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Silent Hill Ascension preview: A promising new chapter

The new Silent Hill story looks engaging, despite the season pass

The gates to Silent Hill Ascension, the new chapter in Silent Hill that’s part mobile game and part interactive TV series, creak open today, over a year after developer Genvid Entertainment first announced the project. There’s been surprisingly little about the free-to-play – er, view? – game so far, but GLHF recently had the chance to get a peak at the first episode and hear about Genvid’s and Konami’s plans for Ascension.

After watching the first episode – or more accurately, the first scene – I still have absolutely no idea what Silent Hill Ascension is about, though I suspect that’s by design. Genvid divided Silent Hill Ascension into roughly 15-minute episodes that air each day and end with a “branch point,” a moment where Something Big is about to happen. It’s all very Silent Hill. The scene I watched centered on two women in a strange cult, a knife, blood sacrifices, and some horrible monster lurking outside. 

I also caught a glimpse of another scene where a daughter confronts her father over the murder of her mother and a few other intriguing fragments as well. While I’m primarily interested in seeing how the story unfolds in general and figuring out what’s going on, Genvid knows most of its audience is keen on those branch points.

A woman is standing in shadows with a worried expression on her face as a dark, menacing figure approaches from behind.

Expect plenty of cliffhangers in every Silent Hill Ascension episode.

These are where viewer choices determine the outcome. You’ve got roughly a full day to make your choice after the scene airs, and whatever happens is cemented as part of the Silent Hill story. That might seem like marketing speak at the moment, though it sounds like Genvid and Konami have big plans for Ascension. Genvid CEO Jacob Navok hinted at a second season the team may or may not already be planning, and Konami is hoping Ascension might serve as a gateway to Silent Hill for people who were too young to experience the series at its peak.

Not that anyone at Genvid or Konami knows how the story will go. Creative director Stephan Bugaj, who previously worked on We Happy Few, Little Nightmares, and Tales from the Borderlands, says there are probably about 1,000 unique combinations of scenes in the whole of Silent Hill Ascension, including variations of character endings, assuming they survive. Bugaj tells me that Konami was keen to make these endings as Silent Hill as possible, so instead of good, bad, and neutral, you get redeemed, suffering, and damnation.

Navok says he knows players will naturally try to keep everyone alive and give them a good ending, so the creative team introduced another element to influence the story: Hope. Depending on choices and outcomes, characters will gradually lose hope as scenes unfold.

There’s also a set of survival scenes where viewers complete quick-time events to determine whether a character survives. The result influences their hope as well, though unlike the rest of the story, these scenes only air live. The times favor U.S. zones, so quite a few people won’t be able to take part.

How the voting works made me raise my metaphorical eyebrow a bit. “Influence,” rather than sheer numbers, determines the outcome. People can spend their influence points to weigh their votes so they count for more, and you get a pretty hefty bundle of influence points if you buy the season pass. You can also earn them from interacting with Ascension via the app or browser portal – by completing puzzles, for example – though anyone who buys and progresses the pass will, naturally, still have more say in how a scene plays out.

I didn’t expect to think “pay-to-win” about an interactive story, but it’s also pretty clear this season pass is meant primarily for die-hards. Your other rewards include cosmetics for your Ascension avatar, which Navok tells me could make an appearance in a later episode. You miss nothing if you skip the pass or don’t even vote, though. Genvid is bundling every scene into a 45-minute episode that airs at the end of every week. 

While the official choice becomes part of the series’ canon, Navok tells me that after the first season ends, Genvid will air another run of it with the canon choices blocked out so viewers can see how the story would have unfolded along other routes.

The first episode of Silent Hill Ascension airs on Oct. 31, 2023, with new episodes each day after that.