Silent Hill 2 probably isn't the game you remember

Silent Hill 2 Remake screenshot
(Image credit: Konami)

Silent Hill 2 released in September 2001 to critical acclaim. Praised for its exploration of psychological horror in a medium that had otherwise been bereft of this style of storytelling up until that point, its endings were determined by many, seemingly innocuous actions – such as how players interacted with specific objects found in the game, and even how often they healed protagonist James Sunderland. 

There are certain intricacies there, that while not unique to Silent Hill (Fatal Frame did something similar with triggering specific events and ghost encounters to impact its endings), made Silent Hill 2 a standout title of its generation. But the success of Silent Hill 2 has been something of a double-edged sword for the franchise and its community. Later entries in the series, even by Team Silent (the developers of the Silent Hill series up until Silent Hill 4: The Room), were met with mixed responses as it delved back into the more cult-focused folk horror of the first game.

When Konami eventually handed the franchise over to developers outside of Japan, reception to the series and the new direction it was headed in was far from positive. Even Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which was a new take on the first Silent Hill game but veered more into psychological horror over folk horror, was viewed as divisive among critics and fans. It seemed as though nothing could live up to the expectations Silent Hill 2 had set for the series – and this sentiment seems to have endured even to this day.

There was some skepticism among the community when it was announced Bloober Team – the studio responsible for The Medium and Layers of Fear – would be developing the Silent Hill 2 remake. Users took to social media to voice their concerns, stating that the Polish outfit's previous body of work was too overt in its messaging to capture the more "subdued" horror elements of Silent Hill 2. And even the Japanese-developed Silent Hill: The Short Message has been met with a distinctly negative response due to its lack of subtlety in its themes and general presentation, despite sharing more similarities with Silent Hill 2 than other entries in the series. Additionally, there remains division among the community as more and more footage of the Silent Hill 2 remake trickles out to the public, and conversations about The Short Message continue to endure on social media.

There was a classic here

Silent Hill 2 Remake screenshot

(Image credit: Konami)

Would-be Silent Hill 2 remake players have pointed out that despite the inclusion of "You Reap What You Sow" written on a wall in the Silent Hill 2 remake combat trailer, the original game had similar graffiti that more or less confirmed James (and the game's other characters) had entered are their own personal hells. Other players have noted that Silent Hill 2 was probably more overt than they remember – and I'm inclined to agree with that sentiment. Don't get me wrong, I'm a little skeptical of whatever the Silent Hill 2 remake may or may not be, but it's been a good five or so years since I've properly played the original game.

The first time I played Silent Hill 2 was when I was 17 years old (my first foray with the series was Silent Hill 4: The Room at 13, which remains my favorite to this day), and the impression the game made on me then was wholly different from when I played it years later as a 24 year old. While my understanding of the narrative has remained unchanged, the plot itself is extremely straightforward with little room for interpretation, and I recognized that as I grew older my perception and understanding of its themes changed. That's more or less the beauty of Silent Hill 2, and other psychological horror games that have followed in its wake. But it's also the very thing that makes it such a hard game to emulate, or even follow up. 

Silent Hill 2 Remake

(Image credit: Konami)

"Your understanding of the genre has probably shifted since. You might be in a different place in your life where a monologue just hits differently than it might have a few years ago."

Now, this can be said for any kind of media we encounter as a child, teenager or young adult. What we experience and how we experience changes with our own understanding of the world. The experience and examination of Silent Hill 2 would not be the same for me now as it would have been when I was a child. And I think this is something that has been forgotten in the discussion of the franchise – both with the original release of Silent Hill 2, the freshly released Silent Hill: The Short Message, and the upcoming remake from Bloober Team.

Through all of this, Silent Hill 2 probably isn't the game you remember it being for that very reason. Your understanding of the genre has probably shifted since. You might be in a different place in your life where a monologue just hits differently than it might have a few years ago. Or maybe your experience was informed by something external, like a YouTube essay that you may no longer agree with upon a second, third, or fourth watch. 

Which is to say: what Silent Hill 2 brought to video games was revolutionary at the time, but time has passed and we've gotten older. It's no doubt a classic, beloved by so many, but I do wonder if more of us dusted off our PS2 consoles and booted up the game – would we realize that the themes were more overt than we initially thought? And would we then be more open to the other experiences the series has to offer without looking back over 20 years into the past? Time with inevitably answer that question one way or another.   

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Kazuma Hashimoto
Freelance Writer

Kazuma Hashimoto is a freelance writer at GamesRadar+ that has worked within various pockets of the industry for upwards of six years. Nominated for New York Videogame Critics Circle’s Games Journalism Award in 2019, he strives to provide both thoughtful and critical pieces that take a deeper look into how games are made and the culture surrounding them. When he isn't writing, reviewing, or hosting interviews, he can be found on his Twitch channel (as a VTuber!) streaming a variety of games ranging from MMORPGs to Farming Sims. His other work can be found on websites like Polygon, IGN, and