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Silent Hill 2: Plot Analysis

By Shamus
on Thursday Apr 27, 2006
Filed under:
Game Reviews

 
 

No, this isn’t about the recently-released movie. This is about the much older videogame, Silent Hill 2. I’ve been meaning to write about it for some time. For those of you who are curious about the movie but have never played the games, this might be helpful. Note that there are 4 Silent Hill games now, and the second installment is a bit different from the others. This is a strange game with a facinating plot. The nature of the story is pretty unconventional by genre standards.

Usually the main character in a third-person game is one of two stereotypes:

  1. The classic brooding ex-navy SEAL who doesn’t play by the rules but who always gets the job done ’cause he’s the best even though he has a tortured past and a woman he can’t forget.
  2. An everyman.

But in SH 2, the main character is somewhat of a mystery, and the player has to get to know him as the game goes on. That works, because the main character is a bit confused and is really learning about himself at the same time. He seems like a regular guy at first glance, but as the game goes on our perception of him changes.

I’ll go over the plot for those that have never played. If you remember the game, just click here to skip to my discussion on the characters.

Plot Review

Silent Hill is the name of the town in the series. The town is a bit secluded and small. It has the same layout and same key locations in every iteration, but everyone sees the town just a little different. In each of the games the main characters find themselves (willing or not) exploring the town and find it abandoned and filled with horrors. The particular dangers are different for each visitor, and they are always strange. This isn’t just a “zombie town”.


At the start of the game, James pulls over at a (utterly filthy!) rest stop and takes a long look at himself in the mirror. This is a very appropriate way for him to begin his journey into Silent Hill.

You play as James Sunderland, a man who is grieving the loss of his wife who died three years ago of an unspecified illness. He has a letter which seems to have been sent by his dead wife, saying that she is waiting for him at Silent Hill, where they once spent a vacation together.

At the start of the game James has driven to Silent Hill and found the road into town has been blocked. He stops along the road at a rest stop and decides to enter town on foot. He reads the letter from his wife again.

He doesn’t really ponder why the road has been so thoroughly barricaded. He doesn’t question why he’s come here looking for someone who he knows is dead. Even at this early stage of the game we can tell he’s a little off somehow.

He heads into town through the woods. The closer he gets, the more fog there is. There are strange sounds as he decends the path leading into town.

 

It should go without saying, but from here on are massive spoilers.

Eventually he gets to the graveyard and meets Angela. James is just cutting through to get to the town, but Angela is sitting among the tombstones. Like all converations in this game, their dialog doesn’t really make a lot of sense. It’s like each of them is having thier own conversation. James asks questions but she never gives him a straight answer. She’s not being evasive, they just don’t seem to know how to talk to each other. Is this an effect of the town or are these people just that messed up?

Later in the game he will meet her again and eventually we learn that she had a very abusive childhood. She’s suicidal. Her violent, abusive father was killed and her house burned down. It seems as though she killed her own father, either in defense or out of revenge.

After a very strange converation, James moves on and enters the town itself. It’s daytime, but the town is covered in thick, billowing fog. The town looks more or less normal, but empty and walled off from the outside world. Everything is also a bit out of date. The cars, buildings and signage have a sort of 60’s and 70’s style about them, even though the story seems to take place today. Some time is spent building up suspense and introducing us to the town. Then he meets a strange creature that is sort of humanoid. He grabs a nearby cudgel and fends the creature off. He ends up fighting quite a few of these things during the game.

We deal with some general video-game puzzle stuff and eventually James finds himself in an apartment building where he meets Eddie. The apartment building he’s in is worse than condemned. It’s a horribly stained, rotting structure. The walls are stained with rust (?) and mildew. However, the room Eddie is in looks better than the rest. It’s still no prize, but it doesn’t seem to be engufed in evil, just shabby.

Eddie is in the bathroom, puking his guts out when we meet him. A dead body (human, not monster) is in the same apartment. This isn’t that unexpected, since the building is full of strange and dangerous creatures, but Eddie is defensive and evasive. His constant, unprompted denials that he had anything to do with the dead body leads us to believe that he did.

In this conversation we get our first clue that what we’re seeing is different from what Eddie is seeing. He never mentions the monsters, which would have been a handy and plausible scapegoat for the dead body. The fact that he feels he needs a scapegoat at all is telling.

Eddie seems a little slow. He’s rude and seems to have a mean streak. We’ll run into him again later.

 

After some more puzzles and monsters James finds himself outside and encounters Laura, a little girl who is inexplicably wandering around town by herself. We learn that she was sick and in the hospital with James’ wife Mary at one point. The girl also seems to be here to visit Mary. This is odd. Didn’t Mary die three years ago? This girl would have been very young then. So the girl has come to this haunted town, all alone, in search of a woman she shared a hospital room with years ago? We can tell something isn’t right here, but like all conversations in this town it doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

James moves on, even more confused. He finally reaches the park, which is one of the places he thinks he might find Mary.

 

And he does! Or so it seems. He finds a woman who looks exactly like his deceased wife. Except this woman is named Maria. As they talk it becomes clear that while the two women look alike, they behave differently. While Mary was very reserved and demure, Maria is clearly outgoing and racy. She’s dressed in a trashy red outfit with a miniskirt. The game hints that she probably works as a stripper. She doesn’t know Mary and is a little offended by James’ confusion. So James has come to this town looking for his wife, who he knows to be dead. And in the spot where he thought he might meet her he instead encounters a woman who looks exactly like her, but has a very different personality.

He teams up with Maria and the two of them make their way through town. He’s still dedicated to finding his real wife, though.

Later, Maria is horribly killed in front of him while he is unable to help. Still later he finds her again and she seems to be alright. This pattern repeats several times throughout the game, as James is forced to watch his wife’s “twin” get killed over and over. He’s never able to save her, and he never really gets a sensible explanation when he’s reunited with her later.

Their conversations confuse him. She refers to memories that he shares with Mary, such as the time the two of them visited Silent Hill. She gets angry when he confuses her with his dead wife, even though she seems to be doing the same thing: She frequently confuses herself with Mary!

Alone again, James concludes that Mary must be in the Hotel where the two of them stayed on their previous visit. It’s pretty much the last place in town available, so it’s a safe guess his answers are there. There are more puzzles and he bumps into Eddie and Angela at various points. Their conversations reveal little except the depths of everyone’s confusion.

As he nears the Inn he encounters Eddie for the last time. Eddie has become demented. On their last meeting, Eddie was in a room full of recently killed human corpses, which is an odd thing to find in a town that’s been deserted this long. It’s become clear that Eddie has been somehow slaughtering people for “making fun of him”. James tries to make sense of this and Eddie assumes James is insulting him, “Just like all the rest.” James is obliged to kill Eddie in self-defense.

James at last reaches the Hotel. Note that if the player opens up their inventory and tries to read the note from Mary, they will find it is blank! Hmmm. Now we are forced to wonder: Did it ever really say anything to begin with?

At last James reaches the room where he and Mary were before. Unlike the rest of the inn, the room is in pristine condition, but nobody is there. A VCR and television have been set up, and a lone video casette sits nearby. James watches it. In the grainy, out-of-focus video we see Mary in her sick bed. She seems to be asleep. James enters and kisses her on the cheek. Then he picks up a pillow and mashes it over her face. She tries to fight back, but she’s no match for him. The video ends.

James sits motionless in the chair, head bowed. Laura enters. How she reached the Hotel and made her way through waves of monsters and traps is beyond understanding. She walks in, unscathed from her journey, and asks James if he’s found Mary.

“She’s dead”, he explains, “I killed her.”

And so now we finally see the root of his confusion. His wife was dying, and he killed her. He’s blocked out the memory. The timetable sorts itself out. Mary didn’t die three years ago. She got sick three years ago, and he killed her very recently. Silent Hill has called him here to face his demons. Step one was coming to terms with what he’d done.

We also learn that her disease was disfiguring, and made the normally gentle and kind Mary angry and irrational. Near the end she was demanding and awful to behold.

As we near the finale, James encounters Angela for the final time. She has been falling deeper into despair each time they meet, and at last she gives in and chooses suicide. James can do nothing to dissuade her.

Endings

James is forced to see Maria die one last time, and then he fights an evil incarnation of either Mary or Maria, depending on a few player actions during the game. There are several endings, although only three are important to the plot in my view.

  1. The “good ending” is that after the fight James appears at his wife’s bedside and admits that he killed her out of mercy, but also out of selfishness because of of difficulty of caring for her. She grants him forgiveness and asks him to go on with his life. We then seem him leaving town with little Laura.
  2. After the fight James is reunited with Maria, and the two of them leave town together. As he helps her into the car, she begins coughing. I believe that Maria is sick just like Mary was, and by choosing to take her with him that James is doomed to re-live the awful years he spent caring for Mary. Perhaps this is some form of pennance? Perhaps if he sees her to the end he will feel free of his guilt.
  3. After the fight James is overcome with guilt. He returns to his car and drives into the lake, killing himself so that he can “be with Mary”. Obviously this ending kind of sucks, although it’s difficult to get by chance.

Plot Analysis

What interests me about this game is the other three people we encounter in town: Laura, Angela, Maria, and Eddie. Note that when we meet these people our perception of the town changes.

Eddie

Years of scorn have filled Eddie with rage. He’s come to Silent Hill to deal with that hate, one way or another. Instead of seeing a town full of monsters, he seems to see it as a place where people taunt and insult him. Silent Hill is a place filled with either stangers or people from Eddie’s own past who tear him down. Perhaps this is a reflection of his childhood. Perhaps his own journey was to see if he could find forgiveness for these people, or to learn what it is about himself that makes him so unpopular. Perhaps he could learn that he hurts others as much as they hurt him. We don’t know what his problem was.

However, Eddie’s jouney is a failure. He lashes out and starts slaughtering everyone. His rampage ends when he meets a real person (James) and is killed.

Angela

When James gets near Angela the town stops looking like a rotting ruin, and takes on a more domestic feel. He’ll find a wall that is actually off-white, with a non-rotting door, both of which are covered in newspaper clippings about house fires and murders.

Angela is filled with self-loathing. She was abused by her father and evetually ended the abuse by killing him. However, this didn’t cure the self-loathing. Like many abuse victims, she had been taught to believe the she was worthless and unlovable. With her father dead, she can no longer hope that one day he will repent, apologize, and say that he loves her. (It doesn’t matter that he was probably never capable of this. From her point of view, that was the one thing she could hope for that would heal her, and by killing him she also killed that hope.)

So she comes to Silent Hill to choose between life and death for herself. The first time she and James meet, she’s sitting in the graveyard. Later she’s in a (more or less normal) bedroom, staring at a knife. James manages to talk her into giving up the knife, but he’s pretty confused himself and is in no shape to offer Angela real help.

Later James rescues her as she’s being menaced by a monster. We see a big monster shaped like (I’m not kidding) a black door, but Angela repeatedly calls it “daddy” during the fight. At the end, she joins in the killing of the monster. This is another clue as to how the town works. She was probably re-living a moment with her father when James came in and intervened. She saw her father, but all we saw was a freakish monster.

On their final meeting, he finds Angela at the inn. She’s standing in a burning hallway. (Note that this is an interesting twist. When you go into another room away from Angela there is no fire, no smoke, and no sounds of fire. The fire only exists when Anglea is near. So she sees the inn buring to the ground, and James sees it as he sees everything else: damp, rotting, and cold.)

James says, “It’s hot as hell in here.”

Angela, “You see it too? For me, it’s always like this.”

He finally makes a try at talking her into choosing life, but it’s hopeless. He hasn’t expressed any real empathy for her until now, and it’s too late to start. She walks into the flames, embracing death.

Laura

When Laura is around, everything looks perfectly normal. We see the town as it really is (or was) with no distortion at all. This explains how Laura survives the monsters and traps. For her, there aren’t any. She sees Silent Hill as a big empty town. She never shows any signs of fear. She’s innocent, and unlike the others she doesn’t seem to be here to face any personal demons. She doesn’t even understand what the others are going through.

At one point early in the game James finds Eddie and Laura hanging out at the bowling alley and enjoying a pizza. This is interesting. In James’ Silent Hill, there is nothing but decay, and the idea of finding food is ludicrous. But for Eddie and Laura the town is normal enough that they can get their hands on a fresh Pizza.

This might have been Eddie’s chance at redemption. Laura spent time with him, which could have been a catalyst for Eddie to help give him some sense of empathy or gentleness, but it didn’t seem to work.

In one ending of the game James gets his act together and leaves with Laura. In the other endings we don’t see what happens to her, but it’s safe to assume she turns out fine. The town is no danger to her, and she can probably leave whenever she wants.

Maria

Unlike the other three, I think Maria is not a real person. That is, in many ways she’s just another monster James has to face. She comes back from apparent death, which isn’t something the other characters ever do. She doesn’t seem to have her own view of Silent Hill, as the town remains unchanged when she’s around and in fact she seems to see things as James does.

She also defies real-world reasoning. It doesn’t make sense that a woman who looks exactly like Mary would just happen to be waiting in the park when James goes there, or that the woman would happen to have such a similar name. And later of course, she has access to some of Mary’s memories.

The only conclusion is that Maria is another demon sent to torment James. The other three characters never see or mention her. In fact, she avoids encountering Eddie and Laura at the bowling alley, prefering to stay outside. It’s possible that if she were to go inside, she would appear differently to the others, much like the way Anglea saw the “door monster” as her own father.

Pyramid Head

There is no question that Pyramid head is a monster, but he’s different from the others. We see PH doing awful, awful things to the other, lesser monsters in the game. Furthermore, every time Maria is killed, it’s Pyramid Head doing the killing. The player usually has a real grudge against PH the first time through the game.

But once we learn what James has done, we can see that PH is reflecting James’ own crime. His repeated killing of Maria is there to force James to face his own murder of Mary.

Another Note about PH is that he is invincible. The player never, ever harms or defeats PH in any way. James survives his encounters with PH by running. At the finale he is forced to fight PH for a while, but in the end PH just stops fighting and impales himself on his own spear. James never really harms him. PH is the Grim Reaper. You can’t beat him in combat.

The question is: Are these other people (Laura, Angela, and Eddie) fellow travelers who have come to Silent Hill? Are they real, or are they more like Maria: Entities created by the town itself to help or hinder James on his way?

It’s possible that they are all pilgrims like James, who have been drawn or called to Silent Hill to confront their past. However, this doesn’t explain how a child like Laura could reach the town on her own, or how she survives. She doesn’t have to face monsters, but she would still need to take care of herself, which is a big job for an eight-year-old.

My brother came up with another explanation for the other four people of the game:

Alternate Analysis

Each of the characters could be seen to represent an aspect of James. In this view, none of these people are real, but are only summoned by James and his guilty conscience as he wanders around the empty town. The wrathful Eddie represents his hated of others. The suicidal Angela represents his hatred of himself. The (to James) sexy Maria represents his love of self, for wanting a new “improved” wife to replace the old. Finally, the innocent Laura represents his love of others.

Note that in this view we don’t need to worry about how Laura got to Silent Hill on her own or how she takes care of herself. If these other people are part of the nighmare world, then they don’t need to make any more sense than the rest of the town.

In either view, James came to Silent Hill to deal with his crime. He was indeed in a tough spot and we can see how Mary’s illness destroyed them both. The disease made her ugly and mean, and doomed her to a slow, lingering death. It destroyed their once-happy marriage, and put James into a position where his loving wife was gone, and yet he was forced to continue to care for what was left of her. It’s easy to see how he was tempted to “put her out of her misery”, with the added benefit of putting her out of his own.

But once the deed was done he was filled with guilt. He hated himself and (I think) wanted to suffer for his crime. So he was drawn to Silent Hill, where the ghosts of the town made him face what he’d done.

Aside from Pyramid Head, the monsters in the game are feminine in one way or another. One is made of female mannequin parts. Another is a “nurse” similar to the gruesome nurses in the recent Silent Hill movie. Another is an armless thing that doesn’t look very female at first glance, but has female proportions (longer legs, shorter torso) and a higher-pitched “voice”.

Finally, it’s interesting that James is able to go to Silent Hill and find healing. Assuming you get the good ending, he leaves in better shape than when he arrived. By forcing him to endure dark horrors, by making him face his crime and understand it, and finally by letting him speak one last time with (we assume) his late wife, the town helped him find the absolution he sought. The town saved him.

The town also never hurt Laura. It menaced Angela, but in the end she killed herself. It taunted Eddie, but in the end it was James that killed him. Taking all of this into account, we can see the town itself, while filled with horrible images, never really killed anyone. Note also that the town seemed to reflect what was in the heart of the visitor. In Silent Hill 2, the town was not truly evil, but simply a dark mirror that would bring out one’s own inner demons and give them shape. Now we think back to the start of the game, when James enters the wreched bathroom and takes a long look at himself in the mirror. Deep down, I think he knew why he was here.

LUKE: What’s in there?

YODA: Only what you take with you…

None of the other games had this particular take on the town. In the other iterations of the series, the town is clearly filled with evil powers. I enjoyed this game. It was deep and interesting, and had a very new take on the classic survival horror formula.



 
 
Comments (105)

1 2

  1. mike says:

    hi just finished the game, my take is that James kills Mary , then kills himself. After james death, silent hill is his judgement where he faces his personal demonds in the form of people and creatures he meets, each representing a personified feeling he feels- self loathing, suicidal, love of life, fear, hate etc. he then either finds his personal “heaven” in the good ending where he continues his “life” (he is still dead!)in a way that makes him happy and honours mary’s life by adopting laura, or… he does not find his redemption and instead finds a personal hell by having to re-live his most miserable years of his life yet again with maria. The 3rd option you mention the water ending i believe he has not found a heavon or hell but instead commits suicide again dooming himself to relive the journey of the game again, a kind of state of limbo.

  2. bachi says:

    Sorry. I just have to comment one thing. The moster that angela is fighting is not a black door. It´s a bed including one big and one small human.

  3. Aether says:

    Silent Hill is a town built on top of a sort of ‘Hot Spot’ of energy, which reading other posts seems to be caused by a god which is buried there and was awakened by something, perhaps the cult that worships it and it’s acts? The ‘fog world'(which is the state of existence with massive amounts of, you guessed it, fog)is an in between, that exists on the cusp of worlds, or planes, dimensions, or what ever you’d like to call the separate existences, that is shaped by whoever views it(which leads me to believe that if you were to free your mind from ego you would only see the ‘monsters’ as their true forms, whatever they may be. While the ‘Other World'(the world with highly disturbing and decayed environments, as well as very little, if any light)is a place controlled by dark things which shape the world, feeding off of people that are highly ‘charged'(psychics, those with severe emotional trauma, or really anyone they can exploit).

  4. Yellow Kitsune says:

    I like this interpretation. Also, the way that you alternately interpreted the sub-characters as part of James’s psyche was interesting. Although, I think mentioning the room that Angela was in when the creature that she thought was her dad would also be important. The holes in the wall and her dialogue after you kill the creature seem to elude to her being abused not only physically, but sexually. I’m just going off of the imagery and her dialogue. It seems to fit, but I have no other way to confirm such a claim.

  5. Morganator says:

    Implying silent hill 2 is all in James’s head is complete bullsh*t, The town is full of evil power in every game and there’s even the”red god” xuchilpaba or whatever mentioned in silent hill 2 so there’s clearly some kind of supernatural phenomenon going on in SH2 the same as the others. The people saying the “god” is buried under the ground are misinformed aswell, It’s not buried or physically under the ground, it’s just worshipped and more likely watching over the town. the “god” fought at the end of 1 is just another demon conjured up, not a god at all. I don’t consider anything after 4 as cannon anyway seen as they’re garbage. Plus the whole cult/alessa thing is f8cking overused and repetitive. SH2 keeps the cult business at a bare minimum which was good and tells you about the past of the town and why all the weird stuff happens,while the original game told you absolutely nothing about the town instead it’s just all Alessa alessa alessa ZzZzzz* yawn.

  6. ChuckBuried says:

    Great analysis, I honestly never get sick of reading different folks’ impressions of Silent Hill 2. Allow me to leave my incredibly belated contributions that probably won’t be read by anyone!

    I’m more or less with you on everything there, with one difference that sort of helps explain the “how is Laura getting by all alone in this abandoned town?” issue without her being another manifestation.

    A bit of background refreshing first: Silent Hill is a town of weird energies. SH3 tells us that native Americans worshiped here before settlers arrived, because it was a place of great power. Not good or evil power, just great spiritual power (I believe they referred to it as the hills of the silent spirits). Actions by early settlers and the latter Civil War prison, and obviously the cult that formed corrupted and ruined this spiritual energy.

    I am of the opinion that there’s been a spiritual other-world long, long before Alessa opened the doors on it. It wasn’t always so nasty and dangerous, and any ‘dark gods’ or ‘devils’ that the cult has been worshiping were simply other manifestations of the town’s power. You believe something in Silent Hill and boom there it is. The darker the belief the better.

    You may ask what does this have to do with Laura? WELL, since I believe that the Otherworld has always been there, I don’t believe that there was ever a point where Silent Hill was abandoned and turned into a ghost town (movie be damned). It’s still a place where people live. There’s still probably a hustle and bustle. But people who ‘trip’ into it (Cybil more or less, innocents who just sort of end up their by accident) being drawn to the town either by their own dark pasts, or from cults or some such (basically anybody who’s ever been the protagonist of a Silent Hill game) enter Silent Hill through a trap door of sorts. They end up funneled into a place that at first glance looks like the same town, but isn’t.

    So both Foggy nightmare Silent Hill and Grungy Blood Stained Nightmare With a Capital N Silent Hill are the same pace, that is to say not the same place that everybody else is. They’re just two different manifestations subject to the moods or will of the victims/controllers of the town.

    Now back to Laura. Laura’s actually in the real world. For all she knows, Silent Hill’s a pretty safe place. But she ‘trips’ into the Otherworld when James gets to town, because of her connection to Mary and James’ inner guilt. That’s why she can be some random orphan surviving in a deserted town, because the town’s not really deserted for her most of the time. And how long is James in the town, really? Doesn’t seem like a long time.

    I didn’t pull this whole “REAL world” Silent Hill thing out of my ass mind you. There really are hints throughout all the games that the town’s still inhabited on some level. For one, no one ever refers to the town as a known ghost town, no one not part of the town ever expresses knowledge of the town being abandoned or wonder as to what happened there and where did everybody go. People and newspaper clippings mention stories of weird occurrences in the town, strange a’happenings, but never anything as large as everyone disappearing.

    Cars look older yes. But the Otherworld is probably frozen in some snapshot of when the whole SH1 Harry debacle went down (which was in the late seventies/early eighties I believe?). And do we even have a set time frame for the events of SH2? For all I know, it could’ve happened right after/concurrently with the events of SH1. I don’t particularly remember any telltale fashions or technologies or clippings giving us the rough time frame of SH2, but I could definitely be wrong. As far as why Silent Hill’s always boarded up… that’s a good question. A real good question. But I choose to not think TOO much on it because it’s such a little thing and only gets in the way only slightly of a fairly solid theory.

    But yeah, deep breath, kudos, good article!

    PS: I obtained the In Water ending first time through, on accident. For my money it seems like the most proper ending, albeit pretty dark.

  7. Alex says:

    Shamus… that wasn’t a black door attacking Angela. This may be my own interpretations interfering but it appeared to me to be a rather phallic looking thing, hunched over something and writhing around on a bed frame. Kinda like an abstraction of rape and abuse.

  8. […] the entire day playing SH2.  It really is as good as everyone says; I’m loving every minute of it.  Slowly building dread is far more up my […]

    • leo says:

      When you go to the Silent Hill Historical Society, you see a Pyramid Head painting. And he is the guy that kills that bad guys (prisoners) (like u see in the painting, he is an executioner of the civil war prisioners(i think…)). So, james saw this painting before and imagine that he is been pursued by pyramid head (cause james knows he is bad and he has to pay). And, when pyramid is not trying to kill james, he kills maria (to make james suffer).

      • Nicole says:

        I don’t think he killed Maria to make James suffer… I think that Pyramid Head is a reflection of James because of the fact that he kills Maria over and over again to relfect on James murdering Mary.

  9. Leonard says:

    Maria is not (only) a manifestation of James’ wish. Who’d want a wife who lashes out on you every now and again? I think she is a mixture of his wish and his fear, or rather than fear, his memories of her behaviour during the later phase of her illness. Remember the letter and how she said she was sorry for everything she put him through and how she struck out at people she loved the most. She is undoubtedly a product of his mind (she has Mary’s memories) and all he wants is for her to be healthy, but the Maria he ultimately creates is a product of his wish and subconscious knowing that Mary is sick or dead and he’s not getting her back ever again. Btw. fantastic analysis

  10. James Cumberland says:

    @ Chuckburied Douglas in SH3 even says “what happened to this place? it used to be such a nice quiet little town but now..” or something similar, not to mention people did just vanish in silent hill e.g “THE LITTLE BARONESS” and settlers who abandoned the town for the second or third time round.Also is James even aware of everything that happened in the first game? In fact is anyone except the cult and Harry/heather aware of what happened.

  11. Nicole says:

    When I played SH2 and got to the part with Angela and the “doorman” I saw the doorman as a rapeist… if you look really closely it looks like someone being smothered by someone else. I think it is the true symbol for Angela’s relationship with her father.

  12. googoo says:

    I love how all the weird analysises about the “hole” in Silent Hill 2 never focuses on the most obvious one… because James’ wife was sick or whatever, too sick to have sex, James couldn’t stick it in her holes. Crude but true.

  13. James says:

    I just finished SH2 and thought it was amazing!
    I agree for the most part about the characters not being real and just a part of James’ sub-concsious. It also seemed really strange that so many people were visiting the town at the same time (James, Eddie, Maria, Angela, Laura), so I think they were, in a way, connected.

  14. Anis says:

    i havent fully played the game, but ive read a lot about it and i find its story extremely interesting and intriguing. i think that Eddie and Angela are real people who came back to Silent Hill just like James was to face their demons, but not Laura. I think that the town manifests people’s demons but does so to help them face them. i think Laura is some form of angel, maybe a part of the town but maybe not. She’s there to help the people successfully face their demons as she shows up with Eddie in a happy environment and with James when he watches the tape of him killing his wife.

  15. Jack says:

    Hi all, fantastic analysis btw =]. Ive re-visited the game with the HD collection (original voices of course, they didnt need new ones!)

    I played it when it first came out as a kid and never understood it well enough but now ive re-played it, i see how much of a masterpiece this game truly is! It is by far the most tear jerking storyline ive ever encountered in a game. (im a big softie :P) The best ending in my opinion is the ‘leave ending’ because james is forgiven by mary and she tells him to move on.

    This game will be a future classic, although already being re-visited by many people who will enjoy it too.

    Silent hill 2 for me is pure quality and always will be. Thanks for reading =] – Jack

  16. ROJAK says:

    wow what a great and detailed explanation about SH2.

  17. Gravity says:

    Very interesting analysis.I would like to add something that I think I spotted as well which is very cool.In the hospital when you are with Maria and Pyramid head is chasing you in that long,sort of twisty hallway something is very strange.When you are trying to escape from PH, you always end up hitting the wall in turns.I think this was very ironic as PH kills maria at the end of that scene as well.

  18. […] The slow pace, dark tone, surreal storytelling and emotionally damaged characters remind me of Silent Hill 2, although The Path‘s plot is not as detailed nor as cleanly “solvable.” […]

  19. rc says:

    Just finished the game didn’t take me long as it is very good.

    Personally I feel that whatever ending you get is the real ending as it is based on what you do in the game

    As for the charchters eddie angela and laura are real I think that they all fail their purpose for being there except james and laura, as eddie goes crazy and gets killed instead of becoming freinds with james and laura, who treat him well in all conversations. and angela commits sucide rather than forgiving herself

    Laura is real but sees an empty town as she is there to find Mary and dosent have any demons to face.

    Pyramid head reflects james and maria reflects mary, maria is frequently killed by pyramid head as a way of showing james what he has done.

    Fianlly with the endings he can leave with Laura as she is real, he can kill himself as I feel the events are actually happening (or he is imagining the monsters) but he is alive during the game. And he can leave with maria but she is just his imaganation, when she coughs at the end this signifes that she is also ill meaning that she will die/james will kill here and have to relive it other again. It is another form of punishement and could result in him going round in circles constantly returning to silent hill.

    Also i recomend you watch the comedy endings there on youtube if you dont want to repaly)
    the dog one is funny and the ufo one explains (sort of) what happened to Harry

    As for the resurection ending I think he does reserect her and they leave together (however he could also be crazy/resurect a demon)

  20. accidentprone says:

    I think Silent Hill is a form of purgatory and every character who enters Silent Hill had died before hand. The endings being their redemption into the afterlife?…all SH games have multiple endings, and can’t die just reload ;-P.
    Anyways Car crashes seem to be the way to go…(Harry, Cybil, Murphy) and James (suicide?) Etc.
    Laura could be able tour town freely maybe because shes like the kid from the sixth sense and see’s dead people. She’s living peacefully in the real world looking for her dead friend Mary whom she met in the hospital year before. Laura could of had a near death experience allowing her to see dead people during her stay in the hospital…or maybe she’s just dead to…
    Where as Eddie, Angela, and James are all dead, battling there personal demons in purgatory silent hill until they reach the afterlife.
    Food for thought!

  21. […] in the best possible way. Shamus Young has a rather neat plot analysis over on his personal site and Twin Perfect have collected every reason not to buy the HD collection as part of their […]

  22. Dementy says:

    It’s 7am and I have just completed the game with the “leave” ending… In two days, haven’t even got the lap top away from me for all that time, the game is truly genial and so emotional. Very deep review, altough I was looking for a review on other ending possibilities. I find this a bonding experience, that storyline is killer. Anyway, this just made me want to save my marriage, kind of faced my own inner demons through James. It’s amazing what an impact on your future a game can have… Glad I didn’t start reading Lovecraft over playing this.

  23. Tom says:

    I like the observation that the disease “made the normally gentle and kind Mary angry and irrational. Near the end she was demanding and awful to behold.” It describes why I think there is some sympathy to be had for James even after the murder is revealed.

    This is especially shown in the flashback conversation between James and Mary right near the end of the game. We hear that he brings her flowers but she rejects them scornfully. I think the flowers are a sweet gesture which is meant to show us one example of how James tried his best.

    Yes, he apparently walks out when Mary tries to apologize, but she may have acted hurtfully towards him for a long time before this conversation (Some other examples of his caring – the flashback conversation between James and a doctor, and when James says that he read countless medical books that never did any good).

    I think James may have truly loved Mary. He may have done his best for her for a long time, only to be helpless as her physical and mental condition deteriorated. I can only imagine how hard it must be when a significant other gradually succumbs to disease.

    It seemed he murdered her after she had deteriorated into a completely different person, and a cocktail of emotions made him snap for a moment. It reveals he is capable of murder and there is no condoning that, but he feels terrible about it and we are made to imagine his plight.

  24. rachell says:

    I find it very interesting, that we don’t really know if these other people were real or just made up by James’ mind.
    But I think they were representations of different aspects of James.
    By going on what each person represented, and then seeing the sequence in which they all died, it shows his process of coming to terms with what he did and what he needs to do to recover and move on. It started with James killing his anger and resentment of others, his guilt and self-loathing, his delusion of a “better” wife, and all that’s left is his clear understanding and acceptance of everything. Which may be why Laura leaves with James in the good ending.
    That also might explain why Laura happens to know Mary, says she had stayed or lived along with Mary in the hospital (and conveniently is an orphan, so no parents to visit or check on her), and knew that James wasn’t good to Mary somehow. Because she is the little voice inside him that knows the very reasons why he’s there.

  25. Michaela says:

    Hello, Michaela here, I’m playing SH2 in the HD collection as we speak. I love the analysis on this game. Wonderful! Could you possibly Do one on Sh 1-8 (not counting 2) I’m wondering if all the games somehow tie together.. (i know 2 doesn’t with 1 and 3). You should also add monster details. like what the “closer” resembles in Heather’s “silent hill” and so on. I’ve been looking for a good detailed Analysis on the games and monsters, and i believe you’d be the one to do it!! Thanks, Michaela P.S Please if you know of any good sites that have what i’m looking for click on my name it’ll bring you to my facebook page, and inbox me. I’d love to read them :D

  26. Mr Hertz says:

    I just finished this game today, and I just came by to thank for the analysis. Very good text and things make more sesame now.

    My ending was under water, and as I was plagued by the faulty and old gameplay, and at the moment I was kinda fed up with corridors and monsters, it was a bit of a relief to finish it.

    As much as I hate characters ending bad on games with the best of rage, I feel that so much exposure to guilt and reasoning, my James decided to end his ride to start another.

    Generally I’m a trash man when ha gaming, so that’s why I ended getting this finale, even though the game dressing never gave me any chance to understand our have any reason of what I’d take out of my actions. But I believe that was part of the plan to make the player do several runs and discover more bits and pieces and finally have the full experience of the game.

    That mindset fits 11 years ago, but not today, as producers take more care today, and the general understanding of game design has changed as well.

    I just told myself I won’t play old games on hard again…

  27. Alessa says:

    Great analysis! I just finished this old game and this is the first time I ever read this review, very interesting.

    I don’t quite agree with your brother’s version though, I think Laura, Angela and Eddie are all real person. For one thing, they all have particular reasons/demons of their own, Angela was sexually abused by her father, Eddie was bullied, Laura in my imagination is probably an orphan, that’s why she’s so determined to find Mary, the one person who treated her like her own child.
    These are obviously not James’ reasons/demons, they’re way too specific.

    I do agree that the monsters they encountered are reflections of their own guilt/sin on some level, but I also believe that the town itself is also evil. People who are haunted by guilt, (like James) people who have dark desires (like Angela and Eddie) are counted as it’s prey and are drawn to it. They came to Silent Hill, got affected by it’s power and then fall into an illusion filled with the darkness inside their minds.
    Laura on the other hand, probably just live there, it’s just that her reality also somehow intertwined with Eddie’s and James’.

    As you(or someone else?) mentioned, the town itself didn’t kill anyone, people only died when they failed to fight against their own demons. In Laura’s case, one possibility is that she just lives in this town and her reality is a normal one, or maybe because she is an innocent little girl and the dark effect isn’t strong on her. When James asked her how she could hanging around without getting a scratch on her, she was puzzled and said: ” Why should I?” like to her there’s nothing wrong with the place at all. Btw, Laura is also definitely not an “angel”, she actually behaved quite poorly around Eddie and James, (even might be a trigger to Eddie’s issues) she’s just an ordinary naughty little girl.

    The last thing to back this theory up is at some point Eddie told James that they’re just the same (’cause they both have serious issues) and are not like other people, that’s why the town “called them”. I think the statement is pretty plain.

    I apologize if my article is hard to read, English is not my first language but I’ve tried my best.

  28. Crypticify says:

    Just beat the game. What an experience ! The atmosphere and story is a complete mind bender. I got the leave ending but I also explored the other endings. I think in water makes most sense since there were hints throughout the game that James needed to die. Like the dead guy in front of the static tv in the early part of the game, writing on the bar wall, the three nooses in the gallows, the grave through which James has to go down…it just makes sense that James decides to not live with the guilt and finally find some peace in death…

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5 Trackbacks

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    […] The slow pace, dark tone, surreal storytelling and emotionally damaged characters remind me of Silent Hill 2, although The Path‘s plot is not as detailed nor as cleanly “solvable.” […]

  3. By Silent Hill 2: A Retrospective « Snacked Up on Friday Nov 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

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