I take it you didn’t want to play the second one before the first, so I’ll just jump in – how connected to the first game was it?

Other than the location, the second game wasn’t hugely connected to the first. There were aspects to the undercurrents of what makes Silent Hill, Silent Hill lurking everywhere: like people going mad, the “hell” dimension and in one ending… there were references to the “old gods”, but there were none of the first game’s characters here.

James looks a little like Leon Kennedy...

James looks a little like Leon Kennedy…

One of the problems you had with the first game is that Harry seemed to be unphased by the events surrounding him. How appropriate were James’ reactions?

James was freaking out a lot, he seemed far more emotionally involved. There was definitely a nice balance with him pointing out just how weird things were, soldiering on and trying to help the people he met, which he always observed were not safe while they stayed in Silent Hill.

The soundtrack is particularly important in the Horror genre. How well did the sound play with the game itself?

I think in this game there may have been a bit too much music or other sound effects that continued on in the background. There were few moments of silence and while the overall effect was to make you feel on edge all the time, they could have countered it with areas where you suspected there would be enemies and just hoped the radio would warn you in time. Also, I think the sound effects were quite gruesome, as the game took advantage of the newer tech: there were many fleshy sounds in the game that were kinda grim.

The general atmosphere of the first game was incredible. Do you feel Silent Hill 2 topped it?

Silent Hill 2 managed to get the normal with the odd just that bit more. There were more everyday locations for you to explore in and outside of the hell dimension, whereas the previous game was more like a load of residential area with key public buildings rather than a healthy mix of commercial buildings too. Having this variety in its built environment made it more believable and so more shocking when the oddness showed-up and tried to smother you.

“There were few moments of silence and while the overall effect was to make you feel on edge all the time, they could have countered it with areas where you suspected there would be enemies and just hoped the radio would warn you in time.”

Would you say the story worked at all? Why or why not?

Because of the way James reacted to what was happening to him, the story was more compelling than that of the original game. This clear link between what was happening and how James was reacting allowed the story to work: you felt more concerned over whether his sanity was okay, than whether you’d find Cheryl (a.k.a. the premise of the first game).

It built together a careful picture of what was happening with James, why Silent Hill mattered and why it could possibly hold answers. The evidence that something supernatural was at play allowed the logic of the story to play out nicely too.

Eddie

Because dealing with monsters wasn’t enough…

Did the other characters in the game add to the story much?

It did feel like Angela and Eddie could have been removed from the game and not have much effect, in the case of Angela: what she could do to the ending could have been replicated without the need for anyone other than James to be involved. Eddie also seemed kind of pointless: it was like they wanted a psychopath on screen for the sake of having one.

I appreciated what Maria and Laura gave to the game: they were definitely needed. Though I think James should have had a bit more facetime with Laura that didn’t have them at each other’s throats.

Is the main character – James – likeable?

Whether he’s likeable or not really depends on the actions you take in the game. If you manage to get him to overcome his grief enough to realise that he’s not truly at fault – then he’s quite likeable. However, if you play him as more of a self-serving arse then you’re probably not going to like him.

Pyramid Head. Probably as infamous as the Bloodied Nurses.

Pyramid Head. Probably as infamous as the Bloodied Nurses.

This game introduced quite an iconic horror baddie – Pyramid Head. How scary was he?

I didn’t find him that scary. James was often given enough space to get away from him and the way Maria reacts to the character is more annoying than scary. During one encounter, Pyramid Head chases you down a corridor and Maria will constantly not get the message to just run, she hardly keeps up at all: that was frustrating not scary. What I was more concerned about with Pyramid Head was trying to figure out what he kept doing with all the Mannequin demons.

The game asks you at the beginning about difficulty settings for both the action and the puzzles. Was this an insightful option?

After the obscurity of many of the puzzles in the first game this was definitely the way to go. You could make the action low key and have the puzzles super hard if you wanted and so on, it was a great way to customise the gameplay experience.

The controls in the first game were a bit of a pain. How are they in this game?

You were given more choice on controls, but it took me quite a while to figure out whether I preferred 2D over the default 3D. In the end I stuck with the 2D setting, just because it was a bit more reliable in terms of controlling James, but they cleaned up the camera, so it wasn’t as bad as moving around in the original.

“I saw lots of opportunities for where things could have gone differently, but I liked the good ending that I got…”

One of the more bizarre endings to ANY game...

One of the more bizarre endings to ANY game…

You’ve completed the game now. How satisfying was the ending?

The ending I got felt good for what I’d done in the game. I saw lots of opportunities for where things could have gone differently, but I liked the good ending that I got… though really the true good ending is finding out that a dog was controlling it all.