Silent Hill 2 (PlayStation 2) Review

By Athanasios 24.09.2016

Review for Silent Hill 2 on PlayStation 2

Silent Hill 2 is awesome. However, it has to be made perfectly clear that it's pretty much the same thing all over again: perfect atmosphere; the unnerving feeling of solitude; a bizarre, easy to grasp, hard to analyse plot; great survival horror gameplay; and so on - and yet this is frequently considered to be the best Silent Hill title, as well as one of the best, if not the best, horror video games ever, despite it being far from the scariest one. Why exactly? Read on to find out, in Cubed3's celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of Konami's masterpiece.

Surprisingly enough, the sequel to the extremely successful Silent Hill does not deal with the continuation of the same story (something that happens in Silent Hill 3), and instead focuses on another character, James Sunderland, an ordinary dude (once again), and his adventures in this misty, mountain ghost town. The reason for him being there? A letter from his wife that says that she is waiting for him in their "special place," although he doesn't really know where that is - oh, and don't forget to note that his wife has been dead for a couple of years.

Silent Hill 2 has managed to recapture that unique "Is this a dream?" aura of the original. Before further analysing the plot, though, what has improved? Obviously, the transition from the PlayStation to its younger brother has a lot to do with how better this one looks, but an increase in polygons is never enough, especially when the series was all about atmosphere, which, thankfully, is even better now. The all-engulfing mist, the darkness that is so deep that it feels heavy, the way the flashlight throws long shadows, the feeling of solitude and impending death, the weird monstrosities; it's all here, and they are better than ever.

Screenshot for Silent Hill 2 on PlayStation 2

Gameplay-wise? Run around an empty town, checking which door can be opened, find a map that points to a key via an "ambiguous" phrase, find the key, go inside a building with it, search around, beat up some enemies (usually with melee weaponry), find notes, keys, notes, and keys, solve a couple of puzzles, kill a boss character, and, finally, move on the next location to repeat everything all over. In other words, nothing has really changed from before, which means that those who didn't like the first should better avoid this one, too.

To be honest, though, some things have changed a bit. For starters, the world feels even more linear than before, to the point that the game "funnels" you into the right direction at times. Secondly, fighting monsters has become a bit of a chore. Battles are still mainly about planks and steel pipes - something that is great, since it enhances the survival feel - but enemies now tend to need too many hits to go down. On the bright side, there's a difficulty system that enables choosing how hard some aspects should be. Want harder puzzles, or more and tougher monsters? It's all up to one's preferences.

Screenshot for Silent Hill 2 on PlayStation 2

In conclusion, besides some minor pros and cons, this is pretty much the same as the original. Therefore, why does it hold such a special place at the heart of so many gamers? Let's see… The eerie, disturbingly intense feeling of dread that the silent and dark rooms and corridors of this world can give is fantastic, and maybe even better than before, with many locations being surprisingly claustrophobic. Is that it?

Hey, maybe it's the new - and iconic - adversary; the highly aggressive, mysterious, and even disquieting "Pyramid Head," whose rare appearances would instantly raise a couple of hairs on the back of even the toughest of necks (that closet scene - whoa!) Strong as he is obscure, and monstrous as he is familiar, he is sort of like the star, or at least the mascot of the whole deal - but again, is he the secret ingredient?

Screenshot for Silent Hill 2 on PlayStation 2

Want to know what makes this so special? Well, while innovative, Silent Hill was basically a dark fantasy tale, with heroes, bad guys, and so on, but Silent Hill 2 is something much more than that. Its strength lies on the themes it explores, in the way it does so, and in how it masterfully avoids catering to those who just want everything handed on a silver plate, and instead hides everything in plain sight, via symbolism concealed in almost everything, and especially the monsters.

What are these themes, though? Surprisingly, Konami dares to go full taboo on the subjects touched here, which range from murder and suicide, to child sexual abuse or repressed sexual impulses, and then some. Through those, and in the way they are handled, this title actually manages to touch a place far more dark and deep than what even the scariest monster could ever hope to do, and while the gameplay isn't something special on its own, the experience offered along with it sure is.

Screenshot for Silent Hill 2 on PlayStation 2

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Silent Hill 2 is not the epitome of the franchise, the epitome of similar action-adventures, or the epitome of horror… but it's certainly the epitome of psychological horror. Its typically low replay value might discourage some to repeat the whole journey more than once, but it's a journey that should definitely be experienced by everyone even once… After all, this would be just enough to leave an impact.

Developer

KCET

Publisher

Konami

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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