The game starts with the main character, James, looking in the mirror of an obviously abandoned and filthy public restroom, where he says "Mary, could you really be in this town?" For those of us that had already played the first game upon picking up the second, it was obvious where he was, but the reason he was there wasn't necessarily immediately apparent. We soon learn that the main character, James, had a wife that he took to Silent Hill on a vacation years ago, but that she has since died. Despite being dead, he received a letter, ostensibly from her to his home. So, he decided to come to Silent Hill their "special" place.
Over the course of his time in Silent Hill he meets several compatriots: Maria, a woman who looks identical to his wife, but dresses and acts differently; Eddie; Angela, who we understand is a runaway that came here to look for her mother; and Laura, a young girl who, apparently, has met and become friends with Mary in her time in Silent Hill. It is hinted that each of these characters have dark pasts, some involving murder, molestation, and torture, but it isn't really delved into too deeply. Similarly, Eddie is available in the Born from a Wish expansion of the original game in which the player is allowed to control Maria, instead of James, right up to the point when she and James meet.
While, obviously, the plot of Silent Hill is petrifying, the graphics and overall aesthetic of the game lends itself as well. The ominous music, dark fog that shields most things from view, and the creepy monsters that inhabit the place all do a good job of making me to jump out of my skin. Add in the idea that James is looking for what could amount to be the ghost of his dead wife, and the cake it topped.
You, playing James, are unable to make use of some of your objects unless the situation and setting are perfect. For example, there are multiple maps that are found and picked up over the course of the game, but aren't usable unless in a well-lit room, or by using James' flashlight to illuminate them. In some areas, where the flashlight may be more useful to say, shine on nurses or monsters, this can put the player in a bit of a creepy, pickle.
Along with that, the UI functionality lends itself to a clean screen which doesn't allow the player to access anything (including seeing how much health you have left, or which items are in your inventory) without going to a pause screen. This is useful because it keeps the user's eye focused on the game at hand, as well as making it so that you don't die or get killed when trying to maneuver around your inventory.
Unfortunately, there are a number of spoilers found throughout the game that would ruin much of the plot for those of you that haven't played. For those of you that have played and are just curious to reminisce you can take a refreshed course on the plot here. I just don't want to tell all of you what happens in case this here review makes you want to play the game in its entirety. What I can say is that much of the game is psychologically intense, and requires a lot of mental stamina.
This stamina both comes into play through the number of strange cut screens and happenings in Silent Hill, but also because much of the navigation through the game relies on heavy problem and riddle-solving ability, just like the first iteration. The game changes based on which actions the player takes in the game, and can subsequently lead the player to six different endings. While four of the endings are "serious" ones that all end in different, twisted ways (some more twisted than others), there are two joke endings that only appear after you have replayed and rebeat the game. If you are interested in reading about those endings, you can do so here.
This game still scares the shit out of me, and replaying it is assuredly going to give me nightmares tonight. I'm not sure why I am so much more attached to this version than the first, but I think that it may be because some of the mind-fuckery that I mentioned above—there is more trauma in this game than there was in the original. If you are interested in playing it, there aren't any ROMs online, but you can certainly purchase it here. Happy gaming!