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Turning the Radio Off in Silent Hill 2

Recently, I completed Silent Hill 2 in its entirety. I played the Enhanced Edition on PC with a friend stting next to me as I ventured through the fog of the monstrous city.

I was quite impressed and saw why the game is still regarded as a tremendous accomplishment in game development.

Today, I want to share a very significant yet brief moment from my playthrough. I was near the end of the game, more precisely in Toluca Lakeview Hotel.

Gimme that radio!

In order to take an elevator and progress through the level, I was forced by the game to leave all my stuff in a closet, including the radio.

While I was playing, I put great effort into keeping James’ radio always on. As veteran Silent Hill fans know, the radio emits static when monsters are close. It functions as a disturbing sonar, helping the player into predicting the coming of a monster.

Or that’s what I thought. My first reaction when I was stripped of my radio was sheer terror. How would I venture into the corridors of the hotel not knowing whether or not a monster was close?

To my surprise, though, my encounters with monsters resulted into an eureka moment: by not knowing that they were close thanks to the ominous static, I was less frightened than I had ever been in Silent Hill.

It surprised me, initially. But the point is that the radio is a foreshadowing device rather than a sonar in the player’s hands.

Not a medicine, but a poison

True, the static will always tell us whether a monster is near or not. But monsters in SIlent Hill 2 are significantly slower than the player (with the exception of Abstract Daddy, which is still not that fast). When the player spots a monster approaching, they have all the time to flee or take a fighting stance. There is no need for a sonar-like anticipation.

So what purpose does the radio serve? To keep the player aware that somewhere there is a monster lurking.

Take the Labyrinth. With the radio on and monsters in the room, every corner is a possible hideout for a monster. Once, I spent minutes waiting next to a corner, waiting for the monster to come; but it never appeared.

As I discovered as I ventured into the corridor, the monster’s path circled away from my past position. But the radio ketp me in a state of tension for all the time I spent waiting, because I knew there was something horrible and hostile that I could not see,


Silent Hill 2 surprised me when made me realize almost by chance its trick: the game had me cling to the radio as the device to protect me from the monsters, while, in truth, the menacing static contributed greatly to the terror I felt.

After all, it is a rule of horror that what you can’t see but hear is much more frightening than the reverse. And the radio did exactly that.

I am still early in developing a Third Eye for Game Design, but hope that you enjoyed my post. See ya next time!

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