Developer(s) – Konami Computer & Entertainment Tokyo
Publisher(s) – Konami
Director – Masashi Tsuboyama
Producer – Akahiro Imamura
PEGI – 16
After the success of the first Silent Hill game, the sequel did not disappoint overall. It was met with positive reviews and huge sales figures, selling over one million copies worldwide in its first month. I, however, wasn’t overly impressed after playing through it, although I think it is better than a lot of other survival horrors to have come out before it. What I like about it is that it’s a psychological horror game, which differentiates it from most other games in the genre in an extremely positive way.
Graphics – 9/10
Although there is a protagonist, an established antagonist for the franchise, and several supporting characters in this game, there’s no doubt in my mind that the town of Silent Hill itself is, in many ways, the star of the show. The atmosphere of the place is absolutely horrific, with most scares in the games coming not from a massive amount of jump scares, bloodstains throughout, or a staggeringly high body count, but in its constant build-up of tension and the sense of gritty realism in the settings and lack of light throughout the game. The thought that anything could jump out of either the darkness in the numerous buildings the player has to traverse or from out of the outdoor fog is enough to keep players constantly on edge.
Gameplay – 4.5/10
I find that the gameplay is only fractionally more enjoyable than that of Outlast for example since there are means of self-defense in addition to a few alternative endings to unlock. But ultimately, it again felt more like I was watching a film than playing a game, as the only objective seemed to simply uncover the story; and the alternative endings and a few unlockable weapons are the only two forms of incentive that come with playing through the game multiple times. Reviewers have commented on how they think that the second game is the highest point in the franchise, and that doesn’t really make me want to try any of the other entries.
Controls – 10/10
Although reviewers have criticized this game for its controls, I didn’t really find any problems with it. The best thing about this game’s control scheme is the excellent use of camera angles, which, in a way, adds more to the atmosphere and overall feel of the game. They were very well done.
Lifespan – 6/10
Depending on how much exploration is done throughout a single playthrough, the game can last up to about twelve hours, which is about the average lifespan of typical survival horror. This and the scarcely satisfying gameplay just give testament that there is a massive imbalance of focus on both horror and gameplay. It makes me wonder why there are so many developers who can’t seem to get the balance right. Even if this game lasted longer, the gameplay would be drawn out and repetition would definitely be over-emphasized, so there wouldn’t be much point to making it last any longer than it does anyway without further substance in gameplay.
Storyline – 8/10
For what this game lacks in more important aspects, whilst not making up for what it lacks, it certainly delivers in terms of story. A psychological thriller with elements of the supernatural, it will leave players feeling enthralled and emotionally drained throughout, with its coverage of taboo subjects, such as incest and domestic violence, and with the mystery of what is true and not true or what is real and not real. The protagonist, James Sunderland, is drawn to the town of Silent Hill by a message that he recently received from his wife, Maria, saying she was there waiting for him, despite the fact that she’s been dead for three years prior to the start of the game. As James explores further into the town, he enters a battle with his own personal demons and subconscious desires in order to realize a horrifying truth and understand the errors of his ways. So as you may imagine, there are a few twists and turns before the end, which make for an extremely compelling plot. The voice acting can seem a bit laughable at times, but ultimately, the characters in Silent Hill 2 are very well-conceived and how they develop throughout the course of the game makes for an excellent tale. Another interesting thing is that whilst the character Pyramid Head steals the shows as the game’s primary antagonist, he’s not even the scariest character the way I see it. By far, that honor would go to Eddie, and I will go further into why I think that later on.
Originality – 7/10
With Silent Hill 2 relying on tension as the source of its horror, and with a story and concepts that defy convention, the Silent Hill genre is particularly unique in its own right; not just the second game. But where it lacks originality is in gameplay. It ultimately plays out like most games in its genre, and it seems as if the developers didn’t even try to defy convention in that respect.
In summary, Silent Hill 2, whilst it severely lacks in gameplay, has a lot to experience in terms of story, and I suppose it is worth playing through once because stories that compelling don’t come around often. But the way I see it, whilst certain elements do save it from being a terrible game, even saving it from being an average one, I don’t think it’s one that should be considered a classic.