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Silent Hill 2 review
Exceptional
by Cloud

Silent Hill 2 strives at doing everything it does in the most meticulously well thought way possible. While most survival horror games of that era tried to scare the player with superficial "creepy imagery" or gore, SH2 uses every single tool that it's media offers to enhance the experience and has a masterfully crafted atmosphere that surrounds the deepest thoughts of the players, not only by scaring them, but by introducing new ideas constantly as representations of inner guilt and burden that every character has to carry.
James Sunderland starts off as a pretty bland character, but the more we get into his mind, we start to understand the real motivations behind everything happening there. The town has this bleak and lonely feel attached to it that makes it clear that every person there has something going on to them, and their stories are as deeply developed as James', because they serve a role as big as his. While not having the best gameplay or combat ever, Silent Hill 2 is impecable at penetrating your mind and making you question it's uncertain aspects. Everything about this game is so well written and deep but it's slow way of telling you the story with sounds and visuals without needing to explain everything with expository dialogue or being too overloaded with useless information builds up the best piece of media i have ever consumed. Without a doubt, Silent Hill 2 is an work of art that should be experienced by everyone, even if not interested in the horror genre. It's a psychological study about people's motivations and the weight they carry as consequence of their actions.

10/10
All-time favorite
«Blew my mind»
«That ending!»
«Beaten more than once»
«OST on repeat»

Other reviews6

[NOTE: This is a review for the SH2 HD in the "infamous" collection, since is not listed as an individual game this will do it for now, it has some technical issues that will not affect my score but I will talk about them a little, so I will try to be as objectively possible]

Silent Hill 2 is one of those games that have a lot of fame almost legendary and mythic, is easily to see why, from the very moment you start the game and you're on your own wandering a fogy woods with a creepy and unsettling music and ambiance you know you're for such a ride.

Let me start with my favorite thing so far from this game, the narrative, I love how SH2 doesn't shy away for being cryptic and almost "non-sensical" at times, you start with a simple premise of looking for your dead wife, but things are more complex than that, instead of giving you heavy exposition scenes (which maybe you sometimes get) you have blurry character development and some notes of paper, or diaries here and there which adds tons to the dreamy and oppressing atmosphere. You have a superb balance of cutscenes and gameplay, and for the most part you're on your own on the somewhat scripted openness of the map, which I like it quite a lot.

The combat is serviceable, its clunkiness adds to the theme of feeling underpowered by these unknown monsters, although at my first hours I was so stressed with my bullets and health management, once you understand the mechanics it will be hard to get a game over screen onwards, that's not to say that you feel safe whatsoever, the game manages to never truly let go your throat till the credits roll.

The primary horror aspect from a superficial point of view may be its enemy and environment design, the enemies if few are quite creative and gruesome, the locations are super creepy, they may look generic at first but certain details like lighting, enemy position, etc. make to stand out from the rest, although for me, the one that truly took me to the uncanny valley was the sound design and its music, there's a lot of noise and apparent empty music but you never feel like: "here's the normal enemy music" "now the boss music is playing", is deliciously stylish, even the more conventional music which plays to fit some dramatic scenes is beautiful, Akira Yamaoka is truly a genius.

The script, although is not a masterpiece, it fits perfectly with the tone of the game, at one moment you have a character acting cool and the next moment they're acting super crazy, but it fits, it has aged too good and better than other games of that era. At times the game can turn a little cartoony but again, being a horror game and as a lot of great movies of the genre it knows when to give you a break and be a little silly.

As for the negative aspects, I think that once you grasp all the mechanics the game can turn a little in the easy side, at least combat wise, at the start of the game you will find a couple of puzzles that may feel somewhat cheap, for example, you'll find a 6 pack of juice that to me looked like a health item so I saved it and didn't pretend to use till I really need it, turns out it was a key item that had to be used in an unnatural way to obtain other item, there are like a couple of instances of similar matter that didn't broke my experience that much but they were more annoying than challenging. Lastly, every time you open and close the map, everything around you i.e the monsters, will be moving but the screen will be black for at least 1 solid second, this is pretty annoying since it gives you a tremendous disadvantage in some corridors, and more often than not you'll be rewarded by an enemy hit, maybe this is an issue of the HD collection so I don't counting it to the score.

Speaking of the issues with the HD collection, overall the game looks OK, the fog effect is bad and some characters look a little soulless but is not that bad, the game has the option to play with the new or original voices, I played with both and as someone that is not tainted by nostalgia and is trying to be the more objectively possible I find that both are somewhat bad, although the new ones sound a little better and with more depth (not by that much mind you), definitely would prefer that this was in Japanese tho.

In general I loved my time with SH2 it was stress-full and filled with emotions to the very end, which by the way I didn't expect the ending to be this good, at least the one that I get, definitely recommended for every horror fan, it doesn't have cheap scares and its themes will have you thinking a lot.


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Born from a wish [Review]

Born from a wish is a pseudo prequel to the main game, is a nice compliment if you need more SH2 and also want to make a little more sense or to understand the main story.

You play as María, and similarly, as the main campaign you start the game with zero context and little info that you the player must unveil in the lapse of 1 or 2 hours, the story is as cryptic as ever for the most part at least, at some point you have some "direct hints" that are not so expositional but it sure gives you a lot of understanding to the character and the overall story of SH2.

Expect more or less the same kind of rhythm as the main campaign but in shorter bursts, if you like the original game you'll certainly like this extra slice, but don't think you'll find a lot, is just an extra slice of a good cake. You play mainly in a new location that by the way is creepy and nice-looking, remind me more of Resident Evil.

At some point towards the end, there's a puzzle that took me quite a bit of time, its clumsy execution made me re-do it with paper, a thing that I liked btw, but I can see how someone else would find it annoying and maybe cheap.

Overall, this side campaign is good, at some point even gave me an emotional punch which I didn't expect to give me, I say if you want more SH2 give it a go since is more or less a similar experience albeit an extremely condensed one, just make sure that you play it after beating the game not before, it sure is a "prequel" but it also hints you information about the main game that you're supposed to find towards the ending.
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«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»
Great atmosphere, very immersive
«Blew my mind»
Maria did nothing wrong
Is there anybody out there who would deny it is the best of the SH series? Hm, I would say I am still waiting for the P.T. Silent Hill 2 is very atmospherically intensive. Any susceptible person should be aware of potential psychosis. Kids should play Gregory Horror show (which is a great game, at the time I am playing it). Probably first game that I want to pop in when I turn the PS2 on. Not daring to play though.
«Blew my mind»
«Just one more turn»
Best Silent Hill game. Best adventure/horror game. One of the best soundtracks. Deep characters, unforgettable story and heart-crushing ending. There was a hole once but it's GONE now!
«Blew my mind»
«Can’t stop playing»