Silent Hill 2 Remake – Five things we want to see

Silent Hill 2 Remake Header

It goes without saying that Silent Hill 2 is not only a cult classic, but an all-time great. Back in 2001, it took the horror formula that was growing in popularity and added a psychologically emotional element that has never truly been replicated in anything else since. It was sad, haunting and unnerving all at the same time, making for one of the best horror games in history. Can a Silent Hill 2 remake preserve what made the original so special?

Well, we’re going to find out, thanks to the freshly announced Silent Hill 2 remake by Bloober Team. A remake has been talked about for a long time, met with extremely mixed opinions, and for very good reason. If you play Silent Hill 2 today, it still holds up very well. It has an incredible art direction, even by today’s standards, so what can be done in the graphics department? It carely treads the subject of mental illness, subtly sending messages to us all about how we should talk about trauma and seek help where needed. In that sense, can the messaging really be improved? Here’s five things we’d like to see for the remake.

Mild spoiler warning for those who haven’t played this twenty one year old game…

Keep the story and the message intact

Some popular games throughout history are indicative of their time, and so if and when they’re brought to modern audiences should rightly have elements removed or modified to more comfortably bring them up to date. Silent Hill 2 treads that line because of it’s themes of extreme sexual frustration, murder, suicide, abuse and body dysmorphia, to name a few.

One thing Silent Hill 2 never did wrong was representing these things in a purely negative light. It showed that we can tastefully have these subjects in games without feeling ham-fisted or done in a crass and offensive manner, hopefully prompting some to speak up if ever they find themselves in real life situations akin to the subjects. It’s even more important now that people feel able to speak up, so keeping these themes in video games is a must, and a Silent Hill 2 remake is a good place to start.

Silent Hill 2 Remake Overlook

Voice acting that’s true to the characters

One of the major talking points surrounding Silent Hill 2 was the voice acting. Some people branded it as terrible, but for me, it was something that those people misunderstood.

James Sunderland was a fundamentally broken man. He has a huge emotional burden weighing him down after losing his wife Mary and the events surrounding her death. He enters a state of denial and delusion, believing himself to have received a letter from Mary, and that she wants to meet him in Silent Hill. He is detached from reality, and as a result, he sounds a little disjointed in the way he speaks. In that respect, Guy Cihi’s performance (love him or hate him) was spot on for James Sunderland. Even other characters such as Angela or Eddie, all speak and represent their traumas in frighteningly accurate ways, with Angela being the most heart breaking, stumbling on her words and sounding vulnerable in most situations.

With modern casting and performance capture, one key element to get right is the direction for the voice acting. The HD collection with Troy Baker as James was too polished and refined – technically very good, but not fitting the narrative. In Silent Hill 2, that’s the most important thing.

Silent Hill 2 Remake James Sunderland

Pyramid Head needs to be terrifying

For those that know, Pyramid Head’s presence within the game was filled with meaning, but at the same time, he was just bloody frightening to run into. My main concern with the Silent Hill 2 remake is that Bloober Team might lean too heavily on using this iconic monster. As is true of so many timeless horror games and films, it’s his absence throughout the original game that makes it all the more impactful when he does show up.

Each of these moments was representative of something important happening physically and mentally to James on his journey. Changing the content of these encounters could make them just as, if not more impactful in the modern day, but overusing Pyramid Head would spoil the finely crafted story and flow of Silent Hill 2. Here’s hoping they don’t try to emulate Resident Evil 3 make with Nemesis turning up every five minutes. If that happened with Pyramid Head, it would lose its impact. Speaking of which…

Silent Hill 2 Remake Pyramid Head

Don’t copy the Resi Remakes too much

The shift from static cameras to over-the-shoulder views worked for the recent Resident Evil remakes, the series having previously redefined action horror games with Resident Evil 4, but they’re games that are more about action survival horror. Silent Hill 2 is a psychological horror. It deserves its own uniqueness, and emulating Resi would undercut that distinctiveness. Thankfully, Bloober Team’s chosen specialty is within psychological horror.

Silent Hill 2 certainly doesn’t need more weapons, and even retaining the style and camera angles of the original could be important for keeping the game’s tone right – controlling the camera view can help subtly hide things out of shot and create tension. Pulling the same tricks with an over-the-shoulder camera will be trickier, but hopefully the atmosphere could still be retained.

One thing that hasn’t aged so well is the original game’s controls. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for James to become Action Jackson – he’s not a soldier and has zero combat experience – but stepping away from the classic tank controls for a now standard third person camera will be a positive choice. You can limit the ease of movement in other ways to still create fear and tension, and the original’s lack of HUD could be retained to strip away awareness of your status.

Silent Hill 2 Remake Combat

Let Akira Yamaoka do his thing!

Akira Yamaoka is an absolute visionary when it comes to game soundtracks. His work across multiple Silent Hill games is legendary, especially Silent Hill 2 and 3. The soundtrack was so important in the original, adding nuance to the gameplay, evoking either feelings of empathy or generally unnerving you through tense situations. Losing this aspect would massively affect the atmosphere that the game can conjure.

Of course, we don’t need to hear the exact same tracks, but new variations on familiar themes and even new compositions from the original composer would be more than welcome. This is something he spoke about during the game’s announcement, saying that the remake “has a new musical style, new challenges, and sound design and music that will be able to please existing fans.”

Here’s hoping that Akira Yamaoka is given the freedom create his magic!

I, like many fans of the original, think Silent Hill 2 should be left well alone. But, here we are, it’s 2022 and it’s coming, so all we can do is hope that Bloober Team does it justice. They already have a good reputation within the psychological horror genre – which is likely why they got the opportunity to take this remake on – and if they can judge it right, then it’s a perfect opportunity to tell this wonderfully tragic and haunting story in a way it’s not been done before.

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Consummate professional, lover of video games and all-round hero that can be found doing a podcast, writing about games and also making videos. Oh, I have saved the world 87 times and once hugged Danny Trejo. You're welcome.

1 Comment

  1. It does at least seem like the ideal thing for Bloober Team to be doing. They’re good at horror things where everything’s a bit weird. They even went for the fixed camera angle thing with The Medium (I just started that now it’s on PS+). But that’s a terrible idea these days. Might have been acceptable 20+ years ago to get around technical limitations, but these days?

    Hopefully “remake” just means they’ll rebuild everything but keep the game the same. More effort than a simple remaster without the risk of completely ruining everything. We don’t need another FF7R situation, do we? That looked and sounded gorgeous, but ruined the gameplay and turned the story into an insulting mess.

    Rebuild all the character models and environments, record new music and voices, add a few modern features and leave the rest alone. Just do enough to convincingly call it a remake instead of a remaster and nothing more.

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