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In my restless dreams, I see that town.
Numerous fans and critics hold Silent Hill 2, the second game in Konami's Silent Hill franchise, in very high regard: they consider it the franchise's apex, and as such, it holds a place on a number of critics' "greatest games" lists.
One day, a man called James Sunderland receives a letter from his wife Mary asking him to meet her in their "special place" in Silent Hill, a resort town they visited together once on vacation. The problem is that Mary is dead.
Despite knowing that it is impossible for Mary to be alive, James travels to Silent Hill to discover who wrote the letter and the reason they sent it, arriving into a seemingly-abandoned town shrouded in a perpetual fog. During his exploration of Silent Hill, he meets several people: 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 soon discovers that his journey through Silent Hill is a very personal one, as he is forced to confront his own fears, vices and guilt. A number of increasingly symbolic monsters oppose him at every turn, most notably the Pyramid Head, a muscular butcher in a pyramid-shaped helmet who rapes and assaults his fellow monsters and murders Maria over and over.
Silent Hill offers up these tropes; they're waiting for you:
- Abandoned Hospital: One of the levels in the game.
- Abusive Parents: Angela's parents. Daddy was sexually abusive, Mommy said she deserved it.
- Advancing Boss of Doom: Pyramid Head in general.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: One of the characters eventually discovers something about themselves that they tried to mask. Who was it?: James was involved in hastening Mary's death, causing him to have his memory of the fact repressed
- 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.
- Anticlimax Boss: Pyramid Head. When you first meet him, you'll just have to evade his attacks till he leaves. Near the end of the game, you encounter TWO Pyramid Heads. You'll have to repeat the same process, then they'll just spontaneously kill themselves.
- Apocalyptic Log: Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away! Run away!
- Awesome but Impractical: The Great Knife is highly powerful and makes you feel powerful like its past owner but it's beyond slow to even have equipped. Now try fighting with it.
- 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.
- Back From the Dead/They Killed Kenny: Maria, who is brought back from death more than once.
- Ax Crazy: Eddie, definitely.
- 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.
- 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.
- Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: An important recurring symbol.
- Chainsaw Good: In a New Game+, you can find a chainsaw in the forested area near the beginning of the game.
- 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.
- Dead Man Writing: Mary's letter at the end.
- Degraded Boss: The Abstract Daddy reappears as a reasonably easy kill a couple of times after its first appearance as a dangerous boss.
- Difficulty Spike: Brookhaven Hospital, where the Bubblehead Nurses are much tougher than the other enemies you've fought up to this point.
- Disgusting Public Toilet:
- The game begins in one.
- James sticks his hand into one without even so much as rolling up his sleeve first.
- The Dog Is the Mastermind: Invoked in the Joke Ending with Mira the dog.
- Driven to 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.
- 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.
- Fan Sequel: Silent Hill: Promise
- Femme Fatale: Maria
- Four Is Death: The fourth time that James meets Eddie and Angela, they die.
- Hell Hotel: The Lakeview Hotel.
- Hellevator: The lift that marks the end of Toluca Prison and the start of the Labirynth. 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Law of Disproportionate Response/Rant-Inducing Slight: "'Anyway?' What do you mean, 'anyway'?!" Maria's outburst is triggered by James's "not seem[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.
- Let's Play: Several let's plays have been done of Silent Hill 2. Agent JR's youtube Let's Play can be found here, From Earth's hilarious screen shot Let's Play can be found here and Iktor's blog Let's Play (and first play through ever) is here.
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- Murderous Mannequin
- Nightmare Sequence: Silent Hill 2 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.
The door that wakes in darkness, opening into nightmares.
- Nostalgia Heaven: A deliciously twisted version.
- 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.
- Psychological Torment Zone
- 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.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Eddie certainly thinks so, but he's forced to resort to pistol-whipping after six shots.
- Rule of Symbolism: Tons, especially in the enemy designs and also in the characters.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: The town of Silent Hill itself, in this game more so than the others in the series.
- 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.
- Sinister Scraping Sound: Pyramid Head scrapes his giant shiv 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.
- Stairway to Heaven: The game inverts this trope with Angela's staircase to Hell.
- 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 commited 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.
- 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 lied about the reason for coming to Silent Hill. 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.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: The cutscene introducing Eddie features this trope, though the sound of Eddie's spewing works well enough on its own.
- Vorpal Pillow: James puts Mary out of her misery this way.
- Welcome to Hell: An incomplete "WELCOME!" sign hangs over Road 73.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Laura only appears in one of the four main endings. In the other three, Laura completely disappears from the entire narrative after running away from James in Room 312.
- 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 room supposedly represents Angela's uterus.