As Halloween draws ever closer and we all want to get into a horror mood, let’s look back at one of the scariest video games to ever be released: ‘Silent Hill 2’.
The concept of the Silent Hill series may seem pedestrian in that various people visit a resort town which is haunted by unexplained monsters. We’ve all seen such ideas in various novels and movies and other video games. But what ‘Silent Hill 2’ accomplished is absolutely nailing the creepy atmosphere of such a place. From the dense fog, to the dirty environments and ominous musical score, the game is able to consistently make seemingly outdated horror tropes fresh again. The monster design is commendable in striking fear, most notably in the boss monster ‘Pyramid Head’, whose otherworldly face and otherwise human features make him one of the scariest creatures in the video games.
Where ‘Silent Hill 2’ shines is in the story department. Playing as James Sunderland, a man who believes he has been called to the town of Silent Hill you uncover the secrets about both his and other characters’ past. From the simple set up, the story plays with expectations and goes into shocking places with three dimensional characters. The game has a strong running theme of accepting ones’ own past mistakes, with each character showing how ones’ past can impact them in the future. The game offers multiple endings (including 2 joke endings) which give different resolutions to this theme and can encourage replays.
Of course, like all games, ‘Silent Hill 2’ has its issues. The games controls aren’t as refined as they should be with the use of a tank control style layout. Movement is slow at best and simply doesn’t work at worst. You also have no control of the camera, which can often mean that you are running into obstacles which you can’t see. These issues are most apparent in the games combat, which has both guns and melee weapons. The controls make it so it is hard to aim and the camera means that you have to try to shoot enemies which you can’t see. However maybe that is the point as a means to encourage you to fear enemy encounters due to their cumbersomeness in order to make the game feel scarier. There is little excuse, however, for the frequent puzzles whose difficulty only operates on two extremes- pathetically easy or ridiculously hard with little middle ground.
‘Silent Hill 2’ is an very strong survival horror game which although weak in its core gameplay still remain one of the scariest and most interesting games from its story and atmosphere.
Silent Hill 2 is available on Playstation 2, Xbox and PC. It is also available as part of the Silent Hill HD Collection on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.