When it comes to horror gaming, certain titles spring immediately to the mind of even the least savvy gamer: Resident Evil. Dead Space. Outlast. Amnesia. And, of course, Silent Hill. Despite its troubled history, it cannot be denied that the first few Silent Hill games ushered in a monumental shift in the genre, and although Konami might have soured fans with a string of controversial decisions, recent news of a Silent Hill 2 remake for the PlayStation 5 has piqued the interest of even the most diehard Silent Hill fans. With a release date creeping ever closer and closer, we’re going back to the very start of Silent Hill 2 and its upcoming reimagining, rounding up all the rumors and speculating on what we might expect from an update of one of the most terrifying and beloved games in all of horror history.

The humble beginnings of Silent Hill

Silent Hill 1999

In 1999, Japanese video game developers Konami, inspired by the success of Capcom’s Resident Evil series, sought to create a horror video game that would terrify gamers not only in Japan, but overseas too. As a balm to the fast-paced gore and guts of the zombie-filled Resident Evil, it was deemed that Silent Hill should instead utilize the more psychological aspects of survival horror; building tension through subtle scares, quieter atmospheres and a general “fear of the unknown.”

A crack team was assembled – or, according to composer Akira Yamaoka – a team of Konami staff who had failed at other projects. Affectionately referred to as Team Silent, this band of misfits, including Yamaoka, creature designer Masahiro Ito and CGI director Takayoshi Sato, put together a project that would ultimately change the world of gaming forever. Released on the PlayStation in the spring of 1999, Silent Hill, with its Lynchian, small-town secrets and mutated monsters, sold over two million copies and received mostly positive reviews – but it wasn’t until the sequel, 2001’s Silent Hill 2, that the series truly entered infamy.

A game-changing original

silent hill 2 ps2

At the turn of the new millennium came the advent of Sony’s PlayStation 2, and with it, a brand new virtual experience in terror. Silent Hill 2 follows James Sunderland, a plainly average man, and a far cry from the usual muscle-bound video game protagonists of the time who were infinitely skilled with weapons and combat. James is summoned to the town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his wife, Mary, who claims she is waiting there for him, in their special place. The only problem? Mary has been dead for three years.

As he makes his way through the town, James comes face to face with grotesque monsters, a string of bizarre characters and a whole host of terrifying revelations that challenge the very foundations of James’ sanity. In fact, Silent Hill 2 could well be regarded as one of the arbiters of “grief horror”, a subgenre exploring trauma and devastation, popularized by recent horror movies such as Ari Aster’s Hereditary and Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. While almost universally praised for its atmosphere and disturbing themes, even hardcore fans admitted that certain aspects of the game – notably its clunky combat and awkward voice acting – could benefit from a revamp, in the same vein of Capcom’s hugely successful Resident Evil remakes.

Remake rumors

Silent Hill 2

After the disbandment of Team Silent after Silent Hill 4: The Room, a string of poorly-received Western-produced entries into the series and Konami’s controversial removal of Hideo Kojima’s P.T. from the PlayStation store, the Silent Hill franchise lay dormant, with many fans still hurt by Konami seeming to continually place profits over players. In 2021, developer Bloober Team, the Polish studio behind Layers of Fear, The Medium and the Nintendo Switch’s Blair Witch, revealed that they were in talks with Konami regarding a “strategic co-operation agreement” on a select number of IP.

Although nothing was confirmed at the time, rumors of a Silent Hill 2 remake gathered speed and, in 2022, one internet user allegedly leaked images of the yet-to-be-announced Bloober remake. Konami, as always, remained tight-lipped, and swiftly had the images removed. Meanwhile, whispers abounded within the horror gaming community of new titles – the mysterious Project Sakura being one of them – and even Christophe Gans, the director of the Silent Hill movie adaptation, added fuel to the fire by teasing that ‘multiple’ Silent Hill games were in development.

On October 19, 2022, Konami finally broke their silence with a live-streamed showcase dubbed “Silent Hill Transmission.” The Transmission, hosted by bilingual streamer and pro-horror gamer Celina, confirmed a number of hugely exciting projects – No Code and Annapurna Interactive’s mysterious Silent Hill: Townfall, Genvid’s “live, real-time interactive series” Silent Hill: Ascension, Silent Hill f, a brand new Japan-set story from visual artist Ryūkishi07, Christophe Gans’ film sequel Return to Silent Hill and, most excitingly, final confirmation of a remake of Silent Hill 2, with Blooper Team at the helm.

Transmission Trailer

Silent-Hill-Transmission

Not only did the Transmission event reveal the existence of the Silent Hill 2 remake, a first trailer was also revealed. The trailer begins where the original game does – as the all-new James Sunderland gazes mournfully at himself in a grimy bathroom of the eponymous town. Stubbled and shaking, right from the offset, audiences could see that the graphics in the Silent Hill 2 remake were pretty remarkable, granting a characterization to James that wasn’t immediately present in his original introduction.

From there, we get our first snippet of the new soundtrack, as Akira Yamaoka’s adapted version of his sorrowful piano melody “Magdalene” plays under James’ introductory voiceover. It’s here that we first hear his new voice courtesy of British actor Luke J. Roberts (Game of Thrones, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities), followed by the voice of the deceased Mary, played by Salome R. Gunnarsdottir. Monsters revealed include the twitching Mannequin, the iconic Bubblehead Nurses and, of course, the towering, terrifying Pyramid Head, who has become somewhat of a mascot for the entire franchise.

We get a small glimpse of the backs of Laura and Maria, two characters who play an integral part in James’ journey, as well as a number of iconic scenes that previous players will instantly recognize, while remaining mysterious for brand new fans. At the time of writing, Bloober’s Silent Hill 2 remake trailer currently stands at 10 million views on YouTube, suggesting that fans are eagerly rewatching in anticipation…

Initial fan reaction

After the trailer, one question in particular seemed to resonate among the horror gaming community. With so many studios and developers begging to be involved in developing a new slate of Silent Hill games, why did Konami choose Bloober, when the internationally-produced Silent Hill games have never received as much praise as the Japanese-produced ones? In a statement, Konami producer Motoi Okamoto was quick to praise them for “the most passionate of proposals,” while Bloober’s Creative Director & Lead Designer Mateusz Lenart reassured fans that the team would “approach working on the remake with such great care and respect for the original game.”

Present at the Transmission were Akira Yamaoka and Masahiro Ito, and their presence as key players of Team Silent was seen by fans as a good sign. Ito has frequently been vocal on Twitter about his work on the original Silent Hill 2 being misrepresented, and is quick to call out fans who spread rumors or outright lies. His involvement with the remake seemed to lend a sense of quality control and nostalgia to the game that many concerned fans were relieved to hear.

Not everyone has been so convinced though, with some fans on Reddit concerned about what they believe to be Bloober’s shaky past with portraying mental health issues in games, and how important it is that those themes be treated with sensitivity through the Silent Hill 2 remake, particularly in regards to the troubled characters of Angela Orosco and Eddie Dombrowski.

Gameplay details – what we know so far

silent-hill-2-remake

When it comes to gameplay details, Bloober has been pretty adamant that they have remained faithful to the original story of Silent Hill 2, instead focusing on modernizing the gameplay and graphics (akin to Capcom’s multiple Resident Evil reimaginings), which even the most ardent of Silent Hill fans can admit to being a product of their time – often janky and clunky, making James at times a frustratingly hard character to navigate the world as.

One of the biggest changes Bloober is making is the adoption of an over-the-shoulder camera, as opposed to the fixed camera angles of the original. Bloober reasons that an over-the-shoulder angle is more effective at immersing players and “making them feel like they are a part of this unreal world.” This technique will lend itself to smoother combat control, which, again, was a frequent point of contention within the original game.

silent hill 2 club

While some fans argue that James’ inability to effectively swing a wooden plank around adds to the realism and terror of the game, others would rather actually stand a fighting chance of hitting their enemy. And while the graphics of the original were commendable for the time, Bloober’s use of Unreal Engine 5 (the technology behind the Bioshock series, the Final Fantasy VII remake and Fortnite, to name but a few) bodes well for the visual capabilities of the sinister, foggy town.

Another change that could serve to make the remake even more terrifying is the lack of loading screens. In the original Silent Hill 2, loading screens were one of the brief moments of respite from the constant anxiety and atmosphere of the game, but with the Silent Hill 2 remake not being restrained by the technical or hardware limitations of the PlayStation 2, loading screens are a thing of the past.

State of Play new teaser reveals more modernized combat

Right at the start of 2024, the PlayStation State of Play showcase finally revealed more of the Silent Hill 2 remake, with a combat-focused teaser showing off the game’s “improved and modernized” fighting style. The new trailer certainly hints towards a more action-focused combat style with melee prompts, similar to the hugely successful Resident Evil remakes.

Silent Hill 2 Remake

In one scene, for example, James can be seen grappling with a Lying Figure, with a prompt urging him to press X to escape. Alongside the Lying Figure, the new teaser also gives us a closer look at some more of the game’s most beloved monsters, including the Mannequin and Bubble Head Nurses.

Akira Yamaoka’s updated score can be heard, sounding more epic than ever, and a whole host of locations, including the Wood Side Apartments and Brookhaven Hospital, have been given the updated graphics treatment. Despite all this, the new teaser still did not include a confirmed release date for the Silent Hill 2 remake.

So where is the Silent Hill 2 remake?

It’s been over a year since the announcement of the Silent Hill 2 remake, and fans are still waiting for an update. At the time of writing, the Silent Hill 2 remake does not have a follow-up trailer to the one originally shown at the Transmission event or a set release date, and – understandably – fans are starting to get antsy. So antsy, in fact, that Bloober felt they had to release a statement asking fans to be patient, and urging them to refer to Konami for further updates. In March of 2023, Bloober Team CEO Piotr Babieno said the Silent Hill 2 remake was “technically ready”, and, while not fully finished, was close to being so.

A little over a year later, in January of 2024, PlayStation released a reel advertising a whole host of new games for the PS5 expected this year – with Silent Hill 2 listed among them. It seems we could be closer than ever to returning to the nightmare town of Silent Hill.

Final thoughts

It’s been a long, complicated road to the Silent Hill 2 remake, one rife with speculation, conspiracy, rumors and fan rage. It’s truly a testament to the original Silent Hill 2 that the game remains so treasured among fans dedicated to ensuring its legacy is treated with respect.

While fans remain cautious of any developer taking on what is generally considered to be a near-perfect horror video game, the Silent Hill 2 remake could really end up being something great. Bloober expressed their dedication to the original story, vowing to stay faithful to the original while bringing innovative new features to the table, and Konami, Masahiro Ito and Akira Yamaoka clearly have faith in them.

With the original Silent Hill 2 becoming harder and harder to access due to high prices and ever-evolving consoles, a remake could open up the foggy world of Silent Hill to a whole new generation of players who have yet to experience the nightmarish descent of James Sunderland – and that’s something to be celebrated. In our restless dreams, we see that town – and we’ll see you there, too, at the return of Silent Hill 2.

See more of our most anticipated video games for 2024.

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