Silent Hill 2 Remake Optimism
So you probably know by now that the Dead Space remake is great. In EA Motive it has a developer that knows its onions when it comes to capturing the spirit of what has come before (see its work on Star Wars Squadrons) whilst making it fresh and palatable for the modern-day audience. Motive’s Dead Space fully appreciates its source material and also takes in what came after as a way to enhance it. EA is usually a good reason to be cautious about things like this, and given how the software giant treated the original developer of the series, there was always a good reason to doubt.
But it turned out great, so chapeau to all involved.
I remember going through that wringer with the Resident Evil 2 remake. Here was a game I adored being modernized, but by a completely different studio. Outside the folks who made Resi what it is, there had long been an incredibly patchy record. A record that brought us Umbrella Corps and films where one of the most intimidating monsters in the series cries, and one of its most badass characters was relegated to support act for Milla Jovovich’s Alice. Sorry, Resident Evil: Apocalypse gets my blood boiling whenever I think about it. Especially when I remember there are people that think it’s the best Resi film. Sickos the lot of ‘em.
I can’t say I felt great about the Resi 2 remake at first. To this day I have a loathing for that bastardized sewer gator sequence. But I digress (I do that a lot if you hadn’t already noticed), over time, I grew to appreciate what the new team did with the remake, and I see it as a high point in modern survival horror (still not as impactful and enthralling as the original, but that’s probably my deep-seated nostalgia talking).
When thinking about the reaction to these remakes being announced, and how Bloober Team’s Silent Hill 2 remake was received, it’s a tad puzzling. Yes, I can totally understand why Bloober gives folk an uneasy feeling. I played Blair Witch and The Medium. I get it, Bloober can really whiff it in the wrong situation. But the more I look at what it has going for it with the Silent Hill 2 remake, the more puzzling resistance to it becomes when compared to those remakes mentioned above.
Bloober has a history of horror. Yes, you can argue yourself into loop-de-loops about how ‘good’ you think that history is, but it’s there in a more credible way than the other remake studios have. For a start, there’s actual involvement from prominent figures involved in the original Silent Hill 2. If anyone’s going to know how a modern interpretation of Silent Hill 2 should feel, then I can’t say I’d trust anyone more than Masahiro Ito. There’s a man who has repeatedly discussed the game’s themes and fan theories years after the fact. You get the sense that even if he might get exasperated with talking about Pyramid Head, he doesn’t view his time on Silent Hill as just a job. There’s passion and love there for sure. Either he’s protective of the original and wants to ensure a remake respects it. Or he wants to help create a truer vision of it without technical inhibition.
Now the latter of those would be more of a worry for the hardcore. As has been shown many times, what Ito knows and what fans think about Silent Hill 2 can be far apart as two sides of a chasm. So new shifts in interpretation might be a bit much for a precious audience with a clear(ish) idea of what Silent Hill 2 should be like and how it should be presented. If it were just Bloober tinkering with that, I’d understand a certain panic about it. Not because of Bloober itself, but because that’s the risk inherent in any remake with a team that wasn’t involved in the original. But Resident Evil and Dead Space have shown you don’t necessarily need to be. Still, having such key Silent Hill 2 figures as Ito and compose Akira Yamaoka on board should make this a far more interesting remake to unpack because it’d be akin to Ridley Scott returning to the Alien universe. Look how divisive that was! Still debated to this day. Even if I’m among those with very strong feelings about Alien Covenant, I’d certainly take something like that approach over a bone-dry port in disguise with glitter splashed across it.
Change is necessary for a proper remake, as long as you have an understanding of what came before. However you may feel about Bloober, or indeed internet whipping boys Konami, there’s a pretty strong chance of finding that balance with the likes of Ito involved.
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