In the early 2000s, when the survival horror genre could still call itself that with a straight face, developer Konami released two survival horror games within about a year of each other. “Silent Hill 2” and “Silent Hill 3” are described as the pinnacle of survival horror, with “2” often being called the best survival horror game ever made. This isn’t undeserved. “Silent Hill 2” scared all who played it. And “3” is a good sequel using “2”s graphics engine and similar gameplay.
In the years after their release, the survival horror genre started to fall apart. Sure, there was “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem” and “Penumbra: Overture,” but for every one of those, there was at least one “Resident Evil 5” or “Dead Space.”
In 2012, Konami released the “Silent Hill HD Collection,” a package containing “Silent Hill 2” and “Silent Hill 3.” This collection is undeniably fun on the Xbox 360. I wasn’t expecting much of a graphics update, even with “HD” in the name. The updated versions have been stretched to wide screen, and the models and textures look better. The only problem is the signature fog of the town. It is less dense and on rare occasions blurred textures and seemingly unfinished level geometry are revealed.
I also wasn’t expecting much of an audio upgrade. The sound design in both games was amazing, even if the voice acting was cheesy at times. Thankfully, much of the sound stayed the same. New voices were added, though, with “2” providing the option to use the old voices.
The one aspect of the presentation that hasn’t changed, and wasn’t going to change, is the stories. They are unrelated to each other, save for both taking place in the foggy town of Silent Hill. “Silent Hill 2” follows clerk James Sunderland, who has come to the town to find his wife. There is a catch, however: she died from a disease three years earlier. One thing that carries “2”s story, aside from the twisting narrative, is the number of taboo subjects: serial murder, sexual abuse, suicide, euthanasia. It’s an extremely dark and messed-up story that is still one of the best in gaming.
“Silent Hill 3” is a slower burn of a story in comparison. It follows Heather Mason, the adopted daughter of previous protagonist Harry Mason. After a surreal dream involving Lakeside Amusement Park, Heather wakes in a mall and is followed by a detective. The mall is soon corrupted by the horrors of Silent Hill. This story delivers subtext on religion and identity, and is a great sequel.
Gameplay is pretty much identical in both games. Players wander around Silent Hill, exploring creepy locations, like the iconic Brookhaven Hospital. The rest of the gameplay is similar to old-school survival horror. An inventory system, limited weapons and ammo, a “fixed” camera, maps, possibly clunky combat, etc.
One thing both games excel in is atmosphere that is absolutely terrifying and tense. The atmosphere is deep, making you feel truly alone in a terrifying situation with something that hates you.
“Silent Hill HD Collection” offers quite a bit of content. Both games are at least 10 hours long and have multiple difficulty modes for both combat and riddles.
Now earlier, I said “Silent Hill HD Collection” is undeniably fun on the Xbox 360. There is a reason I said Xbox 360: This collection is terrible – almost offensive – on PS3. For an update of two games that debuted on PS2, the game is surprisingly and massively buggy. It also has some technical issues that effectively break the game.
Overall, “Silent Hill HD Collection” delivers two great-looking, great-sounding, and spooky games that will be sure to keep you up at night.
These games are rated M for mature.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.