Truth be told, the Silent Hill series has never been able to compete with Resident Evil‘s sales figures. In fact, the franchise’s sales struggles are fairly well documented. Yet, in the minds of the many who have played a Silent Hill game, the name “Silent Hill” will always be associated with some of the scariest experiences that gaming has to offer.
That’s the legacy we’re celebrating today. Just note that this is not a breakdown of the best overall Silent Hill games and that our ranking is instead based on how scary the game itself is. This list also doesn’t include the mobile Silent Hill titles which were, in a word, awful.
10. Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Book of Memories actually has some good ideas working in its favor, but this strange attempt to turn Silent Hill into a dungeon crawler is severely lacking when it comes to scares.
This spin-off’s more action-packed gameplay just isn’t capable of delivering the kind of pure horror experience that we’ve come to expect from this series. Here, horror is more of a thematic concept used largely for visual design purposes. It’s hard to think of a time when this game genuinely scares you.
9.Silent Hill: Origins
Silent Hill: Origins‘ classic gameplay means that it fares better than Book of Memories when it comes to delivering scares to handheld players everywhere. Unfortunately, that’s probably the best thing you can say about the game.
Origins tries to offer a kind of highlight reel of previous Silent Hill games, but the final product leaves you wishing you were just playing one of those games instead. Long-time fans will see the scares coming, while the title’s other shortcomings will disappoint newcomers.
8. Silent Hill: Homecoming
Homecoming is routinely referred to as the worst Silent Hill game not released for a mobile or handheld device. We’d go a step further by also suggesting that it’s the least scary game in that particular category.
Simply put, Homecoming lacked the creative talent needed to make this series’ psychological horror concepts work. In their place, the developers tried to implement more scenes of “torture porn” style violence which feel out of place next to what this series previously delivered.
7. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Shattered Memories is arguably the most underrated Silent Hill game and one of the best-written horror games of all-time. When it comes to scares, though, it falls a bit short in some areas.
Shattered Memories‘ unbelievably clever story lacks the visceral feelings of terror that the previous games in the series are practically defined by. It may be the smartest Silent Hill, but it’s also one of the least intimidating.
6. Silent Hill: Downpour
With its simplified combat system, weird plot beats, and intimidating environments, Downpour resurrected many of the elements that fans felt were missing from the previous two mainline entries in the series.
The game’s strange story is certainly a highlight, but the real winner here is Downpour‘s level design. You’re often encouraged to thoroughly explore each area even as the game gives you plenty of reasons to not go around that next corner.
5. Silent Hill
Not only is Silent Hill the game that would (obviously) set this franchise’s standards for scares moving forward, but there are times when you could argue it’s still the downright scariest game in the series.
Granted, some of those scares are the result of some severe technological shortcomings that make it hard to see what is happening, but that feeling of dread that Silent Hill instills whenever you’re simply wandering the town has arguably never been topped.
4. Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is a masterpiece of video game storytelling that still stands as one of the most frequently cited entries in the “games as art” debate.
While there are moments in Silent Hill 2 which will shock and haunt you forever, many of the game’s most notable horror elements only reveal themselves when you dwell on the story’s implications. That means that some fans won’t take quite as much away from this game as they will other installments, but that’s not necessarily the game’s fault.
3. Silent Hill 4
Silent Hill 4 the weirdest and most innovative game in the Silent Hill franchise. It’s also the one that may be most likely to stick with you long after you walk away from it.
Silent Hill 4 is based on the idea that a man has mysteriously been locked in his apartment and can only escape by venturing into an “otherworld.” It’s a terrifying concept made all the more effective courtesy of some of the series’ most effective environmental designs and craziest characters.
Sure, it might be a little controversial that P.T. is listed as a Silent Hill game, but if you consider this demo for the unreleased Silent Hills to be part of the canon, then you’ve got to consider it one of the absolute scariest corners of the series.
It’s hard to imagine a time when P.T. won’t absolutely terrify anyone who plays it. This claustrophobic choreography of brilliant horror concepts is as viscerally shocking as it is cerebrally unnerving.
1. Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill 3 doesn’t always get the love that its predecessors enjoy, but those who’ve played it regularly refer to it as the scariest Silent Hill game ever made. We’re not inclined to argue.
Silent Hill 3 brilliantly balances effective jump scares, subtle (and unnerving) horror writing, and instances of sustained shock. Nearly every area of the game is distinct, and each features a moment or little detail that will haunt you for years to come.