Whenever there’s a discussion about Silent Hill, more often than not, it’s focused on one of two elements – the distressing and complex narrative or the monstrosities that call the sleepy town home. But the series is more than just its story and malevolent forces.
It’s a deeply twisted experience that leaves players emotionally ripped apart as fear, anguish, and intrigue drive their time in the foggy town.
For many, there’s something else tucked away in the cacophony of emotions that only rears its head at select moments – frustration. To guide the protagonists through their torment, players must endure puzzles that borderline torturous.
As if the heroes and anti-heroes of the Silent Hill series don’t have enough on their plates, too often their paths are blocked by mind-bending riddles. These aren’t a case of just finding the right-shaped key for a door or missing crests that unveil a hidden room.
These hardest puzzles of the Silent Hill universe require scratch paper, plenty of patience, and, for the impatient, a helping hand from the Internet. Unfortunately for many, when they first tackled many of these quandaries, the World Wide Web wasn’t the unfettered information super highway we know it as today.
Whenever Konami developed a Silent Hill game, it was quite evident the team set out to challenge its audience. Frequently difficult gameplay aside, progression is often gatekept behind puzzles that require more than a second thought.
It’s easy to claim that the Pyramid Heads and hyper-sexualized nurses are the true horrors of Silent Hill, but anyone that claims so has yet to tackle the seven hardest Silent Hill hardest puzzles I’ve laid out below.
Bottom Line Up Front
Some puzzles just hit a little differently. There are easy puzzles, that require no help; somewhat difficult puzzles that may require a second set of eyes; then there is the Piano Puzzle from Silent Hill.
When Konami created this musical quandary, it inadvertently crafted something so devious that it seemed like punishment for enjoying the game thus far. A set of bloody piano keys and a poem about birds are all you’re given to progress beyond this nightmarish segment. Good luck!
The Hardest Silent Hill Puzzles at a Glance
1. The Piano (Silent Hill) – A bloodied piano and a cryptic riddle stand between you and your path through Silent Hill. The question is, does the music matter?
2. Shakespeare Anthology (Silent Hill 3) – This introductory puzzle for Silent Hill 3 tests your Shakespearean knowledge. Hopefully, you paid attention in English Lit.
3. The Coins (Silent Hill 2 [Extra Riddle]) – A series of five coin slots and no other clues await in room 105. Maybe there’s a hint elsewhere in Blue Creek Apartments?
4. Toluca Prison Trap Door (Silent Hill 2) – Progress through Toluca Prison is hindered by a trap door with no handle. Can you find the right ingredients for a makeshift exit?
5. Tarot Cards (Silent Hill 3) – Finding each tarot card is just the start of this headache-inducing puzzle, which gets unreasonably difficult on Hard.
6, Burnt Dolls (Silent Hill 4: The Room) – Less complex and more obnoxiously difficult, this Silent Hill 4 puzzle sends Henry on a scavenger hunt for missing doll limbs.
7. Louise Box (Silent Hill 2) – The reward seems small for the amount of work needed to break into this mysterious box in Brookhaven Hospital.
How Did I Choose the Hardest Silent Hill Puzzles?
Settling on these seven Silent Hill puzzles took multiple different approaches. I’m actually coming off a playthrough of the first two games, so several of these puzzles were chosen based on my most recent experience with them and how I remember them during my first playthroughs umpteen years ago.
Then, there was the coveted Internet search. I scoured message boards and social media networks to see which puzzles players talked about the most.
Using the surprisingly expansive list I compiled from that broad-scope research, I narrowed down the rest of my selections by watching and trying to solve them on YouTube. Those that tripped me up the most, of course, landed somewhere on this list.
I looked for puzzles that required more than a simple round of backtracking. The hardest of them make you think and read clues and then think some more before re-reading the clues, only this time much slower as if it will change your understanding of them.
The most important selection criteria, though, was whether the puzzle warranted a trip to the Internet for a hint or the solution. While I didn’t search for outright solutions for any of them, I certainly needed a few hints.
The Hardest Puzzles of Silent Hill
Louise Box – Silent Hill 2
Upon entering room S14 in Brookhaven Hospital, James Sunderland is met with an unusual box tied to the bed encased in chains and four locks. On the wall nearby, players find a note scribed to Louise, for whom the puzzle is named.
Who’s Louise? Ultimately, it’s not important and the rest of the note is inconsequential. All players need to concern themselves with are the two key locks and two four-digit combo locks keeping the chains in place. There’s really no trick to this puzzle, save for knowing you need to find the required inputs and keys.
The two keys, the “Purple Bull” and “Lapis Eye” keys should already be in your inventory. Use them individually (or combine and use them) to unlock the key locks.
As for the four-digit combos, there are two types – a push-button and a turn combination. The solutions should already be in your inventory. The push-button lock is the four-digit code on the carbon paper found in Examining Room 3’s typewriter. If you grabbed this paper, it will be in the Memo section of the player menu. The turn combo lock digits were located on the bloody wall in the Special Treatment Room.
Opening the lock box reveals a strand of hair that gets combined with a bent needle to locate the elevator key.
Burnt Dolls – Silent Hill 4: The Room
Henry Townshend and Eileen Galvin enter the Forest World to find the Wish House Orphanage burnt to the ground. Being Henry’s second visit to the forested world, the change is quite noticeable. As is the charred doll torso that sits amidst the wreckage. Nearby lies a memo that gives this clue:
To prepare for the Receiver of Wisdom…
I cut my body into five pieces and hid them in the darkness.
As the memo suggests, players need to scour the area for five doll limbs hidden within darkness. But where could that darkness be?
It’s easy to see that the doll is missing its head, left arm, right arm, left leg, and right leg, which are somewhere nearby. Eagle-eyed players will probably take notice of the five wells scattered around the Forest World map.
What could be darker than the inside of a well? To find each limb, equip Henry with the lit torch and send him into each well. The torch won’t last forever, though soaking it in oil in the Laundry Room should do the trick.
The wells can be found:
- Southwest of the orphanage, near the cemetery.
- Northeast of the orphanage, by the booby trap.
- Northeast of the orphanage, near the entrance of Henry’s first visit to the forest.
- Southeast of the orphanage, by the rooted tree.
- Northwest of the orphanage, just beyond its scorched walls.
With all limbs collected, reattach them to the torso to gain access to the orphanage basement.
Tarot Cards – Silent Hill 3
Rounding out the puzzles in Silent Hill 3 is a complicated door puzzler involving tarot cards. There are three difficulty levels to this puzzle, and each one is tough in its own regard. However, we’ll focus on the hardest and least forthcoming with clues as it will help decipher the other two difficulties.
When players reach Alessa Gillespie’s room in the Cult Chapel, they’ll find a sketchbook and a door with nine card-shaped spaces. The writing in the sketchbook reads:
“I had a dream.
In my dream, I opened a door.
But was that really me?
I had a different name.
ING WXX NXA
OEI IFI VII
MOX NOT XV4
XON HNG III
XAA CXX CCX
JII IEI IHT
5 are true and 4 are lies —
and there are some fibs mixed
in with the truth.
That’s ’cause it’s scary to write only the truth.
But dreams… dreams are like lies, after all.”
Helpful, right? More so than you think, but it does take a bit of thought and dissecting.
The first thing you’ll need to do is search the chapel for five tarot cards. These are what fit on the door. No matter the difficulty you’re playing on, they can be found as follows:
- Moon – Table the in church library
- Fool – Book in Alessa’s room in the basement
- High Priestess – Claudia Wolf’s room on the first floor
- Hanged Man – Morgue in the basement
- Eye of Night – First-floor podium
With those collected, it’s to time return to the memo’s hodgepodge of letters. If you separate each block, you’ll find that it’s the same layout as the card slots on the door. Now’s when you should break out a pen and paper:
It looks like nonsense, right? Well, in that nonsense are Roman numerals, which you’ll find corresponding to the Roman numeral of each tarot card. There are two tricks to this puzzle:
- Knowing what’s gibberish and what’s not
- Fitting five cards into nine slots
The first is a matter of picking out common Roman numerals (I, X, V, M, C) and removing the remaining letters. Then, return to the poem and re-read the second to last paragraph. It states “5 are true and 4 are lies,” meaning four slots won’t be used. When you determine the Roman numerals, everything falls into place:
Toluca Prison Trap Door – Silent Hill 2
Not every puzzle is accompanied by a lengthy memo hiding vague hints. Some offer nothing but frustration and disbelief when you realize how obvious the answer was after hours of backtracking.
After spending time in Toluca Prison, James needs to find a way up to the surface. Unfortunately, his path is impeded by a trap door with no handle in the Western Hall. It seems odd that he can’t pry it open, so he’ll need to find a handle. However, in all his time in the prison, one was never presented to him.
For some players, this is a sign of one or two things:
- There’s a handle lying somewhere they missed
- A new event triggered somewhere that will provide the handle
In this case, neither is true. On the contrary, if you made it this far, you already have the solution in your inventory. But you’ll still backtrack and scour and grow agitated until you give up, perform an Internet search, see how obvious the answer was, turn off the game, and refuse to play it for a week.
To unlock the trap door, James needs three items:
- Wax doll
Solving this puzzle is just a matter of finding each item. They can be found as follows:
- Horseshoe – After leaving the Gallows room following the tablet puzzle
- Wax doll – In the second open cell in the Southern Cells
- Lighter – In the Western Hall, in the first visitor booth
With all three in your inventory, combine them and James will affix the horseshoe to the door and your escape will be revealed.
The Coins – Silent Hill 2 (Extra Riddle)
In Silent Hill 2, there’s an “Extra Riddle” difficulty level that’s playable on every second playthrough. It’s on this difficulty that the Coins puzzle proves to be most difficult.
While making his way through the Blue Creek Apartments, James is urged to room 106 (David’s room) by a note taped to room 209. In this room, he finds a drawer with five round indentations.
At this point, players will have picked up three coins bearing three symbols:
- Old Man
There will also be a note, and what it reads is different for each difficulty level. On Easy, the note is pretty straightforward. By Extra Riddle Mode, it’s a rather long poem with very cryptic clues tucked in. Also on Extra Riddle Mode, there is a rear side to each coin that shows:
- Old Man – A Gravestone
- Snake – A Crescent Mon
- Prisoner – A Nest
The poem lays out several clues, though they may be incredibly difficult to decipher. In fact, researching the answer yielded several unique and clever interpretations, though they all had holes to them that makes me they’re not quite what the puzzle’s creator had in mind.
I feel the closest interpretation is that the sins of each character depicted on the coin are greater moving left to right. So, the one with the least amount of sin would be the first coin and vice versa.
Trying to explain the order based on the text of the poem muddies the entire solution, so in this case, it’s best to skip to the good part and get those coins into their respective slots. The order for the Extra Riddle solution is as follows:
- Old Man
The order does change on each difficulty, but the poems also get easier to examine and understand.
Shakespeare Anthology – Silent Hill 3 (Hard Mode)
Here’s another puzzle that gets exponentially harder on the highest difficulty level. What’s crazy about this puzzle is that it kind of requires you to know a little about Shakespearean literature, specifically Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Othello, and King Lear.
Heather Mason comes across this puzzle in “My Bestsellers,” the bookstore in Central Square Shopping Center. It’s the first puzzle, so that hard difficulty really sets the tone of the game.
There’s a memo near the keypad with eight verses, all very Shakespearean in nature, and most of them involve a clue on how to arrange the order of five Shakespeare anthologies that fell off the shelf.
Right off the bat, scrub verses 1 and 8 from the memo as they’re just the intro and outro. Verses 1 through 5 all contain clues as to which anthology goes where, and thankfully they’re laid out in the order that the books will be placed. So, the clue found in verse 2 dictates which book goes in the first slot. The anthologies are labeled:
- Romeo and Juliet – Anthology 1
- King Lear – Anthology 2
- Macbeth – Anthology 3
- Hamlet – Anthology 4
- Othello – Anthology 5
There are key phrases in each verse that give away which play they reference. The clues are as follows:
- Verse 2 – “A false lunacy” references Hamlet’s falsified descent into madness.
- Verse 3 – “[S]he pierced a heart rent by sorrow” references Juliet’s suicide.
- Verse 4 – “Doth lie invite truth?” references the lies that Macbeth tells that ultimately come to light.
- Verse 5 – “[A] game of turning white to black and black to white” references a game of Othello, which uses black and white pieces.
- Verse 6 – “Is not a silence brimming with love more precious than flattery?” references Cordelia’s love for her father, which she isn’t vocal about.
So, when the books are in, the order should read 4-1-3-5-2. Except there are only four digits to the code Heather needs. That’s where Verse 7 and a little math comes in.
The first and second lines describe how to manipulate the first and second numbers of 4-1-3-5-2. Lines 1 and 2, for example, suggest the “vengeful man” or Hamlet of Anthology 4, should be multiplied by two, giving us 8-1-3-5-2. The third line talks about Romeo and Juliet of Anthology 1 as the “two youths,” so their number should be multiplied by 3, giving us 8-3-3-5-2.
The third to last line mentions “three” and “dissapeared,” so we take that as to mean one of the “3’s” should be removed, giving us a code that works: 8-3-3-5-2.
The Piano – Silent Hill
A piano puzzle should be fun, musical, and whimsical. But, this is Silent Hill, so we understand why this piano puzzle is more torturous than amusing.
Harry comes across the bloodied piano in Midwich Elementary School along with a poem titled A Tale of Birds without a Voice. To obtain the Silver Medallion, he must play the keys in a specific order based on the clues in the poem.
The catch? Not every key is musical. Some, when hit, resulting in a dull thud. Solving this puzzle means paying close attention to every part of the poem – including the title.
You’d probably expect to have to play the working keys to play some melodic delight a la the Midnight Sonata puzzle of Resident Evil.
However, that’s not the case, and the title of the poem gives us that clue. “… without a Voice” points players to the non-working keys. Now it’s just a matter of determining which order to play them in.
You’ll need to decipher the meaning behind verses 1 through 5 before you can start pressing keys. What’s important to note is that the color of the birds mentioned aligns with the color of the key (i.e. pelicans, doves, and swans are white while ravens and crows are black). The relevant versus are:
First flew the greedy Pelican,
eager for the reward.
White wings flailing.
Then came a silent Dove,
flying beyond the Pelican,
as far as he could.
A Raven flies in,
flying higher than the Dove.
Just to show he can.
A Swan glides in to find a peaceful spot
next to another bird.
Finally, out comes a Crow,
coming quickly to a stop, yawning and then napping.
In breaking down each verse, we know that:
- A pelican didn’t make it far, landing on the first broken key.
- The dove flew beyond the pelican, to the farthest broken white key.
- A raven flies beyond the dove, to the last broken black key.
- The swan sits next to another bird, which means it must be a broken key next to another broken key. The only broken key that sits next to another is the one to the left of the dove.
- Finally, the crow stops at the first black key.
When played in the proper order, Henry receives the Silver Medallion and opens the Clock Tower doors.
Question: Is Silent Hill Based on a True Story?
Answer: No, Silent Hill isn’t based on a true story. However, the design for the town is allegedly based on Centralia, PA, an abandoned town that first caught fire in May 1962 and has been burning ever since.
The fire is trapped underground, filtering smoke through cracks in the earth, giving the town a foggy appearance in spots.
Question: Why Are There Monsters in Silent Hill?
Answer: The monsters in Silent Hill are typically the manifestation of one’s subconscious. Silent Hill 2 may have depicted this best with monsters like Pyramid Head and the Nurses, which represented the protagonist’s guilt and repressed sexual urges.
Question: Are Silent Hill Games Still Being Made?
Answer: There are rumors of a Silent Hill 2 remake being made by Bloober Team, but otherwise the last Silent Hill project was Silent Hills, which spawned the P.T. demo.
The Silent Hill series is a healthy dose of everything we expect out of survival horror. Amidst all the frights and atmospheric exploration, our minds are bent and twisted by a selection of puzzles designed to test the strength of our well.
These seven really go the distance, to a point where I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few unfinished saved files that would pick up right at these riddles.
While survival horror was always rife with puzzles, since its 3D inception with Resident Evil, there’s something about Silent Hill’s quandaries that feel more cerebral. If you needed to cheat, there’s certainly no shame, especially if we’re talking about any of these seven hardest puzzles of the Silent Hill series.