As Konami becomes the latest publisher to reveal its entire hand during its dedicated Silent Hill Transmission showcase, we now know Bloober Team is indeed working on a Silent Hill 2 remake. The rumors were true. As a timed PS5 console exclusive (also due on Steam at launch, and "other formats" after a year), it's official: the studio responsible for scare 'em ups Layers of Fear, Observer, Blair Witch and The Medium is charged with reimagining the 21-year-old survival horror cult classic for new and returning audiences.
In three minutes of cinematic footage, we were shown modern slants on the game's hapless protagonist James Sunderland, its ghastly baddie Pyramid Head, a handful of key scenes, and snippets of the VO, dialogue and narrative that'll guide us back through the foggy streets of video games' most cursed town. As a dyed-in-the-wool Silent Hill series fanatic, whose favorite game is over and above number 2, it all looked very… nice? I'm definitely looking forward to it, even if, from the little we've seen so far, this new incarnation appears to have lost a lot of the original's grainy, B-movie-driven charm. But, the longer I sit with it, the more I reckon that's irrelevant. Konami teased five projects during its Silent Hill Transmission showcase, and, I can't quite believe I'm saying this, I reckon the Silent Hill 2 remake is the least exciting of the lot. I also think this was intentional.
Don't get me wrong, there is plenty for Silent Hill 2 aficionados to sink their teeth into already – not just from its three minutes of neatly edited cinematics, but also from the Bloober Team behind-the-scenes short that followed. Knowing lead character James' backstory, and judging from his new, ultra-emotive facial animations, he projects a suitably exhausted demeanor here that was missing from his first outing. The new environments look great and true to the original game. The movement and combat, albeit viewed from an over-the-shoulder perspective this time, looks well-weighted and more in-line with modern horror games. Maria, who we really only saw during the merchandise portion of the showcase, looks exactly as she should. The little dialogue we've heard so far appears to be almost word-for-word against its source material. Akira Yamaoka's soundtrack feels revitalized, it being (re)composed by the man himself. And the key scenes teased – the rest stop opening, James hiding in that Blue Creek Apartments cupboard, the Maria jail cell set-piece, and the long, mist-swept downhill trek to the town itself, to name but a few – all reflect the 2001 original well.
All told, what we've seen so far looks decent. It feels more 'Hollywood' in delivery, granted, and looks less deliberately rough around the edges – in turn, giving off more of a modern Resident Evil vibe than the hypnotic, gritty, distinctly obtuse Lynchian feel Silent Hill 2 boasted at the turn of the millennium. But from Konami's perspective, I think it's a safe bet. Because with the series having been inactive for so long, with 2012's Downpour and 2008's Homecoming having hardly set the world alight, an entirely new Silent Hill game on its own would have been a gamble. Given how long rumors of a Silent Hill 2 remake have been circulating, and how long Bloober Team's name has been tied to the prospective project – not to mention the fact Konami itself inadvertently blew its own cover via an ill-placed video description in the hours preceding the show – seeing Silent Hill 2 in the flesh with Bloober attached was hardly a shock. What was more shocking was the unveiling of Silent Hill Townfall, Silent Hill f, and Silent Hill Ascension, each of which looks fascinating in its own right.
And so, by finally making the worst-kept secret the survival horror genre has seen for some time official, the Silent Hill 2 remake feels like a bit of a support act – we know what to expect here, it looks decent, pays homage to the original with a modern twist, has scope to capture both old and new audiences, and is being developed by a third-party developer who is, in essence, shouldering pretty much all of the risk. Personally, I'm okay with that. I am totally sold on Townfall for Stories Untold dev No Code's involvement alone. Silent Hill f, set in 1960s Japan, enters totally uncharted territory for the series; and from the conversation I had with Genvid about Walking Dead: The Last Mile and the advent of 'Massive Interactive Live Events' at Gamescom, I'm convinced of Silent Hill Ascension's potential, even at this early stage. I'm less bothered about the Silent Hill 2 movie, but am aware of the 2006 original's cult following – which makes its unveiling alongside the Silent Hill 2 remake seem even more fitting, with one likely to support the other in promotional terms moving forward.
My biggest concern for the Silent Hill 2 remake at this point, then, is how it stands up against its genre stablemates. The Resident Evil 2 remake of 2019 set new standards in reworked horor, and while the Resident Evil 3 remake failed to hit the same heights the following year, Capcom is now under even more pressure to deliver with its upcoming Resident Evil 4 reimagining – its source material considered even more influential to modern horror games than Silent Hill 2. Elsewhere, the Dead Space remake looks set to impress 14 years after its first outing, with Alone in the Dark and System Shock also poised to capture the past with modern promise.
Does Silent Hill 2, beloved by so many horror fans, really need a modern day remake, then? I asked this same question earlier this year, and am still unsure of the answer. If, however, the Silent Hill 2 remake acts as a gateway to revitalize the dormant series, which seems to be the case here, then I say bring it on. Welcome back, James Sunderland, and good luck. You're going to need it – against the Otherworld, the occult, and the scores of survival horror fans judging your every move from hereon.
Our best horror games list might look different by the time these new Silent Hill titles arrive!