Miracle's Whip - SILENT HILL 2 (and why it's still the scariest game ever made)

MiracleOfSound

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Miracle's Whip - SILENT HILL 2 RETROSPECTIVE




It's difficult to scare a gamer who grew up on a diet of horror and gore movies as a teenager. Horror games have a tendency to focus on jump scares, blood and action than on tension and dread. Sure, Dead Space was scary. It made me jump a few times, in between bouts of being a one man wrecking machine blasting the limbs off anything that moved. Condemned had some real jump-out-of-your-seat moments (Locker Room, anyone?), and who can forget the exhilarating panic of being chased through the log cabin in its sequel? Alan Wake was scary for the first hour until you realised the game was just filled with the same easily killed nasties for its entire duration. Resident Evil 4 had the Alien style Right Hand sequence, pitting the player against a terrifying creature but ruining the experience with immersion breaking QTEs. Resident Evil 5's only frightening aspects were Sheva's AI, and the spectacularly stupid racial caricatures.

This is why playing Silent Hill 2 makes me sad. Not because it's bad, but because it's so good. It's hard to believe that in almost a decade since its release, not one developer has managed to create a horror title with anywhere near the same level of primal, gut wrenching fear that this masterpiece instills in the player. One would think with the technical advances of today, devs would be able to enhance the medium's ability to get under our skin and make us quiver like jelly on a washing machine. Not so. So why is it that Silent Hill 2, with its now dated graphics and clunky control scheme, is still by far the most terrifying game on the market today?


The Silent Hill trans-gender clinic really needed to come up with a better name.

The reason is that it isn't just scary, it's deeply, intensely unsettling and disturbing. For ten hours, Silent Hill 2 worms its way into the player's mind, rattling the psyche and bringing us face to face with our deepest, most primal fears. Death, sex, guilt, isolation, anger, disease... all are presented in subtle, terrifying ways that pry into the subconscious and unrelentingly distress the player on a profound level. The game is ingenious in its synergy, making the most of imagery, sound, a fantastic soundtrack and an emotionally charged story. Everything gels together wonderfully to create, in my opinion, the most atmospheric game created to this day - an astounding achievement given its age.

The first thing that struck me playing this game was the wonderful oxymoron of its ugly beauty. Beginning in a disgusting public toilet, we meet James Sunderland, our protagonist, as he whispers cryptic questions into a dirty mirror. The walls are crumbling, filthy and gritty. A hellish red-brown colour dominates the walls, giving an impression of decay, rust, dried blood or old meat. This brilliantly horrible hue is the primary colour in the game's interiors, and a huge factor in giving the game its unique aesthetic. Despite its ugliness, there is something darkly compelling and beautiful about it. We learn that James has received a letter from his dead wife, asking him to meet her in the town of Silent Hill, where they used to spend their holidays together. This is the first example of a very important feature: the game never questions its own bizarre logic or condescends the player by trying to make its themes obvious. Some players have misinterpreted the story as making no sense, but everything in Silent Hill 2 is there for a reason. The story is told almost entirely through metaphors. Nothing is there simply to seem weird or creepy, every event, area and creature has some significance, no matter how seemingly opaque and evasive their meanings are.


Nurse? I've a 'wink wink' downstairs problem I need you to look, at... oh, wait... actually never mind.

Take, for example, the masterful creature design. The monsters in Silent Hill 2 are horrifying, but not just through ugliness. They tap into our dark, psycho-sexual subconscious. The first monster we encounter is a strange shuffling humanoid. Though its top half is trapped and sheathed in a condom-like mess of leathery, bloodied skin, vomiting green bile in James's face, its bottom half is feminine, elegant and dare I say it, almost sexy, dressed only in boots and a thong. It is this perplexing mix of sex and death that informs most of the creature design, the reasons becoming ever clearer as the story goes on and the monsters become more deranged and frightening. Everyone remembers the nurses, with their teasing cleavages, tight, short skirts and bloody, bandaged faces. The Abstract Daddies are particularly sinister, exploiting our fears of rape, captivity and suffocation.

Most iconic, of course, is Pyramid Head. Though somewhat bastardised nowadays due to the movie version of Silent Hill completely missing his meaning and context, he is a terrifying presence in the game. He is not scary because he wears a big metal hat, he is scary because he represents the darkest, most animal and vicious parts of the male mind. He is agony, guilt, desire, violence and power and he is there inside all of us.


'Excuse me, have you seen Chris Gans? I'd like a friendly word with him about context.'

Environmental design is equally as impressive. After a slow, creepy trudge through the mist-filled streets, we find ourselves in an apartment block. This is where the visuals hit their stride. James can only ever see a few feet in front of him, making every hallway and room a threat. Dynamic shadows and clever camera angles add to the tension. There is nothing quite like turning a dark corner and seeing the flash of a mannikin's legs as it comes to life the moment you see it... I admit I had to stop and catch my breath after one such occasion late in the game, when the level design cruelly, ingeniously robs you of all your items and leaves you utterly defenseless. James's radio is a great effect, emitting static when a monster is nearby. This creates some frightening moments of 'oh fuck- where is it??' type fear. As the game progresses, the environments become more and more ominous, bizarre and ugly, complimented by eerie, alien soundscapes and audio effects. Standout levels include an abandoned hospital with a dark secret, and a subterranean nightmare labyrinth.

One level in particular really stood out to me. I had to travel through a hole in a wall and down a dark, descending stone corridor. The corridor is very, very long and as I descended further and further, a dreadful thumping, droning sound grew gradually louder and louder. For almost a minute and a half I had to continue further, deeper down into the darkness as this unseen horror grew ever more present. By the time I reached the end, I was stressed, terrified and exhilarated. So simple, but so effective.


Come on, guys... turn off the camera, I can't go with you watching.

No game is perfect, and Silent Hill 2 has its flaws. The 'go here, get key, go back and open door' adventure style gameplay can get a little silly at times, with the usual survival horror problem rearing its ugly head - some of the puzzles defy all logic and common sense. There is one puzzle involving tinned orange juice that is completely counter-intuitive and plain retarded. Some of the items you must use on other items are hilariously random too, making for some oblique solutions to puzzles that, in real life, could have been solved with many other items in the inventory. Many dislike the controls, but once I changed them to the '2-D' setup, I found them to be fine. James is a normal guy and should not be an expert with firearms. The combat was never too taxing on normal mode, except for one or two instances where you become suddenly cornered. Ammo is plentiful and you never have to worry too much about running out, which, to be honest, I was thankful for. The camera bugs some people too, and though its tight angles and sudden changes did screw me over in one or two tight spots, it generally works well and adds to the tension. Voice acting is pretty bad throughout the game.

The only real reason not to play Silent Hill 2 is that it may be too much for some gamers, the constant tension and mind-fuckery may be too intense to deal with. To me, and many others, this game is the pinnacle of horror in gaming and a true classic. It's more than a game, it's a stunning piece of interactive art. Which brings me to my question for you all, do you think it will ever be bettered? Will a developer ever again have the vision and imagination to mess with our heads in this way? I certainly hope so and don't see why not. Until then, dig out your old PS2 or XBOX and revisit gaming's most memorable town.

Side note: I must reluctantly thank my XBOX 360 for having a meltdown and inspiring me to go back and play some classic games. Thanks, you stupid piece of crap.
 

afaceforradio

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Well written sir :) and - kudos on the picture captions hehe.

SH2 is and always will be my favourite survival horror and of the SH series in general :)
 

JourneyThroughHell

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Would you recommend it if I can't stand horror games?
That's really something I need to know because I've seen the reviews and I've heard the music, and, damnit, I want to play this.
But I can't stand horror games.
Oh, and good review, although you should definitely have talked about the music some more.
 

Sassafrass

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A very nice review, well done. Loved the captions too.

I've never really looked into the SH series but have been warned by at least two people on the site to not pick up SH2 unless I want to end up having nightmares for a week.
Considering I've not had a decent dream for about 3 years, I'm willing to take the nightmares. :)

And don't mention your 360's death, mine may here you! ><
 

MiracleOfSound

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afaceforradio said:
Well written sir :) and - kudos on the picture captions hehe.

SH2 is and always will be my favourite survival horror and of the SH series in general :)
Thanks man! I'm dying to get Silent Hill 3 but can't find it :( But yeah... Resident Evil is like care Bears compared to SH.



Sassafrass said:
A very nice review, well done. Loved the captions too.

I've never really looked into the SH series but have been warned by at least two people on the site to not pick up SH2 unless I want to end up having nightmares for a week.
Considering I've not had a decent dream for about 3 years, I'm willing to take the nightmares. :)

And don't mention your 360's death, mine may here you! ><
It's worth it, believe me! It's such a unique experience, a true piece of art. May your 360 never red ring, friend.
 

MiracleOfSound

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JourneyThroughHell said:
Would you recommend it if I can't stand horror games?
That's really something I need to know because I've seen the reviews and I've heard the music, and, damnit, I want to play this.
But I can't stand horror games.
Oh, and good review, although you should definitely have talked about the music some more.
It really depends... does your dislike of horror stem form being too afraid of them or from not liking it as a matter of taste?

If you find horror games too much in general then maybe avoid SH2 because it will mess with your head. I showed my GF two minutes of it and she screamed and had nightmares.
 

Sassafrass

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MiracleOfSound said:
It's worth it, believe me! It's such a unique experience, a true piece of art. May your 360 never red ring, friend.
I shall look it up when I can next then. My PS2 will be happy for the run-out. :)

And my longest lasting one so far is my current 360.
I've had 3 or 4 (Can't remember, they broke so much) and they've all RRoD me. And the best thing is, al free repairs, all broke again. :p So I got a second hand one which has lasted exactly 1 year and 4 months and proven more reliable then a shop new one and a repaired one.

So I'm hopeful this one won't. *Crosses all crossable things*
 

JourneyThroughHell

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MiracleOfSound said:
JourneyThroughHell said:
Would you recommend it if I can't stand horror games?
That's really something I need to know because I've seen the reviews and I've heard the music, and, damnit, I want to play this.
But I can't stand horror games.
Oh, and good review, although you should definitely have talked about the music some more.
It really depends... does your dislike of horror stem form being too afraid of them or from not liking it as a matter of taste?

If you find horror games too much in general then maybe avoid SH2 because it will mess with your head. I showed my GF two minutes of it and she screamed and had nightmares.
I am too afraid.
I literally can't stand being startled but what kills me more is the anxiety.
So, yeah, I can't bear horror.
 

DarthFennec

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JourneyThroughHell said:
I am too afraid.
I literally can't stand being startled but what kills me more is the anxiety.
So, yeah, I can't bear horror.
Huh. I don't think SH2 is really that scary in terms of startling. But if you can't stand being anxious, well, I think if you want to play SH2 you should probably leave the music down and take frequent breaks, and you might be able to handle it. It's not scary really, but the longer you play it and let yourself into the atmosphere of the game, the more it affects you.
 

MiracleOfSound

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JourneyThroughHell said:
MiracleOfSound said:
JourneyThroughHell said:
Would you recommend it if I can't stand horror games?
That's really something I need to know because I've seen the reviews and I've heard the music, and, damnit, I want to play this.
But I can't stand horror games.
Oh, and good review, although you should definitely have talked about the music some more.
It really depends... does your dislike of horror stem form being too afraid of them or from not liking it as a matter of taste?

If you find horror games too much in general then maybe avoid SH2 because it will mess with your head. I showed my GF two minutes of it and she screamed and had nightmares.
I am too afraid.
I literally can't stand being startled but what kills me more is the anxiety.
So, yeah, I can't bear horror.
In that case, maybe give it a miss. There really is no let up, it keeps you anxious, terrified and tense for the whole game... it might be too much for you, and you wouldn't be the only one... my buddy couldn't even finish the first level.
 

Pimppeter2

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Great review buddy. But you could pay me to play this game. I'm very easily frightened.
 

afaceforradio

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MiracleOfSound said:
afaceforradio said:
Well written sir :) and - kudos on the picture captions hehe.

SH2 is and always will be my favourite survival horror and of the SH series in general :)
Thanks man! I'm dying to get Silent Hill 3 but can't find it :( But yeah... Resident Evil is like care Bears compared to SH.



Sassafrass said:
A very nice review, well done. Loved the captions too.

I've never really looked into the SH series but have been warned by at least two people on the site to not pick up SH2 unless I want to end up having nightmares for a week.
Considering I've not had a decent dream for about 3 years, I'm willing to take the nightmares. :)

And don't mention your 360's death, mine may here you! ><
It's worth it, believe me! It's such a unique experience, a true piece of art. May your 360 never red ring, friend.
I have SH3 but no PS2 any more. It's not in a box, but if you want it, it's yours (if I can find it). IM me if you're interested cos I'm moving house soon and it'll only get thrown out :)
 

MiracleOfSound

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Pimppeter2 said:
Great review buddy. But you could pay me to play this game. I'm very easily frightened.
Thanks Pimp :)

And yeah... if you're easily frightened don't go near it, like I said earlier, my GF watched 3 or 4 minutes of it, screamed and had nightmares... and this is someone who got through the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Eden Lake :D
 

MiracleOfSound

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Ninjamedic said:
Wait, Did you just insult Resi?
Depends... If you consider 'not scary' an insult then yep!

afaceforradio said:
[
I have SH3 but no PS2 any more. It's not in a box, but if you want it, it's yours (if I can find it). IM me if you're interested cos I'm moving house soon and it'll only get thrown out :)
Nah don't go to trouble man, I'll find it eventually :) there's a great second hamd game place in my street and I'm sure it'll pop up in there at some point!
 

afaceforradio

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MiracleOfSound said:
Ninjamedic said:
Wait, Did you just insult Resi?
Depends... If you consider 'not scary' an insult then yep!

afaceforradio said:
[
I have SH3 but no PS2 any more. It's not in a box, but if you want it, it's yours (if I can find it). IM me if you're interested cos I'm moving house soon and it'll only get thrown out :)
Nah don't go to trouble man, I'll find it eventually :) there's a great second hamd game place in my street and I'm sure it'll pop up in there at some point!
You sure? Would cost me less to send it to you than it would for you to buy it! If you change your mind, lemme know :)
 

DarthFennec

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MiracleOfSound said:
Pimppeter2 said:
Great review buddy. But you could pay me to play this game. I'm very easily frightened.
Thanks Pimp :)

And yeah... if you're easily frightened don't go near it, like I said earlier, my GF watched 3 or 4 minutes of it, screamed and had nightmares... and this is someone who got through the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Eden Lake :D
Seriously? I don't know what's wrong with me then, I can't stand horror movies but I don't get scared at all by Silent Hill, or any horror game for that matter.
 

DarthFennec

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afaceforradio said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Ninjamedic said:
Wait, Did you just insult Resi?
Depends... If you consider 'not scary' an insult then yep!

afaceforradio said:
[
I have SH3 but no PS2 any more. It's not in a box, but if you want it, it's yours (if I can find it). IM me if you're interested cos I'm moving house soon and it'll only get thrown out :)
Nah don't go to trouble man, I'll find it eventually :) there's a great second hamd game place in my street and I'm sure it'll pop up in there at some point!
You sure? Would cost me less to send it to you than it would for you to buy it! If you change your mind, lemme know :)
If you want to give it away so bad, I'll take it ^_^
 

Sonicron

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JourneyThroughHell said:
I am too afraid.
I literally can't stand being startled but what kills me more is the anxiety.
So, yeah, I can't bear horror.
It's very scary, but it only has a small handful of jump-out scares... Silent Hill 2 deals in constant atmospheric tension and raw, basic primal fear, not such much in startling moments. It's unbelievably intense, yes, but I always found this game to be just horridly fascinating enough to be unable to look away.
By the way, this is from a gamer who had to return Dead Space to the rental store after 15 minutes because he nearly had a heart attack.

OT: Told you you'd like it. :)
Great review, as always! The only thing I probably would have done differently is add a few more descriptions of weird places you visit in the game.

Oh yeah, and how is it you didn't mention the narrow, often pitch-black corridors...? I mean, you mentioned them, but not explicitly - the house at the beginning and the motel complex in particular were fucking scary for me! Fear of the dark, disorientation and claustrophobia are among my top reasons for this game being so horrifying, because they're primal fears everyone has to some extent.

I do hope your girlfriend will be rid of the nightmares soon. Oh dear... ^^°

Oh, and Silent Hill 3 is still good, but ultimately out of its league when compared to SH2. It loses most of the symbolism that makes SH2 so powerful, dials the wet sticky-icky factor up to 110 and concentrates on the evil cult business from the eye-cancer-inducing first game, which makes having played that one a requirement of sorts if you want to enjoy the story to its fullest.
 

afaceforradio

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DarthFennec said:
afaceforradio said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Ninjamedic said:
Wait, Did you just insult Resi?
Depends... If you consider 'not scary' an insult then yep!

afaceforradio said:
[
I have SH3 but no PS2 any more. It's not in a box, but if you want it, it's yours (if I can find it). IM me if you're interested cos I'm moving house soon and it'll only get thrown out :)
Nah don't go to trouble man, I'll find it eventually :) there's a great second hamd game place in my street and I'm sure it'll pop up in there at some point!
You sure? Would cost me less to send it to you than it would for you to buy it! If you change your mind, lemme know :)
If you want to give it away so bad, I'll take it ^_^
Cool :) it's no trouble at all; I'd rather send it to a loving home than chuck it in a bin! :D
 

DarthFennec

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afaceforradio said:
DarthFennec said:
afaceforradio said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Ninjamedic said:
Wait, Did you just insult Resi?
Depends... If you consider 'not scary' an insult then yep!

afaceforradio said:
[
I have SH3 but no PS2 any more. It's not in a box, but if you want it, it's yours (if I can find it). IM me if you're interested cos I'm moving house soon and it'll only get thrown out :)
Nah don't go to trouble man, I'll find it eventually :) there's a great second hamd game place in my street and I'm sure it'll pop up in there at some point!
You sure? Would cost me less to send it to you than it would for you to buy it! If you change your mind, lemme know :)
If you want to give it away so bad, I'll take it ^_^
Cool :) it's no trouble at all; I'd rather send it to a loving home than chuck it in a bin! :D
Yep ^_^ I don't have a playstation 2 but I'll get one soon, and it's always a pity to see a good piece of software just go to waste.
 

Danzaivar

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I almost feel like the game is made scarier by the level of graphics. They're detailed enough to represent what they need to, but not good enough to fully do the job, so your mind wanders and fills in the blanks; making it scary to you specifically.

Great review, this is probably the one series that I've wanted to play for the longest time but am too chicken to actually play. Saw silent hill 1 being played when I was younger just after it came out for an hour or so and got creeped the hell out. Needs to be done one day tho.
 

MiracleOfSound

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Jan 3, 2009
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afaceforradio said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Ninjamedic said:
Wait, Did you just insult Resi?
Depends... If you consider 'not scary' an insult then yep!

afaceforradio said:
[
I have SH3 but no PS2 any more. It's not in a box, but if you want it, it's yours (if I can find it). IM me if you're interested cos I'm moving house soon and it'll only get thrown out :)
Nah don't go to trouble man, I'll find it eventually :) there's a great second hamd game place in my street and I'm sure it'll pop up in there at some point!
You sure? Would cost me less to send it to you than it would for you to buy it! If you change your mind, lemme know :)
Really? Are you sure? I don't want you to go to any trouble! How could I repay you? Subscribe to your channel and 'like' every vid 60 times maybe? :D
 

afaceforradio

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MiracleOfSound said:
afaceforradio said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Ninjamedic said:
Wait, Did you just insult Resi?
Depends... If you consider 'not scary' an insult then yep!

afaceforradio said:
[
I have SH3 but no PS2 any more. It's not in a box, but if you want it, it's yours (if I can find it). IM me if you're interested cos I'm moving house soon and it'll only get thrown out :)
Nah don't go to trouble man, I'll find it eventually :) there's a great second hamd game place in my street and I'm sure it'll pop up in there at some point!
You sure? Would cost me less to send it to you than it would for you to buy it! If you change your mind, lemme know :)
Really? Are you sure? I don't want you to go to any trouble! How could I repay you? Subscribe to your channel and 'like' every vid 60 times maybe? :D
Hehe yes! Do that! Sub my channel and tell everyone I'm better than Perez Hilton. Cos y'know, I am ;o) hehe
 

MiracleOfSound

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Jan 3, 2009
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afaceforradio said:
[

Hehe yes! Do that! Sub my channel and tell everyone I'm better than Perez Hilton. Cos y'know, I am ;o) hehe
Ha ok, deal. What should I do so? PM you my address? You know I'm in Ireland right?
 

MiracleOfSound

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Danzaivar said:
I almost feel like the game is made scarier by the level of graphics. They're detailed enough to represent what they need to, but not good enough to fully do the job, so your mind wanders and fills in the blanks; making it scary to you specifically.
Very true, probably one of the only times the uncanny valley effect works to the benefit of the game.
 

afaceforradio

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MiracleOfSound said:
Danzaivar said:
I almost feel like the game is made scarier by the level of graphics. They're detailed enough to represent what they need to, but not good enough to fully do the job, so your mind wanders and fills in the blanks; making it scary to you specifically.
Very true, probably one of the only times the uncanny valley effect works to the benefit of the game.
Eh? Wait, someone from America just sent me their address!!! Oops. I should tell them I meant you cos you're the one who said you didn't have it.

I'm in the UK so it won't be a prob :)
 

DarthFennec

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afaceforradio said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Danzaivar said:
I almost feel like the game is made scarier by the level of graphics. They're detailed enough to represent what they need to, but not good enough to fully do the job, so your mind wanders and fills in the blanks; making it scary to you specifically.
Very true, probably one of the only times the uncanny valley effect works to the benefit of the game.
Eh? Wait, someone from America just sent me their address!!! Oops. I should tell them I meant you cos you're the one who said you didn't have it.

I'm in the UK so it won't be a prob :)
Yeah I called it earlier in the thread because Miracle didn't want it. But I guess he still has dibs if he changes his mind.
 

afaceforradio

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DarthFennec said:
afaceforradio said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Danzaivar said:
I almost feel like the game is made scarier by the level of graphics. They're detailed enough to represent what they need to, but not good enough to fully do the job, so your mind wanders and fills in the blanks; making it scary to you specifically.
Very true, probably one of the only times the uncanny valley effect works to the benefit of the game.
Eh? Wait, someone from America just sent me their address!!! Oops. I should tell them I meant you cos you're the one who said you didn't have it.

I'm in the UK so it won't be a prob :)
Yeah I called it earlier in the thread because Miracle didn't want it. But I guess he still has dibs if he changes his mind.
Darth: I have other unwanted PS2 games, if you want I can send you a list. They're boxless so won't cost alot to send!
 

DarthFennec

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afaceforradio said:
DarthFennec said:
afaceforradio said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Danzaivar said:
I almost feel like the game is made scarier by the level of graphics. They're detailed enough to represent what they need to, but not good enough to fully do the job, so your mind wanders and fills in the blanks; making it scary to you specifically.
Very true, probably one of the only times the uncanny valley effect works to the benefit of the game.
Eh? Wait, someone from America just sent me their address!!! Oops. I should tell them I meant you cos you're the one who said you didn't have it.

I'm in the UK so it won't be a prob :)
Yeah I called it earlier in the thread because Miracle didn't want it. But I guess he still has dibs if he changes his mind.
Darth: I have other unwanted PS2 games, if you want I can send you a list. They're boxless so won't cost alot to send!
No, dude, it's not a big deal ^_^ As I said, I don't even have a ps2 at the moment. Although, if you're just going to throw them out anyway, and if you're planning on trying to convince me like you did with Miracle, I guess I can see a list ...
 

Neonbob

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This was an entertaining read. Mind you, I'm still not going to play the game(call me chickenshit if you want XD), but you somehow made it sound appealing to me. Way to make my brain explode!
Thanks for sending me the link!
 

Nigh Invulnerable

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JourneyThroughHell said:
Would you recommend it if I can't stand horror games?
That's really something I need to know because I've seen the reviews and I've heard the music, and, damnit, I want to play this.
But I can't stand horror games.
Oh, and good review, although you should definitely have talked about the music some more.
As someone who also generally finds "horror" games to be nothing more than gorefests and jump scares, I would recommend SH2 just for being so odd and disturbing. It's one of the few horror games where I actually felt powerless against the creatures that were assaulting my character. Sure, you can bash 'em with a stick or shoot 'em a few times, but you just know that more are waiting around some dark corner.
 

MiracleOfSound

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Jan 3, 2009
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Great review, but I was a little unsettled reading it as I feel like I've read this before. I don't mean that in any kind of sarcastic way, I actually feel like I've read this before & forgotten it.

Have you written something like this before?
 

Syntax Error

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Sep 7, 2008
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Nicely done. I commend you for not mentioning the final corridor before the final boss. Any mention of what happens in there is almost always a big spoiler.

EDIT:
Silent Hill 2 isn't really all that scary while you play it. The scares really start once you turn off the game, and suddenly you find yourself thinking of it.
 

MiracleOfSound

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Syntax Error said:
Nicely done. I commend you for not mentioning the final corridor before the final boss. Any mention of what happens in there is almost always a big spoiler.

EDIT:
Silent Hill 2 isn't really all that scary while you play it. The scares really start once you turn off the game, and suddenly you find yourself thinking of it.
Thats how most things horror effect me, nothing until after you turn it off.

OT: Another great review, I have Silent Hill 1 sitting around here. I might give it a a go.
 

Anah'ya

a Taffer
Jun 19, 2010
870
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MiracleOfSound said:
Until then, dig out your old PS2 or XBOX and revisit gaming's most memorable town.
Thanks for this excellent and well written review. I might just go and give this a try now. I've been putting off playing proper horror games for way too long now, even though they've always tempted me.

And I'm certainly missing out on a large chunk of gaming culture by turning down Silent Hill constantly.
 

Megacherv

Kinect Development Sucks...
Sep 24, 2008
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I bought this and got quite into it, but then I stopped playing it for some time. When I went back to it, I had no diea whatsoever I was doing. I'll probably start it again so i know what's happening throughout.
 

MiracleOfSound

Fight like a Krogan
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Pararaptor said:
Great review, but I was a little unsettled reading it as I feel like I've read this before. I don't mean that in any kind of sarcastic way, I actually feel like I've read this before & forgotten it.

Have you written something like this before?
Nope... maybe it's the sinister power of Silent Hill messing with your head!

It is very possible that I used similar phrases, tone or sentences as I did in another review, perhaps?



FallenJellyDoughnut said:
Really good read, it inspired me to play Silent Hill 2 again, and for that I thank you.
Thanks :)

Neonbob said:
This was an entertaining read. Mind you, I'm still not going to play the game(call me chickenshit if you want XD), but you somehow made it sound appealing to me. Way to make my brain explode!
Thanks for sending me the link!
Lol I wouldn't call anyone chickenshit for not wanting to play it... I was doing another playthrough last night but became so unsettled that I had to stop and play Okami instead.
 

MiracleOfSound

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Megacherv said:
I bought this and got quite into it, but then I stopped playing it for some time. When I went back to it, I had no diea whatsoever I was doing. I'll probably start it again so i know what's happening throughout.
It's best experienced as a whole, for sure. It sucks you in more and claws its way into your mind when you do it in two or three long sessions. Howcome you stopped? Find it boring?

Anah said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Until then, dig out your old PS2 or XBOX and revisit gaming's most memorable town.
Thanks for this excellent and well written review. I might just go and give this a try now. I've been putting off playing proper horror games for way too long now, even though they've always tempted me.

And I'm certainly missing out on a large chunk of gaming culture by turning down Silent Hill constantly.
Thanks for the kind words :)

If you think you can stomach it, give it a go. It's surprisingly fun for something so twisted and disturbing.

Syntax Error said:
Nicely done. I commend you for not mentioning the final corridor before the final boss. Any mention of what happens in there is almost always a big spoiler.

EDIT:
Silent Hill 2 isn't really all that scary while you play it. The scares really start once you turn off the game, and suddenly you find yourself thinking of it.
Good point, though there were a few occasions it scared the shit out of me while I played it. The final coridoor...
Do you mean the one where you hear Mary seaking to you and begging you not to leave her?
that was a pretty harrowing moment alright.
 

Lost In The Void

When in doubt, curl up and cry
Aug 27, 2008
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Good review, really hilighted why I loved the game and made me regret selling it years ago as well. If I do rebuy it though, would you happen to know if the Xbox version is backwards compatible
 

MiracleOfSound

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Lost In The Void said:
Good review, really hilighted why I loved the game and made me regret selling it years ago as well. If I do rebuy it though, would you happen to know if the Xbox version is backwards compatible
Gosh, no idea buddy, sorry. I dug up my old PS2 to play it.

Chances are it isn't, my 360 rarely plays old games.
 

Meggiepants

Not a pigeon roost
Jan 19, 2010
2,536
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Nice review. I think these were my favorite captions yet!

I have trouble with anxiety games, which this one sounds like. Gore, ghosts, zombies and aliens I can deal with fine. It's those games/movies where someone is standing in the dark waiting for the inevitable that get to me.

So I don't know if I'll be playing this one. I did manage to get through Alan Wake, but that's mostly because I played it with a mate, and eventually we had jokes for all the creepy sounds. (we decided the heavy growl was a confused bear stalking us throughout the game)

Excellent review though. If I could play these types of things, I would definitely give this a try.
 

Stoic raptor

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Ahh, Silent hill 2.

I used to be a terrified boy. When I first got metroid prime, I could barley get through the spaceship from fear. When I got to the planet, I stopped playing, I was too scared. Later, (like a few years) I tried it again, and got through it. I was proud. From that moment I was never scared of games.

Until Silent Hill 2. The 1st game I got that was considered scary (Unless Bioshock counts)
Barley able to beat the game from fear, but I did it, and felt the same pride I did when I beat metroid.

Amazing, how much I changed
 

Random Argument Man

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I'm still scared from the game after many playthroughs. I became paranoïd when I turned the lights out.

Although, the plot was spoiled to me before I even played the game. However, it's one thing to know about Silent Hill. It's another thing completly to play Silent Hill.
 

Syntax Error

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MiracleOfSound said:
Syntax Error said:
Nicely done. I commend you for not mentioning the final corridor before the final boss. Any mention of what happens in there is almost always a big spoiler.

EDIT:
Silent Hill 2 isn't really all that scary while you play it. The scares really start once you turn off the game, and suddenly you find yourself thinking of it.
Good point, though there were a few occasions it scared the shit out of me while I played it. The final coridoor...
Do you mean the one where you hear Mary seaking to you and begging you not to leave her?
that was a pretty harrowing moment alright.
Yep, that's the one. Pretty heart-wrenching. I actually stuck around and listened to it through the end. Also, the way the endings in the game are obtained is great.
You are given three filler items in your inventory. Your wife's picture, her letter, and Angela's knife. The more you look at them will determine the ending you get (your wife's letter suddenly turns blank, at the final few moments of the game. This is a brilliant way of cementing the state of James' psyche), in addition to whether you finished the aforementioned corridor segment or not, on top of other requirements.

EDIT:
If you want to dig into the Silent Hill series, I suggest you play this one the last. As for the order to play them in:

Silent Hill Origins
Silent Hill 1
Silent Hill 3

- these three are semi-related. Origins shows events before the first Silent Hill (duh), which gives a small background on the titular town (you may also play this one after 1-3, cuz it might kill the mystery for you). Silent Hill 1-3 are related (3 starts some years after the events of 1). Also, SH3 is probably the most blatant with the Nightmare Fuel.

Silent Hill 4: The Room
Silent Hill: Homecoming
Silent Hill: Shuttered MammariesShattered Memories

SH4 is supposed to be a different game altogether, but Konami didn't want another horror franchise to avoid consumer confusion (also explains the departure to some of the series mainstay elements. You have a limited inventory, for instance). Homecoming is an OK game (has more emphasis on action, explained in-game as that the protagonist is an ex-army guy who knows how to fight and use weapons instead of the series' staple Johnny Everyman). It's also the first non-Japanese SH, leading most hardcore fans to deny its existence. Shattered Memories is a reimagining of the first SH, and a "fuck you" to the detractors who hated Homecoming's combat (one of the complaints on SH, like any other survival-horror game, is that the combat sucks. Homecoming streamlined combat a bit, and got the "They Changed it, now it sucks" from the fanbase. Cue Shattered Memories and remove combat altogether).

Silent Hill 2
The pinnacle of the series. You play this last because if you play it first, all others will pale in comparison.
 

MiracleOfSound

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meganmeave said:
Nice review. I think these were my favorite captions yet!

I have trouble with anxiety games, which this one sounds like. Gore, ghosts, zombies and aliens I can deal with fine. It's those games/movies where someone is standing in the dark waiting for the inevitable that get to me.

So I don't know if I'll be playing this one. I did manage to get through Alan Wake, but that's mostly because I played it with a mate, and eventually we had jokes for all the creepy sounds. (we decided the heavy growl was a confused bear stalking us throughout the game)

Excellent review though. If I could play these types of things, I would definitely give this a try.
Yeah, it makes Alan Wake look like Teletubbies to be honest... it's right what you said about anxiety... and it's not just that, there's the deep disturbing undertones that stay with you after you stop playing too.
 

Meggiepants

Not a pigeon roost
Jan 19, 2010
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MiracleOfSound said:
meganmeave said:
Nice review. I think these were my favorite captions yet!

I have trouble with anxiety games, which this one sounds like. Gore, ghosts, zombies and aliens I can deal with fine. It's those games/movies where someone is standing in the dark waiting for the inevitable that get to me.

So I don't know if I'll be playing this one. I did manage to get through Alan Wake, but that's mostly because I played it with a mate, and eventually we had jokes for all the creepy sounds. (we decided the heavy growl was a confused bear stalking us throughout the game)

Excellent review though. If I could play these types of things, I would definitely give this a try.
Yeah, it makes Alan Wake look like Teletubbies to be honest... it's right what you said about anxiety... and it's not just that, there's the deep disturbing undertones that stay with you after you stop playing too.
I find Teletubbies to be mildly disturbing for some reason. That baby in the sky that laughs is very freaky to me.

You know, the dark undertones you talk about are actually making me want to play the game. I like thought provoking games. But I don't think I could stand the anxiety.
 

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
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Apr 4, 2020
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"That long corridor,...that long corridor,...THAT LONG CORRIDOR!!"

Yeah, that moment was brutally disturbing. Not just because off the moment itself, but because right before that you see that picture of Pyramid Head in the museum and James says, "It's him." *shudder*

I used to be able to play this game easily back in the day, sure it was very scary but I had an iron will back then. Now, I have the constitution of a duckling.

Terrific review, by the way.
 

MiracleOfSound

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Casual Shinji said:
"That long corridor,...that long corridor,...THAT LONG CORRIDOR!!"

Yeah, that moment was brutally disturbing. Not just because off the moment itself, but because right before that you see that picture of Pyramid Head in the museum and James says, "It's him." *shudder*

I used to be able to play this game easily back in the day, sure it was very scary but I had an iron will back then. Now, I have the constitution of a duckling.

Terrific review, by the way.
Thanks :)

Yep, that bit freaked me out probably more than any other part of the game. Genius piece of design.
 

GloatingSwine

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Except Silent Hill 2 isn't very scary, because as soon as you get the metal pipe (early in the game) you can basically fend off every enemy in the game bar the Daddy with it's poke move, and since you're not using any ammo you can blast the Daddy to bits.

Survival Horror is only horrific if survival is a challenge.

Now, go and play the original Project Zero, where enemies will hurt you a lot, and in order to do the most damage you've got to wait until a fraction of a second before they hit you.
 

Skops

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A salute to your late 360. *salutes* because if it sacraficed itself, a fine read like this likely wouldn't have happened.
 

MiracleOfSound

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GloatingSwine said:
Except Silent Hill 2 isn't very scary, because as soon as you get the metal pipe (early in the game) you can basically fend off every enemy in the game bar the Daddy with it's poke move, and since you're not using any ammo you can blast the Daddy to bits.

Survival Horror is only horrific if survival is a challenge.

Now, go and play the original Project Zero, where enemies will hurt you a lot, and in order to do the most damage you've got to wait until a fraction of a second before they hit you.
Did you even read the review?

I made it pretty clear that the horror in the game is psychological and comes from the themes and design as opposed to the challenge.
 

GloatingSwine

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MiracleOfSound said:
Did you even read the review?

I made it pretty clear that the horror in the game is psychological and comes from the themes and design as opposed to the challenge.
See, here's where I disagree, I don't think that a horror videogame can be effective purely on those terms. Because videogames create a strong identification between the player and the character through the fact that the player is controlling the character, without putting the character in danger the player doesn't feel the danger either.

The oppressive atmosphere of a good horror videogame absolutely relies on the imminence of danger, there needs to be a real feeling that at any moment an unspeakable horror could lurch out of the shadows and rip your face off. When the unspeakable horrors can be easily fended off by poking them lightly with a stick that becomes far less oppressive and atmospheric.

That's also why the scariest part of Silent Hill is the school, because when you get to the hospital you get the hammer, which can brutalise everything except the screamers and rompers, and the former are easily avoided by running away. In the school though, you're vulnerable.

(The feeling of vulnerability is also why Project Zero is scarier, because you are a schoolgirl with a camera, not a man with enough guns, knives, and lead piping to equip the G20 rioters.)
 

MiracleOfSound

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GloatingSwine said:
[
See, here's where I disagree, I don't think that a horror videogame can be effective purely on those terms. Because videogames create a strong identification between the player and the character through the fact that the player is controlling the character, without putting the character in danger the player doesn't feel the danger either.

The oppressive atmosphere of a good horror videogame absolutely relies on the imminence of danger, there needs to be a real feeling that at any moment an unspeakable horror could lurch out of the shadows and rip your face off. When the unspeakable horrors can be easily fended off by poking them lightly with a stick that becomes far less oppressive and atmospheric.

That's also why the scariest part of Silent Hill is the school, because when you get to the hospital you get the hammer, which can brutalise everything except the screamers and rompers, and the former are easily avoided by running away. In the school though, you're vulnerable.

(The feeling of vulnerability is also why Project Zero is scarier, because you are a schoolgirl with a camera, not a man with enough guns, knives, and lead piping to equip the G20 rioters.)
These are all valid points for a lot of games but the kind of horror I experienced playing SH2 was not the kind that you are talking about. Let me give you an example...

For me the most horrifying moment is learning about Angela's backstory, then seeing the Abstract Daddies and knowing what they, in their awful physical form, represent.
the tangled mess of skin in a bed with two bodies trapped and writhing in it, the penile, phallic head, it was obviously the image of her father raping her

The sheer thought of that creature, the way it looked and what it represented was, to me, far more horrifying than being stuck in a dark corridor with low ammo and some monsters.

It's the difference between panic type fear and real, deep, psychological horror. The horror in SH does not come from keeping you afraid of dying, it comes from digging into your subconscious and creeping you out with its themes and subject matter.
 

leonnasagawa

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Wow, now that is quite a mouthful and you sort of made me aware as to why people find this game scary. Personally I didn't find too many things in the game that actually made me scared mainly because when an enemy comes toward you, you can see it from a long way away (or if your careful you can locate those monster around the corners of a door unnoticed). This gives me the comfort to play the game slowly and in a sense strategize, as a result it doesn't personally scare me. Games like Dead Space scare the shit out of me simply because it puts me on the spot and forces me to have to think quickly something that I'm not use to doing in games and half the time that there is a monster in front of you there is almost always a monster behind you that you have to deal with but you are given the pressure of having to take care of the monster in front of you first which can be scary to me at times.

Despite this the Silent Hill franchise is my favourite when it comes to horror survival games simply because I am a sucker for things that are symbolic (especially to the main character) and grotesque. The Silent Hill games have always in my opinion have had a good story that is immersive and not a typical 'this has already been done before many times' type of feeling. For Silent Hill 2 in particular I have never really found the controls to be that annoying, just some problems when fightin monsters although I do understand the complaint when it comes to the controls, but like anything it requires just getting use to it. I like that part in your review where you said that the monsters scare us through Death, sex, guilt, isolation, anger and disease, I never thought too much about that but now that you have mentioned that it is kind of true... Very clever trying to scare us with the subconscious primal fear.

P.S. By the way I have noticed that the screen shots you have taken of the game looks a lot better in graphics than my version of Silent Hill 2. Is this the infamous remake called Relentless Dreams? I really want to play it.
 

leonnasagawa

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It would be interesting seeing the people who did Silent Hill 2 do another game like it, preferably another Silent Hill but we can only hope.
 

MiracleOfSound

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leonnasagawa said:
W

P.S. By the way I have noticed that the screen shots you have taken of the game looks a lot better in graphics than my version of Silent Hill 2. Is this the infamous remake called Relentless Dreams? I really want to play it.
I don't think so man, the version I have is the cardboard boxed 2-Disc PS2 version, but there's no extra game content, only a making of and some screenshots.
 

devildog1170

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I'm honestly too afraid to play this game. Even during the day I get sucked into its atmosphere. I think I'm still on the motel in the beginning of the game.
 

MiracleOfSound

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I've decided to watch a walkthrough on youtube.

My bad...

I wish new PS3s were backwards compatible....
 

CobraX

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Silent Hill 2 is still one of the best games I've ever played. I still need to try other games in the series, I try Homecoming but I hated that. From what I hear most fans hated homecoming.
 

lacktheknack

Je suis joined jewels.
Jan 19, 2009
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Is it bad form to resurrect a review?

Well, too bad.

Fantastic review you've written, here. Personally, I thought Silent Hill 3 was scarier .

If you ever play it, I wanna see the review. While the enemies have less significance than in Silent Hill 2, the horribly warping locations have more.

I'll put it this way: Otherworld Hospital left me physically sick for two days after playing it, that's how disgusting and well-imagined it was. And the final Otherworld section left me sicker. Nothing like a sudden explosion of blood flowing UP the walls to scare the FREAKING CRAP out of you.
 

Sun Flash

Fus Roh Dizzle
Apr 15, 2009
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JourneyThroughHell said:
I am too afraid.
I literally can't stand being startled but what kills me more is the anxiety.
So, yeah, I can't bear horror.
Sorry for being the tenth guy to quote you, but if you're hankering to play it, you might want to check out the first 10 minutes of a Let's Play, so you can get a feel for what the game would be like.

EDIT: Sorry, didn't realise this was a resurrected thread. You probably don't even remember posting.

as for OT: Great read, Silent Hill 2 is one of my favourite games and I'm glad OP hit the nail on the head. 5 stars, thumbs up and all that jazz.

For me, one thing that made SH2 more scary (and games like Manhunt) was exactly because of the now dated software. The falseness of the footsteps and the awkward controls alienated me and made me feel as if I wasn't in control, which is just what a good horror game should do. the rigidity of it made me feel as if the game wasn't quite right, which it wasn't. And I think that's been a problem for more recent games; he hardware is too good. Things look too real, so it's easy to tell danger from a distance. For example, in Silent Hill 2, it's hard to distinguish monsters and scenery from a distance, where as current hardware eliminates that problem and with it, the uncertainty and fear.

Oh god I've gone all cross eyed.
 

Dimensional Vortex

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MiracleOfSound said:
It was a good review and I was glad that you mentioned the bad parts of the game too, far to many reviewers have a bias opinion and wont give half a minute to the negative side of the game or movie.

Although one thing came to my mind when you were mentioning Horror games, why no Penumbra or Amnesia the Dark Decent? Both of those game are poop your pants scary and not due to monsters popping out randomly, I think Amnesia, the latter, is a really great game that you would love playing if you like Silent Hill 2. It is only $20 on Steam, $10 on a sale, I would definitely recommend it to a lover of Horror or a lover of great games. If you decide to play it then let me know, because I would like to know if I could convince someone to buy a great game.

Other than that, great review and I look forward to more reviews from you, you might just have yourself a regular :D
 

lacktheknack

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Dimensional Vortex said:
Although one thing came to my mind when you were mentioning Horror games, why no Penumbra or Amnesia the Dark Decent? Both of those game are poop your pants scary and not due to monsters popping out randomly, I think Amnesia, the latter, is a really great game that you would love playing if you like Silent Hill 2. It is only $20 on Steam, $10 on a sale, I would definitely recommend it to a lover of Horror or a lover of great games. If you decide to play it then let me know, because I would like to know if I could convince someone to buy a great game.
Ummmm, did you check the date of the review? Amnesia wasn't even out.
 

MiracleOfSound

Fight like a Krogan
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Dimensional Vortex said:
[

It was a good review and I was glad that you mentioned the bad parts of the game too, far to many reviewers have a bias opinion and wont give half a minute to the negative side of the game or movie.

Although one thing came to my mind when you were mentioning Horror games, why no Penumbra or Amnesia the Dark Decent? Both of those game are poop your pants scary and not due to monsters popping out randomly, I think Amnesia, the latter, is a really great game that you would love playing if you like Silent Hill 2. It is only $20 on Steam, $10 on a sale, I would definitely recommend it to a lover of Horror or a lover of great games. If you decide to play it then let me know, because I would like to know if I could convince someone to buy a great game.

Other than that, great review and I look forward to more reviews from you, you might just have yourself a regular :D
Hey!

Thanks for the kind words. If you look at the date of the review you'll see it was written a while back, before Amnesia was not released yet. I have never played Penumbra but I've heard it's great :)
 

Dimensional Vortex

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MiracleOfSound said:
Dimensional Vortex said:
[

It was a good review and I was glad that you mentioned the bad parts of the game too, far to many reviewers have a bias opinion and wont give half a minute to the negative side of the game or movie.

Although one thing came to my mind when you were mentioning Horror games, why no Penumbra or Amnesia the Dark Decent? Both of those game are poop your pants scary and not due to monsters popping out randomly, I think Amnesia, the latter, is a really great game that you would love playing if you like Silent Hill 2. It is only $20 on Steam, $10 on a sale, I would definitely recommend it to a lover of Horror or a lover of great games. If you decide to play it then let me know, because I would like to know if I could convince someone to buy a great game.

Other than that, great review and I look forward to more reviews from you, you might just have yourself a regular :D
Hey!

Thanks for the kind words. If you look at the date of the review you'll see it was written a while back, before Amnesia was not released yet. I have never played Penumbra but I've heard it's great :)
Really? Because it was the first in the user reviews section so I thought it would be recently released. I didn't check the date because I thought the game I was talking about, Amnesia, had been released in 2010 which it was, and I thought this review was only recent.