A Silent Hill 2 remake could be on the cards, with Layers of Fear developer Bloober Team at the helm. Depending on where you stand with the survival horror series and this particular studio, that sentence might excite or enrage. With E3 2022 just around the corner, things may become clearer soon, but the news certainly has folk talking. I, for one, love the genre. I love Silent Hill, and I consider the second game to be a bit of a masterpiece.
Silent Hill 2 is far from perfect. That’s something I realized upon a second visit in 2012 via the Silent Hill HD Collection; I was shocked by how many of its rough edges I’d smoothed in my mind through a lens of nostalgia, but it’s a classic that was well ahead of its time. Bloober Team, on the other hand, is a mixed bag studio for many. The Medium wasn’t great. The dev’s 2019 slant on ’90s horror series The Blair Witch was fine. The Observer had some solid ideas. And its debut, psychological thriller Layers of Fear, is, for my money, one of best narrative horror games out there.
Is Bloober Team capable of delivering a successful and true Silent Hill 2 remake? Probably. But do we actually need one? I’m not so sure. Perhaps I need to see something in motion, something tangible. Perhaps I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the E3 2022 schedule over the coming weeks.
I realize we’re wistfully deep in the era of remakes, but Silent Hill’s imperfections have always stood the series apart. Its clunky combat mechanics were explained away by the fact its anti-hero protagonist, James Sutherland, wasn’t a trained marksman; while the titular town’s iconic rolling fog masked level loads and renders. When the aforementioned HD collection released on PS3 and Xbox 360, some 11 years after the original, it featured wispy, flimsy, almost non-existent fog that transformed its outdoor scenes entirely. At the time, fans of the original games voiced their concerns, and I worry the cult status of Silent Hill 2 in particular makes a fully-realized remake all the more risky.
The Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes of 2019 and 2020 are great and good examples of remakes-done-right, but, as first-party reworks, the circumstances which led to their development are hardly the same here. Bluepoint Studios’ Demon’s Souls remake for PS5 might be a more appropriate comparison, but, even then, Bluepoint had a long history of Sony-published ports and remakes under its belt before being handed the keys to FromSoftware’s own cult classic – not least 2018’s much-acclaimed reworking of Shadow of the Colossus.
Konami giving the nod to Bloober Team, assuming the rumors are true, feels like an unprecedented move – given the latter’s relatively modest status and stature. One thing I will say is that Silent Hill 2 always excelled in its quieter, more thoughtful moments: fumbling around Blue Creek Apartments, hiding in cupboards, spotting Pyramid Head for the first time on the other side of that chain-link fence while your radio went wild with static feedback – these pensive junctures are the ones that have stuck with me most for 20 years. The moments where it was what you couldn’t see that was most terrifying, or when your mind worked overtime preparing for what might lie ahead. I felt the exact same trepidation playing Layers of Fear for the first time, and drew parallels between Silent Hill 2’s ending and the ways in which Bloober Team played with the terror of coming to terms with mental illness, without ever feeling cheap.
To this end, Bloober Team’s experience in horror-driven narrative experiences could bode well for a potential Silent Hill 2 remake. Tapping into the core tenets of Layers of Fear would be vital in that process, I reckon – mechanics, themes, and a narrative that were undoubtedly inspired in part by classics such as Silent Hill 2, ironically – bolstered by key considerations such as camera perspective and, naturally, combat mechanics. The dream, of course, would be getting Team Silent back together for one last hurrah, but with key personnel scattered to the winds – series creator Keiichiro Toyama now hard at work on upcoming horror game Slitterhead, with esteemed Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka in tow – that seems all but impossible. A recent Silent Hill leak seemed credible thanks to copyright claims, but the one piece of leaked concept artwork signed by Silent Hill artist Masahiro Ito appears to not be tied to Silent Hill at all, as per the artist’s own tweets a few years back.
All of which brings me back to my earlier questions. Firstly, is Bloober Team capable of delivering a successful and true Silent Hill 2 remake? Again, it probably is. The studio’s, let’s say, ambiguous track record makes it impossible to say either way with any degree of confidence, but if the studio can double down on what made Layers of Fear work, I reckon it could be onto something. As for my second question: do we actually need a Silent Hill 2 remake in 2022 or thereafter? The Resident Evil 2 remake has set the bar so very high for old school survival horror reimaginings, to the point where I suspect Silent Hill fans will expect something near-perfect. Add this to the fact OG Silent Hill 2 is revered by so many, not to mention the fiasco that was Hideo Kojima’s canceled Silent Hills, and I’m not sure we need a Silent Hill 2 remake at all.
I may be the first person to quote Ricky Gervais in relation to Silent Hill, but when asked about the possibility of reuniting the cast of The Office in 2018, the actor and writer said: “People think they want more, but they don’t. They just want the feeling they had when they saw it for the first time.” I think that just about hits the nail on the head for me. But that doesn’t mean I won’t have a keen eye on E3 2022 should anything surface around this long-anticipated Silent Hill 2 Remake. And at the very least, I’d love to see something solid before I write the concept off entirely.
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