Can Bloober Team Remake One of the Greatest Survival Horror Games of All Time?
In October 2022, Konami announced that a remake of Silent Hill 2 was in development. Not an upscaled remaster as they had done (and screwed up) in the past, but a complete, ground-up remake on a completely new engine, just as Capcom has been doing with their Resident Evil games to great effect.
After so many years of seeming like they were trying to push video games out the door to instead focus on Pachinko machines, this presentation looked like it might be the first salvo in a new age of Konami. Several new Silent Hill games/experiences were announced to be in the works across several different developers, but the most important to me was that remake. If it wasn’t going to be helmed by Team Silent, who could possibly take the reins to recreate a genre-defining video game like Silent Hill 2, a game that continues to be the pinnacle of narrative and gameplay for many people?
According to Konami, that developer is Bloober Team.
I won’t lie, the announcement deflated my sails a little bit, even after I was mostly expecting this turn of events from the many leaks that occurred months before the official broadcast. I think it’s important to mention that I’m not a Bloober Team hater. In fact, I would consider myself a fan of theirs, for the most part.
Looking back over their body of work, I realized that I’ve enjoyed some of their earliest works. Namely, Basement Crawl (2014) on the PS3 and Brawl (2015) on the PS4, both of which are horror-themed Bomberman clones that I had pretty good times with even if they weren’t as tight and polished as other games at the time.
The first, for-real Bloober Team game I fully associated with the studio was 2016’s Layers of Fear, a pretty well-known linear first-person adventure spook-a-thon that was simple in concept, but had lots of interesting gameplay twists throughout and definitely brought the scares. From the point the credits rolled on Layers of Fear, I kind of just bought whatever Bloober Team released.
Unfortunately, this led to more whiffs and misses than hits in my opinion. Observer is awesome, and I had some fun with Blair Witch despite its issues, but Layers of Fear 2 definitely didn’t hold a candle to the first, and their first foray into the realm of Triple-A game development with The Medium resulted in something that looks and sounds fantastic, but isn’t all that fun to play and has more than a fair share of problems. Shockingly, The Medium is also what seems to have landed them the Silent Hill 2 remake.
The iconic composer behind the original Silent Hill games, Akira Yamaoka, also created the music for The Medium, and that was just the icing on the cake for a game that was clearly designed to be an homage or perhaps even a proof of concept for something that could exist in the Silent Hill universe. Just as soon as The Medium released, rumors began to swirl that Bloober was working on an actual Silent Hill game, and Yamaoka himself even let the cat out of the bag prematurely at some point.
Do I think that The Medium is good enough to warrant them taking on Silent Hill 2? Conceptually, maybe, but in terms of gameplay and polish, definitely not. However, reviews and other content that has come out since the announcement of the remake suggests that many of the developers at Bloober are huge fans of Silent Hill 2, which is what you want for a team that is handling a remake like this. They haven’t had the development chops in the past, but maybe their love for the source material will be what gives them the extra juice to make something special that is also faithful to the original.
Again, tidbits have come out that point to an increased focus on combat, “rebuilt” story set pieces, and the elimination of the fixed camera angles of the original in favor of a Resident Evil-style over-the-shoulder camera. All of these are things that give me pause in getting excited for the game, though there’s no doubt that the game would benefit from a certain level of modernization.
In conclusion, I’m a little scared. Not the same kind of scared as being pursued by Pyramid Head, but more like the uneasiness that goes hand-in-hand with awaiting something special that could end up being a disaster. I’ll patiently wait for the release of this remake, and I’ll definitely be buying it on release either way. Anything that gives Konami a reason to support their legacy franchises is a win to me, but only time will tell if the wait and effort was worth it.