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Exploring Atmospheric Despair in the Silent Hill 2

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This post contains full spoilers for Silent Hill 2. If you have somehow still not played through it then rectify that immediately and then return here.

October is here dear readers; the month that everyone’s minds begin drifting towards the slew of horror games on offer. Bloggers will be recounting their tales of terror, youtubers will be scaring themselves on camera for your amusement, and nearly everyone with an interest in the genre will finally be playing through Evil Within come next week.

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The horror genre is one that I’ve never really leaned one way or the other with. There are plenty of great horror games but usually it needs to be pretty unique to get me to try it out, rather than being a part of the landslide of first person indie horror games we’ve seen over the past few years. My favorite type of horror will always be of the psychological variety. I love the idea of the human mind being the true source of terror in a story. With that in mind I’d like to talk about what is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of psychological horror: Silent Hill 2.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Silent Hill 2 is a masterpiece of story telling. It’s also a fantastic example of a series evolving and finding it’s true potential. This is a game where the devs said to themselves ‘I mean, we’ve created this creepy setting and it’s pretty cool, but surely there’s more we can do with it than dark cult magic bullshit.’ I’m no huge fan of the first game (nothing against it, it just wasn’t up my alley), but the second entry is one of my favorite games ever. From the brilliant introduction that tells you just what you need to know to get started to the creepily bizarre characters to the fantastic enemies that all have meaning behind their designs.

Silent Hill 2 isn’t necessarily a game that exists to try and make you jump from your seat or be terrified to sleep at night; what it really wants to do is make you think to yourself ‘…what the FUCK is going on right now?!’ and it does a damn good job at that. The town of Silent Hill is so incredibly surreal that it’s difficult to not become completely enthralled in it. Seeing insane sights like the infamous ‘There was a hole here. It’s gone now.’ sign or the strange prison deep beneath the historical society leaves you so incredibly intrigued that you can’t stop yourself trying to find some small form of understanding.

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