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March 19, 2015

Silent Hill 2 Content Rundown


Little town of horrors.

Warning: The following review contains Mature Content. Reader discretion is advised.

Reviewed By: KVR (Head Writer)

Verdict: Mature Gamers Only (For Psychological Horror, A Depressing Atmosphere, and Mature Themes Involving Sexual Abuse)

Release Date: September 2001

Developer/Publisher: Konami

Platforms: Windows, Xbox, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Genre: Survival Horror

Areas of Concern:

Potential Emotional Triggers:

--We see a vague yet clear depiction of a monster sexually assaulting another monster. This scene is somewhat vague, but can upsetting due to its shocking nature.

-The underlying themes of sexual abuse running throughout the game could be upsetting for people who were involved in similar situations.

--The theme of death involving a spouse could also be upsetting, as the situation is explored in emotional detail.


Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Storyline Violence:

--At a climactic point in the game, two humanoid monsters impale themselves through their heads with spears; we hear loud crunching noises, and see them dying in a pose of sorts, their arms stretching out to their sides. (7)

--A woman is stabbed to death off-screen; we hear a slice and a loud IMPACT sound, her face convulsing and forming an expression of shock. (7)

--When entering a room, the camera pans over to reveal a dead woman lying on a bed, blood soaking the sheets beneath her, and we also see the side of her face is bloody and bruised, implying that she was assaulted and beaten to death. (6)

--At one point in the game, we are forced to engage in combat with a man:

You have the option of shooting him, beating him with a pipe, or slicing him with a sword, all of which results in sprays of blood and cries of pain emitting from the man. When defeated, he lets out a long scream of terror and falls over, dead. (6)

--We see a large, surreal and menacing creature that attacks you by battering your character with its large tentacles, and by letting out swarms of vicious bats, that surround your character and tear at his flesh, cries of pain heard. (6)

--A woman angrily kicks a monster several times, picks up a heavyweight TV screen, and drops it on the monster, a loud, "fleshy" impact sound heard. (5)

--A man smothers another character (whose identity will remain secret) with a pillow; the scene is vague and blurry, and kind of hard to decipher at first, but we can see a violent struggle taking place. (5)

--A woman commits suicide by walking into flames; we see her vanish into the fire, but the most graphic details of her suicide are obscured. (5)

General Violence:

--Players are able to wield blunt objects in combat and use them against monsters, bones cracking upon impact, and blood spewing out, splashing across the environment, with pools of gore seeping out beneath fallen enemies. (7)

--Players are able to shoot monsters in self-defense, a mist of blood spraying out, the monster convulsing with the impact of the bullet, and blood splattering all over the surrounding environment. (7)

--Players are also able to explore multiple environments, some of which are stained with large amounts of blood, and with bodies of fallen people and monsters scattered throughout the area. A few of the corpses have torn skins, with large amounts of blood covering their figures. Some of the corpses are posed, or suspended from objects, in a deliberate fashion. (7)

Context of Violence: Surreal, Psychological, Shock Value.

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--We see a brief, yet clear depiction of a monster assaulting two other monsters. He holds the victims and makes suggestive motions as they resist him. This is shown twice. No nudity is depicted. (9)

-Later on, the same monster holds a similar victim in front of himself, distorted moaning noises heard as it engages in some kind of act before it throws the hapless creature aside. This is brief.

--We see a room with circular holes all around, with pistons slamming in and out of them. This scene represents the mind of a character, who was victim to abuse.

Inside the room, we also see a monster resembling a bed with a humanoid form beneath the cover. Underneath it is a noticeably phallic creature with a face that seems to be contorted in terror. The lump under the covers thrusts back and forth when it attacks your character.

This scene has obvious psychological undertones, although it is difficult to describe. The monster is shown at several other points in the game as well. (8)

--A woman makes seductive advances towards a man, suggestively asking if he wants to "touch" her, and that he should "get" her. (6)

--A female "femme fatale" character is featured in the game. In her introductory scene, she speaks in a low seductive tone, making a lot of hand contact with your (male) character. When he mentions that a hotel was a "special place" for him and his wife, the woman naughtily replies that she "bet it was". (5)

-When confronted by a locked door, the aforementioned woman lifts a key out of her bra, exchanging a suggestive look with her companion while he stares on.

--A few of the monsters have a notably sexualised form like that of a woman's, exposing thighs, cleavage and buttocks, and some of them wear thongs/panties. The "Nurses" have revealing outfits obviously made to appeal to people with a thing for that sort of thing. (5)

--We see the inside of a strip club, the neon vignette of a woman shown, her profile visible. (5)

Context of Sex/Nudity: Psychological, Surreal.

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive 

Infrequent Uses of S**t, A*s, B**ls, H**l, and D**n.

Spiritual Content:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive 

--Inside of a large, expansive room, we see gallows with three nooses, and an inscription on the base of the construction: "I give you blood to atone for three sins." 

This implies some sort of blood ritual. (8)

--At one point, we enter a room with an encircled pentagram and candles, and books scattered throughout the room, their titles referencing the summoning of demons, succibi and fallen angels. (7)

--While not explicitly stated, the town of Silent Hill is obviously possessed by some kind of large supernatural force, due to the monsters, mysterious events in the storyline, and the fog enveloping the town. (6)

--We see a statue of a "praying woman", that appears to be the Catholic interpretation of Mary. (5)

--A man says that he will "pray to the Lord so that He will have mercy on your soul". (3)

Context of Spiritual Content: Surreal, Black Magic.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive 

--Players can take medication to cure wounds. Late in the story, a woman mentions she looks "terrible" due to the "drugs" she's been taking for her illness. (5)

--We see a couple boxes full of liquor bottles. (4)

-A woman says that she has a hangover.

Gross Stuff/Gore:

--In a nightmarish level, a few demonic nurses make an appearance, smeared with an orange substance all over. (8)

--Several environments are covered with what appears to be rotten flesh. This is shown quite often. (7)

-A few monsters have grotesque skins and disgusting appearances in a very surreal way. They appear to have bags of flesh draped over them or protruding out of their bodies.

--We hear a man graphically puking. This carries on for quite some time, but no fluids are visible. (7)

-The man in question is shown with "plumber's crack", his buttocks exposed slightly.

--We see a toilet filled with orange and yellow fluids, which a man then sticks his hand in to retrieve an item. (7)

--A very prominent monster that's featured in the storyline appears to be a bed made out of pale, convulsing flesh, and it has a grotesque, bloodied mouth with a twitching tongue. (7)
Scary Stuff/Intense Scenes:


The game, as a whole, is pretty terrifying, and as such, not recommended for the faint of heart.

--A sequence takes place in a historical building. The whole sequence is very terrifying, because of it featuring a long descent downwards, constant tension as to what this will bring, and monsters who chase your character throughout the sequence. (9)

-At one point, you're locked into a room, which goes dark. Suddenly, large insects appear all over the room's walls, buzzing heard as the walls sway back and forth.

-After solving a puzzle in this sequence, we suddenly and very loudly hear a man's agonised scream.

-We come across a room filled with corpses stuck into holes in opposing walls. A man creepily states that he saw one of them move.

-While moving on a catwalk, we see several strange creatures moving beneath us, which attack us upon being provoked.

--The Pyramid always manages to unsettle with his appearance, the first of which being on the other side of a gate, staring ominously at your character, and at one point chasing him through a hallway with a spear. The latter is especially tense. (8)

--A woman suddenly transforms into a pale-skinned, female humanoid, flips upside down, and floats around over your character, sending bats towards him and attacking him with tentacles. (6)

Emotional Scenes:

--The overall feeling of the game is very dark and gloomy, and may induce a deep feeling of loneliness throughout its length. (9)

--A woman reads a rather long letter to a man, talking about all the fights they had due to her illness, and apologising to the man for hurting him and abusing him through her own pain. This scene is quite emotional. (7)

--It's implied that a traumatised woman commits suicide; this scene is not graphic, but very emotional, due to the dialogue between her a man before she apparently dies. (6)

--A character is killed by a monster; this is not shown, but a man's agonised reaction makes it quite sad. (5)
 
Dialogue/Miscellaneous:

--A woman says that a man is obviously only after "one thing" and that he could just "force" her to do what he wants, like someone else did to her. (8)

--A reference to a man murdering two children and committing suicide in a jail cell, by severing his "carotid artery" with a "soup spoon" and bleeding to death, the spoon "buried two inches in his neck". (7)
 
--A man talks about how he was bullied and told he was a "disgusting piece of s**t". He also mentions that he killed a dog and that it tried to "eat its own guts out". (7)


--We read a darkly humourous poem about a man killing a man and feeding them to guests, "with seconds on requests", and a reference to another man selling kids into slavery. (5)

--A man states that he committed a murder because he hated the person in question and wanted them "out of the way". (5)
Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

It's hard to determine what to make of the morality in Silent Hill, since it's the reflection of a man's psyche. Some actions can be considered honourable, like helping out lesser characters, but overall, this is not a morality tale at all.

Thoughts & Impressions:


A perfect portrait of loneliness. 

Silent Hill 2 packs so much psychological themes and undertones into its world, it will make your head spin. Every single act in the story has meaning, like a slow descent into the bowels of the Earth representing the psychological downfall of a character, or a building wordlessly deteriorating from the inside as a man has to come to terms with his grief.

The game revolves around James Sunderland, a man who receives a letter from his dead wife and sets out to find her in the town of their honeymoon: Silent Hill. Mary, James' late wife, had died from an illness some time before the events of the game, and James has yet to come to terms with her death.

All is not as it seems upon arrival in Silent Hill, however, because a strange, mysterious supernatural force having taken over the town in their absence. James stays committed to his goal of finding his dead wife, even if he needs to descend into the deepest depths of the town in order to do so.

What James doesn't know, however, is that he has a far deeper connection with the town that he could ever have imagined. And it's only a matter of time before James' deadly little secret, comes to light... 

While it's a slow-burn, Silent Hill 2 is a joy from start to finish.

Just kidding. There's actually nothing pleasant about the game, and as such, it's not for everyone. The last thing you want to do is go into this game thinking that you'll have an absolute ball (for lack of a less posh word) when it comes to gameplay. This is story-based game, and it should be treated as such.

The story hinges on its protagonist. The character of James Sunderland is understated, yet complex enough to carry the entire plot. There are other characters, all serving the purpose of enriching the world of Silent Hill, but this is mainly James' story, that of coming to terms with his wife's death and seeking closure. 

This quest may sound simplistic, but as time moves on, it becomes quite clear that the story is anything but straightforward.

The story unfolds through the town and the interactions between characters. Silent Hill 2 masters the art of environmental storytelling, with buildings and rooms representing the mental states of characters, who reveal their disturbing secrets through the town's purgatorial approach to the people within. 

This approach to storytelling is highly effective, even if it may a rather befuddling approach for those who prefer simplicity over complexity when it comes to video game stories.

Something about Silent Hill 2 manages to transcend other video game stories, managing to encapsulate the human emotion of loneliness in perfection. The long dark corridors, the ubiquitous intimidating fog, the (mostly) empty buildings, all of which give off a perfect sense of abandonment and desperation.

This is where the game really manages to get under your skin: Not by scares, not by challenging boss-fights or even by melodrama, but by simply capturing the simple human emotion of complete and utter loneliness.

At the end of the day, that is infinitely more haunting than any jump-scare or monster can ever hope to achieve. The human psyche is absurdly complex, and Silent Hill 2 unravels the mind in what feels like an incredibly long experience, which hits home in ways that are incredibly personal.

Silent Hill 2 is a depressing, lonely, and difficult journey through the psyche of a tortured soul, but one that will stick with players long after the end. Video game stories have long been the subject of debate between developers and consumers, but something about the quiet, desperate approach that Silent Hill 2 takes, begs for a second, much deeper look at why stories matter in video games, and how they can transcend that of the silver screen in several ways.

It's not for everyone, but for those who are seeking a far more personal journey through the realm of interactive media, it's more than worth a look.

Conclusion:

Now that everything has been said, done and peppered, why don't we bust out our magnifying glasses and take a closer look at this fellow? Why don't we, my dear Watson?

Violence: Nothing worse than a PG-13 movie. Yes, seriously. No, I was not on any sleeping medication whilst reviewing this game. Yes, I do like cookies. 

While the the content in the Gross Stuff section may be too much for some to handle on a weak stomach, this game is not nearly as graphic is it might seem. Matter of fact, I was surprised at how mild this game is when it came to the violence.

With that said, the psychological undertones of said violence, was exceedingly strong. This game is a complex exploration of a tortured mind, and shows us things very few other games make any effort to depict through its surreal and dark atmosphere and storyline.

Speaking of psychological undertones...

Sex/Nudity: If you've read any reviews, analyses or articles about this game, or made any effort to decipher its storyline, you'll know that the game features a lot of sexual imagery related to assault and sexual repression.

Implications of abuse and the human need for sex are strong themes in the game, especially in relation to some of the monsters you encounter. (Suddenly the disturbingly sexy leg creature makes a whole lot more sense, doesn't it?)

The Pyramid Head scene is very disturbing, albeit not that graphic and more surreal than anything. However, it is detailed enough for your subconscious mind to pick up everything the scene is trying to say.

Language: Nothing much to say here. Standard swears.

Spiritual Content: Silent Hill 2 has some occultic undertones, especially in relation to the conjuring up of demons and ancient spirits. The supernatural is very prominent, yet very subtle, in Silent Hill 2.

References to the conjuring up of demons may disturb this who are concerned with spiritual content in games. While it's not a complete deal-breaker, it's still of note.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: Medication related. None of it is used in the storyline to make things more surreal, weird, or Twin Peaks-esque. (The game is surprisingly good at keeping itself together.)

Morality: Once again, not really applicable here. This is a deep, dark psychological exploration of a character and not a traditional "Hero's Journey". Sure, you have an active goal, and a protagonist and a sidekick and a guardian and a seductress and an antagonist and a denouement and a three-act structure and all, but it only serves as a way to slowly peel back the layers of the central character's mind, instead of trying to make him seem like a hero in any way. 

Or does it?

KVR: Silent Hill 2 is the kind of experience which relies on the subconscious rather than the conscious mind, not unlike the works of surrealists, and directors like Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, the former of which being my favourite auteur of all time. 

With that said, this is not the kind of game I'd actually play. It's just too raw and far too real. Adding to that, the scary, lonely atmosphere turns me off entirely, as I need at least some "life" in a game to make things worth playing.

This game is for the mature. I don't recommend it for anyone who can't handle its depressing atmosphere and mature themes. So with that, I give this game a verdict of...

Verdict: 18+
For Psychological Horror, A Depressing Atmosphere, and Mature Themes Involving Sexual Abuse

Outro:



I hope you guys enjoyed this Content Rundown. Please stay tuned for more reviews and as such of recent games. I've got two more of Telltale Games'...games to review, so keep an eye out for that.

Until next time!

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