Silent Hill: Ascension hasn’t made a big impact on the video game world, but maybe its licensed T-shirts will. Konami recently announced some tie-in merch, which is now available on its website. The store features some generic shirts, a hoodie, and a green beanie, but, most importantly, a light blue T-shirt and mug that say “It’s trauma” surrounded by rainbows and stars in the bubbliest font.
If you’ve ever wanted the most emotionally problematic merch that looks surprisingly great and reflects how you feel on the inside, this is the purchase for you.
When Silent Hill: Ascension was announced, it promised a new take on the series by being an interactive, live, choose-your-own-adventure-inspired experience. It was the tagline “It’s trauma,” though, that made a big impact on me, specifically because it was so bewildering. It was very on the nose for a story that was, as we were told, about trauma. Even worse, it was insulting to both people with trauma and Silent Hill fans who knew the franchise’s history with the topic.
For example, Silent Hill 2 offered a profound commentary on trauma, grief, and guilt, creating a character-driven story that differentiated itself from the first game’s dense lore-based world. These are themes the Silent Hill franchise has been chasing throughout its lifetime, sometimes successfully (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories) and sometimes not (Silent Hill: Downpour).
Silent Hill: Ascension is just the latest to try and capture that magic, and it’s been a huge failure. Critics have slammed the interactive story for failing to understand the core concept of “Silent Hill as trauma,” for stilted dialogue, and for being a general slog to sit through. The completely arbitrary season pass and microtransactions, which featured cosmetics and allowed players to choose characters’ actions, didn’t help with making it feel like a tonally consistent experience. It’s tough to take any piece of media seriously when it releases a purchasable sticker that shouts its theme. You didn’t know this was a game about trauma? Now you do.
A T-shirt or mug isn’t going to make Ascension any better, but the “it’s trauma” sentiment makes for some perfectly ironic merch. Plus, with how the world is right now, you can do much worse than a T-shirt or mug that screams “I have a relationship to trauma.”