Tag Archives: Silent Hill 2

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Lone Survivor

I’d never survive in an actual post-apocalyptic universe. That’s just the harsh truth, one that I’ve come to terms with long ago. There’d be mutated monsters stalking the streets, high levels of radiation eating away at our health, and my bone-dry skeleton curled up inside a bathtub because I couldn’t even bother to try to scavenge for food and water and decided that lying down and closing my eyes for forever was the easier path. Also, if the monsters are even the teeniest bit speedy, I’ll never make it due to…well, cardio.

And that brings us to the ever-so-cheery and delightful Lone Survivor from Jasper Byrne, which is a post-apocalyptic survival horror game with retro-styled 2D graphics and a somber-yet-sick-as-all-gets soundtrack. Please note that Jasper Byrne also contributed to Hotline Miami‘s soundtrack. Well, in this disease-ridden world, the player controls a nameless man-boy, who wears a medical mask, and…well, I don’t honestly know what this person’s true journey is, his desires. He may very well only be following directions provided to him via apparent hallucinations, telling him to go check out this room or that room or use violence to take out the monsters. For me, the clear and only goal was to survive, and exploring the spooky, grimy apartment building you are currently stuck in will reveal a staggering amount of special items, weapons, door keys, pills, notes, and a bunch of different types of food to help in this endeavor.

Lone Survivor is kind of like a point-and-click adventure game, but you also have a pistol and can blast monsters with bullets until they stop moving while trying to keep your hunger, thirst, and sanity meters in check, sleeping now and then too. Still, many of the items you find can be used on other items to solve a specific logic-based puzzle; for instance, early on, you find a pair of scissors and, later, when your passage is blocked by a bulging mass of flesh, you know exactly how to use them. You can also combine items together and even cook food for better results. Otherwise, you’re exploring the nearby hallways and rooms, hiding from or killing monsters, while trying to piece together what is happening and maybe looking for a way out. Your apartment, which has a bed, radio, and stove, acts as a mini-hub, which you can return to using magical mirrors and save your progress.

Silent Hill 2‘s influence here is clear. For one, there’s a man you meet in your dreams with a cardboard box on his head that will probably get you thinking about other men with oddly-shaped heads. Similar to James Sunderland’s quest to find his wife, you are running around a spooky apartment building brimming with locked doors, where things aren’t always what they seem to be. Also, there’s a terrible map system here, just like in Silent Hill 2, and I found myself getting lost constantly, unsure of where to actually go for main and side quest purposes. I’d rather have a blank map that allowed me to annotate it myself than try to parse someone else’s notes on it. Lastly, the shooting is almost purposefully clunky, which means you have to decide early on if you want to waste ammo or use chunks of rotting meat to distract monsters.

Evidently, your interactions with the game’s world and inhabitants result in different endings upon completion of Lone Survivor. Immediately, this stressed me out. I mean, it’s not like this is competing with Chrono Trigger or NieR: Automata in terms of number of endings, but still, now I’m over-thinking every choice I make, like whether or not I should take the green pill before bed because I desperately need batteries to proceed but this might affect the ending I get. Gaah. Given that a single playthrough takes around four to six hours to see credits roll, I most likely will only ever see one ending for this game, and it won’t be any time soon as I’ve already uninstalled it from my PlayStation 3, giving up after an hour or two of meandering back and forth, growing hungrier and more insane by the minute, not sure of why I have these items in my inventory or their ultimate purpose or how to even cook food.

Thankfully, if I ever do want to give Lone Survivor another mighty swing of the horror stick, I have a second copy on Steam, ready to go. Or I could return to Soul Brother, one of Byrne’s earlier projects, and a lighter one at that, if my goal is to feel enlightened instead of devoured.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Waiting for you, Silent Hill 2, to unravel in my mind


Silent Hill 2 is pretty fascinating from all angles. After nine or ten hours played and one ending unlocked, I can say that confidently. Maybe even intelligently. It is a marvel of the horror gaming genre, as well as what a lot of “scary” games–now and forthcoming–should aim for in terms of story-telling, atmosphere, and sound design. It doesn’t have to be jump scares all the time. However, no one should try to ape its combat system, as that aspect continues to be the worst part of this survival horror franchise and should be stripped out completely in lieu of more puzzles or just quiet exploration. Everything else though? Psychologically unnerving, but in a good way. Probably.

Before we go any further, let it be said: spoilers. I’m going to be talking openly and veraciously about what happens in Silent Hill 2, from beginning to middle to end, taking out my handy magnifying glass and leering at everything not covered by thick fog, unless it’s too disturbing to do so. If you have not fully experienced this game, just stop reading and go play it. It’s not terribly long. In fact, I was checking out the Xbox 360’s Achievements list for the version included in the most recent HD collection, which you probably shouldn’t get, and one of them is for beating the game in under three hours. Oh my. It took me just around ten; however, it’s not a game one should rush through on their first visit, but it also doesn’t overstay its welcome. So go play, let Silent Hill’s disturbing horrors take over your mind, let the unsettling sound design raise the hairs on your arm, let the bosses be bothersome–and then come back here for some discussion.

From what I can tell, no one goes to Silent Hill voluntarily. In Silent Hill 2, James Sunderland finds himself drawn to the eerie town after receiving a mysterious letter from his wife Mary. One minor problem: she’s been dead for several years now. That’s the simple setup and main goal for the whole game: find Mary. But as James progresses and meets both monsters and men hidden in the infamous PlayStation 2 fog tech shrouding the town in secrecy, another story begins to be told, one without many words, but lingering there on the edge of reality nonetheless. This is all about James, not Mary. For James is a Very Bad Man™, an antihero, a sad stick of a human being, and deserves to be punished. Everything stems from his horribleness.

See, Mary was ill and dying. The game never explicitly says–how shocking!–from what, but you get the impression that it’s not the flu. Just some bad business. And then Mary died. Unfortunately, James killed her before the disease could and then blocked out the memory. Mary did not die three years ago; she got sick three years ago, and he killed her very recently. He goes to Silent Hill to face his literal demons; in fact, once you learn this, the original letter from Mary disappears from your inventory, solidifying the reason for being there. It was not a crime of compassion, but rather selfishness and shame, because James no longer wanted to look at his sick wife being sick–the disease was apparently quite disfiguring–and began to find himself attracted to the nurses in the hospital, his love going astray.

Along the way, James comes across other people trapped in Silent Hill. There’s Angela, an evasive young girl who we later learned was abused by her father. Eddie, who is puking his guts out upon first meeting him, seems to have a bit of a mean streak because the world was always ragging on him for his weight. Laura, a young girl, just keeps running away from James at every chance–and rightly so. Lastly, there’s Maria, a woman he finds in the park; strangely, she resembles Mary both physically and in her voice, but she’s also different in minor and major ways. To me, these people are not just here for shits and giggles, but represent a vital portion of James as a whole: Eddie is his uncontrollable hatred of others, suicidal Angela is his hatred of himself, Maria is the love he has for himself, and Laura is everything innocent that remains, for she is able to run around Silent Hill carefree, not seeing a single monster. Or they could be lost souls, struggling with their own problems at the same time James is.

Of course, you can’t talk about Silent Hill 2 without taking a look at everyone’s favorite big baddie to cosplay as–Pyramid Head, the iconic blade-wielding monster. He pops up now and then to torment James some more by killing Maria, a woman that closely resembles his Mary, over and over and over again. You fight Pyramid Head all by your lonesome a few times in the game, but you can never damage him, never stop him. Basically, Pyramid Head represents the fact that James can’t avoid his guilt, that the selfish murder of his dying wife will haunt him always. He’s pretty terrifying, especially his first appearance, which implies that he is sexually assaulting one of the nurse monsters, which adds to James’ reprehensible behavior; you can over-analyze as you see fit.

For the majority of the game–let’s say 75%–you know nothing. You are just a man named James in a strange town looking for your wife. You come across monsters, you find other people trapped, and you work your way from building to building, looking for answers. It’s only when you finally get that big answer that you can begin to question everything revolving around James, including the man himself.

A lot of all the above theories are implied or simply hidden in the fog of one’s mind, and without any kind of examination, Silent Hill 2 comes across as merely a man trapped in Purgatory, fighting off or running from scary monsters. By that alone, it’s still a fantastic journey, but the fact that it is so layered is beyond rewarding. Other games in the franchise are more straightforward, focusing on a cult and the obvious evil powers floating around the fictitious town, though I believe Silent Hill: Downpour dives into some psychological issues. I find Silent Hill 2 fascinating for the questions it doesn’t answer or bring up or even hone in all; everything is there for interpretation, and it’s up for you to figure out how the story goes.

Chances are high I’ll never play Silent Hill 2 again. The “Leave” ending is canonical for me, but I looked up some of the other ways this goes down–even the jokey ones–on YouTube, and have seen everything I wanted to see, including how the puzzles change on different difficulty settings. At some point, I’ll move on to see what Silent Hill 3 is all about, but nothing will ever be as successful at burrowing into my brain like James Sunderland’s visit to a foggy town to heal himself of the horrible choices he made. Nothing.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #32 – Silent Hill 2

2013 games completed silent hill 2

Looking for Mary
In a hell called Silent Hill
Good luck, James–stay safe

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Everything is still coming up scary in Silent Hill 2

sh2 early impressions ooh

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.

Save your daughter and as many flashlight batteries as possible in Ascension

ascension impressions

Bundles, bundles, bundles–you can’t turn right without walking into one these days. That can be, at times, a bit annoying, especially when one has wallet issues or an ever-growing backlog, but the latest bundle shouldn’t be a problem for anyone with a working computer: The Free Bundle. Yup, that’s right. Free. No minimum, no “beat the average price” tier rewards. Just a list of some indie games and the buttons to download them. Currently up are six games, of which I’ve downloaded the four I’m most interested in: Ascension, Celestial Mechanica, Abobo Big’s Adventure, and Treasure Adventure Game.

For today’s post, I’ll be talking about the first one mentioned there. Before I begin, I have to state that I think it has an unfortunately generic name, as Googling “Ascension” brings up a rather popular CCG or talk of the forthcoming God of War: Ascension. Nothing for the indie game comes up on the first page of results certainly. Oh, and there’s totally an XBLA indie game of the same name out there. Ultimately, I think Atticus Ascends would have been a better title, but that’s just me. Otherwise, it’s hard to track anything down about the little indie horror stab in the dark. To get the screenshot above, I had to navigate to the developer’s website, and even then there was not much in the form of media, but that’s just a small gripe from my perspective. If I was to ever do a second post on the game, I’d have to take screenshots as I played for myself–the true horror!

Ascension is surprisingly good. Well, at least I was surprised at the quality of the gameplay, the look, the controls. Just about everything, except the story, which is kind of by-the-books. It’s a psychological horror game where you play as groundskeeper Atticus, who has brought his sick daughter Viola (or is it Violet?) to work on the day of a terrible accident. Separated from her, he must find his way back before something else reaches her first–dun dun dunnn. You control Atticus, wandering floors of some building, reading notes left by others, searching for items, like flashlight batteries and key cards, and avoiding zombie-like monsters by sneaking past them in the darkness. Or maybe killing them with an axe; I’ve not yet figured that part out.

The game has a really nice look to it. Cartoonish, painterly at times, but capable of style, with great lighting effects from your flashlight, especially when it begins to dim and weaken from low batteries. A nice touch. All text is dished out in a lackluster typewriter font, with the typewriter sounds to boot, which leads me to question who is telling the story here: Atticus or an unknown author. Some scenes, like saving your game or speaking with your daughter, are presented in a larger shot than traditional gameplay. These are nicely done and help give more dimension to the characters. In the end, I just wish there was a map. Lone Survivor had one, even if it was a riff on Silent Hill 2‘s apartment building maps. It helped nonetheless.

I played up to the part where Atticus has to navigate through the Cold Storage area. Without a map, I quickly became lost after so many hallways and doors, and then the monsters kept killing me despite the ax I was wielding. Holding your breath only works if they haven’t seen you, so the moment you are spotted, it’s kind of over. Death isn’t a complete end, but it does throw you out of the loop for a bit. I might hop back into it again and try once more; I don’t expect it to be a very long game, but I might need to read up some more on how the combat works because I don’t think I have it down well enough to survive. Anyways, again, Ascension is good and free, so go download it from the Free Bundle (31 days to go!) or the developer’s website. And conserve your batteries; I mean it.

Here are the videogames I want to beat in 2013

Roadblock on Harris

Resolutions for a new year of gaming always start with good intentions, but quickly fall apart for me. For instance, I believe I said that I wanted to play fewer games in 2012 and devote more work to my art shtuff, but I just don’t know if that actually happened. Certainly, with Steam’s Summer, Fall, and Winter sales and all the indie bundles that have hooked me, I’ve acquired a bajillion games, though I’ve not played many of them. But I still feel like I got through a ton. If my Games Completed in 2012 tag is to be believed, I’ve finished off 40 games in the last 365 days. Some may argue that DLC and episodes of episodic gaming don’t count, but those folks can go suck a lemon; if they end in credits of any kind, they are a separate entity.

For 2013, I see myself completing around that same number again (38 in 2011, if you’re curious), but I want to clear out more backlog before anything new takes over. And not just recently acquired videogames, but some “classics” from the yesteryears that I keep meaning to get to, but never do.

So without further ado, here are the games from my pullulating collection I want to beat in 2013. Because really, they are overdue. Most are RPGs. So that could throw a wrench in the speed factor, but whatever. Love me them are-pee-gees. And yes, I’ve never finished any of these before.

Chrono Cross

chrono cross32yk

Yup. Never finished Chrono Cross in all my years of owning the game. I seem to get as far as the part where you switch over and control Lynx and then…just lose interest. Which is a shame. I’ve watched Tara play past this part, but she took eventually puts the game down and doesn’t return to it. But there’s so much to love about Chrono Cross. All you diehard Trigger fans that swear it is a terrible sequel can say that just fine, but I think it’s harder to deny it’s a good game. The battle system is fun and offers up strategy and variety at the same time, and the ability to mix/match your party keeps you trying new characters out. Granted, of all the games here, this is the one that worries me the most, as I just don’t understand why I keep getting to the same part and then stopping. Hmm…

UPDATE! I beat Chrono Cross and devoted a whole week’s worth of posts to the mighty RPG.

Silent Hill 2

Silent-hill-2 screenshot

As a rule, whenever I talk about Silent Hill 2, I have to link to this classic journal comic of mine. Anyways, based on our last save, we left things in Silent Hill very badly. And by that I mean we are extremely low on ammo and health and stuck in a place filled with enemies. An apartment building, me thinks. Not sure if it is worth trying to go on–or even possible–or if it’d be better to start over and just practice conserving from the very start. If I beat this, it’d be the first Silent Hill game for me. Out of them all. From what it sounds like, it’s the best one, too.

UPDATE! I beat Silent Hill 2 and got the “Leave” ending.

Final Fantasy IX


I love this game. I love the varied characters and designs, the silliness, the charm, the card-collecting mini-game, the way you earn abilities permanently through battles and earning XP, the brilliant story, especially the opening scenario with kidnapping a princess who wants to be kidnapped. I think that influenced The Stolen Lovelight for sure. And yet…I always get to a place and then walk away. Don’t really know where that is in this one, but it’s somewhere between the second and third discs.

Radiant Historia


I was quite smitten when Radiant Historia came out. In fact, I desired it so that I pre-ordered the game and got a free five-song soundtrack included with my purchase. It’s an adventure built around the idea of parallel universes and altering minor details to create dramatic changes later on. The battle system places an important of where each character and enemy is to dish out damage. I played for a good while, but eventually put aside, distracted by something else. Unfortunately, with a game like this, even though it has a handy “timeline” built into the menu, it is quite easy to quickly lose your place and thus any enthusiam to continue on. From what I’ve read, Greg Noe completed it, showing him how to love JRPGs yet again. Now that I’m done with Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, I’m going to dive back into Paper Mario: Sticker Star and then start over in Radiant Historia just after that. Well, that’s the early plan, at least.



I’ve already written at length over Primal and how I think it’s pretty underrated and generally fantastic. Just go read it elsewhere and know that I plan to see this one through. Heck, I mean, I’ve only seen one of Jen’s transformation forms in all my time with the game. I think I last stopped because I got glitched, but maybe I just couldn’t find the puzzle solution.

UPDATE! I finally saw all the realms in Primal and did what I could to restore order to these alternate planes; alas, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have kept playing, as the entire game is better remembered for its early parts and not the frustrating swimming and combat that pads out the remainder of your time spent. Oh well.

Right. So that’s one Nintendo DS game, two PlayStation 2 games, and two PlayStation 1 games. Five games I want to beat in 2013 alongside whatever new and old comes across my plate. I think I can do it. The trick will be maintaining focus and enduring. That can be hard with games I don’t enjoy, but these five are all ones I appreciate in various ways, so in short–let’s do this.

What videogames–new or old–do you want to beat this year?

Resident Evil: Revelations is portable horror and so not for me

I’m attracted to horror games from a distance. Truly, I am. I just don’t enjoy playing them, and this is pretty evident with the fact that Silent Hill 2 still remains unfinished despite Tara keeping me company through all the fog and static-laden radio noises and creepy monsters that want to spray me with their evil juices. I love the atmosphere and story and crazy enemy designs in horror games, but I just can’t handle the packed-in stress, the long stretches that build between scare A and scare B, the way tiny sounds like turning a doorknob are deafening and that general feeling of utter helplessness.

Also, a quick gander at my backlog confirms a solid lack of horror videogames. Yes, there’s BioShock, which I played and completed, but struggled with for awhile, often just standing still for long periods of time thanks to a “turn invisible when not moving” Plasmid and listening to my surroundings. I’ve dipped my toes into the terrifying pools called Penumbra: Overture and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but have no desire to go swimming. And in my younger years, yes, I played a few Resident Evil games, but those were social affairs, adventures that my best friend and I would go on together, with chips and drinks and puppy dogs at our sides to make the real world as safe as possible in lieu of the dangerous digital version; the vivid memory of a licker bursting threw a one-sided mirror still makes me tense up.

That said, after a busy day of drawing journal comics every hour on the hour, I downloaded the demo for Resident Evil: Revelations on my 3DS–yes, the system now supports demos; praise be to the Maker, it must be the year 2012–and give it a whirl. To clarify, the last Resident Evil game I played with passion and purpose was probably Resident Evil 2 though I did try a demo for Resident Evil 5, which was lame.

Firstly, this is a gorgeous-looking game. The graphics definitely show off what the 3DS can handle, and the 3D slider flicked slightly up creates a fantastic look, really drawing me in, as if I’m walking right behind Jill as she badly shoots zombies on a haunted cruiser ship. Well, no. Not zombies. Scary, mutated monsters. Secondly, without that crazy Circle Pro Pad attachment, this game controls horribly, especially during the moments when quick, precise turning is needed. You know, like when a monster is trying to eat your face off. See, without a second circle analog pad, you both move Jill and move the camera at the same time with the one circle pad you got. It’s horrible; I’d switch over to first-person shooting mode to pop a monster in the middle of its temple only to have my aim swirling around out of control. Thirdly–and lastly–this game can manage scares just fine. You’d think, being on a brightly teal-colored handheld device, which has a number of lights on at any given time, it wouldn’t be able to create such an atmosphere, but it does. One monster jumped down from the ceiling, and I emitted a sound. I will not describe it.

And then I ran out of ammo. And then I died in a foggy room filled with scary things. I exited out of the demo and saw that I now have 29 more chances to get scared. No thanks. But I can see why many would like Resident Evil: Revelations: high production values, quality scares, beautiful graphics, and an actual story to follow. Alas, this type of game is still not for me even when playing safely under the blankets with warmth, cats, and a wife to keep me safe. Oh well. Good thing for demos.