Since her first Nintendo, Jennifer Branton has been an avid gamer who fairs best in Survival Horror and RPG's.
Groomed To Be A Vessel To Bring About God
The most iconic of the early PlayStation game antagonists, to this day I still have an obsession with Alessa Gillespie- to the point where I have named one of my cats after her.
When the news of Silent Hills being cancelled a few years back after a falling out between Komani and Team Silent, it made me wonder where the current story would have fallen in line with the linage of the famed town in which everyone finds there own interruption and is tested for their sins.
While only the original and third game make direct reference to Alessa, her influence is felt in all the games, including later editions to the series like Downpour, Homecoming, and mobile adaptions after the loss of Team Silent.
Where later stories like Silent Hill 4: The Room, and Homecoming make reference back to where it all began, it is mentioned that many members of The Order have fled into neighboring towns and the influence can be stretched further- making many wonder why the title Silent Hills was chosen, unless to reinforce that everyone has their own Silent Hill.
More on that in a later article.
Raised by a zealot mother and groomed from a young age to bring about The New God, Alessa Gillespie has grown up in chaos and disorder. Although after the main games in the series featuring Alessa's story, Silent Hill, and Silent Hill 3, other games such as Origin, and Shattered Memories give a retelling of the story and admittedly Shattered Memories, was just awful in its undoing of the fable we all know of Alessa's story. When she was around 7, although the age changes in the movie adaption and I believe that Origins may have even said older as well, Alessa was immolated by her mother in a house fire- though the movie will show you otherwise. In one representation it is told that Alessa was to die to bring about God, though in other games it was explained that The Order had tried this before and actually needed a female body to be impregnated and carry the God until it was ready to be born.
In some versions of the story, Alessa is saved by Travis Grady from the house fire as he passes by in his truck while others, even have you believe that her mother couldn't go through with the ritual. Badly burned, Alessa is sent to a secret room in the hospital where she is kept alive but in constant pain.
With psychic powers already in her early life, though rage and pain, Alessa manages to split her soul- bringing about other changes in various versions of the games and movies.
Alessa, Cheryl, and Heather
Alessa is able to split herself into three parts- which is symbolic of the pagan deities represented as The Maiden, Mother, and Crone respectively. At fourteen years old, seven years after being burned alive- according to the timeline of the original Silent Hill, Alessa has separated herself into three parts.
The movie depictions set this differently to avoid any onscreen confusion, but we will get to that later.
The vessel that is carrying the God, remains burned but alive and the teenage Alessa, can be spotted using teleportation around the game on occasion using her powers. The innocent part of Alessa that hasn't been affected by the cruelty of this word was put into a new baby, which is found by the Mason family in both games and movie but under different circumstances. The new baby is named Cheryl, though the movie goes with Sharon for some reason.
Silent Hill, is spent with Cheryl's father, Harry as the protagonist trying to find Cheryl after she disappears after a car accident near the town. Harry thinks he sees Cheryl all over the town and sometimes an older version of what seems to be Cheryl and follows the clues until he discovers Alessa's sick room at the hospital and through battling the alternate realities and its monsters, in the end Harry must take on a monster that comes from reflection of how you played the game and what ending you will get. Silent Hill for its time on PlayStation was one of the first game to be so innovative on what possible ending outcomes were possible based on how the player navigated Harry throughout the worlds and who he chose to help or not.
Most of the outcomes end with Harry receiving a new baby that either an angelic version looking similar to Alessa hands you, or after defeating one of the monsters. This baby goes on to be Heather, another split from Alessa's soul.
Harry goes on to raise Heather knowing that part of Cheryl is in there and from his pity for what Alessa had endured. After keeping her safe from The Order for almost seventeen years, luck has run out when the part of Heather that still is being called back to combine with Alessa just like what happened to Cheryl, begins the cycle again.
Heather, The New Vessel To Bring About The God
Understandably confusing, throwing Heather into the mix to retrace the steps back to the town of Silent Hill and find out what Harry has been hiding her from all these years, Heather realizes as she is pulled closer into the realm and even begins to see the dark side of Alessa herself who has grown impatient waiting, Heather is now the vessel that has to birth The God.
Heather in fact, has actually been carrying it inside her the entire time since she escaped the scenario as a new baby in the first game. Heather refuses to give in and an friend of Alessa's that was now the leader of the cult, instead tries to birth The New God herself.
It almost seems like given the amount of time that has passed and perhaps that running from the responsibility to be the new vessel, that the dark version of Alessa that is shown in this game on the carousel begins to attack Heather, when Alessa never did any harm to Cheryl and seemed to protect her innocent side.
Main Games And Spinoffs
Silent Hill 4: The Room
Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill:Shattered Memories
Silent Hill: Downpour
Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill: Origins
Silent Hill: Book Of Memories
Silent Hill: The Arcade
Silent Hill: The Escape
Silent Hill: The Orphan 2
Silent Hill Mobile
The Film Depictions And Reception
While neither film version of Silent Hill was actually bad, the changes to the backstory, The Order, and how Alessa was portrayed do wildly differ.
The movie versions show Alessa abused from an early age by a school janitor, and her classmates that call her a witch- even though most seem to be children of The Order themselves and know about the past of children being groomed to be the vessel of God.
Alessa is still split into three parts: Sharon, taking on the Cheryl role, the woman that is in the hospital basement burned beyond recognition but still alive taking on the fourteen year old Alessa of the game, and the Dark Alessa, which was the corrupted part of her soul and often referred to as The Devil.
The movies show that Alessa's mother didn't want to harm her daughter, far from the truth of the game, and that she lived in regret and was outcast from The Order and the other spinoffs of the religious sect after the ceremony.
Dark Alessa is in control of the Hell World and thrives on making monsters that will punish those that abused her. She finds a mother in Rose, who takes on the Harry role- looking for her daughter in Silent Hill rather than a father.
The second movie closely follows the premise of Silent Hill 3 and Heather's story although it again plays on this Dark Alessa idea but is a nice fusion of scenes directly from various games.
While only fans of the game really seem to like movies, or understand them- even as the simplifying of the soul splitting of Alessa, fans like myself would have liked to see at least the three part of Alessa's soul preserved as the movies to me really didn't seem to explain that Sharon was the innocent side of Alessa that was sent away.
Visually though, the movies are stunning.
Silent Hills: The End Of Team Silent, And A Game Legacy
Teased about the upcoming of Silent Hills, through a playable teaser nicknamed P.T. exclusive to PlayStation, the beginning of the end was already in sight for the franchise as most of Team Silent had already been fired, and Kojima Studios was starting up after Konami lost its most talented game designer.
Stated that Konami wanted Western game makers to work on further installments, Team Silent disbanded ending in the loss of Hideo Kojima, and a feud that fans still closely follow.
While Konami continues to protect their vested interest, by not allowing for the release of any further Silent Hill entries, fans theorized that subtle hints in P.T. talked about Kojima's frustrations with working for the company and them stemming his creativity.
What Silent Hills may have been about and how it connects back to the entirety of the Alessa story, we will never know.
What I feel is that after Homecoming and Downpour, and even back as far as The Room, signified that the darkness of Silent Hill had reached outwards and now was claiming those that hadn't even caused their own nightmare world through sin, I was hoping for some sort of crossing through either timelines of all these aspects of earlier Silent Hill installments, or maybe locations and a way to stop the evil for good by maybe going back to before Alessa split herself.
PlayStation still offers Silent Hill 2 and 3 through their PlayStation now membership but the controls haven't been ported to PS4 configurations so be prepared for tank controls!
I would love a remaster of the original three games, or even a PlayStation Now of things like Downpour, Homecoming, or The Room.
There is so much packed into the stories of these games from the myths of the religion, the locations, and the drug use of the cult and its psychosis, the passion felt for Silent Hill has never died and fan forums, Wikis, and graphic novels and merchandise still continue to made.
Alessa's story is heartbreaking. It is haunting.
I really wish we had gotten Silent Hills.