I like horror movies, but I keep my distance–as much as I can–from horror videogames. I don’t even think I can count on one hand how many horror-based games I’ve really truly played over the many years of my button-pressing time. Sure, a few Resident Evil titles here and there, and you yourself can decide if a game like BioShock is more scare than shooter–personally, I found it completely unnerving to get through, unlike the tamer BioShock Infinite. I gave both Penumbra Overture and Amnesia: Dark Descent a quick try, but immediately got the frak out of there, as it seemed too genuinely terrifying for me to experience. I would also argue that some quests in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim could certainly be considered horrific and had me creeping around cave corners at a snail’s pace.
All that said: Silent Hill 2. It’s a game that’s been in my collection for seemingly forever, and I’ve taken a stab at it maybe three or four times, getting roughly a few hours in before walking away for a number of reasons. Mostly in that I always screw myself and end up saving before a hallway full of monsters with no bullets left and no more first aid kits. That, more or less, equals death or starting completely over. I’ve always liked the Silent Hill series–yes, even that first movie, which nailed the setting and crazy monsters–though I’ve really only played the first and second game out of all them, but I appreciate what they aim to achieve: a realized, fictitious setting filled with the most insane-looking demonic creatures and a constant sense of uncertainty.
Despite being a twelve-year-old game (released in 2001, yowza), I am finding Silent Hill 2 to still be effectively frightening. Though that statement generally only applies to when you’re inside a building. The story centers around James Sunderland, who enters the titular town after receiving a letter written by his deceased wife, saying she is waiting for him in their “special place”–which he believes is a park they used to frequent. Joined by Maria, who strongly resembles his dead wife, he searches for her through fog and freaks to discover the truth about her death. Wandering mostly alone through a creepy town occupied by monsters and less-than-trustworthy folk is not an easy trek, especially when backed by the wonderfully unhinging soundtrack and creature cackles.
Tara’s helping me play and making sure I don’t quit, as I could easily walk away at any moment, but there is a part of me, which is fairly miniscule, that does want to see what happens in Silent Hill 2 after the first four hours or so. I’ve only ever gotten up to the Brookhaven Hospital in all my tries. Currently, that’s where I am, so now comes the true test, to see if I can keep going. One thing I will fully admit to is looking up puzzle solutions via an online guide, as I have always found them to be too cryptic for their own good; that’s at least one roadblock diminished, and the main hurdles for me are the combat and not breaking my controller over how bad the camera angles are. Dynamic my booty.
Strangely, the game also presents a lot of opportunities for laughter, such as when James was running down Nathan Avenue and monsters were being unsuspectingly catapulted at him like flaming boulders from the blindness of the fog; I have to imagine that’s a glitch, but can’t seem to find anything online to back that claim up. When James and Maria run together, their footsteps sound like a horse in full trot. Also, the voice acting is atrocious, but thankfully there isn’t much of it, and the story can tell itself mostly with scenery and straightforward text.
I feel like, if I can beat Silent Hill 2, I can do anything. Like tackle Dead Space or Silent Hill 3 or Slender. Nah, I’m just kidding. I’m going to immediately return to sunny, colorful Japanese roleplaying games, and you can’t stop me. But you never know what the future holds.