The ‘massively interactive live event’ Silent Hill: Ascension has had a troubled launch week, it’s fair to say.
Silent Hill: Ascension launched earlier this week on 31st October, and it has attracted no small amount of criticism and controversy.
Ascension is a bit of a strange concept – sort of a cross between a game and a TV show. Developer Genvid calls it a ‘massively interactive live event’ (MILE), which the studio has produced a number of before, including The Walking Dead: Last Mile.
Basically, every day for 16 weeks, viewers tune in for a livestream at 9pm EST, and then decide the outcome of the unfolding events by collectively making key decisions and participating in quick-time events. It’s a little like an interactive TV show such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, but here it’s happening live, and there’s no option to go back and choose a different path. Plus it’s all done with characters created using Unreal’s Metahumans tech, rather than live actors.
But there have been problems. Most notably, as reported by Kotaku, the chat overlay on the right of the screen has been disabled after it was flooded with nonsense. One streamer coordinated his followers to spam the chat with the phrase “hideo kojima cummy in my tummy”, while others joined in with similarly puerile bon mots.
“Up until we can figure out how we handle the moderation queue, we’re gonna limit the chat to stickers,” said Genvid’s CEO Jacob Navok in a video addressing why the chat had been disabled.
Others have railed against the game’s reliance on microtransactions. Players can use ‘influence points’ to have a greater say in decisions, and these can be received from completing puzzles. But players can also buy influence points, and many of the puzzles are locked behind a paywall, too.
“After creating an account and going through the game’s introduction, the first thing I’m shown is not a cutscene from the game or a puzzle, but a pop-up for the £20 Founder’s Pack,” noted Liv Ngan at Eurogamer. Although Silent Hill: Ascension is free to download, it seemingly has a ‘pay-to-win’ structure where those who purchase influence points have an outsized role in the outcome.
Perhaps it’s unfortunate that Silent Hill: Ascension is the first project to emerge from Konami’s bid to revive the franchise. After waiting over a decade for a new game in the series, fans aren’t best pleased with the microtransaction-heavy game/TV hybrid they’ve been given.
“One of the first things you’re asked is if you want to spend £19.99 on some digital Silent Hill nonsense,” railed IGN video producer Jesse Gomez. “Nearly 12 years on from Downpour, HD Collection, and Book Of Memories, and this is what you get. Silent Hill used to be good, man.”
Still, there are more Silent Hill games to come. No Code, creator of the excellent Observation, is working on Silent Hill: Townfall, while Silent Hill F is being made by the NeoBards Entertainment, plus there’s a remake of Silent Hill 2 on the way as well.
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