Silent Hill: The Short Message – an Unreal future for the franchise?

February 8, 2024
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Revealed during the latest PlayStation State of Play, Silent Hill: The Short Message is a new free-to-play horror game that stealth-dropped on the PSN store. As well as being worth playing in its own right, this 12GB PS5-only demo also hints towards what the next mainline Silent Hill entry might look like.

The Short Message is built on Unreal Engine, and developed by HexaDrive – the tech masterminds behind Okami HD and Zone of the Enders HD Collection on PS3, many years back. The whole thing can be finished in less than two hours, and has an entirely self-contained story spanning three chapters. It puts you in the shoes of Anita, who enters an apartment block in search of her deceased friend, Maya. Haunted by text messages from Maya – and armed with nothing but a phone flashlight – the goal is to explore each decaying room, uncover clues, solve puzzles and escape pursuit.

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: The Short Message has major parallels with PT, released back in 2014 on PS4 as a free-to-play taster for what would have been the next Silent Hill game – Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s ill-fated Silent Hills. Its delisting from the PlayStation store has given the game a mythical status ever since – its scarsity only adding to its allure. But the concept of running through the same area in a circuit with new details and events being added each time was a clever hook. It’s an idea that’s repeated here in The Short Message, too, chronicling the protagonist’s loss of sanity from a first-person perspective.

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