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The Silent Hill series holds a special place in my heart. Silent Hill 2 has been in my top 10 list of horror video games since I played the game at release. I just finished a fresh playthrough of Silent Hill 2 on the PlayStation 2. My love for the game remains, but I did have some trouble with the controls and visuals. The game was released in 2001, so these issues are to be expected. However, the horror remains, and I still find the game terrifying.
ABOUT SILENT HILL 2
Silent Hill 2 is a psychological survival horror game developed and published by Konami for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. It is the second installment in the Silent Hill series and is considered by many to be one of the greatest video games of all time.
The game follows James Sunderland, a widower who receives a letter from his deceased wife, Mary, asking him to meet her at their favorite place: Silent Hill. James travels to the town, but it is quickly revealed that something is wrong. The town is deserted and shrouded in fog, and strange creatures begin to appear.
As James explores Silent Hill, he must confront his inner demons and the dark secrets of his past. The game features a complex and disturbing story. Expect atmospheric environments and terrifying monsters.
The PlayStation 2 version of Silent Hill 2 has its complications. The mechanics are outdated, and that is to be expected from a 2001 video game. I can’t do tank controls anymore because they feel too awkward for me, so I had to stick with 3D controls, and they are wonky at best. When the screen changes and you move the analog stick just a hair, James will walk in a different direction or get stuck going back and forth between camera angles.
The camera is hard to control. More often than not, the camera wants to go in front of James. When this happens, James walks towards the camera, and you can’t see what’s in front of you. You can hold R2 to have the camera move behind James, but it works sometimes. Most of the time, I had to stand still to get the camera where I wanted it.
Silent Hill 2 is a horrifying game. The dread doesn’t take long to kick in. As soon as you leave the parking lot at the beginning of the game, James hears footsteps in the woods as he runs down the path to Silent Hill. The horror never lets up. This can sound daunting, but it works.
Pyramid Head is one of the most horrifying fictional creatures. It is tall and muscular, wears an enormous triangle box on its head, and carries a large sword. The first time I ran into Pyramid Head in 2001, I was afraid to advance in the game. A set of metal bars stands between James and Pyramid Head during their first encounter, and Pyramid Head stares at James. He disappears after you walk through any door. You wait in anticipation for the next encounter.
There are plenty of other creatures to freak out about, too. However, Silent Hill 2 has the best atmosphere of any horror video game. Silent Hill is covered in a thick fog that limits James’ view. You won’t be able to see creatures until they are very close to you. You are fortunate to have that “broken radio.”
The audio keeps James guessing. Sounds are coming from all directions. There are many instances when James hears something and has no idea what makes the sound. Take, for instance, the gallows. When you enter this room, it sounds like a horse is galloping around the large room. You never see the source of the noise, but it’s scary as hell. The first time I encountered this room in 2001, I needed to take a break from the game.
AS I SEE IT
Silent Hill 2 is a must-play for anyone who loves psychological horror video games. All of the elements of a solid psychological horror video game are there. Questions arise as you progress through the video game, and you’ll meet plenty of other characters to create even more questions.
The nightmare world contains multiple reasons for its existence. James exhibits many signs of emotional instability and paranoia. Everyone in Silent Hill has been called to town because of their unique tragic events. No one seems to have any clear motives. There is plenty to uncover along the journey.
After you finish Silent Hill 2, check out my take on Silent Hill 3.