Silent Hill: Ascension is many things. It’s an episodic drama. It lets you vote on outcomes, but only if you have a season pass. It is, technically, a new Silent Hill entry. In summary, it’s Twitch plays Bandersnatch, but make it videogames. It’s already not doing great.
When I first heard about this… thing, back in July, I wrote: “If Silent Hill: Ascension winds up holding a dark mirror to the internet, it’ll be an effective piece of horror in its own way.” That was in reference to the idea that people would be playing judge and jury on characters with complex emotional trauma. I gave a lot of thought to the implications there.
Here’s an actual, real emote you can buy via the Season Pass, courtesy of Twitter user SmoughTown.
(Image credit: @SmoughTown on Twitter/X)
I am beginning to believe I was thinking too hard about this thing.
What’s more, that promised democratisation of outcomes has been monetized—if you spend more cash, you get more voting power. So the core premise, that ideal of joining a journey with thousands of other people, has been utterly scuppered by greed. If someone wrote this as a satire of capitalism in a sci-fi setting, I’d call it heavy handed.
The cherry on top, however, is how seriously the Twitch-style chat room was underestimated. Moderation seemed poor to outright non-existent, and its automated filters—which were only in place for certain words—did little to stop the oncoming tide. Here’s a few examples. Fair warning, they’re raunchy.
(Image credit: @Cyasashiku on Twitter/X)
(Image credit: @hydoutmusic on Twitter/X)
(Image credit: @DeinFerret on Twitter/X)
It’s not all fun and games, though, as the poor moderation has led to some genuine vitriol. As one Twitter user Succinct_Punchy points out: “you will immediately be blasted with every slur known to the english language … but you can’t post Kojima.”
There was also a running joke calling for “Silent Hill Gamers” to pledge their credit cards to Pyramid Head’s cause. Well, I’m doing my part for Pyramid Head. What’s your excuse?
Naturally, the chat has been shut down for a while. “Due to an unexpected volume of chat during our premiere last night, our moderation system did not perform to our standards. To correct this, our team is hard at work with our vendors to create a better chat environment that’s fun, safe and respectful. As a result, text chat is not available for tonight’s live show.”
I’d say ‘this is why we can’t have nice things’, but I don’t really know if that applies here. Anyone with enough knowledge of internet culture could’ve seen it coming a mile away, but here we are. Heck, I’m still suffering whiplash from the rainbow-coloured “This is Trauma!” sticker, I don’t have any more mental real estate for things like “James Sunderland c*ckring”. It will not compute.