We all know that Pyramid Head has become an Icon, and his rise in popular (geek) culture has reduced his terrifying nature just a bit. The game that introduced him, Silent Hill 2, however, still defines the elements of the survival horror genre for this gamer.
I was in college when the game came out, and missed out on the first generation of SH, and the initial release of the sequel, due to way too much schoolwork and a desire to not fit the 'lives in his parents basement' stereotype. My first encounter with SH2 was a couple years after it came out, as my friends were preparing for the release of the next in the series with a replay through on the Greatest Hits version.
Now I'm one of four college plus aged males involved in this tale, and as the only one to not experience the game to this point, I found the controller in my hands quite often. Usually to the dismay of the others present, as I have to flip the Y axis in any game I play. We set up in the fall, when the nights are getting longer and the cool weather is upon us, and we only play after dark, usually on the weekends, with some liquid courage to keep us going till the wee hours.
Every facet of this game is designed to immerse the player in the world of the main character, whom we identified with immediately. I just had to google to find his name, but it's not important, as it becomes You in the game, not James Sunderland. Imaginations run wild as we travel the town looking for our dead wife, and try to stay away from anything else that shifts under cars, twitches in the dark corner of the room or makes our radio go crazy with static.
There are a few moments, aside from seeing Pyramid Head raping the four-legs in the hotel, that will stick with me forever in terms of psychological terrror. The bathroom scene is one, where we desperately don't want to open the next stall. Or the next one, but you know you have to do it anyhow. The clock puzzle, not knowing whether it's going to open up full of body parts, or reveal a secret room from which any number of uglies will spring. But most impactful was the insane asylum, across the long bridge on the island in the lake.
This is the part I never could quite get over. Once we found the horseshoe and realized you could use it to open the grate in the floor the game actually asks you: Do you want to jump in the hole? Now how the heck am I supposed to answer that. Hell no I don't want to jump into the dark hole in the bloodspattered Crazy House. Is there any possible way for me to keep going without jumping blindly into this certain death?
Well, this gamer never found out, because at that point I saved the game and I missed the next play session. The guys went on to finish the game, but that's as far as I made it. It's on my list, still, again?, but when I get back there, will I be able to say yes?