The Silent Hill 2 Remake Could Be A Victim Of Its Own Unfortunate Legacy

Why the legacy of one of the greatest games of all time could be downfall of its remake.

                                                                            Story Highlights: 

  • Silent Hill 2 was a psychological horror game released in 2001 that was lauded for its melancholic atmosphere and deep nuanced take on mental trauma. 
  • Bloober Team is a Polish-based horror developer known for its many games that are directly inspired by Silent Hill. 
  • Their latest game, the remake of Silent Hill 2 could be a victim of Bloober’s previous attempts at horror storytelling.

Since I will be talking about Silent Hill 2 and many of its inspirations in this piece, I will likely have to go into some heavy stuff, particularly parental abuse, and trauma. Reader’s discretion is advised. This will also spoil a lot of details regarding Silent Hill 2 and some of Bloober Team’s titles such as The Medium and Blair Witch.

The early Silent Hill games have been a formative part of my youth, particularly Silent Hill 1 and 2, both games I played as a young impressionable teenager. While my favorite game in the series happens to be Silent Hill 3, which I played much later, I think the first four games are among the most important and influential games in the horror genre. 

One entry in the series in particular had a significantly more powerful impact on not just the series, but the genre itself. That of course is Silent Hill 2, often regarded as one of the greatest games of all time and considered by many to have the best story in a video game ever. Silent Hill 2 has achieved near-mythical status, a masterpiece where changing even the slightest aspect of the game would ruin it. A slightly exaggerated claim, all things considered. 

Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 (2001)

However, the game started a new trend for horror, particularly psychological horror. With its influences trying to mimic the game’s story and twists to this day. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, what these influences do is somewhat more sinister than you would expect at first glance. What comes across as endearing imitation can backfire tremendously when you misunderstand the source material. 

And misunderstand what they did. Silent Hill 2’s impact resulted in an influx of bizarre stories in horror that felt borderline insulting to individuals struggling with mental trauma. For decades one of the most common twists in horror has been “the monster is in your head” because of a “traumatic event that happened to you/it was because of your trauma.” Many of them often even go as far as condemn people that suffer from these problems.

Stories like these not only portray a malicious and ignorant view of people suffering from genuine mental trauma but even as a storytelling crutch it’s boring and uninteresting. The monsters James has to fight weren’t just “demons inside his head”, they were actual physical threats that resembled James’s psyche. James was an emotionally and mentally tortured individual, yes, but the story neither condemns him nor does it redeem him. 

Silent Hill Angela
Angela Orosco from Silent Hill 2.

There are actual stories even in the gaming space that do trauma right. Silent Hill 2 itself has possibly the most sincere and realistic depictions of the effects of different forms of abuse. Angela is by far the best character in the game and even now I cannot go through her arc without feeling horrified. However, Angela’s fate in the game shows the cruel nature of the town itself, it doesn’t condemn her as a character for her suffering and her actions. Depressingly, the only one in the game who condemns Angela is Angela herself. 

While I would like to go about her character in detail, I think this piece by the escapist does her entire arc a lot more justice than I ever could.  Contrast that with a game made by the biggest culprit of this trope, Bloober Team’s “The Medium” which would’ve been a great horror game if not for its offensively bad story and ending. One of the characters in The Medium, Lily, is somewhat similar to Angela. 

Lily in the game is the younger sister of the main character and also the reason behind the monster killing everyone in the game. The reason this monster exists is because Lily gets raped by another character in the game named Richard, who is her father’s mentor. Now, covering taboos in a horror game is fine, horror at its very core should make you uncomfortable and disturbed.

The problem comes in when you realize there is an entire arc in the game that’s about making you sympathize with her abuser. Fortunately, at the very least, the game to at least some extent, condemns his actions. Lily’s story isn’t so fortunate, however, as the game practically ends with her begging to kill you because she cannot be saved. The ending is left up to the player’s interpretation, with the last words you hear at the end being “You can’t save everyone, butterfly.”

The generous outcome would be to assume that Marianne, the main character shoots herself to save Lily, but that is still a massive stretch to take.  The Medium is not the only time Bloober Team has given a bizarre message about mental health. In their game prior to the Medium, Blair Witch.

The main character Ellis is a former solider suffering from PTSD, the “big twist” in Blair Witch is that the serial killer murdering innocent children and Ellis are actually the same person, and the “good” ending of the game involves Ellis committing suicide at the end to stop the murders from happening. 

Silent Hill 2 has established both a legendary and a somewhat toxic legacy. While the game itself is a horror masterpiece and a cornerstone of psychological horror, it lead to an influx of stories that tried to riff off the game to terrible results. 

This phenomenon eventually enveloped Silent Hill itself as well. The death march of Silent Hill begins when Team Silent disbanded after Silent Hill 4, likely expecting the series to be finally over. Then Konami handed over the rights of the series to Western studios that mangled and stepped over its corpse to give us a malformed scarecrow that only barely resembled the series. 

Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill 3 (2003)

The problem with these western-based Silent Hill titles was that a majority of them were trying to ride on the coattails of Silent Hill 2, the most widely popular entry in the series while disregarding the other three games. This is the appropriate time for me to reiterate that Silent Hill 2 is phenomenal, but so are the other Team Silent games.

The four games combine to form a singular identity of what Silent Hill is and disregarding any of them is a disservice to both the series itself as well as the horror genre. Silent Hill 1 redefined horror gaming on the PS1 by making it more psychological, Silent Hill 2 gave us one of the most somber and melancholic horror experiences in the medium.

Silent Hill 3 was a technical marvel that raised the bar for pure horror and also gave us one of the most interesting female protagonists in gaming with Heather Mason. Even the often-divisive Silent Hill 4 ended up as the most terrifying entry in the series by turning your only haven into a haunted house. Every single game in the original anthology stands out in its own unique way.

I’m not really opposed to changes in remakes. I find remakes that are nothing but a visual facelift to be kind of useless. I recently played the Demon Souls remake after beating the PS3 original last year and I found it to be a very competent game but with the entire game fresh in my memory there wasn’t much of a point for me to play it.

It’s why I have so much respect for remakes such as this year’s Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 remakes. Both of these remakes aren’t afraid to change and cut to enhance the vision of the original game, and it results in a game that’s arguably better or an alternate way to experience a game you already love. 

But when it comes to Silent Hill 2, I get a bit skeptical, even more so when I hear that it’s being developed by a studio that continues to paint an ignorant picture of mental health. This wouldn’t be a huge problem in and of itself if Silent Hill 2 wasn’t a game that actively deals with mental trauma, but it does, so now I’m left wondering if its better if Bloober takes a risk and effectively ruin a game I love or if I just end up playing Silent Hill 2 again just with prettier graphics and better controls this time. 

SH2 Remake
James Sunderland from the Silent Hill 2 remake.

Bloober happens to be a strong studio that delivers on atmosphere, art direction, and music but has always failed with its stories. From the terrible Blair Witch to The Medium’s awful story, it is worrying to see that the torchbearer of a franchise you deeply love is a studio that possibly doesn’t understand that franchise. This is why I worry that the Silent Hill 2 remake may end up as the victim of its legacy. 

Chances of them messing this up are very low though, and what they have shown certainly looks impressive especially since it involves Masahiro Ito and Akira Yamaoka from the original Team Silent, however, I can’t say with full confidence that I am openly excited for this remake. It would be foolish to ignore that Yamaoka was also involved with The Medium and look how that turned out. 

Even though I once said Silent Hill was better off dead — which is something I don’t think I agree with anymore — the silver lining to all of this is that this remake will still sell like hotcakes likely giving Silent Hill another chance to be the pillar for psychological horror. The pillar that it used to be back in the 90s and early 2000s, which is certainly something that excites me. 

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Nameer Zia is a video game News Writer on eXputer obsessed with hunting down all the latest happenings in the industry. Nameer has been gaming for more than 15 years, during which he has spent more than 3,000 hours on Overwatch 1 & 2. As a literature student, his literary chops feed into his passion for games and writing, using eXputer as the medium to deliver the latest news in the industry. Websites such as GamingBolt and IGN have also credited his works.

Experience: 4+ Years || Previously Worked At: Tech4Gamers

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