Silent Hill 2 doesn't need a remake. Sure, it's a little janky in places, but it's a masterpiece. It still looks and sounds magnificent, and Konami really should have just taken it as it was and updated it to run on modern consoles. But hey, it's happening. and there's nothing we can do about it. Bloober Team, the studio behind The Medium, Blair Witch, and Layers of Fear has been somewhat controversially tasked with remaking the game, and Konami has released a bunch of screenshots to get the hype train rolling. So I thought I'd take a closer look at them, as a mega fan of the original, and see what they reveal. I'm cynical about this remake, sure, but I am willing to give Bloober a chance.
One of Silent Hill 2's defining images is James Sunderland, bathed in shadow, looking at his reflection in that dirty restroom mirror. In the remake's take on this scene, it seems the use of shadow isn't as heavy or intense, revealing more of his new look. Hair and clothes aside, James looks like a completely different person, with a much longer face. I'm not sure why they felt the need to alter his appearance so dramatically. Perhaps it fits the new voice actor better? The additional detail in the character model is certainly impressive, but I don't think this version of the mirror scene is as artistically interesting. The shadows obscuring his eyes in the original was a lot more enigmatic.
Here's Bloober's take on the Toluca Lake observation deck. It's very similar to the original game, but with the addition of an extended viewing platform, Unreal 5-powered reflections on the ground, and a different vista. The original game used an edited photo of Derwentwater, a lake in England's Lake District, and the perspective was dramatic, with no horizon visible. You could see the town of Silent Hill in the distance too. Here, in comparison, the horizon line is much lower, with the grey water of the lake lying below a chain of fog-shrouded mountains—but with no sign of the town. I have to admit, they've done a good job here and captured the mood of this important location perfectly.
Here's our first clear look at James's relentless pursuer, Pyramid Head. The details are all correct, including the grubby butcher's smock, the latex gloves, and the rust on his helmet. Masahiro Ito, the creature's designer, is working on the remake, so I'd expect no less. But I feel like he looks a little too clean. The original game's textures are beautifully horrible. The grimy, sickly filth is tangible and disgusting. But I'm not getting that here at all. The rain is interesting here too, because there was no weather in Silent Hill 2. The first game had falling snow, but the sequel featured that ever-present thick fog and nothing else. Bloober Team seems to have taken something of a creative liberty here.
Here's a good look at one of the game's most iconic enemies, the Lying Figure. Shine your flashlight on them in the original game and there's a visible sheen of some kind of gross, wet substance—which seems to have been dramatically dialled up in the remake. Look at that head; it's positively slick with slime. James's jacket really highlights my earlier point about the remake looking too clean and pristine. There's not a scuff on it, like he just bought it the day before, rather than it being an old piece of military gear he's been wearing for years. I'm glad to see the nail-encrusted wooden plank is back as an early melee weapon, though: and those sharp, rusty nails are looking a whole lot nastier here.
Here's James in, I presume, Brookhaven Hospital. This is arguably the scariest location in the game: especially when it shifts to its dark, twisted Otherworld version. I'm not sure what's going on here. Is this a new cutscene? Or simply an example of the extra detail Bloober is adding to these familiar locations? It could also just be a way of showing off the new Unreal-powered real-time lighting. Whatever it is, it seems the game's interiors will be getting a radical overhaul. The scribblings on the X-ray lightbox make me wonder if this is part of a new puzzle. I think it's safe to assume Bloober will add some of their own, as well as remixing the ones we're already familiar with from the original game.
Here's one part of the remake I'm definitely not a fan of. The bubble-headed nurses return in the remake, but with the addition of stockings and suspenders. I feel like this might be the work of Ito, whose art often features hyper-sexualised women, but I think it looks kinda tacky and out of place. This design is more in line with the faceless nurses in Silent Hill: Origins, which seems like a weird game to take any influence from. I have nothing against it, but it's no Silent Hill 2. I do like the lighting in this shot, though. There are moments in the original where you're plunged into literal darkness, with only your flashlight to rely on, and I'd love to see Bloober play with shadows in an equally dramatic way.
But back to a positive: the town looks great. Wandering the foggy streets of this cursed place is one of the highlights of the game, and Bloober (at least based on this admittedly limited screenshot) seems to have done it justice. Importantly, the fog appears to have a lot of depth. It looks thick and disorientating. This is something I've always loved about Silent Hill 2: how eerily alive the fog feels as it swirls around you. We'll get to see a lot more of the town itself too. In the original the tops of most buildings are obscured by fog, but here we can see a detailed apartment block towering above us. Of all the images released so far, this is the one that makes me the most eager to dive into the remake.
And here's another nurse: this time in one of (again, I presume) Brookhaven Hospital's more dilapidated hallways. This screenshot slightly allays my fears that the game's art direction is too sterile. This hall looks appropriately dingy and gross, and the reflective puddle below that precariously angled fluorescent strip light is a nice touch. This is going to be a good-looking video game, no doubt: it's just everything else that concerns me. But even if Bloober spectacularly fails to capture the magic of this most beloved and enduring of horror games, and actively screws it up, the original will still exist. I'm looking forward to revisiting this town with a modern sheen, but I'll be doing so cautiously.
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