How 'Silent Hill 2's 'Pyramid Head' Is Still The Darkest Plot Twist In Gaming
From an outsider's perspective, Silent Hill 2 seems to deliver exactly what you'd expect from the sequel to the greatest horror
game work of art ever made – better graphics, even eerier fog, and a number at the end of the title. That alone would've done the trick, but those who dare to venture inside will find horrors unlike anything they'd ever seen before.
We play as James Sunderland, a man driven to depression after the death of his wife from a terrible illness. He decides to visit the titular town of Silent Hill because he gets a letter from Mary, his dead wife, saying she's waiting for him there. James hasn't lost it. He's well aware that she's dead, but he has nothing else to live for. The game's never cruel enough to try and bait players into believing she's ever going to come back. It does, however, introduce Maria, a woman who looks just like a probably sexier and definitely healthier version of his wife.
Actually, Maria is but an idealized version of Mary that the town allows James to see as if she were real. The town isn't necessarily playing with him or trying to make him feel better, the town just exists and does things to people. The only thing that's real about her is James' mixed reaction towards it all. Another thing that's not real is the Pyramid Head, the game's most iconic monster.
On top of a really cool-looking creature, the Pyramid Head comes off a disgusting fiend that players will witness abusing female-seeming monsters. Originally, we'd think he's just doing what a monster does – and we'd be correct, but there's more. Outside of the other monstrosities from the town, the Pyramid Head only ever tries to harm James. All the other visitors of Silent Hill never have to deal with him, because they're literally too busy dealing with their own demons. Whereas the characters of the original games were dealing with a cult that created actual demons while trying to channel the powers within the town to give birth to a god, the real characters from Silent Hill 2 are just three traumatized people who're each experiencing a distinct version of purgatory they've created for themselves after entering the town.
The true monsters of Silent Hill 2 are the friends you've made along the way.
The Pyramid Head doesn't really exist in the real world. He only exists in the mind of James, and his actions are a projection of his guilt over the death of his wife, which he'd intentionally caused. the harm Pyramid Head inflicts on the “villagers” of Silent Hill is just a projection of James' guilt over the fact that he decided to kill his sick wife instead of caring for her.
Meaning that when you see the picture below, you're not seeing a battle of good versus evil, or even the struggle to survive the horror of survival horror …
… but the big Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man standoff.
Another awesome thing the game does is allow for players to influence James' fate. It does so not via vapid dialogue choices, but by secretly evaluating their actions throughout the game. What did other game makers make out of this never-before-seen character study in a video game? Well, after canning the development team, Konami separated Pyramid Head from James (the context he required to exist), and turned him into a regular monster in other James-less Silent Hill games, movies, and even into a DLC monster in Dead By Daylight.
Let's see what Masahiro Ito, the guy who created the character, thinks about it!
Oh well, you can't please everyone.
Top Image: Konami