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The Silent Hill 2 remake's combat trailer misrepresents the game, according to one of its own developers

It doesn't capture the "spirit" of the full thing, apparently

The Silent Hill 2 remake's State of Play trailer doesn't give a full and proper representation of the game, Bloober Team's president Piotr Babieno has observed in an apparent swipe at publisher Konami, who Babieno portrays as responsible for the upcoming horror game's marketing. If you missed it, the trailer in question focuses on the "modernised" combat. It shows alleged "everyman" protagonist James Sunderland getting all Gears of Warry with some maggoty marionettes and rancid demon nurses.

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The spicy Babieno quotes come from an interview with, passed on by Eurogamer Poland via machine translation. At one point in the interview, Babieno jokes that he's responsible for some of the negative comments on the trailer. "Seriously, it's not us who are responsible for the marketing side," he added. "That's the responsibility of our partner." (The video has now been made private.)

"It's not the spirit of what used to be, or what we're creating now," Babieno went on. "We're trying to fully capture this romantic vision of a game that debuted 22 years ago. It seems to us that when players see real gameplay, a real game, they will judge it in a completely different way."

Babieno doesn't specify how, exactly, the trailer falls short, but given that it's a combat trailer, I'm going to jump aboard my haunted carousel hobby horse and say that giving Silent Hill 2 a polished, videogamey combat system would be a crime of the first order. Silent Hill has never really had a "good" combat system and I hope it never does, inasmuch as Silent Hill isn't about defeating munsters or expressing mastery of systems. It is about feeling lost and oppressed and polluted, with camera angles that block or trip you up, an almost bureaucratic insistence on stamping on enemies to KO them, and monster designs that burden your soul and haunt your senses, rather than offering some kind of clean, technical challenge.

As regards the PS1-PS2 trilogy's combat, it's often more of a fight against the constraints of the simulation, adding to the feeling that the game is out to get you. There's a move you can do in the original Silent Hill 2's final bossfight using Pyramid Head's great knife, where you back into a corner and essentially bounce the huge, tarnished blade off the walls to increase James's swing speed. That's how I want Silent Hill combat to feel - an awkward mess born of tank controls and your character's lack of martial training, which might require you to glitch things a bit to prevail.

A screen from the original Silent Hill 2 showing Pyramid Head advancing on James in a dingy room
Image credit: Konami

But "make the combat feel bad" is a tough pitch for any publisher, and I can understand why Bloober and Konami are taking the spec-ops route with the remake, though I think they're inviting comparisons they can't survive. The trailer's scenes of smooth, over-the-shoulder gunplay, with mutants vaulting over cover to lock you into QTEs, feel cut-and-pasted from Capcom's latest Resident Evil games - a series Silent Hill once made a point of standing apart from, and which the remake is unlikely to measure up to, bullet for bullet. With its apparent limb damage and full player control of the perspective, it feels about as Silent Hilly as an iPod.

You'd think the best approach to combat in Silent Hill would be to strip it out - see Amnesia or PT or indeed, Bloober's previous Layers of Fear (OK) and Observer (very decent). It's a common complaint for horror games - knowing that there's a "combat system" downgrades the horrors into props. At the same time, so much of the original game's appeal for me was the sense of being sabotaged by the combat controls. And there are perhaps some parallels Konami could take inspiration from in their handling of the series, assuming Konami regard Silent Hill as anything other than a set of spreadsheet columns.

Darkwood and Golden Light, for example, are games with "deep" combat systems that feel just as unclean as Silent Hill, though they're worlds apart in many respects. Do you have any recommendations for horror games in which the combat is great because it feels so bad? If you've got Hill on the brain right now, Silent Hill Memories has a great archive of antique Team Silent interviews.

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