I have a great and resounding love for the Silent Hill video games. They are the very essence of what Survival Horror (a genre of game that focuses on the player getting his character through one horrific situation after another) and Horror in general should be, as far as I’m concerned. Creepy, bleak story line, good controls, and hey! I can beat them on normal. What more could a man ask for?
Well, a romantic rendezvous with Linda Cardellini, obviously, but that’s asking too much.
The ideal way to play these games is alone, in total darkness. Between the flickering lights, the creepy music, and the monsters leaping out of unsuspected places, I find myself immersed in terror. No matter how familiar I am with an area, there is always a chance I forgot something. A jump, a scare, something. I hope never to have a heart condition because this things will kill me.
Acting-wise, we’re on shaky ground . Heard worse, heard better, if you can dig it. Not that it matters that much to me. Unless it’s really Gawdawful I tend to give it a pass. As my reviews sometimes show.
So here I was one night, playing Silent Hill 2. By myself. In the dark. I managed to navigate the game’s protagonist, James Sunderland, through the misty streets of Silent Hill to a hospital. Big mistake, going into hospitals in that town. Nothing ever good happens there.
The whole place was swarming with these creatures dressed like nurses. I call them Weird Sisters, but they no doubt have another name. They’re not too tough, unless you’ve got a couple or so coming after you. Then you might have some problems. This was my second time through the game, and, for being a repeat customer, the game graced me with a chainsaw for a weapon. Good deal, true, but I’m still high keyed, adrenaline pumping.
James and I cleared a floor then moved to the next, chainsaw in James’ hand, control in mine. I strained my eyes for the first sight of a Weird Sister lurching towards me. Tense, ready to go. A push on the analog stick and I’m on my way… then, for reasons that to this day I can’t understand, I looked to my right.
Sitting on the couch near me was my cat, Lady Zoe.
Now I was on the floor, so we were about eye level. In fact, she might have been a little higher up than me. The TV set cast enough light so that I could see her face. She was staring at me. Wide eyed, with those weird yellow-green eyes of hers.
I look at her for a moment, then say, in a good natured sort of way, “What are you looking at?”
The Lady doesn’t reply at first. She just stared. Like she had never seen me before. Like I had just scurried out of a hole some place and she was waiting until I was just a little bit closer before pouncing. Unnerving, despite my advantage over her in size, strength, and intelligence. It’s those eyes of hers, you know. Those unblinking eyes.
I might have considered saying something more, maybe even returned to my game. But as I was on the cusp of making a decision, she raised her right leg, stretching it out towards me. Her paw flexed and spread wide as she did this. What light there was gleamed off of her claws.
A gesture I’d seen many a time. One that meant:
I want food now!
I want attention now!
Something common place. Something nonthreating.
But here, now, with the game going in the background and my nerves on edge, I felt a different dialogue pass between us. The following words drifted into my brain, unbidden and unstoppable:
Nemo me impune lacessit, hu-mon!
Then she lowered her paw, wide eyes still affixed on me.
It could have all been in my head, of course. I am a strange man, after all, and pet owners tend to invest in their pets human thoughts and feelings. A mixture of a foreign tongue and pseudo-alien speak would run through my thoughts.
But wise men take precautions.
Do you know how hard it is play Survival Horror Video Games while making sure your cat wasn’t creeping up on you with murder in her heart?