5 Reasons You Should Play Silent Hill 2 in 2020
5 reasons to play this horror classic in 2020
Here is my top 5 (in no particular order) reasons to play Silent Hill 2 in 2020. If you'd like to read my full review of the game you can find it here
Silent Hill 2 is one of the most influential survival horror games ever released. The game was developed by Team Silent and released by Konami in 2001. Silent Hill 2 was the highly anticipated sequel to the 1999 horror classic, Silent Hill. However, Silent Hill 2 was a considerable departure from the original in terms of its themes and symbolism.
Gone, for now, was the strange cult led by Dahlia Gillespie. Gone was Harry Mason and Cybil Bennett. Gone were the monsters seen on the streets of Old Silent Hill, the halls of Midwich Elementary and the dingy tunnels of the town sewers. Silent Hill 2 took a different approach. Silent Hill 2 focused on the trauma and psyche of a select few characters. Namely, everyone’s favourite office clerk in a stylish military jacket, James Sunderland. The changes also included a new area of the titular creepy town, which was not seen in the original, known as South Vale.
There are many reasons why, even in 2020, you should play Silent Hill 2. Five of the main reasons why will be covered here. For those uninitiated to the series, this may be a good incentive to give this iconic game a whirl. For those well-versed in the series, this may be a nostalgic temptation to come full circle and return to the foggy streets of Silent Hill.
The Sound Design
One of the most heralded aspects of the game, and the series in general, is the impeccable sound design and effects experienced throughout the game. Be it the random sound effects heard from behind doors or just out of the frame of the camera. Or even just silence, that uneasy feeling when things are just too quiet and all your left with is the sound of James’ footsteps and a crushing sense of fear of what may be in the next room.
A highly debated use of sound is the radio static that is heard when enemies are nearby. James carries a small portable radio which emits static when in the same room or area as an enemy. Some say this removes the element of surprise from the creepy monsters lurking around the halls of the Wood Side Apartments or the twisting tunnels of the Labyrinth. However, it seems the opposite is true. Knowing that something harmful and unsettling is nearby but you are not sure of the location or direction this enemy may approach you from is truly unsettling and is something every horror game fan should experience.
Now, Silent Hill 2 does not have the same variety of enemies that were seen in the first instalment. However, the creatures you encounter in the sequel are much more than they appear with more depth into their purpose. The Lying Figures, the Bubble-head Nurses, the Mannequins, the Abstract Daddy, The Mandarins, and who could forget the now-famous and iconic adversary, Pyramid Head? All of these entities have a reason for being there, why they look the way they do and their overall purpose.
Initially, these monsters appear generic and just serve to creep out the player with their grotesque appearance and movements. However, you must look deeper. I would not wish to spoil their symbolism for anyone new to the series, or yet to try it out. But just know when you do encounter these monsters: Look beyond the surface level appearances and apply them to James’ character.
The Enhanced Edition
In 2012, the Silent Hill HD Collection was released to little praise due to technical and thematic changes. One of which was changing the font of a particular sign in Silent Hill 2 to Comic Sans! This was apparently due to the misplacement of the original game’s source code which, clearly, left much to be desired in the way of an updated version for new and old fans of the franchise.
Fortunately, a group of die-hard Silent Hill fans put together a community-made Enhanced Edition patch for the PC version. Changes included the porting of the PS2 FMV cutscenes, which are considered the best out of all the versions of the game. Audio enhancements to further immerse you in the creepy titular town were also implemented, as well as the much needed widescreen camera, higher resolution compatibility and better controller support!
So, dig out your old copy of the Director’s Cut/Restless Dreams!
Working in tandem with the incredible soundscape mentioned in the first entry, is the outstanding soundtrack composed by Akira Yamaoka. Silent Hill 2’s soundtrack differs from the original game’s industrial, grating soundtrack. Though these moments do creep up in the sequel, the soundtrack much better suits the melancholy themes portrayed throughout the story. Some choice songs include “Promise” and “A World of Madness” which, though calming, also instil a feeling of loneliness and sadness. Songs like “Block Mind” bring back the sense of fear, unease and even genuine terror with the incredibly effective use of such tracks during combat.
These songs are where the industrial tones from the original re-emerge to truly unsettle you.
Once you experience these tracks during gameplay, they will certainly hold a special place in your heart. I’m sure many veteran Silent Hill fans will agree.
Timeless Approach to Horror
When Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 were released, their main horror rival was the Resident Evil franchise. Konami wished for Silent Hill to be a direct competitor and emulate the horror movie style of the early Resident Evil games. However, Team Silent were set on making something fresh and different. A game which went after the player’s emotions and instilled a sense of dread rather than frightening the player with sudden-appearing enemies. Silent Hill 2 likes to let you freak yourself out. Throwing a noise at you and letting you warp that sound into something potentially terrifying lurking nearby. Will there be a monster on the other side of this door or is it nothing? Who knows? Maybe it was just a random sound effect. Or Pyramid Head is lurking nearby looking to skewer you with the Great Knife.
Upon finishing a session of playing, even noises in your own house may begin to carry more sinister meaning. A demi-tone higher noise from your radiator may now sound like a mannequin skulking around your hallway. Sleep tight…