Survival horror at its finest.
You can walk in a street for half an hour before you saw a monster, but the anticipation for it, is the real essence of fear. Do you remember how you were scared of the dark when you were a kid? not knowing what may "lurk" inside it, afraid to close your eyes because you expect the horrors to jump at you at that very moment?
This is exactly what Silent Hill exploits, and it does it well too. It thrives on lack of encounters, it uses horrific, unexplainable situations and bizarre locations, like a regular small office room that has a shattered wall that reveals a single staircase that goes underground in a very tight corridor for about half a mile, only to end with an even smaller room with a bottomless pit in the middle. Silent Hill uses familiar scenes and location that would otherwise inspire comfort and turns them into the stuff nightmares are made of. For example the hospital, which most of it is actually an asylum for the mentally ill, and the nurses are horrible deformed monstrosities. Every aspect of the game is designed to make you feel as uncomfortable as possible - Silent hill uses mostly poorly lit location or foggy environment to create the claustrophobic feeling, the monsters are deformed human beings that move in a very inhuman way. The protagonist himself is depicted as a neurotic, mentally unstable, nonathletic person, who will gasp for air after running only a few meters. Combat is awkward and often not worth it. It takes a while to kill even a single monster, and even when you do, there is a chance it will rise up again. Every single character in the game has some sort of shady background and unexplained motivations, while some of them are just borderline insane. The soundtrack does an incredible job at making you feel terrified whenever walking into a room, often consisting with metallic music and drumming or screaming, vomiting, thumping, grinding, growling, screeching, and other very disturbing sounds that hint on a close by monster. Players will learn to dread the sound of the radio static very quickly, since your pocket radio emits this sound whenever danger is close by.
Silent Hill thrives on visually horrific scenes as well. like Grizzly murder scenes, torn and blood stained bed sheets, dismembered corpses hung on hooks like meat in a butchery, Bathtubs filled with blood, etc... mostly opposite analogies that really enhance the sense of dread. Anyway, I'm three paragraphs into my review and I haven't talked about the story yet, so here goes - James Sunderland is looking for his wife in the town of Silent Hill. Apparently, he recently received a letter from her, saying she wants to meet him in their special place. Sounds like a fairly normal situation except from the fact that his wife has been dead for the past three years from a horrible yet unexplained disease. James was profoundly shocked and perplexed by the fact that his wife might still be alive somehow, and decided to drive to Silent Hill and check out whether or not it is true.
Obviously, there is much more to the story than what I've just said, but talking too much about the plot is spoiling it, since as you might have guessed, the game relies heavily on visual metaphors rather than voiced narrative to drive the plot forward. Not that the game is short on verbal exchanges. But the key word here is subtlety, and it requires the player to pay close attention to everything that transpires or being said at any point in the game in order to properly understand the plot. One of Silent Hill's greatest strengths is in it's ability to tell a rich, compelling, and thought provoking story without explicitly telling the player anything. If any game is qualified to be called "art", it's definitely this one.
In conclusion, Silent Hill 2 is no less than a horror masterpiece. It slowly builds up tension by using psychological horror, narrow corridors, poor lighting, hectic combat, and horrifying sounds - all the ingredients needed to truly scare the piss out of even the most manly men out there. I would heartily recommend this game to anyone, but mostly to those who feel that Resident evil 4 or Dead Space weren't scary enough.