What To Expect From the ‘Silent Hill 2 Remake,’ According to the Devs
He's still "Hot James" to me, sorry.
Last Halloween season, Silent Hill fans got the news we’ve been waiting years to hear: a series revitalization, hinging around a complete remake of the beloved game Silent Hill 2. It’s been so long since the series has been active and creating stories true to the original vision, so this announcement of the remake and various new projects was certainly welcome news.
Recently, IGN gave a spotlight to the three minds behind the revitalization—producer Motoi Okamoto, artist Masahiro Ito, and composer Akira Yamaoka—in a video deep dive:
I want to summarize the main points from this video because ultimately, this entire deep dive demonstrates the massive amount of care and passion that we all want to see from our favorite teams, but rarely do these days.
If there’s one key takeaway, it’s this: The Silent Hill series is back, baby, and it’s right where it needs to be.
Revitalizing the Silent Hill Brand
Okamoto made it clear that his main job these days is focusing on how to bring Silent Hill “back.” The radio silence of the past few years was due to a concentrated effort to figure out how to both modernize the series and make sure that it stays true to its original vision—a vision which Okamoto describes as maintaining its “unique, highly artistic, and original” spirit.
Ito compared the current state of the IP to when they were originally figuring out how to transition from Silent Hill to Silent Hill 2. Similar to then, now is a time for innovation and uncertainty. Many projects failed to get off the ground during this incubation period. But the ones that survived—the ones slated to release within the next few years—bode well for the brand.
In particular, the three were happy to see the excitable fan response to the trailer for Silent Hill f, which will be more focused on “Japanese-style horror” than past titles:
Part of this revitalization does include some input from other studios. For instance, f will be written by Ryukishi07, the brilliant madman behind Higurashi and Umineko. While some might find this outsourcing to be odd or think it bodes poorly for the state of the brand moving forward, to me it makes sense. The last few Silent Hill titles were steered toward more conventional horror standards, losing that “special something” that made the original IP so memorable. Sometimes, the only way to get through to the corporate side of things is to get the input and commendation of others, for good and for ill. In this case, I think having the Higurashi guy on their team isn’t a bad idea at all. That guy’s got the sauce.
They ended the IGN video on a sweet note, explaining that they want the series to be diverse in its depictions of horror within the Silent Hill frame of mind; therefore, they are open to fans all over the world sending in their “pitches.” Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that they’re just going to steal or go along with whatever good idea comes their way. But I thought it was a sweet, earnest gesture that reflects their love for their fans and their devotion to this IP.
More details on the Silent Hill 2 remake
The most evident thing about this video is that the remake is a labor of immense love. They’ve been taking so many things into account regarding its development, from reentering an “indie horror environment” that has undeniably been shaped by the original Silent Hill titles, to toeing the line between a faithful remake vs. a purposefully updated piece of work.
Many people were unsure about the involvement of Bloober Team, whose past horror titles have edged a bit too far into camp territory. But two things are fairly clear to me: the first being that Bloober doesn’t have quite as much control over this project as we initially assumed, and the second being that the three OGs found their respect for the IP almost “excessive.” What Bloober brings to the table is an ability to modernize the graphics of the series, as well as the animations, which the three were really hoping for.
Modernizing in this context means filling in the imaginative gaps that players projected onto the original titles due to the PS2’s graphical limitations, as Okamoto claims. And that’s why the remake will be on the PS5, and not the PS4; the world will be fully reimagined in a way they couldn’t portray on the PS2. They want the horror to feel less influenced by one’s imagination, and more by the all-encompassing atmosphere of James Sunderland’s walking nightmares. This also extends to the monsters, and not just in aesthetic design, but in combat design as well. Ito has taken charge of this particular element, as he wants the monsters to reflect their horrific elements in ways that pay homage to the original title while also being terrifying in a modern way.
On the music side of things, Yamaoka made it clear that he wants to avoid the traditional remaster formula of “original piece, an acoustic version, and an orchestral version.” Instead, what he wants to do is completely re-record the original soundtrack, but elevate the motifs that make players shiver. Such motifs include the droning guitar riffs in “Theme of Laura,” or the disorienting chimes in “Prisonic Fairytale.”
Lastly, regarding our main character, they deliberately designed James to be a little older than he was in the original because they recognized that fans of the original games are also older now. They want the fans to feel even more connected to James because of this. In particular, this quote stands out: “We want to depict a James who has had to suffer through more in his life as an adult.” Word.
What do you think of all this, O Reader? Are you excited for the future of Silent Hill, or are you holding your breath? Let us know!
(featured image: Konami)
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