As a result of continued budget restraints I find myself talking more and more about older game titles (the ones you can find in the budget bin at GameStop). At the same time, though, I have been finding a lot of games that have offered strikingly profound experiences. The most resent of these has been with the game “Silent Hill 2” on the Playstation 2.
Silent Hill 2 is a horror-survival game that takes place in the small, American town of Silent Hill. The moment you enter this town you know immediately that something is a little off. For one, the town is almost completely devoid of life and covered in a thick fog that never seems to lift. The atmosphere of the game swiftly covers the player in a blanket of isolation and dread that pervades the entire game. Even when you do occasionally encounter the few other human beings in the town they do little to abate these feelings. In fact, after a while their unreliability and clear indications of mental unbalance begin to make the player’s character might be insane himself.
This is what Silent Hill 2 does so well. With nothing more that atmosphere, symbolism, and subtle suggestion the game can influence the player to think in certain ways. As Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw put it, it tells a story without words.
As the player progresses through the game they begin to understand that this town seems to attract those who carry with them great guilt over their past actions and incarnate for them a hell of their own creation. It is the most subtle of choices the player makes while progressing through the game that determines whether the character will find forgiveness and acceptance for his past sins or whether he will embrace his damnation and be forever lost.
It is this theme of choosing between forgiveness and damnation that I found so profound in the games story. I found it especially had parallels to real life given the context of my own Christian faith. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, salvation in Christianity has very little to do with leading a “good life”. Instead, Christianity acknowledges that every one of us has done wrong and gives us the choice to either accept our damnation or embrace the opportunity for forgiveness and redemption that is offered to us. It is a choice that we all have and it is a choice that we all must make whether we want to or not.