James fights a Bubblehead Nurse in Silent Hill 2 remake
Image via Bloober Team

As James chases Mary, Bloober Team may be chasing a unicorn with Silent Hill 2

Just how far can Bloober Team dive into the abyss of Silent Hill 2 to honor the original game?

The latest trailers for the Silent Hill 2 remake finally pulled back the curtain and have given us far more insight into Bloober Team's grand vision for the game. However, they also evoke even more questions and criticisms about this endeavor to rebuild arguably the most iconic horror game in history. Expectations have seldom been higher for a remake, and while there are certain elements of the original game that Bloober Team can respectfully curate, there are others that realistically will remain beyond reach.

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Spontaneous voice acting and motion capture by regular people

One of the most memorable elements of the original Silent Hill 2 was its characteristically strange voice acting, and the motion capture that was simultaneously recorded with it. As revealed in the NeoGamer documentary (seen above), rather than seek out professional voice actors to put on a rehearsed production, Team Silent ambitiously chose a random assortment of regular people from all walks of life who sounded far more "normal" and, well, human.

The end result was a fantastic accident of "lightning in a bottle" performances that were every bit awkward and imperfectly perfect, making otherwise ordinary characters like Angela, Eddie, and Maria stand out as fascinating and yet distinctly uncomfortable for James to interact with at every juncture.

In the modern age of gaming, however, this more impromptu method of bringing characters to life without professional voice actors would likely never happen, and it's an absolute risk that Team Silent just so happened to get extraordinarily lucky with over two decades ago.

Now, Bloober Team is harnessing advanced performance-capture technology to encapsulate incredibly detailed expressions and physical actions from the remake's new cast, while the voice acting for each character is compiled later in the studio.

Therefore, by difference in process alone, these candid, inexplicably human performances are something that simply cannot be replicated in the Silent Hill 2 remake.

Manipulation of PS2-era technical limitations

Where other games in the PS2 era sooner had to make do with the technical limitations of the time, the clever minds of Team Silent actually found ways to manipulate them to craft some of the game's most iconic features.

The most well-known of these is Silent Hill 2's dense fog, which the game is all but synonymous with. It was foremost intended to solve issues with rendering the game's vast outdoor environment quickly enough and ended up becoming a brilliant atmospheric element that blended seamlessly with the town's isolation.

Another feature is the game's graphical grit and overall "graininess" which, while a byproduct of the console's time period, still complemented the game's themes of degradation and sickness exceptionally well in each area James visits.

That same "graininess" also overflowed into the game's spectacular sound design, which includes some of the most unsettling and unthinkable noises imaginable from the incredible mind of composer Akira Yamaoka. The game's visual and audible grit contributed immeasurably to its overarching themes.

This is something that is lost in the remake simply by the passage of time and the modernization of technology and development methods.

Loss of tank controls and fixed camera angles

For anyone who's played the original Silent Hill 2 game, one of its most memorable features is, of course, its tank control gameplay and fixed camera angles. This was incredibly common among classic horror games of the era (e.g. - Resident Evil), and played an invaluable narrative role in the game, as it helped visually direct the story of James' journey through Silent Hill. Whether it was angling the camera down towards James, using an "enemy POV" to leer at him from afar, or obscuring significant details in a room until he approaches closely enough, this camera style was pivotal in accentuating so many important moments.

Meanwhile, the Silent Hill 2 remake features an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective that will, unfortunately, take away that element of active visual narration.

Which elements the Silent Hill 2 remake can and should excel at

Despite the comparative setbacks that Bloober Team's Silent Hill 2 remake faces, there are still plenty of elements that the game can and should use its far more advanced technology to remake in a respectful and innovative manner.

  • The voice acting and "mocap" can still work well - While the remake doesn't employ the unique method used by Team Silent in the 1990s, it can still do well by the game's characters with modernized voice acting and motion capture. The trailers have given a good look at James' performance and expressions so far, which look quite impressive, but the same must be done for everyone.
  • Silent Hill's environmental design can thrive with enhanced detail - The extended gameplay trailer gave a good look at how Bloober Team has fleshed out the town of Silent Hill, from the foggy backstreets to certain areas of Brookhaven Hospital. So far the amount of detail looks promising, but that needs to extend from the surface down to every otherworldly layer of the game, from the buildings on the streets down to every piece of lore found in every grimy nook and cranny.
  • Improve the original game's stiff combat - One of the few true drawbacks in the original Silent Hill 2 was its incredibly stiff, unexciting, and even frustrating combat gameplay. While James is intended to be inexperienced with such things, the tank controls still didn't do him any favors. This is where the remake can truly make its mark by employing dynamic and more maneuverable actions when dealing with enemies and bosses.
  • Don't change any character canon - Silent Hill 2 is one of those rare games where every single thread in the fabric of a character is vital to their story, and if even one is removed, that is a detriment to the story as a whole. Remakes sometimes try to go their own way with character canon, and if Bloober Team knows better, they'll keep every thread intact.
  • Keep all original endings and even add new ones - The original Silent Hill 2 was known for its multiple endings that were influenced by various subtle factors, and the remake needs to do its part by keeping every single one of them. They can go even further though and add one or two endings of their own, to help the game stand out in that regard while still respecting the source material.
  • Use Akira Yamaoka's musical brilliance to keep a strong connection to the original - One of Bloober Team's biggest accomplishments with this project is the return of composer Akira Yamaoka. Considered an irreplaceable part of Silent Hill 2's soul, Yamaoka's music and sound design influence every aspect of the game, and frankly, this project wouldn't be worth it if he weren't on board.

Definitively, no matter what it does, a remake of Silent Hill 2 cannot replace or even stand on level with the original. It's a harsh truth, but if Bloober Team plays their cards right, the remake can still leave a positive and respectful impact on Silent Hill 2's legacy.

Be sure to check out all of our latest guides and news about the Silent Hill 2 remake at Pro Game Guides, such as Silent Hill 2 remake finally gets a release date and new trailer.

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Stephanie Watel
Stephanie Watel is a freelance writer for Pro Game Guides. Stephanie has been with the site for a few months, and in the games media industry for about a year. Stephanie typically covers the latest news and a variety of gaming guides for the site, and loves gardening and being the bird lady of the neighborhood. She has a BA in Writing from Pace University in NY.

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As James chases Mary, Bloober Team may be chasing a unicorn with Silent Hill 2

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