I think every player has a favorite game – or several. In any case, each player could name one to three games that he would mentally place on the podium. The fascinating thing about me: My first place is not my favorite game.
In fact, it’s actually the one that bothered me the most. Or to put it another way: Silent Hill 2 is the only game that has continued in my ideas, thoughts, and dreams after playing through it – for many years up to and including today.
I will never be so scared again
I think today’s horror games are very nice – a bit ironic, as I used to be a terrible fearful rabbit. But now the pattern behind it is obvious to me. Dead Space, The Evil Within 2, and Resident Evil 2: Remake – they can challenge me, put me in stressful situations, and sometimes scare me.
But they don’t really create fear in me, they mechanically do their bloody and screaming job, they serve me an extremely uncomfortable situation, which I then overcome. But nothing sticks, it’s nothing personal. In themselves, they are quite nice and also adhere to certain rules of courtesy. You don’t really want to hurt me.
But when I first played Silent Hill 2 ten years ago and walked into a single room, years later I still have to shudder to ponder the same simple sentence . It translates as: “ There was a hole here. Now it’s gone. “The protagonist James Sunderland discovers the sentence in an empty bar in the eponymous ghost town. The previous owner covered the window with newspapers and then wrote this sentence on it.
Basically, it doesn’t make sense. Why would the owner want to explain to someone that they fixed the window a long time ago? The fascinating thing: every player immediately suspects that this is not what is meant by it. But what it is about is not said. It’s just clear that it most likely has to do with James himself and we really don’t want to know. It refers to James’ wife he is looking for here.
It’s just one of many examples that this city or something indefinable wants to speak to the player – which for me is the scariest thing in the whole game. Silent Hill 2 is more nerve-wracking lyric poetry than a game, something that you can discuss over and over again scene after scene and always find something new to do with it. This is not just about finding a woman, but also about the repressed anger and sexuality of a man, which is reflected across the city. It’s about suicide, about depression, about love and dreams.
I’ve spent years playing this game dozen of times, watching analysis videos, creating my own analyzes – I even wrote a term paper in my master’s degree on how linguistics and psychology create a language of their own in games – all of that, just to understand it better and to unravel all its secrets. I know I can never do this even if I take it one line at a time. I never want to make it either.