Just before the turn of the millennium, one game was poised to change the horror landscape forever.
Konami’s descent into the snowy town of Silent Hill took cues from survival horror pioneer Resident Evil to deliver an eerie and atmospheric gaming experience, but there was something different about this unsettling town that separated it from the zombie-filled mansion and B.O.W.-ridden police department.
Silent Hill broke the dangerous confines of becoming a Resident Evil clone by swapping out the lab-created horrors with monstrosities that threatened to dismantle the player’s psyche.
The emphasis on psychosis was never more evident than in the breakthrough sequel, 2001’s Silent Hill 2 when a widow is called to the desolate town by a letter from his deceased wife.
Silent Hill 2 very evidently wanted to gun for the player’s own mental state, hoping to throw horrific visions and depressing plot points their way until, like protagonist James Sunderland, they were at the mercy of the town.
To some degree, it worked as Silent Hill 2 has had a strong grip on the video game industry since its release, its demented inhabitants popping up frequently to remind us of what terrified us most on the PS2 and Xbox.
But how does a game remain so deeply embedded in the annals of an entire industry when dozens like it release every few years? It’s all about the story, and the little I’ve shared so far just barely scratches the surface of what Konami’s twisted visionaries pieced together as a follow-up to the well-received inaugural entry.
Silent Hill 2 is a game best experienced than told, but it also is a little on the slower side and takes a bit of time to get through.
So, for the sake of those that may never get the opportunity to enjoy this sorrowful tale, in this guide to Silent Hill 2 endings, I put my own mental state at risk to revisit the horror-filled town and provide a breakdown of Silent Hill 2, from its core story to a glimpse at the fiends, terrors, and sadists that haunt it.
The Silent Hill Letter
In the core game, often referred to as Letter from Silent Heaven, James Sunderland never could have guessed that one day, three years after his wife passed from a chronic disease, he’d receive a letter from her.
The epistle was cryptic, summoning him to a town they had spent many loving days with accusations of an unfulfilled promise. James returns to the quaint town he and Mary adored, but found something twisted in its place.
“In my restless dreams, I see that town: Silent Hill. You promised you’d take me there again, someday. But you never did. Well, I’m alone there, now. In our ‘Special Place’… Waiting for you.”
Once quaint and picturesque, the Silent Hill James arrives at is a mere shell of the memories he had. Its once bustling streets abandoned and coated in a thick fog, there appeared to be no one left to upkeep its once stately appearance.
From an observation deck, James surveys the town as he tries without luck to decipher the enigma in Mary’s letters. Their “Special Place” wasn’t a lone location, but the town itself. At least, what the town used to be.
But still, someone had sent him that letter, and the eerie similarity to his deceased wife’s handwriting kept James’ intrigued. And so he pressed on, pushing deeper into the rotting town
in search of an answer he wasn’t sure he’d ever get.
The Two Worlds
As James explores the decaying town, he traverses two versions: the Fog World and the Otherworld. Whereas the Fog World is what we perceive to be reality, the Otherworld is proposed as a parallel plane common throughout the Silent Hill series.
Though its depiction in the original Silent Hill is that of a bloody, rust-covered nightmare-scape, in Silent Hill 2, the Otherworld is more down-to-earth, instead appearing as a town that’s suffered immensely.
There are many interpretations of what the Otherworld is, with some claiming it to be a version of Hell. Silent Hill 2 deals heavily with grief, trauma, regret, and sin, and it can be interpreted that the Otherworld is a physical manifestation of a character’s psyche.
There is no clear answer, and many factors throughout the game contradict popular fan theories (one being that the plane we believe to be the Otherworld is really the Fog World). For now, it’s up to player interpretation.
The Sinners of Silent Hill
Though Silent Hill appeared desolate and without life upon James’ arrival, he soon finds he’s not alone. Before he reaches an apartment complex he suspects could be the “Special Place” Mary referenced, James meets a teenage girl who fled to Silent Hill looking for her mother.
Their encounter is brief but lays the framework for something sinister spreading rot and decay throughout the town.The girl is just the first of several lost souls that James encounters, each one drawn to the town by their own darkness. It’s through these individuals
Angela Orosco – 19
The person that James meets before arriving at Silent Hill, Angela claims to be in the once-idyllic town in search of her mother. The two share a lie, as James states he’s looking for his wife, implying that she’s still alive.
During their first meeting, Angela warns James of the town’s sinister nature, stating there’s “something wrong” and that he shouldn’t pursue it. Eventually, the two part ways, but their stories cross at several junctures during James’ time in Silent Hill.
It’s clear that there is more to Angela’s story, especially when James finds her contemplating suicide at the Blue Creek Apartments. Though she does give him the knife she was going to use, Angela’s behavior towards James becomes more and more erratic until, in a labyrinth hidden beneath the quiet town, James learns the truth of Angela’s tragic past.
Before their first encounter in the cemetery, she had murdered her brother and father, Thomas, to end a cycle of sexual abuse. As is common in Silent Hill 2, Angela’s sexual abuse is alluded to and symbolized in the Abstract Daddy boss fight.
Despite being saved by James, Angela remains untrusting of him and runs away. Their final encounter sees Angela succumbing to her trauma and walking into a fiery stairwell, never to be seen again.
Eddie Dombrowski – 23
James happens upon Eddie in the Wood Side Apartments shortly after the latter stumbles upon a corpse inside of the fridge. Though Eddie touts his innocence, James remains hesitant about the young man. They part ways, only two reconnect again in Toluca Prison’s underground cafeteria.
He’s in a delusional state, mumbling about the ease of killing another person while slumped next to another corpse. This murder he confesses to, stating they “had it coming,” leaving James shocked and weary. James leaves Eddie to further explore the prison, only to run into him one last time in the town’s Labyrinth.
At this point, Eddie’s mental state has deteriorated and he recounts his life of bullying and the murder he committed. The deranged man finds joy in the memory of the murder and turns a revolver on James, who he shoots in the shoulder.
Eddie winds up being the only human character in Silent Hill that James kills. Unlike Eddie, he shows great remorse despite acting in self-defense.
Maria – 25
A picture-perfect replica of Mary, Maria first crosses paths with James in Rosewater Park. Though she looks identical to his deceased wife, Maria’s personality is far less reserved, and she’s shown to be more sexual and affectionate toward James.
Though the two never met before, Maria knows James’ name before he’s able to give it to her, and it’s suggested that she carries some of Mary’s negative memories of James.
The two stay together until Maria falls ill in Brookhaven Hospital, at which point James leaves her behind to rest. When they reconnect in the hospital’s basement, Maria is furious with James, stating he cares only about Mary and not her well-being.
Their reunion is short-lived as one of the town’s monsters, the lumbering Pyramid Head, pursues them, ultimately impaling and killing Maria.
While exploring the Labyrinth, James happens upon a very-alive Maria in a jail cell, though her personality seems more akin to Mary’s. She reverts to her old self before James sets out to find a way to release her from the cell. But when he returns, he finds her seemingly bludgeoned to death.
Mysteriously, later in Lakeview Hotel’s Fog World version, Maria is once again found alive, this time hung upside down by two Pyramid Heads. She’s killed once more, though her true fate is not revealed until the game’s finale.
Laura – 8
James first spots Laura talking to Eddie in Pete’s Bowl-O-Rama, but she leaves before he can learn anything about her. Eddie reveals her name, but it’s not until James finds her in a room at Brookhaven Hospital that he learns they have an alleged connection – the young girl claims to know Mary.
Laura says she’s built a relationship with James’ allegedly dead wife, infuriating him. Claiming she has proof in the form of a letter, Laura tricks James and locks him in a room full of monsters.
The two don’t meet again later in Lakeview Hotel’s restaurant, at which point Laura produces the letter, which reveals Mary’s intent to adopt Laura and confirms that she was alive.
James and Laura’s relationship becomes even more strained when the reality of Mary’s death comes to light. She angrily leaves James again and doesn’t appear for the remainder of the game.
Laura’s fate is left ambiguous in three of the four endings, though it can be assumed she survives as the town never attempts to harm her.
The Truth of Mary’s Death
One of the biggest mysteries James sets out to solve at the beginning of Silent Hill 2 is how the wife he believed to be dead for three years sent him a letter. As the narrative progresses, players learn that not everything is as it appears, and much of what we originally believed to be true was merely character perception of reality.
Maria and Laura are significant in James’ discovery of the truth behind Mary’s Death. But before the truth is revealed, it’s important to understand the dynamic between James and Mary.
A Relationship Ruined
Mary and James met at a house party and very quickly hit it off. Their relationship started fiery and passionate, but soon tapered into a steady and comfortable relationship. The two wed and envisioned a bright future with children.
At the height of their marriage, they vacationed to Silent Hill, staying in the Lakeview Hotel’s Room 312. It was a memory that would be burned into Mary’s brain, and she hoped to return one day. Unfortunately, shortly after their return, she fell ill with an incurable illness.
James was forced to watch his wife deteriorate, her body being ravaged by the quick-moving disease. Her skin sickly and her hair thinning, Mary felt she was monstrous in appearance and wanted nothing more to die.
But as she lived, she lashed out at James, who started to grow visibly distant from his wife as all that he loved about her vanished. James turned to drinking and infrequently visited Mary until he took her home to live out her final moments.
A Husband’s Devotion
For much of Silent Hill 2, players are led to believe that Mary succumbed to her illness. Even James believes that the letter he receives is from a three-years-dead Mary.
However, while scouring the Lakeview Hotel, he finds a mysterious videotape that Maria had previously alluded to while in her jail cell. Eventually, James finds a VCR to play the tape in Room 312.
The tape is divided into two parts – the first is a snippet of Mary proclaiming her love for the peaceful town and asking James to promise to bring her back one day.
The tape then bleeds into another scene, which shows Mary suffering in bed from her illness. James watches in disbelief as he comes on screen and places a pillow over his wife’s head, suffocating her.
When the tape ends, James is finally able to face the truth – that he killed his wife out of mercy shortly before his trip to Silent Hill. As for the letter he received, it was never an invitation to Silent Hill, but Mary’s final goodbye to her husband written shortly before her passing.
Though the game doesn’t explicitly state it, Silent Hill 2’s monster designer and art director, Masahiro Ito, tweeted in 2012 that Mary’s corpse is in the back seat of Jame’s car when he arrives in town. This is also alluded to in Lost Memories: Silent Hill Chronicle, an addendum that was added to the Silent Hill 3 Game Guide.
The Monsters in the Fog
Jame’s time in Silent Hill is marred by grizzly and gruesome manifestations, each one seemingly symbolic of a character’s trauma or sin. Ten horrifying visions threaten Jame’s sanity and life, each one increasingly more disturbing than the last. Nine of these, depicted in-game by nine red squares, are manifestations of James’ subconscious.
This fiend is depicted as two human figures coiled together in an eternal sexual bond and is symbolic of two characters. For Angela, Abstract Daddy is a physical manifestation of her sexual abuse trauma, with one of the two figures representing her and the pain her father and brother caused her.
James sees the monster from a different view, as a manifestation of his memories of a bedridden Mary. The version players see, according to Ito, is seen through James’ eyes, and Angela’s version is left to the imagination.
Ito took to Twitter again in 2020 to explain that depicting Angela’s vision of Abstract Daddy would have cheapened how players viewed her. “Fascinating story doesn’t need ‘too much description,” he wrote.
Bubble Head Nurse
One of the series’ most iconic monsters, the Nurse is a hyper-sexualized monster in a Brookhaven Hospital uniform sporting a bulbous head encased in a thin vinyl mask containing a bloody viscous liquid. They are constantly twitching as if to mimic the throws of someone being suffocated.
James first encounters the nurses in the hospital and is stalked by them until he reaches the Silent Hill Historical Society. Bubble Head Nurses travel in groups and respond to the slightest sound, making them difficult to kill with melee weapons.
Resembling an oversized cockroach with nine legs and a pair of antennae that jut from its back, the Creeper is a mere homage to the first Silent Hill.
Unlike the other monsters in Silent Hill 2, the monstrous insect has no connection to James’ trauma and is likely simply a remnant of the events of the first game. They’re a nuisance but lend nothing to the overall narrative.
When Laura locks James in a hospital room, Flesh Lips is the monstrosity he faces off against. Flesh Lips appear as a bundle of limbs and meat suspended from a metallic frame. It gets its name from the lips that form at the creature’s bottom.
These lips are said to symbolize the verbal abuse that Mary slung at James during her illness. As for the cage Flesh Lips is attached to, it may symbolize Mary being trapped in her bed.
Appearing as a creature bound in a straightjacket of flesh and sporting a feminine appearance, Lying Figure is said to be a depiction of Mary later on in her illness.
These ghastly beasts spew acid at James, which can symbolize the verbal abuse he sustained from Mary after she got sick. Lying Figures are ghastly and move erratically, sometimes in groups. They are sometimes seen fighting against or being brutalized by the Pyramid Head.
At the end of two long arms end in two giant lips, similar in appearance to those Flesh Lips sports. The Mandarin is trapped in a fleshy straightjacket and has a slightly feminine body. These monsters hang from a metal grating and are said to represent anguish and helplessness, similar to that which Mary felt in the late stages of her illness.
Since they cannot let go of the grating, else they’ll fall into the abyss below, the Mandarin attack with tentacles that lash out at James. They’re easily avoidable, however, and can be escaped by running past them.
Preferring the darkness, Mannequin attack only when they are hit with light. Their bodies consist of two pairs of feminine legs attached to a torso, a symbol of James’ unsatisfied natural urgers.
They attack using their upper legs, which they rub together much like the front legs of an insect. In one encounter, a pair of Mannequin are seen being abused by a Pyramid Head, further suggesting their sexual nature.
The game’s final boss, this horror is no more than Mary’s corpse trapped within a metal frame. The spiked edges of her cage reference the suffering she endured. Mary attacks James with a long tentacle that’s attached to a nun-like hood fused to the frame.
This monstrous form of James’ wife is symbolic of how he viewed her in her final days and manifests some of his subconscious thoughts and feelings, specifically in the nurse-like uniform she’s wearing.
The Prisoners are an unseen force heard chanting a ritual in Toluca Prison. James will aim at them and attack when they’re heard, but they have no physical form that players see. What they symbolize is up for debate, but their presence could link to one of the game’s endings when a ritual is used to try and resurrect Mary.
Possibly the most iconic monster of the Silent Hill franchise, Pyramid Head is a manifestation of James’ guilt for killing Mary. The monstrous form is created by James as a means of punishing himself. Pyramid Head sports a large metallic pyramid and heavy Great Knife, which symbolizes the actual guilt that James weaponizes against himself.
The metallic headpiece serves as a sort of prison or torture device and doubles as a way for Ito to hide the monster’s face, as he wished it to look less human.
Obtaining Each Silent Hill 2 Ending
Depending on what players do during the game, Silent Hill 2 features six endings, including two joke endings, three primary endings, and an alternate ending.
The criteria to achieve each of the three primary endings is convoluted at best, and changes based on James’ actions that suggest a specific mindset. When players achieve one ending and launch a New Game Plus, it increases the chance of achieving the other two.
“In Water” sees James succumbing to his grief by driving his car, with Mary’s corpse inside, into Toluca Lake. To achieve this ending, players need to act recklessly by keeping James’ stamina in the red and not healing often. Additionally, can perform the following actions to increase their chances of achieving “In Water”:
- Examine Angela’s knife
- Read the suicidal diary found on the hospital’s roof
- Read the message to James sprawled on the wall of Neely’s Bar
- Listen to the full conversation between Mary and James just before the final boss
In “Leave,” James overcomes his guilt and leaves Silent Hill. In this ending, he takes Laura with him, making it the only ending to show what happens to Laura.
To improve the chances of achieving this ending, players need to play as if they want James to survive, specifically by recovering his health as soon as he’s hurt. Players should also listen to the entire sickbed conversation before the Mary boss fight.
For this ending, players also shouldn’t favor Maria too much or spend too much time with her.
In “Maria,” James has learned nothing during his time in Silent Hill. He never really faces what he did to Mary, instead replacing her with the more tantalizing hallucination. To achieve this ending, players should protect Maria from monsters as much as possible and:
- Spend at least 10 minutes with her
- Return to room S3 in the hospital
- Re-enter the cell after Maria’s death twice
To avoid getting the “Leave” ending, don’t heal as often, and don’t listen to the sickbed conversation at the game’s finale.
“Rebirth” follows James as he tries to resurrect Mary. He rows out onto Toluca Lake with her corpse toward the Church of Rebirth with four objects of note. Rebirth can only be achieved on a second playthrough, and requires players to collect:
- White Chrism (Room 105 in Blue Creek Apartments)
- Lost Memories Book (Texxon Gas Station newspaper stand)
- Obsidian Goblet (Silent Hill Historical Society second exhibition room)
- Crimson Ceremony Book (Bookshelf in the Reading Room of the Otherworld Hotel)Dog
In the “Dog” ending, James uncovers that a mischievous pooch was behind the events of the entire game. To achieve this ending, pursue the “Rebirth” ending, but find the Dog Key in the doghouse in West South Vale. After viewing the videotape in Room 312, use the key to open the Observation Room.
Available in the Greatest Hits and Director’s Cut versions only, the “UFO” ending can be obtained only after beating all scenarios. Load up another main game and, in the restroom at the start, pick up the Blue Gem.
Use the Blue Gem at the following locations to unlock the ending that sees Harry Mason from Silent Hill return with an alien force:
- Immediately after defeating Flesh Lips, in the Gardens
- Immediately after defeating Eddie on Toluca Lake dock
- Before watching the videotape in Room 312 near the back window
Question: Are the Silent Hill Games Connected?
Answer: Outside of Silent Hill 3 and Origins, which are a sequel and prequel to the original, the Silent Hill games are not outwardly connected.
Though Silent Hill 4: The Room doesn’t even take place in Silent Hill, characters and events mentioned in the game were referenced in Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3. Travis Grady of Origins does make a very brief cameo appearance in Homecoming.
Question: Is there a Silent Hill 2 Remake?
Answer: Rumor has it that Bloober Team (Layers of Fear, Blair Witch) is working on a Silent Hill 2 remake, though as of Gamescom 2022, no confirmation has been made.
Question: Do All Silent Hill Games Have Multiple Endings?
Answer: Since the first game, it has been a tradition for Silent Hill games to have more than one ending. Typically, there is a Good, Neutral, and Bad ending, along with at least one joke ending (often involving a UFO).
Which Ending is the Game’s True Ending?
Though Ito has stated the “In Water” ending is canon to him, the team behind Silent Hill 2 has never officially stated which ending is the “true” ending. The choice is left up to the player, though it’s safe to say “Dog” and “UFO” are off the table.