggregate vote determines the canonical scenario. These choices are boiled down to three color coded paths: Redemption, Suffering and Damnation, which will provide different results.

Each scene culminates with a quick-time event, where participants must act within a limited timeframe to assist a character. If enough of the audience fails to act, the character suffers a dire consequence.

While this approach adds a layer of unpredictability, it also limits the individual's ability to directly impact the narrative. The decisions are ultimately based on the majority vote, and even purchasing "influence points" doesn't guarantee the outcome you desire. This may frustrate players who are used to more agency and freedom in interactive storytelling.

The game relies on the sale of "Influence Points" which then can be used to enter contests, buy avatars, and, more importantly, influence the narrative. It's a monetization model that aligns with modern gaming trends but may raise concerns for those who prefer a more traditional approach to storytelling. On one hand, the game is entirely free-to-play. On the other hand, the narrative weirdly becomes pay-to-win.

Silent Hill: Ascension is a bold and and intriguing experiment that attempts to capitalize on Silent Hill’s name, but ultimately does more harm than good to the franchise. It offers a unique and communal experience for viewers but it doesn’t fully capture the essence of the Silent Hill franchise to begin with. Despite it’s best efforts, the story is unengaging, and the inability to affect the narrative in a much more personal way is a big issue for interactive storytelling.
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Dagoth Ur
Dagoth Ur

If they could just import the series on mobile it will become blockbuster


lyndonguitar Author

its on mobile


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Seems ambitious but I'd rather play a traditional Silent Hill game.


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lyndonguitar Author

agreed. Alan Wake II is a better Silent Hill game than this and kept me satisfied this year


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