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In my restless dreams, I see that town. Silent Hill. You promised you'd take me there again someday, But you never did. Well I'm alone there now... In our "special place"... Waiting for you...
James Sunderland receives a letter from his wife, Mary, that begs him to meet her in their "special place" in Silent Hill, a resort town they visited together once on vacation.He just has one small problem with the letter: Mary has been dead for years.James travels to Silent Hill, despite knowing for sure that his wife has died, to discover who wrote the letter and why they sent it. He arrives to discover a seemingly-abandoned town shrouded in a perpetual fog — a far cry from the resort town he remembers. During his exploration of Silent Hill, James meets several people who may or may not have a connection to the letter: Angela, a disturbed runaway; Eddie, a psychopathic slob; Laura, a young girl who seems to know Mary and bears a grudge against James; and Maria, a stripper with a remarkable resemblance to Mary who begs James to protect her.James eventually discovers that his journey through Silent Hill has a very personal slant, as the town forces him to confront his fears, vices, and guilt via a number of increasingly-symbolic monsters, most notably Pyramid Head (a muscular butcher in a pyramid-shaped helmet who rapes his fellow monsters and murders Maria over and over).Both fans and critics alike regard Silent Hill 2, the second game in the Silent Hill franchise, as the series' apex for both its intensly psychological storyline and the much-improved gameplay. The game also features Multiple Endings based on James' general behavior throughout the story (rather than on specific choices at certain junctions).
Silent Hill 2 offers up these tropes; they're waiting for you:
Abusive Parents: Angela's parents. Daddy was sexually abusive, Mommy said she deserved it.
Adult Fear: A man has been deeply changed by his wife's early death. The fact that James killed her is another Adult Fear: the fear of failing a loved one and of selfishness. James's guilt is overwhelming, hence his punishment. Due to his wife's long sickness James is also sexually frustrated, and angry and guilty enough about it that the town creates a physical manifestation of his dark impulses toward sexual violence.
Amnesiac Dissonance: One of the characters eventually discovers something about themselves that they tried to deny. Which one? James. He suffocated Mary before her illness could kill her and repressed his memory of doing so.
Another Side, Another Story: The "Born from a Wish" sub-scenario in the collector's edition, where you play as Maria just before she meets James out by Toluca Lake.
Apocalyptic Log: Early in the game, James finds a series of notes written by a dead man, which chronicle his experiences with the monsters and tips on how to deal with them. Chillingly, the second-to-last note say only "Run away." The last only features more repetitions of "Run away!"
Pyramid Head is explicitly made from part of James' damaged psyche. Doesn't stop him from showing up in later games that have absolutely nothing to do with James.
The Abstract Daddy is sprung from Angela's psyche. When it reappears as a Degraded Boss, Angela is nowhere to be found, though this can be explained by the Abstract Daddy having symbolism that can also be interpreted as one of James' fears.
Awesome but Impractical: The Great Knife, if you can land a hit, does enormous damage, and you'll feel as dreaded as its owner with it in your hands. The downside is that there's a good reason Pyramid Head is so slow. James can't even lift the damn thing completely when he's carrying it, only drag it along the ground. Now try making an attack, James!
However, one fun thing to do with the Great Knife: Equip it, turn off your flashlight, and walk around. The monsters will run in fear.
Maria's is James' confusing her with Mary, which is strange, considering she does it occasionally.
President Evil's plot guide, analyzing the "Born from a Wish" sub-scenario, suggests that Maria doesn't have any identity outside of "surrogate Mary" — and she realizes this. It confuses and hurts her that her only purpose in life seems to be to torture some sad and lonely dude that she's never met before by representing his dead wife. She can'tnotconfuse herself with Mary, but it still hurts her when she and others do.
BFS: The Great Knife. Unusually, the game realistically portrays how impractical such a weapon would be in real life — James drags it as he walks, and has to struggle to even lift it for a strike. Pyramid Head himself even drags it along slowly and takes a while to do the overhand swing.
Big Bad: Arguably James himself. Or, more specifically, his repressed guilt brought to life by the town. Come on, guess.
Boss Corridor: The final hallway to Mary's room. As with most things, the time you linger in this hall affects the ending. A similar hallway, this one lined with newspaper murder headlines, precedes the Doorman/Abstract Daddy.
Another takes you into the depths of the earth to find a psychotic Eddy.
Chekhov's Gun: Angela's knife, which James obtains after the cutscene in the Blue Creek Apartments, is sort of a Chekhov's gun. Frequently looking at this item in the inventory and allowing James' health to get low will result in the "In Water" ending, in which James commits suicide. Sort of because, though the knife isn't used in the actual act, it is implicated in suicidal ideation.
In the Brookhaven hospital, James finds a Dry Cell Battery. Later, in the Silent Hill Historical Society, he has to use it because his flashlight suddenly goes out after finding a key.
Crusading Widower: James being a particularly dark example; his single-minded fixation on the search for his dead wife is a result of the fact that he killed her himself. In one ending, this crusade culminates in his suicide.
James came to Silent Hill with the intention of committing suicide, although he only goes through with it in the In Water ending. Quite literally.
Angela, although it's slightly ambiguous, as it's not certain that she and James are seeing the same things.
"You can see it too? For me, it's always like this..." They were seeing the same thing, just for that moment.
Dual Boss: The final time Pyramid Head appears, James had to deal with two of them. Like always, they are invulnerable to anything you have available, but if James avoids their attacks long enough, they'll accidentally kill each other.
Elevator Snare: Lucky for James. Not so much for Maria. In fact, the closing of the doors seems triggered to make James see the full grisly consequences of his self-preservation.
Foreshadowing: Partway through the Labyrinth, James comes across a graveyard with Graves for himself, Eddie, and Angela. Eddie always dies, Angela's fate is left ambiguous, and James can die depending on the ending.
Fetish Fuel: Maria. She was literally created to be this, in-universe.
Four Is Death: The fourth time that James meets Eddie and Angela, they die.
Hellevator: The lift that marks the end of Toluca Prison and the start of the Labyrinth. The doors close by themselves, and it's a ride downwards at a reasonable speed that takes a full minute to be completed.
During a long ride in the hospital elevator, James' radio picks up a macabre game show, complete with wacky host.
Here We Go Again: The "Maria" ending implies that Maria will end up suffering the same fate as Mary.
Hopeless Boss Fight: Every actual fight with Pyramid Head is like this. The only way to "win" is to avoid him long enough to escape.
Implacable Man: Pyramid Head. No amount of damage can harm him, and he often appears without a cutscene, providing an excellent source of Paranoia Fuel, especially in the basement of the hospital, when you realize oh God he's right behind me. All you can do is run.
In Name Only: The game has nothing at all to do with the first game other than sharing a general setting and the concept of a place reflecting elements of a person's psyche. The evil cult, present in many other titles and usually central to their plots, is entirely absent here aside from some very vague references.
Ink-Suit Actor: James' appearance is based off of his voice actor, Guy Cihi. Cihi also did the motion capture for James.
I Never Told You My Name: Maria calls James by name in spite of the fact that he never introduces himself. James never comments on this or responds to it in any way, and it's far from the only knowledge she should not have and yet does.
Angela. Throughout the game, it is hinted at that she was sexually abused by her father. A newspaper article that James finds later more or less confirms that she killed him, possibly in self-defense.
Eddie claims this.
"Do you know what it does to you, James? When you’re hated, picked on, spit on, just 'cause of the way you look? After you’ve been laughed at your whole friggin' life?"
Mercy Kill: James claims that Mary's death was this; his overwhelming guilt after the fact is what sets the events of the game in motion. Whether or not he did it out of mercy is ambiguous - James' admission and reasoning, and whether Mary accepts and forgives or hates him is different in each ending.
Nightmare Sequence: The game seemingly shifts into this type of experience during and after exiting the hospital. This is the only time of the game where the town becomes dark, for one. The character is lead to a "Historical Society"; from there, James encounters features unlikely to exist, such as a very, very long stairway, and very deep man-made-looking holes that don't cause injury from jumping into them. Also, one room has a deep hole that is protected by a prison bar-gate, with doors and ceiling features on the walls making this a hallway that has been rotated down 90 degrees. Additionally, James encounters a labyrinthine area with dead-end halls occasionally found. The nightmare seems to end after James gains a significant insight, and this places James back into the foggy town from earlier.
Lampshaded by a door encountered in the first wing of the town. The door is unlocked during the aforementioned Nightmare Sequence and also has a relevant quote written next to it:
The door that wakes in darkness, opening into nightmares.
No-Gear Level: There's a section of the hotel that must be explored without any items, even including the flashlight.
No OSHA Compliance: Or at least, No Housing Code Compliance. James is able to cross between the two apartment buildings by opening the fire escape on one of them to find that it's been torn down to make room for the other one next door, then climbing through the window in the other apartment. Any developer who tried to tear down a fire escape on a multi-story apartment building to make room for construction would be either vetoed by housing authorities, or thrown in jail by them after being found out. Then again, given that Silent Hill tends to make merry love to geography, this may be justified as Malevolent Architecture.
Nothing Is Scarier: At the start of the game, James spends the first fifteen or so minutes walking down a fog-shrouded path along the edge of a cliff. There are no monsters or any obstacles of any sort, and barely any sounds other than your footsteps (and those mysterious footsteps coming from behind you... or are they?)
Not So Different: Discussed trope as James continues to interact with Angela and Eddie. There's a reason they're all stuck in Silent Hill.
Oh, Crap: James takes seeing Pyramid Head raping a dead monster about as well as you'd think he would.
You can also make the enemies essentially have one by equipping the Great Knife and turning off the flashlight. The enemies will hear the knife dragging on the ground and run like hell.
Ominous Save Prompt: All of the save points count, since they're impossible to miss anywhere, but how about nine of them arranged in a bright red square on the Hotel's top floor, right before the twin Pyramid Head fight?
Parental Incest: It's heavily implied that Angela was sexually abused by her father.
Phone Call From The Dead: The game begins with one of these from the protagonist's dead wife, inn the form of a letter. It's revealed to be a Dead Man Writing, because he had repressed the true memory of her manner of death.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: A significant part of what makes Pyramid Head such a frightening monster. Even moreso when you consider that according to some interpretations of the game this aspect of his behaviour represents James's sexual frustration.
Recurring Boss: You have to deal with Pyramid Head several times in a variety of ways.
Replacement Goldfish: Maria. Deconstructed in that she's a creation of the town manifested from James' desire to see his wife and subverted in that the "Maria" ending implies that she will fall ill like Mary.
Self-Inflicted Hell: The town of Silent Hill itself, in this game more so than the others in the series. Angela really doesn't deserve the torment she goes through, but her belief that she deserves it brings it upon her anyway.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: A minor example. The enemies are a bit more manageable in this game, due to the lack of any flyers or lungers. Supplies are still plentiful as well.
Sheathe Your Sword: In your first encounter with Pyramid Head, you win by avoiding him and not attacking until he goes away. You can also drive him off if you shoot him enough times, which not only slows him down, bit it makes the invisible counter go down faster.
Shout-Out: In the Lakeview Hotel, if you examine the heater, James will find a note on the back of it that says: "I'm Johnny, one hot guy." This may be a reference to the The Shining (Heeeeeere's Johnny!) where main character Jack Torrance forgets to adjust the pressure on the old boiler room of The Overlook Hotel, causing it to catch on fire. A poster for The Shining can also be seen on a wall before James gets to town.
The infamous closet scene is homage to the equally disturbing Blue Velvet.
Sinister Scraping Sound: Pyramid Head scrapes his giant blade along the ground. This works to James' advantage later in the game: if he equips the Great Knife and moves around with the flashlight turned off, monsters will run away from the noise.
Story Difficulty Setting: The "Beginner" difficulty setting disables the combat altogether, allowing players to, according to the manual, "enjoy the storyline, drama and puzzles of Silent Hill 2 without fighting".
Stupidity Is the Only Option: During the boss fights against Pyramid Head, all your shots ping off his helmet. There's no way to aim downwards and hit, y'know, his unarmored, seemingly fully vulnerable body.
Sympathetic Murderer: James arguably qualifies, and Angela definitely qualifies. While Eddie thinks of himself as one, James thinks otherwise.
Sympathetic Murder Backstory: James smothered his wife to death. There are several different factors which drove him to do this, and some of them come across as less than savory, but the overall impression is that James is a desperate and despairing man doing what he feels is the right thing.
Through the Eyes of Madness: The game heavily implies this trope. When a player returns to the spot where they killed their first monster later in the game, they'll find it surrounded by police tape. Near the end, the motel keeps shifting between Bizarrchitecture and its normal state. The letter from Mary also counts.
Together in Death: The "In Water" ending heavily implies James put his dead wife's body into his car and then drove into Toluca Lake, drowning himself so they would never get separated again. However, the graffiti in the Dark World version of Neely's Bar says "You might be heading to a different place than Mary" (i.e. Hell, since he committed both suicide and murder).
Tomato Surprise: Mary died only a few hours ago — from James smothering her with a pillow.
Tragic Hero: James doesn't technically embody this trope until the end of the game.
Tulpa: According to some theories, the existence of the character Maria can be explained by this concept as an eroticized manifestation of James’ deceased wife. She is briefly playable during the Born From A Wish segment included in the re-released Silent Hill 2:Restless Dreams – the title of which itself is suggestive that she was literally conceived from James’ unconscious desires, specifically his repressed sexual desire concerning his late wife Mary during the progression of her disease. Although Maria physically resembles Mary, their personalities differ starkly, and throughout the game, Maria makes numerous attempts to delineate her individuality and differentiate herself from Mary before James, who is consistently unable to distinguish the two.
Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Specifically when the "Trick or Treat" quiz show randomly plays on James's radio. Maria and James once again show what a comedy duo they would make by their reactions at the end.
Unexplained Recovery: Maria reappears in the prison after being fatally impaled by Pyramid Head in the hospital basement with no explanation, apart from insisting she and James were "separated in that long hallway". This is not the last time this happens, either.
Unreliable Character: James repressed his memory about what really happened with his wife. Near the end, when the player starts to realize this, the letter James supposedly received becomes a blank sheet of paper, and eventually, the sheet of paper disappears.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Subverted with Pyramid Head's weapon, the Great Knife. Later in the game, this weapon can be picked up in a room in the labyrinth.
Played straight with the spear the Great Knife is replaced with.
Victoria's Secret Compartment: Maria keeps the three keys to a triple-locked door tucked into her short skirt, in her boots, and in her cleavage (in that order). While she's opening the door, James attempts to sneak a peek.
Video Game Caring Potential: Very insidious subversion: Being especially caring and protective toward Maria is the wrong choice, since she's a demonic creation designed to test how faithful James really is to his quest for Mary.
Vomit Discretion Shot: The cutscene introducing Eddie features this trope, though the sound of Eddie's spewing works well enough on its own.