|“|| In Silent Hill, the border between reality and unreality is indistinct. It may be that the town itself has moved somewhere that is like another dimension, or it may be that this is all happening inside someone's dream. Could it be that the real world awaits beyond the collapsed roads?
The Otherworld, also occasionally referred to as the Alternate World, Another World, Dark World, Nightmare World or Reverse Side throughout the series, is the dark and nightmarish mysterious parallel universe that materializes through the ancient powers of Silent Hill, Maine. It lies on the border where reality and unreality intersect, a place both close and distant. The Otherworld is not reality, yet it is still real on another plane of existence that is impossible for ordinary humans to comprehend, and is difficult to describe by human language.
Originally localized in Silent Hill, over time, this supernatural phenomenon extended to neighboring towns, such as Shepherd's Glen and Ashfield, especially with the burning of Alessa Gillespie who acted as a catalyst for the Otherworld's state. Most games in the franchise feature the protagonists caught in dimensional shifts between this world and the less dangerous, but still hostile, Fog World. Transitions to the Otherworld often occur suddenly and with little warning. The only protagonist who can willingly control the Otherworld shifts is Travis Grady through the use of mirrors.
The Order and the Otherworld
In accordance with the Order's mythology, the Otherworld is akin to a "holy land", in which their God dwells. As such, their "God" seems to give the Order a certain degree of protection while in the Otherworld. Members of the Order appear to have a connection to the other worlds, and it is possible that certain members, such as Margaret Holloway, may have some control over the dimensional shifts. Creatures such as Valtiel play various roles in this mythology.
The Otherworld has the ability to reflect a character's psyche, or even multiple characters' psyches at a given time, and to twist the environment around them into their own personal nightmare. As monsters represent the personal fears and vices of a current inhabitant of the Otherworld, the environment too is altered to suit the subconscious of its current victim(s). As such, the Otherworld may appear anywhere from slightly to moderately different, depending on the character's subconscious that it is manifesting. This is in part due to the fact that it is usually the character's own personal influence and experience that is manifested in their particular nightmare world. However, for the most part, the appearances of the Otherworld typically follow a similar stylistic pattern.
The Otherworld is essentially a darker, more disturbing reflection of the locales of the town; usually maintaining the same physical build and outline. However, many doors that were once locked or unlocked in the Fog World are found in their opposite state in the Otherworld. Also, many new objects, areas and puzzles appear in the Otherworld that are absent from the Fog World. When the Fog World shifts to the Otherworld in Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, Homecoming and the film, an air-raid siren can be heard in the background.
The Otherworld is frequently depicted as a dark, decaying, oppressive, ruined dimension. Many of its environments are partially or entirely made up of rusted and bloodstained metal floors and walls. Grating, fencing, barbed wire or entire sections of wall composed of flesh and other organic material are also commonplace. Elements like chains, hooks, industrial fans, cages, meat carcasses and rotting corpses can be found scattered throughout this world. The fans that are featured in many of the games are representative of rebirth; a recurring theme in the series.
During some transitions, the streets of the town reveal grated floors with nothing lying beneath them except a vast dark "chasm"; however, the outside appearances of the surrounding buildings may remain unchanged. As opposed to the Fog World, the Otherworld is obscured by pitch blackness, whether it be indoors or outside. However, in Silent Hill: Homecoming, an orange/red glow can be seen in the sky or from windows when peering outside.
Video game appearances
|“|| It's being invaded by the Otherworld. A world of someone's nightmarish delusions come to life.
The Otherworld appears first in an alleyway at the start of the game, where it becomes increasingly dark, it stops snowing and begins raining, and the area shifts to a rusted, blood-drenched area with chains and corpses littering the surroundings. When Harry Mason tries to backtrack through this area, he will come to a dead end, with a collapsed wall blocking the rest of the way. The next shift occurs in Midwich Elementary School, as Harry searches for his daughter. The shift occurs while investigating an underground area beneath the clock in the garden of the school. Here, it is depicted as a dark place with fenced floors, rusty and blood stained walls, and corpses hanging from ceilings as well as being attached to walls. Most of the bodies have ceremonial robes and arcane symbols (most notably, the Seal of Metatron). Also, many of the hallways are blocked off by a wall of fencing and the school becomes similar to a labyrinth.
This is arguably the most "iconic" depiction, as it gives players the first glance of the "rust and blood" appearance that becomes the common visual effect for the Otherworld. This "personal hell" is tuned to Alessa Gillespie's mind, representing her fear of the cult and hospital employees. Dahlia Gillespie refers to this game's Otherworld as "The Darkness".
The Otherworld appears to be heavily industrialized. For instance, when Harry leaves the Silent Hill Town Center, windmills can be seen along Wien Street.
Near the end of the game, Harry will find himself in an even more twisted version of the Otherworld known as "Nowhere". This place resembles many familiar places in Silent Hill (mostly Alchemilla Hospital). It reflects Alessa's memories of the town.
The guidebook states that neither the Fog World and Otherworld are reality, and is compared to the cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During the times when the town becomes darker, it is because Alessa's dream is deepening, becoming more surreal and twisted. It is also partly due to the malevolent god in her womb warping and affecting her dreams, which nourishes on her hatred, fear and terror.
Silent Hill 2 shows a different variant of the Otherworld: a slightly more depressing and subdued and less hellish and less visceral environment, with many of the visuals using somewhat darker cooler colors with more blues and greens involved, rather than red and orange. Hospital gurneys are common, regardless of scenario, and the bloody walls and doors are often coated with plastic sheets. In the initial version of Brookhaven Hospital, many of the beds and boxes have been covered over with stained white sheets, calling to mind both Mary's sickbed and even the pillow he used to smother her with. Before James exits the Otherworld version of Brookhaven, most of the doors are locked and are tightly covered over with tarp.
The overall appearance of the Otherworld as James Sunderland sees it is based on his gloomy outlook on life and his feelings of guilt over the death of his wife, as well as her hospitalization and the decay that she supposedly felt she was going through. In Lakeview Hotel, after discovering the truth of his wife's death, the Otherworld takes the form of the burnt-out version of the real world hotel with a flooded basement. Water, arguably the most recurring motif throughout the game, possibly gives the impression that James is "drowning" in his sorrow, as he now knows the real reason for his sojourn to Silent Hill. In the Blue Creek Apartments and Lakeview Hotel, water is often seen dripping down the walls and from the ceiling, although the apartments are located in the Fog World moreso than the Otherworld. The Otherworld then embodies cage-like stairs to lead James to Mary Shepherd-Sunderland, at the open top of Lakeview Hotel.
Silent Hill 2 shows other forms of the Otherworld when James encounters two other people trapped there, Angela Orosco and Eddie Dombrowski, who, like James, have been "summoned" to the town because of their strong psychic energies and emotions. These Otherworlds are manifested from their emotional state.
Eddie's version of the Otherworld appears to be a dark, cold place similar to a freezer, with mist and hanging bodies as if they were in a slaughter-house; he is almost always found near a corpse. Eddie was often bullied and treated badly by others, and it possible that Eddie came to Silent Hill to escape his life of suffering at the hands of people who seemed overbearing to him. It is possible that Eddie's monsters may take on the form of the people that abused him; as such, he informs James during the prison cafeteria scene that he enjoys killing the monsters.
Angela's Otherworld is sexual, like James's, with the walls being draped entirely with flesh. The walls in one of her rooms are filled with either pistons or sphincters which move with a thrust, similar to sexual intercourse, referencing her rape and sexual anguish. She possibly reveals this with her attitude towards men, generalizing them as misogynistic with their only interest being sex. James later encounters her on a burning staircase, which is a psychological reference to her feelings, as she explained to James she always felt like she was in Hell. Sexual abuse is referenced again, with Angela being found observing a "painting" showing a corpse draped in a white sheet with a bloodstain at the crotch.
|“|| I don't really feel like eating and drinking stuff from an alternate reality, OK?
In Silent Hill 3, the Otherworld is frequently a throwback to styles used in the first game. The Otherworld shines with reddish to orange and ocher tones, and industrial-sized fans are prevalent. Arcane symbols and the Seal of Metatron are commonly seen again. Also, many walls seem to be made of flesh and actually burn or bleed as they are passed. Many references to Claudia Wolf and Alessa Gillespie are seen, such as dolls and religious items (a doll can be seen sitting in a wheelchair in the room ahead of the storage room with the bloody tub). Also seen are references to Alessa's hospitalization, such as wheelchairs, bandages and medicine flasks. A recurring theme from the title are vein-like effects that start to spread and corrupt the atmosphere, which occurs when Heather Mason beholds the shift to the Otherworld while turning the faucet of a bathtub in Hilltop Center.
Here, shifts to the Otherworld are done as a fading transition, and are also commonly accompanied by Valtiel, who is seen turning a valve, which could cause one to presume he has control over the shifts. In the Otherworld, stairs and entrances may lead to holes, for example in the Central Square Shopping Center, the two escalators lead to an open pit where the front entrance was. Unlike the other games of the series, the Otherworld shifts here directly affect Heather, causing her pain as the transition occurs. Similar to her past incarnation, Alessa, Heather is also pregnant with the fetus of god, which is also partly responsible for the Otherworld shifts.
As seen in a window in the women's restroom in the Otherworld version of the Central Square Shopping Center, the sky of the Otherworld can have an orange tone, too.
- Main article: Walter's Otherworlds
|“|| I saw people getting killed... all these weird other worlds...
The Otherworld is presented in a different manner in Silent Hill 4: The Room, and it is not entirely clear if all of Walter Sullivan's nightmare worlds are actually connected to the Otherworld. All of these worlds are twisted, surreal perceptions of locations from Walter's tragic past.
Most of these worlds appear quite mundane, with the exception of monsters, and are more akin to the Fog World that is more frequently visited. However, South Ashfield Heights appears to be very similar to the Otherworld of previous installments, with rusty walls, grating, and corpses littering the area. The interior of this building is also coated in a fleshy substance in many areas, particularly hallways. It is littered with dangling cages, bars and entrails. Walter's Otherworlds are all connected by long descending spiral staircases where human figures and convulsing babies can be seen. At the bottom of the staircase lies a manifestation of Room 302.
Throughout Walter's worlds, there are some aspects of the Otherworld that appear, such as in the subway where an underground corridor has a pulsating flesh-like interior covered with wire mesh and the derelict trains have masses of wire blocking them up, as well as melted flooring. In the hospital, many rooms have bizarre features like wheelchairs and sticky floors. At the very beginning of the game, Room 302 looks very much like the Otherworld with blood and rust covering everything.
The Otherworld is shown to be very dream-like. For example, when Henry Townshend meets Cynthia Velasquez, she believes it's a dream and asks "Well, if it's not a dream, what is it?". Whenever Henry travels back to his apartment, he wakes up on his bed as if he is awakening from a dream. In South Ashfield Station, near the turnstiles, if Henry attempts to read a memo, he states that the text is all blurry, which is a common occurrence in dreams. During the Building World level, Richard can be seen sleeping in his apartment room.
However, when Henry meets Eileen in the Hospital World, he says "If you get killed here, then you die in the real world, too.", implying that the Otherworld is not a literal dream, and that it still has some reality and physical existence as a basis, and that it's not purely mental. In addition, Eileen may say, "I'm in too much pain for it to be a dream! Plus I can see you so clearly."
In Silent Hill: Origins, the Otherworld is triggered by Travis Grady interacting with mirrors. This is due to his mother, Helen Grady, believing that there was a hidden world behind mirrors filled with demons. Unlike other entries in the series, the player can transition between realities whenever a mirror is present. These transitions are important to puzzles, as actions taken in one world affect the other.
The Otherworld takes the traditional form of blood and rust in most areas with a few exceptions. The sanitarium appears more rotten and decayed and less bloody with the cabinets and furniture covered with webs and dust. The stage in the theater Otherworld takes the form of the play The Tempest with a rotten library, a garden made entirely out of blood and corpses and a similarly blooded cave. In the Otherworld, the monsters' appearances also change, such as the nurses in the sanitarium looking greener and more rotten, and the theater's monsters being covered in blood. Many of the items strewn about the Otherworld are corpses of monsters and lumps of rotting meat, which are almost certainly nods to the Butcher.
In Silent Hill: Homecoming, the Otherworld appears much like it did in the first game and also in the film, being a rusty, ominous, industrial place wreathed in darkness. The industrialized aspects of the Otherworld are more pronounced in this game, with objects such as gears, steam vents, and fans being more common. The Otherworld's sky is a blazing orange and cloudy rather than an absolute black. During the game, the shift between dimensions is in a similar manner to the film. The Fog World's structures, such as walls and floors, all "flake" from the surfaces and reveal a rusted, industrial surface underneath. When returning, the textures of the Fog World just grow back over the Otherworld's environment.
The Otherworld is openly hostile to even the members of the Order that live there, as they react very much as they do in the film, panicking and running when the Otherworld begins to take over, and the monsters are visible to the other characters such as Elle and Wheeler, though it is still unknown if they see exactly the same ones as Alex.
- Main article: Ice World
The re-imagining of the first Silent Hill game, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, features a new Otherworld concept of ice, unofficially referred to as the Ice World. It is glacial, with at one point Harry Mason being confronted by a giant wall of ice. The buildings are covered in frost. The Ice World itself doesn't change depending on how the player plays or answers the Psych Profile questions, but the creatures inhabiting it, Raw Shocks, can subtly change to reflect the attitude the player displays. Harry first encounters the Ice World after a phone call from Cheryl Mason, in which she begs him to run as he "can't fight them", and from this point on, the Ice World almost invariably intrudes upon the Fog World when Harry is about to learn something important from another character, typically Cybil Bennett or Dahlia Mason. This could mean that the Ice World is Cheryl's reaction to the therapy she's receiving, putting up self-inflicted blocks to prevent Dr. Kaufmann from pushing her to the truth. The Ice World could also possibly represent Hell, in a different manner, as some theories describe Hell as being an icy prison, rather than a nightmarish and fiery one.
The Otherworld as featured in Downpour is very much like the Shattered Memories variant, in the sense that it features a unique driving concept and symbolism (specifically, water) in comparison to the other variants in the series. The Otherworld has now become a separate space on its own accord, with different pathways and areas to explore that are entirely absent from its fog world or real world counterpart. The transitions are frequently activated by water (most noticeably fire alarm sprinklers) or when water is present; symbolizing Murphy Pendleton's association of water with sadness and fear due to the psychological trauma he suffered after his son's drowning. Rather than the total darkness or the orange-blazing sky as in Homecoming, the sky of the Otherworld in this game was cloudy. It is notable that the clouds in the sky are moving abnormally fast.
Instead of blood or rust covering the walls, Murphy's Otherworld is more comparable to a prison-like setting with metal grates and heavy machinery appearing frequently, alongside numerous death traps including guillotines and tight corridors with spikes covering the walls, which symbolize Murphy's incarceration in the prison. As mentioned, water is the prominent feature of this Otherworld, and is found not only under grates in the floor, but also covering most of the Otherworld's structures, including pipes and barbed-wire fences, which appear to ripple as such.
Monsters will often attack Murphy when it begins raining, but the gameplay in this Otherworld is primarily geared towards escape sequences (not unlike the ones seen in Shattered Memories), since for the majority of the time the player will be chased by the Void. The entity can be slowed by dropping Tormented Souls (similar to Shattered Memories, where Harry can drop objects behind him to slow down the Raw Shocks) into its path, but getting too close to it will cause a temporal shift around Murphy. Likewise, there are sequences where the player must avoid traps and dodge obstacles while sliding down a narrow watery slope. Like past installments, this Otherworld also features respite moments where the player must solve puzzles, however these moments are much less common.
Silent Hill: Orphan series
In both Silent Hill: Orphan and Orphan 2, the Otherworld is covered in blood and rust. In Orphan, items like teddy bears, bed frames and toys are strewn about to symbolize the children's suffering. In Orphan 2, there are more hospital-like items, such as scalpels, dishes and corpses. In one particular room there is a lump of meat hanging from a ceiling that looks very similar to the sacks in Silent Hill: Homecoming seen during the Sepulcher fight. In these games the transition to the Otherworld is triggered by touching a symbol. In Orphan, it is the Halo of the Sun symbol from Silent Hill 3, whereas in Orphan 2 it is a triangle reminiscent of the Seal of Metatron.
In Silent Hill: The Arcade, the siren is replaced by a boat's fog alarm, and the transition is immediately after. The Otherworld transition is less subtle in its change, and occurs quickly. There are moments where the transition can be related to a water-theme, with most building interiors appearing to shimmer as if behind a waterfall, revealing the Otherworld's hellish texture.
Before the boss fight with the Split Worm the water is seen to become bloody and dark as the transition carries over the water like a forceful wave. Considering the events with Little Baroness at Toluca Lake, this type of transition would seem linked. This game also marked the first time Toluca Lake underwent an Otherworld transition. The water becomes bloody and dark, the sky changes to a blazing color and monsters appear everywhere, such as the Split Worm. To face these monsters, the player must stand on some kind of platform, or, thanks to Hanna's power, stand and even walk on the water. When the diabolical time in the twisted realm ends, the Otherworld simply melts away again. The Otherworld always occurs before a boss-battle.
In Silent Hill: Book of Memories, there are multiple Otherworlds linked to an individual character in the story. Each Otherworld represents a different element: fire, wood, light, water, earth, blood, and steel, and is composed of zones. At the end of every Otherworld is a Guardian boss.
In the film, the Otherworld is a dark and rusted place that descends every time the air raid sirens sound. The transition is witnessed and the Fog World's structures flake off as they do in Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Director Christophe Gans has noted that the film's Otherworld is based on the pain suffered by Alessa Gillespie, saying "It's a town of people trapped in dark dreams, and she inflicts onto the town what those people did to her body. That is, to me, the meaning of the darkness. The appearance of the town is corrupted in the way that her own flesh was wounded." Gans also stated in the commentary that the Otherworld change symbolizes a cruel child taking a lighter to a wax doll. James can even find a wax doll in Silent Hill 2.
The film's Otherworld is completely dark, with blood dripping from the walls, twisted and rusted metal everywhere, rain falling out of doors, and grotesque and deformed monsters. In the film, Alessa controls the Otherworld and she decides when it will appear and for how long, using her powers over the Otherworld to find and kill the cultists responsible for her suffering. The Otherworld falls when Dark Alessa begins scribbling on paper with black crayon.
Before the Fog World turns into the Otherworld there are sirens that go off. Some animals may be able to tell when the transformation begins. A cultist is seen with a bird in a cage who begins to panic before the sirens go off, and in the hotel, a flock of birds is seen flying away.
The Otherworld appears in the sequel to the first film. It is very similar to the Otherworld of the third game, with industrial hints scattered about. The change is also similar to the first movie's change to the Otherworld, where the walls and floors "melt away", evident during the shift in Jacks Inn.
The air is apparently toxic to members of the Order. After being detected in the Otherworld Lakeside Amusement Park, Heather manages to kill an Order member by tearing off his gas mask, to which he begins coughing up blood and choking. Vincent Cooper also tells Heather that the Order wear gas masks while in the Otherworld because "they believe the air will corrupt them".
Most installments of IDW's comic series don't always make distinctions between the various levels of existence in Silent Hill readily apparent. Monsters and other oddities seem to present themselves regardless of the level of reality those trapped in the town are experiencing. When visual cues are given to indicate a shift in reality, the Otherworld bears resemblance to its most typical representation, being that of a world draped in red-orange hues, increased monster activity and caught in various levels of decay and disrepair.
The Otherworld is only seen in glimpses during the course of Dying Inside, almost entirely at the start of Issue 3. Portions of it can be viewed on footage shot by Lynn DeAngelis, as well being the initial form of Silent Hill when Lauryn LaRoache and her friends arrive. However, it appears to shift to the Fog world shortly after the group begins exploring the town.
It's difficult to determine if the Otherworld is experienced by Jason during Among the Damned. No visual cues are given to illustrate the presence of the Otherworld, though both Jason and Dahlia make mention of monsters coming out of heavy fog late in the story. An interesting thing to note is that, according to dialogue and through illustrations, time seems to flow normally, with Jason taking note of the fact that monsters seem to disappear during the daylight hours.
Visual cues and dialog indicate that Ike Isaacs sees Silent Hill in its Fog World iteration, though he is able to open portals to other sections of town. It is unknown if these portals, which lead to areas used by the town's monsters as lairs, are actually part of Silent Hill or exist in an entirely separate dimension.
The Otherworld is seen overtaking Silent Hill shortly after Whately, in a bid to draw Douglas Brenneman into his plans, kills Sheriff Bryce Canavan. The residents in town are driven into a kind of madness, killing one another for little reason other than it could be considered "fun". Some residents undergo transformations into monsters, while others are killed by monsters with no clear genesis. In addition to altering those who inhabit Silent Hill, the Otherworld's influence casts the world in an orange hue, as well as engulfing the town in fire.
Events as they occur in The Grinning Man appear to take place in an unnamed level of reality. No fog is present, nor is there any visual indication that things are occurring in the Otherworld, yet monsters abound and are plentiful.
For Jack Stanton, the three different levels of existence in Silent Hill are made clear. Though the transitions between the Otherworld and the Fog World aren't elaborated on, the differences are readily apparent. The Otherworld is bloody and monster-ridden, with the sky casting an angry red-orange hue, while the Fog World is simply abandoned and foggy. Transitions between worlds occur with no outward sign of a change taking place.
- ↑ "The reality of this little town has been, in a way, tortured by a child. Like a little girl using a lighter to melt her doll. Well, the character of Alessa has done the same to the entire town, held a flame to it, in a way. Gans, Christophe (2009). Silent Hill: Metropolitan Édition Haute Définition [Blu-Ray; Disc 1/2].
- ↑ "In fact, we’re in her head. She’s drawing what we can see happening. The idea is that she wildly scribbles a drawing in the same way as she tortures the décor. It’s a massacre with crayons. So the idea, at this point, is that we not only see the décor, but its architect too." Gans, Christophe (2009). Silent Hill: Metropolitan Édition Haute Définition [Blu-Ray; Disc 1/2].
|Eric - Tina - Bill - Jessie - Ryan - George - Emilie Anderson - Frank Anderson - Michelle Anderson|
Hanna - Lorraine - Captain - Scott Fairbanks - Greys
|Creeper - Double Head - Greedy Worm - Gum Head - Hummer - Insane Cancer - Mama - Numb Body - Nurse - Phantom - Pyramid Head - Robbie the Rabbit - Scraper - Split Worm - Toadstool - Tremer - Tuberculosis|
|Brookhaven Hospital - Central Square Shopping Center - Jacks Inn - Labyrinth - Lakeside Amusement Park - Silent Hill Historical Society - Spiral Staircase - Toluca Lake - Toluca Prison|
|Flashlight - Fog World - Little Baroness - Monster - Otherworld - Radio - Real World - Siren - Welcome Sign|
|Rose Da Silva - Christopher Da Silva - Cybil Bennett - Dahlia Gillespie - Thomas Gucci - Anna - Christabella - Sharon Da Silva - Alessa Gillespie - Dark Alessa|
|Sister Margaret - Eleanor - Colin - Lisa Garland - Jennifer Carroll|
|Armless Man - Colin - Creeper - Dark Nurse - Grey Child - Red Pyramid|
|Brahms - Brookhaven Hospital - Church - Da Silva House - Gans County - Grand Hotel - Midwich Elementary School - Nathan Drugs - Pete's Bowl-O-Rama - Sacrificial Chamber - Silent Hill, West Virginia - Smitty's - Toluca County Archives - Toluca County Mining Museum - Toluca County Orphanage - Toluca Lake|
|The Brethren - Monster - Flashlight - Manifestation - Otherworld - Fog World - Real World - Siren - Great Knife - Welcome Sign - Brethren Symbol|
|Heather Mason - Christopher Da Silva - Vincent Cooper - Claudia Wolf - Leonard Wolf - Dark Alessa - Douglas Cartland - Alessa Gillespie|
|Rose Da Silva - Dahlia Gillespie - Suki - Travis Grady - Order Soldier - Detective Santini - Mannequin Girl|
|Armless Man - Delusion - Leonard Wolf - Lobotomy - Mannequin Monster - Memory of Alessa - Missionary - Nurse - Pyramid Head - Valtiel|
|All Hallows High School - Brookhaven Asylum - Central Square Shopping Center - Jacks Inn - Sanctuary - Silent Hill, West Virginia - Lakeside Amusement Park|
|The Brethren - Halo of the Sun - Monster - Manifestation - Otherworld - Fog World - Real World - Robbie the Rabbit - Seal of Metatron - Siren - The Order - Great Knife - Welcome Sign|