Silent Hill 2 is the second installment in the Silent Hill survival horror series and the first game of the series to be released for Sony PlayStation 2. The game was developed by Team Silent and published by Konami. It launched in North America on September 24th, 2001.
A more definitive version of the game, Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams, was re-released with new features on the PlayStation 2 as a "Greatest Hits" title and ported to the Xbox and PC. It is known as Silent Hill 2: Saigo no Uta ("The Final Song") in Japan, and in Europe, Silent Hill 2: Inner Fears on Xbox and Silent Hill 2: Director's Cut on PC and PS2. It features an additional UFO Ending, a new scenario called Born from a Wish, better graphics and lighting effects, and exclusive to the PC version, the ability to save anywhere, swap weapons without opening the menu, and a movie gallery.
It was later re-released in high-definition resolution with new voices, along with Silent Hill 3, for the Silent Hill HD Collection; this version was criticized for technical issues and artistic changes.
Letter from Silent Heaven
James Sunderland has arrived in the town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his wife, Mary, despite the fact that she died from a chronic disease three years ago. The letter states that Mary is waiting for James in their "special place", which confuses James, as the whole town of Silent Hill was their "special place". After leaving the town's observation deck and walking to Silent Hill, James enters a graveyard and meets Angela Orosco, a young woman who came to the town to search for her missing mother.
When James reaches Silent Hill, he discovers that it is not the same, beautiful town it was a few years ago. In addition to the bizarre, omnipresent fog, the whole town seems to be rotting away and abandoned. Macabre, vaguely humanoid creatures are roaming the streets and attempting to attack James whenever possible. When he discovers that the path to his first destination, the lakeside Rosewater Park, is blocked, James decides to pass through an apartment complex to reach what he believes could be the "special place" Mary mentioned in her letter.
Inside the apartments, James briefly encounters a little girl who steps on his hand before running away. Soon after that, he finds Pyramid Head, a humanoid monster whose head is completely obscured by a giant, metal, pyramid-shaped helmet. James later meets an overweight young man, Eddie Dombrowski, while Eddie is vomiting into one of the apartment toilets. Eddie defensively responds to questions regarding a corpse in the refrigerator of the apartment room. In another apartment complex, James finds Angela again lying in front of a large mirror, contemplating suicide with a knife in her hand. James persuades her to hand him the knife for her own safety and she flees in an unusual panic.
After James leaves the apartment complex, he finds the girl humming to herself on a grafitti-covered wall. He confronts her in frustration and she reveals to James that she knows of Mary, but then jumps off the other side of the wall before James can get more information from her. When James finally reaches Rosewater Park, he meets a woman named Maria, who appears nearly identical to his recently deceased wife Mary, but showing off more skin and possessing more of an arrogant attitude. During their time together, Maria reveals insight into matters that only he or Mary would know, and acts in a very seductive manner toward James. Maria accompanies James in his attempt to reach his second suspected "special place", the Lakeview Hotel. James enters Pete's Bowl-O-Rama where he meets Eddie again. He also spots the little girl, who runs away from James upon seeing him. Eddie then reveals to James that her name is Laura. Outside, Maria claims to have seen Laura and, out of concern for her, has James try to pursue the girl.
After passing through Heaven's Night, James and Maria see Laura enter Brookhaven Hospital. While exploring the hospital, Maria becomes sick and rests in a hospital room. James finds Laura in one of the rooms, but he becomes angry at her for claiming to have known Mary for the past year, in clear contradiction to his belief that she has been dead for three years. Laura responds by locking him in a room filled with covered monsters stuffed in hanging cages, under the pretense of looking for a letter from his wife.
After they are defeated, the hospital undergoes a sudden dramatic change to the Otherworld, where James returns to the hospital room to find Maria missing. James later finds Maria in the hospital's basement, however, Maria becomes angry, claiming that James had abandoned her. After she calms down, they continue to find Laura. Pyramid Head appears and chases both James and Maria through the hospital's basement. Pyramid Head manages to slaughter Maria while they attempt to make their escape via an elevator. Alone again and saddened by the loss of Maria, James decides to refocus on his original task of finding Mary. He leaves the hospital and finds a key buried beneath a statue in Rosewater Park, which leads him to the Silent Hill Historical Society.
The Historical Society becomes an exploration of two levels: Toluca Prison and a labyrinth in which Pyramid Head resides. In this area, James finds Maria, miraculously alive and locked in a prison cell, who greets him with memories of Mary. He tells her that he will free her, but upon reaching the other side of the cell, James discovers that she has been mysteriously murdered. From a newspaper article, James discovers that Angela killed her father, who sexually and physically abused her with the complicity of her mother. James saves Angela from a monstrous representation of her father, but she then becomes hostile towards him, claiming that James and men in general are "only after one thing" (sex). She also calls James a liar who "didn't want Mary around anymore" before leaving.
Near the end of the labyrinth, James finds Eddie who has mentally snapped after a life of verbal abuse by his peers. Eddie reveals he killed the dog of a football player and then shot the dog's owner in the leg. It becomes clear that, upon his arrival in Silent Hill, he has gone insane, perceiving everyone to be ridiculing him, and has resorted to killing anyone he encounters. He first attempts to explain the path of bodies he has left during his time in Silent Hill, but ultimately attacks James. After a battle, James kills Eddie and he feels shocked and ashamed of himself. James questions his perception of the events leading to his arrival in the town. As well, the letter that he supposedly received from Mary goes blank, indicating that the letter itself was something that never actually existed. James exits the labyrinth and takes a boat to the Lakeview Hotel in hopes of finding Mary.
In the hotel's restaurant, James finds Laura and she gives him the letter she claimed to be seeking earlier, which reveals that Mary wanted to adopt her while confirming Laura's claims of knowing Mary for the past year. In Room 312, James watches a video tape he apparently left at the hotel three years ago, which shows that he killed his terminally ill wife by smothering her with a pillow. Laura, ready to leave the town, finds James and he chooses to reveal the truth to her. Laura is angered at him for killing Mary, then silently exits the room. The radio James has been carrying to warn him of the approach of monsters then sends a message from Mary, asking him to find her.
James explores the rest of the hotel, discovering that it is decrepit and rotting, and is now nothing more than the remains of a building that has experienced a fire. James then finds Angela on a burning staircase, and she asks him to return her knife so that she can suicide, to which James declines. As Angela ascends the burning staircase, James states that the room is hot as hell, to which she replies, "For me, it's always like this", meaning that her life was always a living hell. Angela disappears past the flames, killing herself off-screen.
In the hotel lobby, James finds Maria resurrected again, bound and screaming for James's help, but she is immediately killed by two Pyramid Heads. James then realizes that they have been created to punish him for his sins, and fights the two Pyramid Heads. After they are severely weakened, they suicide with their own spears, as if to indicate that their purpose has been fulfilled.
James is led to a hallway where he listens to a previous conversation that he and Mary had while she was still alive; in this conversation, James brought Mary some flowers, but she did not accept them, stating that she is too disgusting to deserve flowers and yelling furiously at James. At the end of this conversation, Mary desperately pleads for James to be with her. James then enters a large metallic complex with a long staircase. At the top of this staircase, on the roof, he finds a woman resembling Mary who transforms into a monster after becoming angered by James. James defeats this final demon and the game comes to a close.
Silent Hill 2 does not have an explicitly known canonical ending. Silent Hill 4: The Room revealed that James disappeared when he went to Silent Hill. Official statements from developers have kept the canonicity of the ending ambiguous.
The final version of the game has a total of six possible endings; three of which can be achieved on the first playthrough (Leave/In Water/Maria), and three others (Rebirth/Dog/UFO) enabled by acquiring new items on replays.
- Leave: The woman in the room is Maria once again, making a final attempt to get James to take her. James rebuffs her, however, and she turns into a monster similar to the hanging monsters in the hospital, becoming the final boss. Upon her defeat, James is granted a final meeting with Mary, who gives him her letter. James leaves Silent Hill together with Laura. The ending song is "Overdose Delusion".
- Keep health high. Heal frequently if James is injured.
- Check Mary's photo and letter.
- Don't spend too much time with Maria.
- In Lakeview Hotel, listen to the headphones and the hallway conversation.
- In Water: The woman in the room is Maria once again, making a final attempt to get James to take her. James rebuffs her, however, and she turns into a monster similar to the hanging monsters in the hospital, becoming the final boss. Upon her defeat, James is granted a final meeting with Mary, but Mary dies again. James then drowns himself by driving into Toluca Lake with his wife's corpse so they can be together in death. The ending song is "Angel's Thanatos".
- Keep health low. If James is injured, do not heal immediately.
- Check Angela's knife.
- Read the patient's diary on Brookhaven's roof, and the second letter to James in Neely's Bar.
- In Lakeview Hotel, listen to the headphones and the hallway conversation.
- Maria: If the player spends a lot of time with Maria and protects her well from monsters (including from Pyramid Head in the hospital basement), the woman in the room will be Mary, who has not forgiven James for killing her. She will then turn into the final boss, and after her defeat, James dismisses her as being just another hallucination. He then discovers Maria, inexplicably resurrected again, and leaves town with her. As they leave, however, Maria starts coughing, implying she is suffering from the same illness as Mary. The ending song is "Promise".
- Keep health high. Heal frequently if James is injured.
- Spend a lot of time with Maria and protect her from monsters. Follow her commands, and visit her when she is sick in Brookhaven Hospital. When Maria dies in the Labyrinth, attempt to re-enter the room.
- In Lakeview Hotel, do not listen to the headphones and the hallway conversation.
- Rebirth: James kills Maria. He then rows a boat with his wife's corpse to the Church of the Rebirth on Toluca Lake Island to use new objects collected in the game to resurrect Mary by confronting the "old gods of Silent Hill" with an unknown result. The ending song is "The Reverse Will".
- Dog: In the hotel, James discovers a dog, who has apparently been controlling all the events of the game from a large, cartoony computer console, beyond a locked door.
- UFO: This ending is a continuation of the UFO ending of the first game added in the re-released version, in which James is abducted by a group of aliens with the help of the first game's protagonist, Harry Mason.
- On a second playthrough, obtain the Blue Gem and use it in three locations. The first location is the Brookhaven Hospital garden, after the Flesh Lip boss fight. The second location is in front of the row boat on the dock, after the Eddie fight. The third location is in Room 312 before doing the required event there.
Born from a Wish
Prior to James's arrival in the town, Maria wakes up alone and frightened in Heaven's Night. After pondering to herself about what she should do, she eventually decides to try and find someone else in the town. She begins to wander through the streets of Silent Hill until she eventually enters the Baldwin Mansion, an area out of bounds in the main game. Here she meets the owner of the mansion, Ernest Baldwin, although she never actually sees him; all their conversations are shared between locked doors. Ernest speaks in a strange monotone, and asks her to find the "white liquid" to help him bring back his dead daughter, Amy. Maria helps him with this, even though it may not work, stating: "I don't mind fighting for an impossible cause."
During Maria's exploration of the mansion, she finds a teddy bear in Amy's room. Maria comments that Laura would love it, showing that she shares some of Mary's memories.
After Maria brings back the "white liquid" to Ernest, he reveals slightly more about Maria to her, and tells her about a man named James Sunderland. He warns Maria that James is a bad man, and that he's looking for "the you that isn't you". This seems to stir something in Maria, who begins to remember things about James; that he wasn't good to his wife while she was ill and that he killed her. She also remembers that underneath, James is a kind person. Maria then opens the door, but the room where Ernest is in is empty, implying he was a ghost.
Disappointed, Maria leaves the Baldwin Mansion and considers suicide, holding her revolver against her head, but refrains and tosses it over a wall. She decides to follow her fate and walks to Rosewater Park, hoping that James will accept her.
Gameplay in Silent Hill 2 is almost identical to the first game, which includes exploring Silent Hill with a flashlight and radio, while defeating monsters and solving puzzles along the way. Many of the environments are dark, and the flashlight is often the only source of light. The radio James receives detects monsters when they are nearby by emitting static and notifying the player of their presence. James will find many helpful items on his journey, and without collecting specific items, the player cannot progress through the game. If James takes too much damage from an enemy, he will die, leading to a "game over" screen. The tank controls in the first game are optional in Silent Hill 2 and the player can choose their preferred control scheme.
When a monster appears, the player will have to make a choice on whether to fight or flee. Both options work well in different scenarios; for example, in a narrow hallway, the better option would be to fight, but in a large open area, the better option would be to run away. Even if James flees from an enemy, he is still vulnerable to attacks; however, if James turns his flashlight off, this is less likely to happen.
Upon reaching Rosewater Park, Maria will accompany James. She will follow James and is unable to defend herself because she has no weapon. It becomes James's responsibility to protect her from any monsters. If Maria dies by taking too much damage from enemies or if James kills her, the game will lead to a "game over" screen. Even if Maria is very far away from James when he enters a door, she will appear right next to James in the next area, unlike Eileen Galvin.
- Main article: Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtracks
Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtracks was released in Japan on October 3rd, 2001, by Konami Music Entertainment, Inc. The album contains 30 musical tracks from the game composed by Akira Yamaoka, some in-game and some exclusive to the album, and are completely instrumental. The soundtrack was re-released in Europe as Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtrack the same year. The CD was packed in a jewel case inserted in a paper box with different cover art.
Influences and design
The atmosphere of the game is for the most part similar to the first Silent Hill, including the abandoned and/or decomposing look of the town and the persistent fog obscuring the streets, but it has been given a more psychological twist. One example of this is James's letter from Mary, which progressively disappears during the game hinting, as Konami later confirmed, that the letter was not real and merely another part of James's hallucinations. The implication is that, as James slowly began to understand what he had done, the illusions of the town begin to disappear. This could also be the explanation for the transformation of the hotel, as when James enters it is mostly intact, but after he sees the videotape he finds it reverts to its true form: a mostly burned-out structure. Other acknowledged attempts to induce a psychological influence on the game include placing Mary's dress in the room where James discovers the flashlight and modeling at least two corpses in the town after James.
The monsters in the game, as well as being more humanoid in design than their counterparts in the preceding Silent Hill game, are acknowledged to have been, for the most part, designed as a reflection of James's own subconscious. At least two creatures, the Mannequin and Bubble Head Nurse, are acknowledged to have been created with sexual suggestion in mind; a reflection of James's carnal desires and likely sexual deprivation during Mary's illness. Pyramid Head is acknowledged to have been based upon the executioners of the town's fictional history and is intended to be a punisher for James. Two exceptions to this theme are the Abstract Daddy, a reflection of the subconscious memories of Angela, and the Creepers, which are also seen in the first game.
Silent Hill 2 also references real-life events. The creators have said that the name "Mary" came from Mary Ann Nichols and Mary Jane Kelly, Jack the Ripper's first and last victims, respectively. Other observers have claimed that Maria's outfit was copied from Christina Aguilera's appearance at the 1999 Teen Choice Awards. Eddie Dombrowski's name was taken from actor Eddie Murphy back during the beginning phases of production when Eddie was originally designed with a pleasantly optimistic personality. The name of Angela Orosco was derived from Angela Bennett, the protagonist of the film The Net, and Laura's from the novel No Language but a Cry by author Richard D'Ambrosio. There are also indications that the layout of Silent Hill has been based on the town of San Bruno, California, to a certain extent.
Reaction to the game was generally favorable. The PlayStation 2 version has a 89 on Metacritic.
The deep, emotional, provocative psychological storyline, atmosphere and music of the game was well-praised. The story touches on "taboo" subjects, stigmatized and mature themes such as pain and suffering, loneliness, abuse, trauma, occultism, existentialism, morality, rape, incest, domestic violence, death, alcoholism, relationship issues, murder, suicide, euthanasia, the right to die, bullying, body image, grief, depression and mental illness, but tries to do so in a mature fashion, pushing the bar for survival horror games and storytelling and art direction in video games.
Many fans consider Silent Hill 2 to be a survival horror masterpiece and classic, proving that video games aren't just a "juvenile hobby for children", but can tell mature adult-oriented stories and be a medium and outlet for interactive art, emotion and expression, and aren't always a "winning/losing" binary dichotomy.
Silent Hill 2 slightly strays away from the Order, and themes of occultism and religion. Although there are still hints and traces of it, there's a lesser focus compared to the first game. James, Angela and Eddie may be agnostic or atheist because they don't mention any deities or religious context during the game.
The gameplay and combat received some slight negative feedback. Some of the voice acting was criticized, although some fans argue that the "stilted" and "awkward" voice acting helped portray the cast as "damaged".
- For the game's booth during E3 2001, a mannequin of James and Laura on top of a wall was displayed.
- The streets and buildings were inspired and named after real writers, stores, and locations.
- Angela Orosco appears on the North American game cover.
- Akira Yamaoka took recordings of over 100 footsteps for the game. In "Making of Silent Hill 2", he states that this was to add variety and to avoid redundancy. He also claims that silence is a sound all its own, and the footsteps were meant to contribute to the eerie silence.
- Many ambient sounds in the game are random, meaning the sound design tends to be different every playthrough. For example, there are random chances of the player hearing footsteps, whispering, glass shattering, breathing, crying, screaming, and a pig squealing.
- Like Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2 had some things changed or edited due to graphic violence and/or nausea-inducing scenes in-game. For example: James's original attacks included dismembering limbs of the monsters, but was changed to melee and ranged weapons attack without the additional violence. Eddie's original vomiting scene was much more intense, both graphically and audibly. The second part of the videotape viewed in the hotel originally had audio accompanying it, however, it was left out in the final cut of the game.
- When James talks to Maria through the cell bars, the scene is intentionally shot in a way that makes it look like James is also inside a cell.
- A calendar in the game implies the game takes place in 1994, though the calendar may not be fully reliable and may not coincide with the actual intended year for the game.
- In the town of Silent Hill, southeast to Rosewater Park, there is a building entitled St. Stella Church, named after the Catholic Saint Stella. It comes from the Latin name "Stella Maris", which translates to "Star of the Sea", and is part of the title "Our Lady, Star of the Sea", which happens to be the ancient title of the revered Virgin Mary. This could easily be a connection to Mary Sunderland.
- Many of the facial animations in the game are not motion captured and are manually animated.
Born from a Wish
|Silent Hill games|
|Main series||Silent Hill · 2 · 3 · 4 · Origins · Homecoming · Shattered Memories · Downpour|
|Ports / Adaptations||Play Novel · Mobile · HD Collection|
|Spin-offs||The Arcade · Orphan · Orphan 2 · Orphan 3 · The Escape · Book of Memories|
|Cancelled||Silent Hills (P.T.)|
|Production||Konami · Team Silent · Climax Studios · Double Helix · Vatra Games · WayForward|
|Extras||Inspirations · Features|