Hello and welcome to This Door Is Locked, a horror game discussion show for all you horror gamers out there.
In this series, we’ll be covering everything from indie gems and retro classics to modern masterpieces and blockbuster giants. So, if you love horror and you love gaming, this is the show for you.
This article accompanies the recent radio show episode focusing on the game. Missed it? No worries! Listen to the episode here!
Widely considered to be the best game from the Silent Hill series, Silent Hill 2 is the one that cemented the franchise as a leader of horror survival game design.
It was also the game that brought many of the mainstays of the series to the forefront, including the recurring theme of regret and guilt, a stronger focus on psychological terror and, of course, Pyramid Head.
Our protagonist this time is James Sunderland, a man who has come to Silent Hill to find his wife – who happens to have died three years prior. James receives a letter from Mary, his wife, asking him to come to Silent Hill and meet her.
Rather than hand the note over to the police and write it off as a troll, James packs up his car and off he goes.
Along the way, you’ll encounter a smorgasbord of characters; such as little kid Laura, petulant Eddie, tragic Angela, and the elusive Maria.
The big difference between Silent Hill 2 and its predecessor is that whereas Harry Mason was an unfortunate bystander for events beyond his control, James’ story is slowly revealed to show that everything he has encountered in the town is of his own making.
Silent Hill 2 was the first game to really hone in on the idea that the town shifts and moulds itself to the people within it, rather than just a haunted town with a tragic past.
Gameplay and Sound
Like the first game, there’s no heads-up display while you are playing. In order to check James’ health, location, and items, the player must enter the pause-game menu. You can collect maps, but these can only be read if there is sufficient light or when his flashlight is on.
The maps will also update to reflect locked doors, clues, and obstructions, allowing you to keep track of your progress.
The sound is once again incredible; your trusty radio is back – alerting you to monsters lurking in the fog, the background music and sound is sparse and well-timed, and our favourite heart-stopping siren makes a triumphant comeback.
Following on from the idea that the town of Silent Hill is influenced by the people within it, this has spawned some really memorable monsters.
Obviously, James’ presence has the biggest influence on the creatures, with the Nurses, Mannequins and Pyramid Head all spawning from his repressed guilt and sexual frustrations.
Additionally, some monsters have nothing to do with James, but instead have been created from the fears and terrors of the other characters, such as the Abstract Daddy, borne from Angela’s fear of her abusive father.
We’re into spoiler territory now so if you want to go and play SH2 for yourself, stick your fingers in your ears now. Everyone else, listen on!
Silent Hill 2 features six endings;
In “Leave”, James has one last meeting with Mary, reads her letter, and leaves the town with Laura.
“In Water” sees James commit suicide by driving his car off a cliff.
The “Maria” ending sees Mary as the woman on the rooftop, who has not forgiven James for killing her; after her defeat, James dismisses her as a hallucination and then leaves the town with an alive Maria, who briefly coughs, suggesting she will become sick just as Mary did, and the cycle will repeat.
The other endings are only available in replay games, including “Rebirth”, in which James plans to resurrect Mary using arcane objects collected throughout the game
There’s also two joke endings available; “Dog”, where James discovers that a dog has been controlling all the events of the game, and “UFO”, where James is abducted by extraterrestrials with the help of the first game’s protagonist, Harry Mason.
Maria/Mary and the Guilt
The crux of SH2 is the big reveal that James’ wife is really dead and that James murdered her. Well, he euthanised her after a long illness, but depending on how you interpret the story, and the endings, his motives are unclear.
Did James murder his wife out of love, or because he was fed up with being married to a bed-ridden woman and wanted his freedom back? Discuss!
And finally, a trip to Silent Hill 2 would not be complete without a good chat about everyone’s favourite monster – Pyramid Head.
This guy gets a section all to himself because he has become an iconic of this series. Favourite of bare-chested cosplayers and molester of mannequins, Pyramid Head, also known as Red Pyramid, makes his debut in SH2 as a manifestation of James’ guilt.
So, what are your thoughts on SH2? A classic game that can never be topped, or a hyped-up addition to a run-of-the-mill survival horror series? And where does Pyramid Head rank on your list of favourite video game monsters, if at all?
Let us know on the Bunkazilla Stomping Grounds on Facebook
And, as always, stay safe out there!
Charlotte loves horror in all its gory and, as her alter-ego The Cross Eyed Gamer, plays motion-sickness friendly horror games on her YouTube channel.