This Is The End(ing) 02.20.12: Ending Silent Hill 2
Posted by Gavin Napier on 02.20.2012
411's Gavin Napier and Adam Cheek take a look at every ending from Silent Hill 2 from the good to the bad, as well as shining a light on the ending of Clive Barker's Jericho in this week's This is the End(ing)!
Welcome back to the most spoiler-riffic column on 411 Games, This Is The End(ing)! In the role of Mario and Luigi are Gavin Napier and Adam Cheek, and we'll be bouncing you through the world of Silent Hill again this week...only this time it's going to be Silent Hill 2. We're going to do a little experiment here and try tackling all of the endings at once to see if that makes things a little too long or not. Silent Hill 2 has a handful of them, but it's a great game that deserves a spotlight being shone on it.
For what it's worth, I'm sure you're probably wondering if this means we're going to go through all of the Silent Hill games before we move on to something else. The answer is (almost definitely) no. The intention, at least at the moment, is to move forward through Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3, then take a break and move on to something else. There are other Silent Hill games worth coming back to at some point, but we feel like a solid month of them will be enough for a while.
Responding to the masses
Last week's column made it over halfway to double digits in the comments section, a staggering number. It's also a bit startling to see mostly positive responses in the 411 comments section. We're chalking it up to the fact that a lot of folks haven't discovered us yet, and are simply waiting to be flamed relentlessly like everyone else. However, as feedback grows, we think it might be fun to address some of the comments. The final comment we got last week came from "mark", who had the following to say:
Seriously, Altered Beast hard? One of the easiset games of all time from my childhood memories. And yes, I'm 34 so I do remember playing the originals in the arcade and at home on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis. It really wasn't that good of a game, very boring. Why do so many people have fond memories of such a crap game?
Well, at no point did we say it was a hard game. We said it wasn't easy, but it was beatable. Maybe we were guilty of a little verbal misdirection there, but the intent was to find a non-boring way to say the game possessed "medium" difficulty. Certainly it was no Ghosts and Goblins, but it wasn't exactly Silent Hill 2, either. Wait, what? More on that later. Also, I (Gavin) was 8 when the game hit American arcades and 9 when it landed in my Sega Genesis. I'm sure that I'd find it a little easier now than I did then. As far as it being a crap game...welcome to the world of subjectivity. While it certainly wasn't one of the greatest games of the 16 bit era, it was a long way from awful, we think. There's at the very least some nostalgic value for a lot of gamers when it comes to Altered Beast. If you're not one of them, that's okay. Sometimes people just, you know, enjoy different things.
With that settled, let's move on to the main event.
This Is The End(ing) 1-3: Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is not a direct sequel to Silent Hill. In fact, the two games share very little in common other than the fact that they take place in areas of Silent Hill and have the same overall themes of psychological horror and the supernatural. Released in late 2001 and early 2002 across various platforms, Silent Hill 2 has taken many variations and themes (think along the lines of Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 2: Turbo, Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition, etc.) on Playstation 2, XBox, PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. Across all, though, the story remains the same.
You play as James Sunderland, a man who finds his way to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his deceased wife, Mary. You would think most people would chalk such an event up to a prank that isn't very funny. You know, like the show Whitney. Not James, though. He decides he's going to find where the letter came from, so off he goes. While in Silent Hill, James encounters Maria, a young lady that looks very much like Mary physically, but has a much different personality and manner. James also encounters Angela Orosco, a 19 year old runaway who is looking for her mother; Eddie Dombrowski, a victim of bullying who may or may not have severe psychological issues of his own as a result; and Laura, a little girl that claims to have met and befriended Mary. Also, Pyramidhead.
Before we get into this, as always, you need to be aware of one key thing about this column: This column, by nature, involves spoilers. We're talking about the ending of games. This week, we happen to be talking about the ending of a game that's over 10 years old, and as such it probably won't upset many people. In the near future, we're going to be talking about games that are much more recent. If you read this column, then complain that things have been spoiled for you, we hope that you mistakenly drink antifreeze because you think it's Kool-Aid. And now, because we can...
Upon arriving in Silent Hill, James decides to search a park, where he meets Maria. He allows her to follow him because she appears to be in some emotional distress, and well, James is just a swell guy like that. While the pair try to track down Laura, this lovely pair are ambushed by the King of Awesomeness himself, Pyramidhead. If you're detecting a certain fondness for Pyramidhead from us, then conglaturation. Your instincts are spot on. Pyramidhead does what Pyramidhead does and kills Maria, leaving James to mourn a little and then resume his search for his maybe-dead wife. He makes his way to a hotel that he and Mary honeymooned in, and there runs into....Maria. Maria, trapped in a locked room, claims ignorance to their previous encounter and denies ever being brutally murdered by Pyramidhead. James tries to set her free, only to come back and find her again dead. Typical woman, can't make up her mind. James later rescues Angela, which leads to a surprisingly in-depth conversation between two strangers that finds Angela confessing that she was sexually abused by her father. Shortly after, James finds evidence that Angela probably killed said abusive father before she made her way to this forsaken town. We progress from here to find James and Eddie in a confrontation. Eddie attacks James and James is forced to kill him in self defense.
The final chunk of the game is a mess of psychological trauma. Returning to the hotel, James finds a video tape which seems to prove pretty conclusively that he murdered his wife, and seemingly erasing any doubt as to why she's dead. When he checks the envelope for Mary's letter, it's gone. He has a final meeting with Angela, who is suicidal with guilt, and walks into a fire, never to be seen again. James then has to deal with two Pyramidheads and another return by Maria. This one is also short lived, as she again destroyed by the Pyramidhead(s). James then figures out that Pyramidhead is just the physical manifestation of his rage and guilt over what he did to his wife. After seeing them murder someone for the second time, apparently James is able to move past things, and the Pyramidheads commit suicide. This seems like a pretty clear sign that James is a complete sociopath. James heads to the roof and is, depending on how you played through the game, is forced to confront either Mary or Maria. Endings
There are six endings, and in the case of Silent Hill 2, Konami isn't giving anything up regarding which one is "canon". All are equally plausible and can tie into other parts of the franchise. We'll start with the "Leave" ending.
This ending sees James have a final conversation with Maria, disguised as Mary,then deal with the final boss. Afterwards, he has a conversation with Mary in her bedroom where she gives him a form of absolution. Things close with James and Laura walking through a cemetery as Mary narrates the letter that she wrote James. For posterity, here's the text of that letter: In my restless dreams,
I see that town.
You promised you'd take me
there again someday.
But you never did.
Well I'm alone there now...
In our 'special place'
Waiting for you...
Waiting for you to
come to see me.
But you never do.
And so I wait, wrapped in my
cocoon of pain and loneliness.
I know I've done a terrible
thing to you. Something you'll
never forgive me for.
I wish I could change
that, but I can't.
I feel so pathetic and ugly
laying here, waiting for you...
Every day I stare up at the cracks
in the ceiling and all I can think
about is how unfair it all is...
The doctor came today.
He told me I could go
home for a short stay.
It's not that I'm getting better.
It's just that this may be
my last chance...
I think you know what I mean...
Even so, I'm glad to be coming
home. I've missed you terribly.
But I'm afraid James.
I'm afraid you don't really
want me to come home.
Whenever you come see me,
I can tell how hard it is on you...
I don't know if you
hate me or pity me...
Or maybe I just disgust you....
I'm sorry about that.
When I first learned that
I was going to die, I just
didn't want to accept it.
I was so angry all the time and I
struck out at everyone I loved most.
Especially you, James.
That's why I understand
if you do hate me.
But I want you to
know this, James.
I'll always love you.
Even though our life together had
to end like this, I still wouldn't
trade it for the world. We had
some wonderful years together.
Well this letter has gone on
too long so I'll say goodbye.
I told the nurse to give
this to you after I'm gone.
That means that as you read this,
I'm already dead.
I can't tell you to remember me,
but I can't bear for you to
These last few years since I
became ill...I'm so sorry for
what I did to you, did to us...
You've given me so much and
I haven't bee able to return
a single thing.
That's why I want you to live
for yourself now.
Do what's best for you, James.
You made me happy.
The endings for Silent Hill 2 are kind of complicated in how you get there. They're also complicated in meaning, as a lot of them are open to interpretation of what they represent for James both as an individual and in the relationship with Mary. To get this ending, you must listen to the entire conversation in the hallway, examine Mary's picture from time to time, heal immediately after being hurt, and exceed the maximum health limits. You must also not return to the apartment or stay close to Maria. The idea of basing the endings around a loose psychological profile of the player would be repeated later on in the series to great effectiveness.
The second ending is the "In Water" ending.
In this ending, James again has a final conversation with Mary, and this time decides he needs to pay penance. He takes Mary's body to a car, and they drive into a lake so that James can drown and they can have a peaceful afterlife together. Again, we hear the letter from Mary read aloud. If you haven't caught on by now, the letter is sort of open to interpretation, too. Not a lot of definitive stuff here. To get this ending, you must frequently examine Angela's knife, read the diary on the roof of the hospital, listen to the entire hallway conversation, be at relatively low health throughout the game, listen to the headphones in the reading room, and read the second message to James in the bar , you must also not heal immediately after taking damage.
The third ending is the "Rebirth" ending.
This ending is only available on a second play through. In it, James rows out to the middle of Toluca Lake to a small church with an altar. While not explicitly stated, it's theorized by many that James is attempting to resurrect Mary by using dark magic. The reference to the "old gods" is Lovecraftian, and gives me hope for an eventual Cthulhu appearance in the Silent Hill mythos.
To get this ending, in your second play through, you must collect the White Chism in Blue Creek Apartments, Book of Lost Memories in the Gas Station, Obsidian Goblet in the Historical Society, and Book of Crimson Ceremony in the Reading Room.
The fourth ending is the "Maria" ending.
After defeating the final boss, James returns to the park from early in the game with Maria. As they leave together, Maria coughs, signaling illness. Is James going to be sucked into repeating the whole situation with Mary? Has Silent Hill trapped him in a loop of despair? Or is this his chance at redemption? You'll have to make your own ending up for this one. To get this ending you must stay close to Maria, try to return to her cell after finding her dead, revisit her hospital room, and protect her as much as possible. You also must not examine Mary's picture and letter, do not attempt to return to Nathan Ave., stray from Maria, or bump into Maria. This ending is probably the most clear correlation between how you play and the psychological equivalent of an ending. If you protect Maria and ignore your dead wife, you leave with Maria...but only if you don't bump into her while staying close to her.
The final two endings you can get are "joke" endings. The first of these is the "Dog" ending.
So, in this ending, James goes through a locked door to find a dog controlling things at a massive caricature of a computer console. James has been manipulated by a corgi-looking dog the whole time. Fantastic. Available only after the "rebirth" ending or getting all of the other three endings, to get the Dog ending and the greatest ending credits theme in video game history, you must pick up the Observation Room key from the doghouse, and use the key on room 312 after viewing the tape.
Finally, you get the Silent Hill classic, the "UFO" ending.
Fantastic! First of all, you can only get this ending on the X Box version or the Greatest Hits version of the game. Now that we've settled that, you can only get this ending after you've gotten the Maria ending. In this, we get a lovely little black and white movie that plays into the UFO ending of the last game, as the aliens return to Silent Hill and abduct James...with the help of Harry from the original Silent Hill, despite the fact this isn't a direct sequel. To get this ending, you must obtain the Blue Gem at the rest stop, then use the gem in the Brookhaven Garden and in room 312 before you watch the tape.
That's it. If you're still with us after that marathon, congratulations. Between the two of us, we died once on the first playthroughs of this game. To this day, it remains the only post-cartridge era game that Gavin has beaten without dying at least once. Not the most challenging of the Silent Hill games, but one of the best, and the influence of psychological profiling based on playing style would show up again in this series and in other games such as Heavy Rain. Next week...Silent Hill 3. I promise that one won't take nearly as long to cover as Silent Hill 2. Mainly because it has exactly half the endings.
One last thing...
This week's inductee to the "Another Castle Hall of Shame" (See? The name stuck this time.) is Jericho .
Jericho was based off of the intellectual horror style of Clive Barker, who is a pretty mixed bag. Clive has come up with some outstanding horror material in the world of movies and novels, but he's also released some stuff that's so confusing that it's hard to enjoy. Jericho, as a game, falls somewhere in between. Released in 2007, Jericho combined squad based tactics, first person shooting, and survival horror - three great tastes that taste okay together. Kind of like mint chocolate. I mean, some people like it, but it's not really my cup of tea. Anyway, the goal of the game is to trackdown the Firstborn and eliminate it, and the Firstborn comes with all sorts of weird mythology that people like Clive Barker come up with. Make it to the final boss and take him down, and you're "Rewarded" with the following:
So..your entire team dies, you swim into the ocean and...and...the end? What a load of horse sh...wait? What? Sequel? Hm.
*Google search for Jericho sequels*
*No not the crappy television show*
Okay, so maybe Jericho is getting a bad rap here. Much like the Garth Brooks project Chris Gaines, Jericho was supposed to have some additional content to make it less awful, only it never showed up. The original intention was to make Jericho the first part of a trilogy of games inspired by and assisted with by Clive Barker. The problem is, it's five years later and there's been no mention of a sequel. Since it's a standalone game now..yeah, that ending sucks.
That's it for a marathon edition 1-3 of This Is The End(ing). Too much for one go-round? Let us know in the comments section. Next week will be Silent Hill 3, and after that we'll be shifting gears entirely. Let us know what you love, what you hate, and why, and we'll keep tweaking the column into something more functional as we go.