It’s been established on this blog for quite some time now that I do not have the nerves to play a survival horror game. In the past I’ve tried games like Resident Evil 4 and the original Silent Hill – only to end up frozen in place because I couldn’t quite push myself enough to move forward. So, since I can’t play this myself, I had my husband act as a surrogate as well as watching a Let’s Play in order to understand why Silent Hill is so revered.
In what might be a first for me, I am so angry at my own nerves for not letting me play this game. Having seen this being played (and still jumping despite not being in control) I have to say that this is easily the best survival horror I have ever seen. Hell, I watched a four hour quick playthrough of it on YouTube and was gripped pretty much the entire time.
Let’s start with what Silent Hill 2 has in common with its predecessor. The setting is still the fictional U.S. lake resort town of Silent Hill which is semi-open world, albeit with linear game progression. In place of a mini-map you have maps to collect (that can only be originally read if you have enough light) and a radio that bleeds static if a monster is near. I really love the radio static radar as it helps to build the mood without making things too jump-scary or too easy.
Similarly Silent Hill 2 takes place both in our world and the hellish Otherworld – with both iterations of the fictional town being influenced by the psychology of the main character. Now, where in the original Silent Hill this was quite well done, in Silent Hill 2 this is amazingly done. It makes me wish that I didn’t necessarily know all the reveals and all the twists of the storyline before starting on this. Whilst knowing things does take the sting out the big reveal, it’s so well done and so well lamp-shaded that I could still appreciate it with all the spoilers.
Something else I really appreciated was the riddles system. For the most part they’re not too difficult, but for the most part puzzles like the music boxes and the clock hands help add to the ambience. Especially as to get the pieces together to solve the puzzles you have to explore and, at times, force your character to stick his hand into things that are revolting. You also get some solutions that are a bit twisted but make sense – like how you fish the key out of the shower drain.
It’s also impossible not to talk about this game with heaping praise onto the monsters. Monsters like Pyramid Head, the Mannequins and Abstract Daddy are, on their own, grotesque and (especially in the case of Pyramid Head) iconic. However, the psychology behind them – which only becomes clear when you either finish the game or do some prior reading – is so well done.
So yes, it’s a shame that this is a game that I wasn’t able to stomach but I’m glad that I was still able to appreciate it in my own way. This is not the last survival horror I’ll have to find a workaround for, but I hope that with this repeated exposure I might be able to play one at some point in the future.