During this break I’ve had the chance to (not completely) re-play Silent Hill 2. I’ve got a weird relationship with this game, having tried to constantly replay it through PCSX2 emulation - I ended up buying a PS2 so that I wouldn’t have to go through all the finicky setup things, and replaying the start over and over. Mind you, in replaying the start with broken video functionality it kind of reinforces that idea of playing early/broken builds of software as important. I can’t even remember when I first played it. I’m pretty sure as a teenager I played through Silent Hill 1 completely, on a dark stormy, somewhat drunken night, and can remember the living room I played it in.
The town of Silent Hill is a dream space which manifests aspects of the protagonist - James Sunderland’s self, memories, and unconscious.
The town has two apartment buildings - the first you enter are the Woodside Apartments. You find and develop a relationship with the internal building map here, and I admire how significant events were symbolically linked with the map, and how the flow inside that architecture is controlled and represented.
James won’t leave the grounds of the apartment building once entered, if you try to leave. He explains that he has to figure out what’s wrong with these buildings.
The second apartment building is entered by crossing the gap between buildings, high up on a fire escape ‘door to nowhere’ on the second level.
Looking at the maps represented two dimensionally, I thought about how level design made in this way could be considered as an escalating series of arrangements - asking James and the player to encounter greater and greater psychological terror in the same spatial mode - the mode of the banal, and how effective Silent Hill’s geometry and surfaces were at helping escalate my own terror.