The Video Game Inspiration Behind Stranger Things

Netflix's surprise hit of 2016, the awesome Stranger Things, is packed with tips of the hat toward '80s music, movies and TV. But in designing the look of the show, its creators also had something a bit more gamey in mind: Silent Hill. In a series of interviews over the past week, Matt Duffer — who along with brother Ross are the creators of the show — has talked a lot about the inspiration behind the small town of Hawkins, as well as "the Upside Down", Stranger Things' evil parallel dimension. And Konami's classic horror series keeps coming up.

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Here's Matt talking to Nerdist:

There's [John] Carpenter, there's Silent Hill, there's Clive Barker, there's some anime references. We're sort of pulling from everything.

Here's Matt again talking to the AV Club:

There are so many other influences in there, too. We play a lot of video games — there's a Silent Hill vibe.

And here he is talking to Variety:

We talked about "Silent Hill," the video games were an inspiration, and "Alien" was an inspiration, in terms of the look.

You know, given the show's more overt references to '80s media (meaning those were the only ones I was looking for), I hadn't even considered the Silent Hill influence while actually watching the show. Now that he's mentioned it, though, and upon reflection on The Upside Down's dark, misty mirror world, it can't be unseen.

If you haven't yet seen the show, you maybe should. It's great. It also has one hell of a soundtrack.


    That swimming pool scene. I turned to my brother and said "oh look, silent hill". They pretty much lifted it wholesale.

    Incidentally, our last name is Duffield. SO close!

    Last edited 21/07/16 1:37 pm

    Was it really a surprise hit? I mean they went at it pretty hard, they're known for making good shows and they've done some big promotional work for it. Netflix making good TV happen isn't shocking any more. It's sort of just their business model.

      Totally. But let's still celebrate it. Really love Stranger Things and Daredevil.

      And I love them forever for adding Star Trek: The Original Series, Voyager, The Next Generation, DS9 recently. This has been a godsend to watch in the background while grinding for spheres on FF10.

      That along with a growing catalogue of interesting anime, it really seems to be be catering very respectfully to my nerd cultural heritage for a pretty affordable price.

        Heh, I'm just near the end of TNG now. Should be done by Monday morning.

          Nice, man. Such a good cast in TNG. Wasn't a fan of Star Trek until I read an article called "the economics of Star Trek" and really love those secular humanist themes.

          Apologies to Kotaku and Luke Plunkett for deviating from the Stranger Things topics, but i'll just add that everyone who hasn't watched it really should.

        TNG is on there NOW?!!

        *runs off to binge entire series*

          While u guys are here, can anyone explain to me why voyager is considered the worst series? It's my favourite, and I found tng had great chemistry but there was little really mind bending Sci fi or truly interesting stories in it tbh.

      Everybody I know has either watched it, or is currently watching it. I can only go on that. It comes up in conversation constantly, and it's all over social media, so by my estimation, it definitely seems to be a hit. Critics AND viewers love it.

      For good reason too - I loved the shit out of it :)

        Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting people shouldn't love it, just that it's not particularly surprising that everyone does. Netflix use their considerable resources to make good shows. It would be more surprising if a show with 'A Netflix Original Series' wasn't good (even Fuller House was good at what it was). When they back up their quality content with well handled promotional campaigns it makes for a pretty much guaranteed hit.
        Stranger Things isn't an underdog show made by two guys in a basement that succeeded against the odds, it's just good, well made television handled by a competent marketing team. Makes you wonder how other content producers get TV so wrong. =P

          I know what you meant man, all good! :D

          I agree with you too. I think their marketing could be better, but most people log into Netflix every day. All these new shows turn up on the home screen as soon as their up - a home page millions see. Then the social media storm starts, and voila. It works well enough for now, but yeah, they're gonna have to dig deeper into more trans-media kinda stuff rather than relying on word-of-mouth, I reckon.

      Ummm most of their recent Netflix originals have been utter rubbish.
      This is a fine return to form.

    I mentioned to my fiance that this reminded me of Anime straight away. Elfen Lied came straight to mind.

      Me too and a few others.

    Oooh Oooh

    *cracks knuckles*

    I JUST got Silent Hill 2 secondhand! What do I need to know before jumping into this? I had to resort to Let's Play runthroughs of Silent Hill 1 and that was not an ideal way to experience that game.

    What I hope to do is play this and only seek info on puzzles. And not see any story points if I can help it.

      I'm not sure how helpful it will be, but that should be handy if you want help with just the puzzle side.
      With these sorts of games I recommend avoiding guides as much as possible. It'll take longer to finish the game and you'll waste a lot of time, but if you've waited this long to play Silent Hill 2 then odds are you're in no rush to finish.
      You could always set yourself a rule where you're not allowed to use guides or Google, but you are allowed to ask questions on Kotaku's Talk Amongst Yourselves thread the next day. Recreate that old high school 'figure it out yourself tonight or ask your friends tomorrow' mentality that these games were sort of built around.

        If I do foul up the TAY stuff with stupid questions about this game I'll be sure to let people know I'm grateful. Cheers.

    For those interested, a track that pops up quite a bit in Stranger Things is Elegia- New Order. A track that also got some fame for appearing in a Metal Gear Solid V trailer.

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