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“Born From a Wish”: Revisiting ‘Silent Hill 2’s’ Extra Chapter

A few weeks ago, I wrote a 15th anniversary retrospective piece about Silent Hill 2, Konami’s 2001 sequel that has since been hailed as one of the greatest video game sequels of all time. As I wrote, Silent Hill 2 offered me, “…a story that was so nuanced, so brilliantly thought out, that it would forever change my view of how games were approached.

In late 2001 (for Xbox) and late 2002 (for PS2), a special “extended” edition of the game came out that featured some simple revisions and updates. However, the big draw for these editions was the extra chapter “Born From a Wish”, which followed Maria and her journey up to meeting James Sunderland. Relatively short – it could be beaten in well under an hour – the addition was a chance for players to learn more about the character who seemingly teases and tempts James through her almost doppelgänger appearance of his deceased wife, Mary.

Today, I want to revisit that extra chapter. I want to dive back into Silent Hill and focus on Maria and the journey she underwent.

The game opens with Maria sitting in a chair in front of a mirror. In a bit, we find out that she’s in one of the rooms above the “Heaven’s Night” strip club in the middle of Silent Hill. She is aware of the dangers lurking outside in the fog and she is trying to come to terms with her situation. Does she want to fight and live? Does she want to give up and die? She claims that she doesn’t have any, “…reason to go on living” and yet she’s afraid of dying, of pain. All she wants is to, “…find somebody” as she doesn’t like being alone.

Right away, the game taps into a primal instinct amongst people. No one wants to be alone in scary and tough situations. We all want someone to be by our side, to give us comfort and support. That’s why characters in Night of the Living Dead and “The Walking Dead” are so conflicted when they come upon survivors. It’s not just a situation of, “Can they be trusted?” They also, even if it’s not explicitly shown, are facing this dilemma of safety in loneliness but comfort in company. “Born From a Wish” immediately lays out Maria’s mindset and her conundrum, which are entirely human in the midst of her supernatural, almost alien surroundings.

What sets apart Maria’s journey from James’ is that James doesn’t necessarily feel alone when he goes into Silent Hill. Before he even enters the town, he’s met Angela in the cemetery, so we know that there is someone else outside of this isolation. But Maria is thrust into the middle of the fog, her opening monologue expressly stating, “When I woke up, I was all alone.” James has people in his life, even if they met fleetingly. Maria, meanwhile, has no one. Her reason to push on isn’t because of a desperate need for closure, like James, or to quell the demons inside, like Angela, it is simply because she chooses to.

Within a few minutes of gameplay, Maria meets Ernest Baldwin at the Baldwin Estate, where the majority of this chapter takes place. A man behind a door that he refuses to open, they speak briefly, with Maria commenting on the insanity of the town while Ernest offers the alternate theory that it is they who are insane. This theory is compounded when later on in the Baldwin Estate, Maria stumbles across a teddy bear that she thinks would be a great gift for Laura, the little girl in the main story. However, Maria has never interacted with Laura as it was Mary who saw her frequently. Either Maria is insane or, as many believe, she is a creation of James’ guilt and suppressed desires manifesting into reality upon his arrival into town.

Maria finds out that Ernest is the father of Amy, a 7-year-old girl who tragically died. Left in an perpetual state of mourning, Ernest refuses to be seen, asking for Maria’s help through a locked door. Only after she helps him and more confusing and cryptic clues are shared between the two does the door unlock, allowing Maria to open it and find…nothing. Aside from a small table in the center of the room, there is nothing and no one.

Saddened by the tale she helped conclude, Maria wanders the streets in a haze. She comes to the wall where James and Laura have their first real encounter and holds her revolver to her head. The sadness and despair on her face is all too apparent as her finger rests against the trigger. Slowly, she lowers the gun and suddenly tosses it over the wall. She will not take her own life. Rather, she will find James or let the town take her, whichever comes first. “Born From a Wish” ends with Maria walking into the mist, slowly fading away and blurring into the city. We then hear James and Maria’s first encounter where she identifies herself after his confusion. Unfortunately, we know the rest.

What makes “Born From a Wish” so meaningful is, as mentioned above, the difference in the impetus from James to Maria. James has a mission, a goal that he must achieve in order to find some measure of peace. Maria has none of that. Even her own stand-alone story ends with a feeling of “what’s it all for?” It is only when she joins with James that there is a connection and a need for them to be together, even if just for the comfort of being close to someone for a few minutes.

As much as Silent Hill takes away, it can also give back. I believe that the town and Mary felt both rage and sadness at James and the actions he took at Brookhaven Hospital. For all the violence thrown at James, Mary ultimately gave him someone that he wanted. Even in death, she sent her love.

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COMMENTS

18 Comments
  • Rohan Sorensen

    Just started Silent Hill 2. The only Silent Hill I’ve ever played all the way through was Downpour and I loved it. Such a good story. Hopefully SH2 is as good.

    • Taboo

      If you loved Downpour, then you’re going to LOVE SH2’s story.

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      Downpour is an just ok game that barely resembles anything related with SH, SH2 on the other hand, is one of the best games ever made in the history of the medium, is an experience, is a work of art, it is something unique in any medium of art and the best SH, it cannot even be explained with words, it has to be lived, your “Hopefully SH2 is as good” makes me laugh because you have no idea what you are talking about, you might even not like SH2 if you are so used to Downpour

      • GilesTheRipper

        While I do agree that the original trilogy is miles better than Downpour, there’s no point in ruining someone’s enjoyment of a game by saying that they “have no idea what [they] are talking about”. People like you are the very reason why the Silent Hill community is so toxic.

        • Lirabelle

          Thank you. I remember back when everyone cried that the second game sucked because it wasn’t the first game. Every time a new game is released in that series it becomes the new whipping boy, and it amazes that we even got to downpour after how much people throw tantrums whenever there is a new entry.

      • Lirabelle

        If he doesn’t like it, it’s probably more because of people like you.

        It also has terrible voice acting. But, my bad, Silent Hill 2 is flawless.

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      for the record, the history of Downpour is predictable and linear, it spoons feds the player, it has no subtlety at all of any kind, it is the weakest SH and the one who more looks like any generic game than a SH, so is funny that you “hope” that 2 is as good, when Downpour is the weakest, they cannot even be compared, they are on different levels, one is a masterpiece work of art that will change your life and will be an experience you never forget and will never be forgotten as is a jewel of horror that goes above what there is in any medium, the other is an ok generic cash in lol

      • Rohan Sorensen

        …………… Alrighty then

        • Rohan Sorensen

          I liked that downpour was just, different. You weren’t looking for someone, you didn’t venture into Silent Hill on your own, you were a parent facing his worst nightmare. It didn’t have any stupid cult stuff like in the others. It was like, and I’m saying this off first impressions because I haven’t finished it yet, Silent Hill 2. You were facing your own nightmares, not someone else’s. They didn’t put in pyramid head because he was a staple. There were no nurses. I would consider it a reimagining of Silent Hill 2 with not so bad camera angles (god they are bad) and somewhat better combat. Finding out the story also made the opening that much better. “I used to be your neighbor”

          • GilesTheRipper

            I’m interested to see what you think of the game when you finish it.

            Also, Silent Hill 2 has very little connection with the cult.

          • Rohan Sorensen

            That’s why I think they are similar. So far SH2 is good. Kinda wish I hadn’t played Cry Of Fear before it.

          • Rohan Sorensen

            Alright so I beat it. Fantastic. I think I got the ‘leave’ ending, which is good. It really wrapped up the story nicely. Now that I think of it, it is very, very similar to Downpour, and is really fantastic. The enemies are memorable, the exploration is really well thought out, and the puzzles are fair. Fantastic survival horror game, probably one of the best I’ve played. Downpour is a close second due to how similar is it to this. I should probably play through the other silent hills.

          • GilesTheRipper

            You should definitely check out the other endings; they show a whole new side of the story.

          • Rohan Sorensen

            Alright. Which one do you think is canonical. Sadly I’ve never heard of James being in any other instalments, but I guess he faced his nightmare like the others. All the other games have canon endings, but this one doesn’t. I find the ‘leave’ ending to be satisfying. I’ll have to look up the others.

          • GilesTheRipper

            Team Silent made it so that any ending could be the canon ending. A very minor character in Silent Hill 4 is related to James and even his disappearance is mentioned. Also, if you boot up Silent Hill 3 with a Silent Hill 2 save stored in your PS2 memory card, there are some Easter Eggs you can see. However, every single ending in Silent Hill 2 serves the story very well and all of them bring the journey to a satisfying closing. My personal favorite is the “Maria” ending.

            Note: A large chunk of Silent Hill games arguably does not have a canon ending.

          • Rohan Sorensen

            I know downpour’s canon ending is the justice one, because that’s in the comic. SH1 is the one where Cybil dies, presumably, 3 4 and 5 I’m not sure of. Hopefully Death Stranding ends up being Silent Hills, cause I like this series.

    • Lirabelle

      Ignore the hate. And yes, I firmly believe if you loved Downpour you will enjoy Silent Hill 2.

      Just try to get a copy that isn’t the Silent Hill Collection. That version has issues, sadly.

      • Rohan Sorensen

        Yeah, I have the Xbox one. Original Xbox. In the first otherworld part right now.

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