During the Silent Hill livestream last year, Genvid and Behaviour Interactive promised that Silent Hill Ascension would be a new, highly interactive spin on the iconic horror franchise, allowing players to decide the fate of new Silent Hill characters after watching brief weekly videos. While the premise is largely true - players can watch short videos and vote for what will happen to characters - it comes with a catch. You'll need to spend money if you want a real impact on the game, and many fans aren't happy with what Silent Hill: Ascension has turned out to be.
The moment players open the app and create their account, they're faced with a screen asking them if they'd like to buy the $19.99 Founder's Pack - before they've even had the chance to familiarize themselves with the game and its characters. The Founder's Pack gives purchasers the ability to play all the game's puzzles and gives them access to some cosmetics, like stickers, emojis, and profile frames.
Once you've actually delved into the Silent Hill: Ascension experience, you realize that cosmetics and flashy frames aren't the only things that money buys. You'll also need to bring out your wallet to get your hands on more Influence Points, which are the deciding factor in which decision the community goes with. Solving the game's puzzles can help you earn Influence Points for free, but you can easily make a much bigger impact by making some small purchases.
"I am at a complete loss for words," wrote Twitter/X user RickyLibido. "This is a miserable departure from what these games were. This is a shameless cash grab that intends to leverage players' love for the series."
Jacob Novak, CEO of Genvid, responded to fans' complaints about Ascension on Twitter/X, explaining that it is almost impossible for just one player to sway the decision, no matter how much cash they spend.
"It would be very, very difficult for a single person to change a decision," Novak explained. "If you look at the differential between the top participant (leaderboards) and the bid totals, you'll find that the individual leaders are in the 20-30k range, while the decisions themselves are in the millions. This is a massive gulf and is intentional."
Novak also added that "decisions are free to participate in," and there are lots of ways to get free Influence Points, including logging in, achieving goals, watching the series, and more. "We aren't experts in monetization and we will get it wrong," Novak said.
"There's a highly cynical part of the community which thinks that the goal here was the make money, whereas the goal here was to make the content available as free as possible and we backtracked into where we thought we could monetize. We are getting it wrong in some places, and we will fix it," he added.
Novak suggested that one way to fix the lack of free content would be to, well, add more of it. He also requested kindness from players as the team works to produce the best product possible.
"We're going to be adding an additional, unlocked daily puzzle for free users," the Genvid CEO said. "I would ask people instead of attacking us and the staff to assume that we have good interests at heart and want to make the product free and fun and monetized as lightly as possible, because this is the truth, and the conspiracy/cabal theories are not."
While developers seem to be aware of the issues with the series' monetization, Silent Hill: Ascension isn't just held back by its microtransactions. Players have also complained that the app itself is glitchy, and the chat box is entirely unmoderated, allowing players to spam vulgar language and even hate speech.
"There doesn't seem to be... any moderation or obscenity filtering at all so, like, open this thing and you will immediately be blasted with every slur known to the English language," a Twitter/X user pointed out. "But you can't post 'Kojima'."
Silent Hill: Ascension seems to be riddled with issues that will turn off long-time Silent Hill fans, from excessive microtransactions to unstable servers and an unmoderated chat. However, the TV series just premiered on 31 October, and it's very possible that the series' creators could endeavor to fix these major issues in the coming months.