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Video Game / Silent Hill 2

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"This town... there's something wrong with it."

"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..."
Mary's letter

Silent Hill 2note  is a survival horror video game released in 2001, and the second game in the Silent Hill franchise. Despite being set in the eponymous town, it is not a direct sequel to the first game (that wouldn't come until Silent Hill 3), but rather a Gaiden Game that nevertheless continues its unique take on Psychological Horror and then some.

James Sunderland receives a letter from his wife, Mary, that begs him to meet her at their "special place" in Silent Hill, a resort town they visited together once on vacation. He has just one problem with the letter: Mary has been dead for three years. Determined to find out who wrote the letter and why they sent it, he travels to Silent Hill, finding it abandoned and shrouded in a perpetual fog — a far cry from the pleasant village he remembers.

During his exploration of Silent Hill, James meets several people who may have a connection to the letter: Angela, a disturbed runaway looking for her mother; Eddie, an immature and mentally unbalanced young man; 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. And to top it all off, the town seems to have a mind of its own, twisting itself and the monsters stalking its streets into terrifying symbols of his fears, vices, and guilty conscience...

Often regarded as not only the apex of the Silent Hill series but a masterwork of horror video games, Silent Hill 2 is well-known for its bleak atmosphere and intensely psychological and metaphorical storyline, alongside its much-improved gameplay compared to the original. The game also has Multiple Endings based on James' general behavior throughout the story (rather than on specific choices at certain junctions).

A remake of the game was announced on October 19, 2022, being developed by Bloober Team (>OBSERVER_, The Medium) for PlayStation 5 and PC. A live action film adaptation, Return To Silent Hill, is also in development, set to be directed by Christophe Gans, director of the first Silent Hill movie.

Silent Hill 2 offers up these tropes; they're waiting for you:

  • Abandoned Hospital: Brookhaven, the hospital located on the south side of the town that James visits. Unlike the Alchemilla general hospital back in the north end's shopping district, Brookhaven is a sanatorium, so it also pulls double-duty as a Bedlam House.
  • Abusive Parents: Angela's parents. Daddy was physically and sexually abusive; Mommy said she deserved it. The brother even joined in on the sexual abuse.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: Pyramid Head, during the escape from the hospital basement.
  • Alien Geometries: Silent Hill starts exhibiting this more and more as the game goes on. The prison provides a particularly memorable example, where it seems that one of the hallways was somehow inverted so that it turns into a giant pit.
  • Ambiguous Ending:
    • The Maria ending, which sees James refusing to take responsibility for killing Mary; accepting Maria as a substitute partner; and subtly threatening her when she so much as coughs. This ending hints that the cycle may repeat, starting with Maria dying (either from sickness or by James' hand)... but to what extent his journey repeats is unknown.
    • The Leave ending sees Laura walking off ahead of James. However, Laura was never really fond of James, so it's possible that he doesn't adopt her in this ending (which is what Mary had wanted to do) and they're simply walking off together to James' car. It's also not clear if they reconciled after James revealed to her that he killed Mary, which would understandably make Laura hesitant to be adopted by James.
    • The Rebirth ending, obtained through a New Game Plus. James tries to resurrect Mary with some sort of ritual, but the player doesn't see the results.
  • 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 PS2's Greatest Hits version, the Xbox version, and the HD re-release, 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 says only "Run away." The last features several more repetitions of "Run away!"
  • Artifact Mook:
    • A cross-game example: Pyramid Head is explicitly made from part of James' damaged psyche, but enemies with a similar design and purpose appear in other games across the series to menace different characters:
      • Homecoming has the very similarly appearing Bogeyman, with just a few minor design differences between the two. In this case, Bogeyman is instead a manifestation of Alex's father's guilt.
      • Also, in Origins we have the Butcher, who is visually somewhat similar to ol' Pyramid but has different symbolism. Whereas Pyramid Head is about the guilt of James, the Butcher is either the cruelty and sacrifice of the Order, or is some manifestation of Travis' psyche, possibly fear and anger.
    • Inverted by The Abstract Daddy, who is sprung from Angela's psyche. When it reappears as a Degraded Boss, Angela is nowhere to be found, but the player later finds that she has indeed been nearby.
  • Asshole Victim: Angela murdered her father and brother before coming to Silent Hill. Considering the former had been sexually abusing and tormenting her all her life and the latter participating in it, there's ZERO pity or sympathy to be had.
  • 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 the same as the good reason Pyramid Head is so slow. James will be dragging the weapon while walking and turning slower than usual, and has a long time before the swing can connect - but it works quite well on targets that are stunned on the ground.
    • While much faster than the Great Knife, the chainsaw still has enough of a windup before striking that many enemies will easily be able to get a free hit in on you (particularly Lying Figures, the only ones with a ranged attack).
    • The Hyper Spray's damage output varies based on your in-game ranking, but even the weaker spray colors are useful because they're capable of stunlocking enemies. The problem? Using the spray also deals damage to James.
  • Ax-Crazy: Eddie, definitely. Being bullied his whole life and made fun of for his weight most certainly did him no favors, and by the time James meets him for the last time, he openly states that he will kill everyone who makes fun of him.
  • Back from the Dead: Maria, who is brought back more than once. This happens because she technically isn't a real person. She's a manifestation of the town made to torment James with each death.
  • Berserk Button:
    • 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't not confuse herself with Mary, but it still hurts her when she and others do.
    • Eddie takes this trope to the logical extreme. After Eddie is found standing over a corpse with a gun in his hand, he explains in a Motive Rant that he wouldn't ever listen to anyone making fun of him again or he would kill them. This causes James to question Eddie's sanity aloud, and Eddie immediately attacks James.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Leave ending, where James gets through his guilt, leaves Silent Hill and (probably) adopts Laura, but Mary is still dead and James (and Laura) must live with this.
  • 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 Abstract Daddy.
    • Another takes you into the depths of the earth to find a psychotic Eddy.
  • Boring, but Practical: Your basic pistol may not be the flashiest weapon, but you'll find plenty of ammo for it and it is very handy for the rank and file monsters in the game. It's also useful against most of the bosses because you move fairly fast with it and can quickly reposition yourself between shots, whereas the shotgun and rifle are slow and have a lengthy delay before you can move after each shot. If it's inadequate for a task, your shotgun can usually handle the challenge. It helps that there are two combination safes in the game that provide you with a heap of additional ammo. The combinations are not too challenging to decipher with some persistence.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted in the fight with Eddie, who has exactly six shots with a revolver before having to resort to pistol-whipping James. This is a bit of a call-back to the fight in the first game with Cybil, who also tosses her gun away after running out of bullets.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • The Green Hyper Spray is a very powerful weapon. To unlock it, you have to unlock all the endings, finish the game in under three hours on Hard difficulty (for combat and puzzles), and kill at least 150 enemies.
    • Like in the first and third game, the hidden New Game Plus "bullet adjust" option lets you double or triple the ammunition pickups found, but if you diligently search around town and explore every room you can enter, you'll end up with more ammunition than you're likely to ever need, even on the hardest action difficulty. It is very handy for doing a speedrun, though, since you can cut out the extra scrounging time and still amass a comfortable stockpile.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The unlockable Hyper Spray will slowly damage James. Luckily it takes about 3 minutes of continuous spraying to kill him from full health.
  • Central Theme: Guilt and punishment.
    • Pyramid Head is the best overt example of this, as he is a manifestation of James's guilt for killing Mary, and his desire to be punished for what he's done.
    • Maria's entire character is meant to invoke this. Her constant deaths are meant to hammer in the guilt to James even harder, and she even berates him in a way that is clearly meant to invoke feelings of guilt in James.
    • Angela feels that she deserves to be punished for the constant sexual and emotional abuse she suffered in her home life, even though she really doesn't.
    • Eddie desires not to be punished, but to punish those who have bullied him his entire life. A lack of guilt for his actions ends up leading him down a dark path where he becomes an unapologetic murderer.
    • Laura is the only character who is truly innocent in every sense of the word (even when she acts cruel or angry), and therefore feels no guilt. To Laura, the town has no monsters at all, and she's free to leave after she discovers the truth about what happened to Mary.
  • Chainsaw Good: In a New Game Plus, you can find a chainsaw in the forested area near the beginning of the game. It's not great against Lying Figures and Creepers, Pyramid Head, or enemies that need to be taken out at range (such as Flesh Lips or the final boss), but with good timing, it can shred basically anything else.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Subverted with Angela's knife, which James obtains after the cutscene in the Blue Creek Apartments. It does serve a function, namely that frequently looking at this item in the inventory and allowing James' health to remain low will result in the "In Water" ending, in which James commits suicide. However, the knife isn't used in the actual act (looking at it just implies suicidal tendencies) and it remains unused in your inventory forever.
    • 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.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • The game has Angela Orosco on the cover, but she's more of a side character. James is the true star of the game.
    • Just like with the original game, PSM magazine featured a highly misrepresentative cover art depicting an insanely ripped bodybuilder version of James being clawed and grabbed at by numerous monsters just out of frame.
  • Crusading Widow: 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.
  • The Day the Music Lied: The closest thing to a happy (though still very bittersweet) ending ("Leave") is scored with this energetic, but melancholy track, while this much more upbeat, hopeful-sounding track plays over the "Maria" ending, which seems happy at a glance, but holds some very dark implications for everyone involved. This metal track plays for "In Water", a track that's relatively upbeat in contrast to such a Downer Ending.
  • Darker and Edgier: In comparison to the first Silent Hill. While it's not as scary it is much darker, complex and depressing in terms of the story and themes. As it revolves around a griefing protagonist. And it's not only one of the darkest games in the series but also one of the darkest games of all time.
  • Dead Man Writing: Mary's letter. James even lampshades this in the opening of the game. It actually isn't the whole letter. The whole thing is revealed in the endings.
  • Death Amnesia: Maria was killed by pyramid head just before the elevator. When James meets her again in the prison, she claims they were just separated in that corridor.
  • Degraded Boss: The Abstract Daddy reappears as a reasonably easy-to-kill enemy a couple of times after its first appearance as a dangerous boss. They're not much weaker, but they also usually appear a good distance away from you and not right in your face like the boss version was, allowing you to pump them full of lead before they can close the distance.
  • Developer's Foresight: For whatever reason, the dev team decided to avoid a particular Unintentionally Unwinnable moment. If you somehow make it to the final boss (who flies and is thus immune to melee) without any ammo, or run out of ammo during the fight, it will run a special script, rapidly take damage, and die anyways.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: Two, in fact!
    • The game begins in one, and it's surprisingly gorgeous with the music that plays as James prepares himself for the road ahead.
    • James sticks his hand into one without even so much as rolling up his sleeve first. Silent Hill 3 even references this particular moment with the main character wondering who would do something so disgusting.
  • Driven to Madness:
    • Eddie goes mad along the game, having been so obsessed with the murder and assault he committed that he even tries to kill James later in the game.
    • Presumably James is also driven to madness in the Maria ending, where he decides to forget about Mary and live with Maria, who isn't real, being just a manifestation of his guilt.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • James came to Silent Hill with the intention of committing suicide, but only goes through with it in the In Water ending.
    • Implied with Angela, who is last seen walking up a burning staircase, never to be seen again.
  • Drone of Dread: A large portion of the soundtrack is this, and it helps to enhance the feelings of dread and anxiety that the game excels at creating.
  • Downer Ending: Both the In Water ending, where James is Driven to Suicide and the Maria ending, where James is presumably Driven to Madness.
  • Dual Boss: The final time Pyramid Head appears, James has 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 impale themselves on their own spears. It symbolizes that James has accepted his guilt and is ready to move on.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Although he did not appear in person, Walter Sullivan was actually first mentioned in the game three times (first in a magazine article at the apartment buildings, then as an answer to a question in the hospital and finally his grave at a cemetery displayed prominently next to headstones for all the game's other major characters) before he made a physical appearance in Silent Hill 4.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: The "Rebirth" ending can only be obtained in New Game Plus, and involves collecting 4 hidden special items found throughout the game. The "Maria" ending can also be tricky to get on a normal playthrough, especially on the higher difficulties where she's apt to take heavy damage in certain sections, such as the Pyramid Head chase.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The "Leave" ending requires a very specific play style that isn't necessarily obvious. To put it simply, you need to prove to the game that you have a burning determination to see Mary again, and playing the game like a completionist tends to prevent you from earning this ending.
  • Eldritch Location: Well, obviously all of Silent Hill, but specifically for this game is the Hotel. It shifts back and forth between being normal, dark, water damaged, burnt out, burnt out, dark, AND water damaged, and some kind of metallic skeleton of the building.
  • Elevator Escape: 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.
  • Ending by Ascending: Angela is last seen ascending a burning staircase to what is apparently a Self-Inflicted Hell.
  • Escort Mission: James meets Maria at Rosewater Park and she accompanies him until partway through the hospital section, at which point she decides to rest for awhile. She rejoins him sometime later, just in time to get summarily murdered by Pyramid Head. There is relatively little combat for most of the time they are together so the chances of her being hurt are fairly slight.
  • Fan Disservice: Nice plumber's crack you got there, Eddie.
    • This is also invoked with the designs of the enemies. The Nurse monsters have exposed cleavage... With incredibly decayed skin, and a massive lump of flesh where their head should be.
  • Fan Sequel: Silent Hill: Promise
  • Fanservice: If you unlock the Dog ending (or just watch it on You Tube), the credits end with a shot of a buff, shirtless James and Maria in her underwear.
  • Finishing Move: After knocking an enemy down with gunfire, you can run up to them and stomp on them to kill them instantly. This can make the difference between killing an enemy with just 2-3 bullets, rather than 8-12 bullets.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Pyramid Head spends most of the game stalking James across the town, repeatedly kills the only other person interested in him, and interrupts his attack on another monster twice to pursue James instead. Keep in mind that PH is combined manifestation of James' sexual frustration and desire to be punished for Mercy Killing his wife.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • On the Forest Trail at the beginning of the game, the first save spot is found at the bottom of a shallow well. This foreshadows James jumping down a well-like hole at the Historical Society and becoming stuck until he breaks down a weak point in the stones.
    • At the very beginning of the game, Angela warns James that the town has "something wrong with it", yet James seems to brush it off. When Angela reacts like she thinks James believes she's lying, he tells her that he believes her, but realizes he rather doesn't care if it is or not. While on the one hand it shows his determination to find Mary, it's also a subtle hint that James is actually suicidal and isn't bothered with the thought of getting killed. James's lack of care of his own safety are also displayed throughout the game; he sticks his hand in a hole in the wall without being concerned about what could be in there, he'll jump into several holes in the ground during his trip in the prison area with barely any hesitation, and he also comes across a noose where he stretches his neck upwards to reach it, which almost makes it look like he's about to put his head through it to hang himself. Also foreshadows the "In Water" ending since acting dangerously will result in that ending, reinforcing James' attitude of not caring about danger anymore.
    • At the bowling alley, Laura bluntly asks why Eddie doesn't just confess to his crimes. Near the end of the game, James has to confess to his crimes to the twin Pyramid Heads, which is the key to him finally able to leave Silent Hill.
    • 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.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: As one fan interpretator has noted, the other three Silent Hill games done by Team Silentnote  all have a very strong "occultic" theme, with 1 and 3 specifically being about Silent Hill's connection to a local cult, which is the primary focus of the narrative for both games. In SH2, the cult and the occult become mere background elements, with the narrative instead focusing on repression of memories and guilt. The later Silent Hill: Homecoming was really the first game in the series where both of themes were central to the plot.
  • Four Is Death: The fourth time that James meets Eddie he dies, and the fourth time he meets Angela is the last time she's seen, though her fate is left ambiguous.
  • Game Mod: The community-driven Silent Hill 2: Enhanced Edition project, which not only aims to fix many of the issues of the ailing 2002 PC port, but also features many modern enhancements (e.g. HD resolutions, improved FMVs, XInput/DualShock 4 controller support) while restoring missing and/or simplified PlayStation 2 features.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Like many story-driven games, the ending you get depends on the choices the player makes as they progress through. Unlike most, you're in control of the What and the Why; the choices you make don't just determine the actions taken by James in his quest, but even his mindset and emotional state as he takes them, both of which directly affect the outcome of the story.
  • Genius Loci: The town itself is implied to be one, drawing off the experiences, memories, emotions, and fears that those who visit it have.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: James inexplicably speaks Japanese during the Dog Ending cutscene. Notably, despite being a Japanese made game, it only has an English track, making this ending the only part with any Japanese voice work regardless of region.
  • Guide Dang It!: As noted above, Silent Hill 2 breaks the mold by being less intuitive about its endings than the previous and subsequent games, relying on various conditions dictated by the player's behavior over the course of the story. Some of them are foreshadowed slightly, but otherwise they're never clear as to why one happens over another.
    • "In Water" is probably the easiest ending to get as it requires taking a lot of damage that the player is lax about healing quickly, checking Angela's knife at least once, checking out the journal on top of Brookhaven Hospital, and listening to the tape and hallway conversations in the Hotel. Essentially, you act suicidal, but also try to be a completionist and explore the game thoroughly, which all but ensures this ending.
    • "Leave" is also relatively easy, but generally requires the player to be fairly aware of its requirements to get it. The player needs to heal often whenever James gets injured, check Mary's photo and letter, and avoid getting too close to Maria while she is following you. Basically, act like you want to live and still care about Mary to get this one, but avoid interactive places that would inspire James to feel depressed.
    • "Maria" is considerably harder, as it does require Violation of Common Sense in some ways. Protect Maria at all costs, make sure to check up on her whenever possible when she starts feeling poorly in Brookhaven, and otherwise stay by her, listen to her, and don't annoy her by pushing her out of the way when moving. More or less, the player has to essentially forget Mary and prioritize Maria over everything else. This one is especially difficult during the infamous Pyramid Head chase in the basement of Otherworld Brookhaven.
    • "Rebirth" is difficult due to the fact that it's only possible after beating the game once. This one requires collecting 4 relics scattered throughout Silent Hill. Collecting all four overrides any other endings you're progressing through, but good luck finding them all...
  • Hell Hotel: The Lakeview Hotel. Downplayed in that it's noticeably less monster-infested than the apartments, hospital, or historical society/prison, and largely is just creepy and empty. Even the Other World version of it doesn't have many monsters in your path, with only a handful of basic enemies between you and the final bosses.
  • 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. It is also speculated that James may have to endure his journey through Silent Hill anew, and that he cannot leave the town until he gains true closure.
  • Hero of Another Story: We don't learn about the unknown person or how heroic they were, but the map found in Neely's Bar has highlights from another character's journey around Southvale, with a path through the apartments that is unavailable to James. Another character's map is found on the collapsed bridge near the Silent Hill Historical Society. Both maps seem aged as if they've been neglected for a long while.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Every actual fight with Pyramid Head is like this, until the last one in which the two Pyramid Heads kill themselves. The only way to "win" is to avoid him long enough to escape, though shooting him does slow him down and reduce the amount of time you have to hold out before he goes away.
  • 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.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Used in the "Maria" ending to imply that Maria will suffer the same fate as Mary. Also used in a cutscene in Brookhaven Hospital, where Maria will take unspecified pills on her person and insist "[i]t's just a hangover."
  • Inescapable Ambush: The first battle with the Pyramid Head. The door inexplicably closes behind James. He tries to open it, to no avail.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The pipe barely gains this honor due to the limited melee weapons in the game. Good damage and not too slow to use, with a decently powerful overhead swing. Albeit, the game's generosity with ammo tends to make using it less necessary.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The chainsaw, which is a Bragging Rights Reward on any difficulty but Easy, and available after talking to Angela in the cemetery at the beginning of the game.
  • 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.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence:
    • At the beginning of the game when James first encounters a Shadow, Katz Street is blocked off by some police tape, in comparison to Sanders Street where James turns around to investigate said shadow and the sinkhole past Vachss Road intersection. All three of these routes would lead to the seemingly ultimate destination, Rosewater Park. Instead of just going over or ducking under said police tape and getting things over with, James wanders off a side road to encounter the first monster - after which point, the police tape gets cut and allows passage.
    • Inspecting the Historical Society's parking lot shows the nearby boat landing is accessible on foot, being blocked off by a swivel gate that could easily be bypassed simply by climbing over or crawling under it, neither of which James will consider doing to get to his true destination across the lake. Of course, considering the town he's in and what he finds once he starts exploring the museum, it's not hard to infer that something would have happened to keep him from taking such a shortcut anyway.
  • Joke Ending: Two of them.
  • Karma Meter: Unlike the rest of the main Silent Hill series, the ending is determined by an invisible Karma Meter. And unlike most video games, it's not just "good" and "evil": staying at full health as much as possible gives you "Leave" and "Maria" points. Glancing at Angela's knife periodically and not giving much of a damn about your health gives you "In Water" ending points. Examining Mary's letter multiple times, especially after the text vanishes, counts towards "Leave." Various documents and other items you can examine can give you points on all three meters.
  • Law of Disproportionate Response:
    • "'Anyway?' What do you mean, 'anyway'?!" Maria's outburst is triggered by James's not "sound[ing] very happy to see [her]" after she "was almost killed back there."
    • When Eddie snaps, things quickly go south after he runs into James the last time.
      James: Eddie, have you gone nuts?
  • Lethal Joke Weapon: The plank. It's your starting weapon, and it's weaker than most of the weapons in the game, but unlike the other normal melee weapon in the game (the Steel Pipe), you can actually move while using it, letting James run circles around his enemies.
  • Madness Mantra: The one typing into the carbon paper with the typewriter attempted "no one can stop me", but was dropping entire words, and only got a few repetitions out.
  • Manslaughter Provocation:
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Mental Monster: Such creatures include the leggy mannequins, and the membrane-bound lying figures, all having rather sexual designs. Most of them are manifestations of James's sexual frustration and increasing depravity ever since his wife Mary fell terminally ill, and the two Pyramid Heads originate from his guilt of murdering his wife the week before and later Eddie in self-defense, existing for the sole purpose of fulfilling James's desire for karmic punishment because of said guilt. Once he realizes he doesn't need the Pyramid Head to punish him for his sins, they promptly skewer themselves on their own spears.
  • Merging the Branches: The canonicity of the game's Multiple Endings is never confirmed by the developers. You may interpret James' choices and fate whichever way, for all are equally valid, and no single conclusion holds more weight than the others. The only reference to James later in the series comes in Silent Hill 4, when Frank Sunderland mentions that his son left for Silent Hill and he hasn't seen him since. This doesn't really prove anything, though: even in the "Leave" ending there are plenty of reasons why James might have chosen not to return to his old life, ranging from lingering guilt over Mary's death to perhaps being wanted for her murder (and, of course, the difficulty of legally adopting Laura as a single parent who recently euthanised their spouse).
  • Metaphorically True: James's belief that Mary died three years ago (which is eventually proven false) likely stems from a subconscious feeling that the idealized Mary who he loved, was effectively lost to him when she began to mentally and physically deteriorate from her disease. The implication is that Silent Hill latched on to this subconscious feeling and allowed him to believe that is what actually happened.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Dog ending. A whole game's worth of unpleasant weirdness, followed by a cute dog and a jaunty tune.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The nurses, though their constant twitching makes it difficult to see. Conversely, the Otherworld nurses have only a bare hint of a face.
  • Multiple Endings: A series staple.
  • Murderous Mannequin: One of the monsters. It's a pair of Mannequin legs fused together to give a warped visage of a female figure.
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: The music during the Rebirth ending credits is titled The Reverse Will. The song's lyrics is said poem, but it's Sdrawkcab Speech and has an echo.
  • Nightmare Sequence:
    • The game shifts into this type of experience during and after exiting the hospital. The town becomes completely dark and James is led to a "Historical Society". From there, James explores an underground prison that devolves into complete Bizarrchitecture that takes him further and further underground, with an impossibly long stairway and multiple deep, man-made-looking holes that he must jump into. Towards the end he discovers Maria alive, who claims to have never been killed in the first place. 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 which 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.
    • It shifts back to a Nightmare Sequence — albeit with less darkness and more water and rot — when James leaves room 312, after the revelation that he killed Mary.
  • No-Gear Level: There's an elevator, but it has a limited weight allowance and all items need to be deposited on a nearby shelf. This elevator leads to the employee's section of the hotel, initially vacant but has enemies in the basement corridor. Once you return to the main section of the hotel, James has to run past a few new enemies that appear.
  • Nonindicative Name: The track "Theme of Laura" has nothing to do with Laura but rather it is the main theme of Silent Hill 2.
  • 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.
  • Notice This: Done very subtly. James will turn his head towards items that can be picked up. As a result, paying close attention to whether James is looking straight ahead or tilting his head around can alert you to if there are items nearby.
  • 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 Quite the Right Thing:
    • Since Maria looks and sounds like Mary, being protective and considerate towards her may seem like what you should be doing. Unfortunately, she's a construct designed to distract James from his quest.
    • Playing the game like a completionist (exploring thoroughly, examining all objects, conserving your health items unless you're critically hurt) actually gets you one of the darkest endings, as multiple examinable objects (Angela's knife, the diary on the roof, the nighttime message in Neely's Bar, and the audio tape in the Alternate Hotel) massively increase your score towards getting the "In Water" ending (just 2 out of 4 can give you the ending, especially if you play through the game at even 80% health).
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Invoked by Eddie during his Motive Rant.
    Eddie: Don't get all holy on me, James. This town called you too. You and me are the same. We're not like other people.
  • Not The Illness That Killed Them: As it turns out Mary didn't die of her illness, as James repeatedly states... rather, James smothered her to death with a pillow when the burden of taking care of her and dealing with her mood swings became too much to bear.
  • Oddball in the Series: Among the games developed by "Team Silent" at least, this is the only game of the original 4 that puts the Myth Arc of the Order to the side and focuses more on a personalized psychological horror story.
  • Oh, Crap!: James takes seeing Pyramid Head raping a dead monster about as well as you'd think he would.
  • Ominous Fog: Naturally. Early on the town is completely shrouded in fog, though it later goes away when the town goes completely dark. It returns near the end of the game right before you go to the Lakeview Hotel.
  • 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.
  • Perpetually Shiny Bodies: A number of the monsters in the game have this look to cause a disgusting effect.
  • Phone Call from the Dead: The game begins with one of these from the protagonist's dead wife, in 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.
  • Prison Level: One of the later levels in the game is Toluca Prison, where James Sunderland meets Eddie Dombrowski. In the prison, James needs to find a lighter, a horseshoe, and some wax, to make a makeshift door handle.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: The entire town of Silent Hill is this for those it targets. James is tormented by his guilt over the murder of his wife, Angela is constantly reminded of her sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of her parents to the point she considers (and possibly goes through with) suicide, and Eddie is unable to escape the fear and hate that come with years of being bullied. Laura is the only one not affected by it due to not having any sins at all.
  • Quote Mine: Mary's letter. The letter in your inventory is only the first part of a much longer message, and was "chosen" by the town to mislead James into thinking Mary might still be alive. At the end of the game, in the "Leave" and "Maria" endings, you get the full text of the letter, which makes it clear that she's still talking about what she sees in her dreams, and then goes into her final thoughts before she loses the ability to say anything else.
  • The Reveal: The video tape reveals the truth behind the whole story: Mary is not in Silent Hill, and she did not die three years ago from her illness. She's only been dead for roughly a week... because James smothered her to death with a pillow. The letter from Mary in James's possession at the start of the game is a delusion conjured by James to cope with what he'd done, or conjured by the town to torment James.
  • 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.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: Downplayed compared to most other Survival Horror games. While resources are finite, the game is quite generous with them, especially if you explore around and make sure to use your Finishing Move to save on ammo in combat. Throughout the game you can find almost 600 handgun bullets, 200 shotgun rounds, 70 rifle rounds, etc. On Normal difficulty, as long as you save ammo by using your Finishing Move and don't waste ammo by fighting anything on the streets (where they can be easily evaded), you've more than enough bullets to kill everything you come across 2 or 3 times over.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Eddie certainly thinks so, but he's forced to resort to pistol-whipping after six shots. Maria also starts out with a rather beefy snub-nosed wheelgun in her scenario, but discards it just before setting out to find James.
  • Retraux:
    • Harry's cameo in the UFO ending uses the blocky PS1-era graphics.
    • "Soundless Mountain 2", a 2D Super-Deformed fan de-make.
  • Rule of Funny:
    • The pizza scene. Why is Eddie eating pizza in the middle of a monster-infested area? How was he able to obtain one when no one's around to make it, nor anything to make it with? If it wasn't a byproduct of the weirdness of Silent Hill, then it could only be explained with this trope.
    • The Dog Ending, which simply doesn't make sense even within the context of the setting... which makes it that much funnier.
  • 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.
  • 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, but 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.
    • A character named Eddie dies in a freezer.
    • The infamous closet scene is homage to the equally disturbing Blue Velvet.
    • James get dragged through the hospital via gurney. He's wearing an Olive M-65. His initials are JS. Sounds familiar?
    • The infamous Dog Ending is based on a memorable scene the Murder, She Wrote episode "It's a Dog's Life" that also features a dog using a security system control panel to wreak deadly havoc (although the dog in question was a beagle rather than a Shiba Inu).
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: Pyramid Head scrapes his giant blade along the ground.
  • Sprint Meter: Not as a visible meter, but James runs a bit slower after running for a period of time, and noticeably stops to catch his breath if you stop running. It's not a major factor due to the generally slow enemies in the game, but managing the sequel's sprint meter is much more important due to the faster enemies and several sequences requiring extended running.
  • Stairway to Heaven:
    • The game plays with this trope in the labyrinth's downward staircase "that leadeth thee to Purgatory."
    • Inverted with Angela's upward staircase to Hell.
    • Played straight after James has faced and dealt with his guilt.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: The "Beginner" difficulty setting essentially disables the combat, allowing players to, according to the manual, "enjoy the storyline, drama and puzzles of Silent Hill 2 without fighting". It doesn't remove monsters altogether, but it makes them so weak that even a single bash with the plank is enough to kill one.
  • 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.
  • Suddenly-Harmful Harmless Object: The first Mannequin encountered reacts when James took the flashlight. They'll be frequently appearing afterwards.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: If you check the right area in the Labyrinth, you can swipe Pyramid Head's Great Knife and use it for yourself. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Unfortunately, it turns out that a gigantic knife with a blade roughly the same dimensions as a surfboard is fucking heavy, so James can only drag it around behind him, and it takes all his might just to hoist it up for an attack.
  • 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; shortly after James's last encounter with Eddie, the writing vanishes, then the stationery it was written on vanishes, then finally the envelope that contained the letter vanishes.
  • Together in Death: Monster designer Masahiro Itō has confirmed (via Twitter) that Mary's dead body was in the backseat the whole time. This means that, in the "In Water" ending, James drives her into Toluca Lake with him, never to be separated again. (It can be further inferred from Mary's presence in the car that to complete such a murder-suicide was actually James' initial motivation for returning to Silent Hill.) However, there's no direct evidence supporting her presence in the car in the game itself, with the ending merely depicting the car sounds and James' internal dialogue over a black screen. Nevertheless, that internal dialogue begins with "Now I understand. The real reason I came to this town," and ends with "Now... we can be together." It should be noted that the graffiti in the Dark World version of Neely's Bar taunts him that he "might be heading to a different place than Mary" (i.e. hell, since he committed murder and, by that point, has at least considered suicide).
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Mary died anywhere from a few hours to a week before the game—from James smothering her with a pillow. James had forgotten he'd done this.
  • 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-release, subtitled Restless Dreamswhich subtitle itself is suggestive that she was literally conceived primarily from James’ unconscious desires, specifically his repressed sexual desire concerning his late wife Mary during the progression of her disease. Maria also seems to share some of Mary's own memories apart from James (hence her knowledge about and empathy for Laura), as well as an occasional outburst of the inner dominatrix (James often perceived Mary in her last years as a manipulative bully, bent on emasculating him). 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.
  • Turns Red: Inverted; most of the bosses actually get weaker as the battle progresses. Pyramid Head stops using his quicker, more dangerous swipe and starts exclusively using his slow, easily dodged overhead swing, once you kill one Flesh Lip the other is much easier to deal with by itself and the third one only shows up once the first two are dead, Eddie's attacks become less aggressive and he starts trying to run away and hide as his health gets low, and Maria uses her butterfly attack less often as she starts getting low on health, giving you more time to pump bullets into her.
  • 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 Narrator: 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 blank, and eventually 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.
  • Vague Hit Points:
    • The pause menu has a different coloured filter depending on how much health there is.
    • Character animations change based on remaining health.
    • The game only shows a large cross at the bottom-right corner when at low health. Otherwise health is shown on the inventory screen with a color shade in the top-left corner, and no indication if using a health item could cause excess hit-points to be lost.
  • 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.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In the Historical Society, repeatedly: "The hole's dark and I can't see anything. Will you jump down?" If you don't choose "yes", you can't proceed with the game.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: The cutscene introducing Eddie has him vomiting into a toilet. Copiously. The camera angles carefully prevent the player from actually seeing him puke, though the sound of Eddie's spewing works well enough on its own.
  • Vorpal Pillow: James puts Mary out of her misery by smothering her with a pillow.
  • Wham Episode: Everything from the end of the Labyrinth to the end of the game serves as one long one. To wit: Eddie goes insane and James is forced to kill him, Maria dies again, Laura reveals Mary didn't die three years ago, Angela states her Wham Line below, and James finally remembers that he killed Mary.
  • Wham Line:
    • When James finally reaches the Hotel, he speaks to Angela, finding her in a perpetually burning stairwell. What she says as she's leaving reveals a lot about her character, but also that each person in Silent Hill experiences their own personal torment- for Angela, she believes that she deserves to burn in hell, so she sees fire everywhere.
      Angela: You see it, too? ...For me, it's always like this.
    • Eddie drops a massive one in James' confrontation with him:
      Eddie: Don't get all holy on me, James! This town called you, too!
    • Again after reaching the Hotel, James meets Laura and discovers that Mary didn't die three years ago- she died, at the most, a week ago.
    • After leaving the Apartments, James encounters Laura, who drops this on him as she leaves:
      Laura: None of your business. You didn't love Mary anyway!
    • When James finally reaches the old room he stayed in at the Hotel, he finds a videotape and plays it. James then is forced to remember that he killed Mary anywhere from a week to a few hours ago, and he tells Laura this as softly as he can.
      James: I'm... sorry. The Mary you know isn't here.
    • Depending on the ending you get, Maria may deliver one in the conversation before the Final Boss. The most obvious one is in the "Leave" ending where James sees "Mary" and calls out to her. She turns around, looks at him and...
      Maria: When will you ever stop making that mistake!
  • Wham Shot: When James plays the videotape in the hotel, he's initially treated to a video of Mary they took on their last visit to Silent Hill, before the tape abruptly cuts to James standing above a disease-ridden Mary and giving her a kiss. Then he reaches for her pillow...
  • Welcome to Hell: An incomplete "WELCOME!" sign hangs over Road 73.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In all but the "Leave" ending, Laura's fate is never revealed outside having to go back to the orphanage with the knowledge that Mary is dead and James killed her.
  • Womb Level: Players fight the Abstract Daddy boss in a room featuring fleshy, pulsating walls and pistons thrusting in and out of said walls. The floor even squishes under James' footsteps. The room supposedly represents Angela's uterus, making it unpleasantly more literal than many examples, as well as a place "Daddy" never belonged.
  • World of Symbolism: Tons, especially in the enemy designs and also in the characters. Just about everything James sees is an insight into his personality and deepest fears.
  • Writer on Board: According to the Book of Lost Memories, James finding the handgun in a shopping cart is meant to be a commentary on the easy availability of guns in America, which is a slightly exaggerated criticism but not an altogether unfair one.note 
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The final conversation in the "Leave" ending includes such a moment.
    James: The truth is... I hated you. I wanted you out of the way. I wanted my life back!
    Mary: James... If that were true, then why do you look so sad?

He who is not bold enough
to be stared at from across
the abyss is not bold enough
to stare into it himself


Video Example(s):


Pyramid Head

Pyramid Head is a monster from Silent Hill made from James' desire for punishment, taking the form of an executioner in a painful helmet carrying a burdenous sword.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / HumanoidAbomination

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