Although gamers are disappointed that Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hills project is no more, longing for the cancelled game shouldn’t overshadow the excitement for Kojima’s next title.
Hideo Kojima’s departure from Konami felt akin to a band-aid being pulled off slowly. The disintegration of the relationship between the acclaimed video game designer and his former publisher was gradually unveiled in front of a concerned gaming community, with the actions of Konami drawing ire from fans of Kojima’s previous works. Gamers could barely look as Konami pulled P.T. from the PlayStation store, as well as eradicating Kojima’s work on the hugely successful Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.
The end result was Kojima leaving Konami, but not before some parting blows such as Kojima being refused access to the 2015 Game Awards. Nonetheless, the auteur has bounced back incredibly well, securing a future for his studio with the support of Sony. Kojima is already starting work on the first project of his Sony collaboration, with the aim of releasing a title at some point in the future.
In spite of this, however, some are still mourning the loss of Kojima’s abandoned projects, in particular the highly-anticipated Silent Hills. The title was expected to deliver one of the most exciting team-ups of all time, with Kojima joining forces with horror director extraordinaire Guillermo del Toro, and The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus also aboard. The title was unceremoniously cancelled alongside Kojima’s departure from Konami, however, and the project is officially dead from the publisher’s side.
Kojima, too, is not exactly looking backwards for inspiration on his new game. The developer has confirmed that Silent Hills is certainly not going to happen, stating that he wants to “move forward” with further projects, and has shied away from making something similar to either P.T. or the infant Silent Hills project. Although Kojima is “interested in exploring” themes of horror with future games, it’s unlikely to be similar to what he was planning with the cancelled survival horror project.
It’s understandable why fans have been feeling the loss of Silent Hills, given that it perhaps gave the Silent Hill franchise the best possible chance of a return to form after several sub-par titles. However, although Silent Hills is no more, there is the prospect of an even more exciting game coming in the future. After all, Kojima hasn’t exactly been subdued over his research for the upcoming Sony project.
Instead, the developer has been going on a well-publicized fact-finding mission, travelling the world to talk with a number of high-profile figures, both from gaming and from other industries. Kojima spent some time in discussions with Respawn Entertainment, the creators of Titanfall, whilst he also travelled to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams. Whatever Kojima has planned, it seems to be big.
Meanwhile, his relationship with co-creator Guillermo del Toro seems as strong as ever. The duo gave a talk at this year’s DICE Summit, and the pair are still keen to work on a project together at some point in the future, whether as an immediate plan or something in the pipeline. Kojima also went to see Norman Reedus as part of his whirlwind tour, suggesting that Reedus may play some role in a future game from the developer.
In short, many of the important ties that Kojima built up for Silent Hills remain in place, with the only loss being the relationship with Konami itself. Should Kojima want to put that dream team together once more on a different game, it seems like there’s no bad blood to contend with. There’s plenty to be hopeful about regarding the future of Kojima Productions, and there’s even the possibility that the developer’s next game may be even better than what was expected of Silent Hills.
This isn’t just pie in the sky positive thinking, either. Kojima has moved away from his former publisher after the relationship between the two soured, and at the end of the day it seems as though Konami’s business strategies may have been holding Kojima back from making the kind of games he truly wanted to build. What’s more, Konami’s recent strategies suggest that that Kojima’s style of direction is far from aligned with the publisher’s future, with Konami continuing to weaken the reputation of longstanding franchises like Silent Hill with pachinko spin-offs, and rumors surfacing that console gaming itself is going to be put on the back-burner.
Instead of the friction of having to fight for creative control, Kojima has found himself working with Sony, who have a much stronger reputation for allowing developers to make the games they truly want to. Sony is far from perfect, of course, and Kojima is highly unlikely to be allowed free reign over the upcoming project, but the PlayStation creator has set a precedent with other recent releases that suggests Kojima may feel at home. One such example is Bloodborne, a title that seemed to fly in the face of many modern gaming conventions, but that Sony allowed pride of place in the PS4’s 2015 line-up, in spite of the publisher’s reservations over how successful it could be.
Sony may well be exactly the kind of publisher that Kojima needs right now: one that is willing to give him the time and breathing room to create something truly astonishing. Away from the confines of Konami, there’s the potential for the developer’s next game to blow his previous titles out of the water. Given that Kojima has been the mastermind behind some of the greatest titles in the history of gaming, the prospect of this next game is nearly mouthwatering.
The video game community does have a habit of keeping one eye on the past, with a longing for former franchises that has manifested itself in a large number of reboots of late. As such, it’s completely understandable that the loss of Silent Hills is being felt. It will be a shame that the project will never come to light, and with the worrying prospect of a Kojima-free Metal Gear franchise, fans of both series could be in for a lean future.
However, the chance for something new and exciting taking shape is one that gamers will no doubt grasp with both hands. Kojima has very few lame ducks in his history, and he will no doubt want to make a triumphant return to the industry after the fallout of his departure from Konami. All that needs to be done now is wait until it’s ready.