In my last article I talked about how I’m growing out of video games. However, that doesn’t mean I have any sort of dislike towards it as a medium. My passion revolves around video games, not the culture or the hobby of playing them, but rather the idea of what games can be and mean to people. To many unfamiliar with them, games are toys. I can see this point of view, because just like toys, games are meant to be fun. But recently I played Silent Hill 2, which is the least fun I’ve had playing a video game, yet it’s one of the most engaging experiences I’ve ever had. It’s one I will cherish for a long time. Even maybe the one I’ll cherish the most the longest; I don’t look away from that. This is not a review, but rather a love letter to it. That’s because Silent Hill 2 taught me what video games truly means to me, as well as a couple of things about myself. Which, for the record, is something no other game has ever managed to do to me.
We’ve all experienced different emotions while playing a game. Either it be the simple joy of winning a round of Uno, or what I can only describe as negative emotional turmoil; which is what Silent Hill 2 gave me. It’s a horror game, but it’s not scary in the horror way. It’s scary in the really, really good way. It’s clever about its spooks. The jumpscares for example, they serve a purpose. It’s scary because of the imagery, not the noise. A sudden noise is scary here as well, but more because of the shift in volume rather than a sudden existence of it. The noise is there, sure, but it’s not foreign. The fear of what lurks around every corner is just the fear of it itself, whatever it is.
But I want to talk a little bit about that Silent Hill 2 made me feel several feelings I’ve never felt at the same time before. I’ve never been so split as I was here. Not about the game, but with myself after I turned the game off each day. The gimmick of Silent Hill, the town, is that it attracts people who’ve sinned. All the characters are in Silent Hill because of a sin they’ve committed, at least in Silent Hill 2. There’s a lot of symbolism here that made me think a lot, especially in regards to the monsters and tasks you’re given. One riddle put me so off I had to pause the game and take a break. Not because it was hard or anything, just because of the theme of the riddle. The game’s unsettling moments are unsettling because of the themes and meanings. It’s shocking without pure shock value. The shock value comes from the meaning, message and theme, and not the imagery. Unlike the type of shock value you’d see someone share on Facebook, in Silent Hill, the shock doesn’t come until later on.
It’s difficult, writing about Silent Hill without spoiling it. As said, this isn’t a review, but a love letter; however, I still want to keep spoilers absent from this post. And so I’ll leave you with this: Silent Hill 2 taught me my greatest fear, or dread might be a better word. This game, Silent Hill 2’s theme is something I dread. The idea that the bad things I’ve done once coming to haunt me, that’s terrifying. Everyone has flaws, but the idea of them haunting us later in life is a gruesome thought. Sure, if you’ve done something morally wrong, which we all have at one point in our lives, it will have an effect on us. But the notion of them taking physical embodiments as twisted, wicked monsters, that’s simply terrifying. But that might just be me, and that a bad conscious is the feeling I hate the most. And all of this is why I, ironically enough, love Silent Hill 2. Because it made me feel feelings I haven’t really had with this medium before, without resorting to shock value or unnecessary nasty imagery. It has both of those things, but both of those things, well, they have a place in the town of Silent Hill. In Silent Hill, they’re just at home.