Valiant Ghost

Written by The Last Gamer 1 of October, 2016

Against all odds, someone actually wanted to write a guest post here on Valiant Ghost. He goes by the online handle of ‘The Last Gamer’, and he’s been a good internet friend of myself for six months now. The utter madman asked to write an article here about Silent Hill 2, in preperation for Halloween, and I allowed him. I hope you enjoy this piece, I know I certainly did.

From the author, listening to Restless Dreams is recommended while reading.

October’s closing in with each passing day, and in preparation of my yearly ritual of seeking and playing the scariest games I can to disturb my otherwise calm mind, I found myself with one of the shiniest gems of the horror genre: Silent Hill 2.

The second entry of a very successful series that Konami published (until the not so recent cancelled P.T. of Silent Hills), this game is generally regarded as one of the cornerstones of both psychological and survivalist horror, and the game honors that title by making you shit your pants when you expect it the least, as well as leave you pondering the moral decisions you must take.

So then, what makes Silent Hill 2 so special in regards to the previous “great but not amazing” title and the sequels that could not achieve the same levels that this one? The answer is simple: Silent Hill 2 concentrated on the characters around it, even when they were a very limited cast, instead of focusing on the town and the strange pagan cults in it. Nevertheless, these still play an important role in the events of the game, as the town has the tendency of turning itself into an Eldritch location to those visiting. Perhaps the game makes it feel a tad too much lonely, as James himself feels.

The protagonist of this story is recently widowed (if three years can be considered a recent date) James Sunderland, returning for a second time to the resort town of Silent Hill, Maine. In his last visit, he was accompanied by his late wife, Mary, who fell ill and subsequently died of her chronic disease while on the visit. His reason for being in everyone’s favourite resort town gone wrong is a letter that Mary sent him. She’s telling him to meet her at their special place, but James is confused, as the whole town was their special place. Seeking answers, he drives off from wherever the hell he came from, to the titular town. And here’s where his story begins.

James Sunderland, the protagonist of this story

At first glance, you may not notice that James isn’t very normal. It’s not evident that the loss of his wife and this strange letter have caused him to find some sort of motivation to do something, but perhaps you can pick from his tone of voice at the very beginning of the game that he might suffer from depression, not only caused by the heavy loss of his loved one. Then you notice that he parked his car in a hurried manner and he just checks it again for a map of the place, not even caring to close the door. His indifference of the bizarre events around himself and perhaps of his own life, as he tells Angela, the first person he meets on his arrival to the town, only helping to reinforce that something’s very wrong with Sunderland.

His behavior has reached memetic status in the series, as characters in later entries generally question the similar things he must perform in his quest, such as the aforementioned opened door left behind, dipping his hands in a dirty toilet to retrieve a wallet and not washing himself afterwards, leaving his flashlight on while attempting to hide from a particularly hideous monster out for his blood, retrieving something from within a hole in a wall that attacked him previously, asking an armed and unstable teenager if he’s gone nuts… the list goes on.

But at first, we don’t cast judgment on him harshly. He shows himself to be sympathetic, caring, and a very gentle and polite person. Given the harms of the fog-covered city he wanders, he genuinely cares for those he encounters. But not everything is alright with James, as I’ve stated before. His caring demeanour is an affront to his suicidal tendencies and his kinda douchebag personality. He can be extremely selfish and he takes out his frustration on others with extreme prejudice. While he tries to console others he falls short, avoiding eye contact and looking down on the ground generally.

And these very same characters suffer different psychological traumas:

Angela

Angela suffered at a young age, raped by her father and brother, leaving her unable to differ the intentions of men around her, generalising them all as sexually addicted. Her mother did not support her during her hardships, instead claiming she deserved her punishment. Prior to the events of the game, she murdered her brother and father, merely repressing the memory or covering the fact from James. Coming to the town, she felt she needed to find her mother. It’s heavily implied that while her mother was indeed for a time in Silent Hill, she might have perished in the town. Unable to find any sort of consolation to stop her from committing suicide, she asks James if he would take her under his wing. As he finds himself unable to do so, ridden by guilt of knowledge of his hypocrisy and repressed fears, she walked up the flaming stairs to her death. She plays an important part of James’ journey, as certain actions regarding her and the items involved in her path can unlock a certain ending.

Eddie

Eddie was simply another victim of a rising trend of the time: the discrimination for his overweight physique. Mercilessly bullied ever since he was in high school, he eventually snapped at one of his molesters, killing his dog with his father’s gun and crippling the bully by shooting him in his knee. For this kind of behaviour, he eventually fled from the police, finding himself in Silent Hill, claiming the town called to him. The more he stays in the town, scared by the visions of his personal hell, the more his sanity begins to slip and he misunderstands James’ moral guidance and advice, taking his words as taunting insults. When James is finally allowed into Eddie’s mental tortures, Eddie’s insecurity and violence make him attack James. In self-defence, James is forced to kill Eddie. He shows shock at killing a human being, and in truth, it’s sad that even when James tried his best at helping him, there is no other alternative like with Angela, but to see him die, at your hands.

Maria, totally not a demon

And then we get to know Maria. James is dumbfounded at the similarities that she presents to Mary, in voice and appearance, but clearly not in clothing or personality. However, as time goes and they clearly don’t like each other at first, they come to care for the other in a small way. The aforementioned monster out for James’ blood comes across both and seemingly stabs Maria instead of him, but later on, he finds her, unharmed, at the other side of a “prison cell”. It’s here that it becomes more obvious what she represents to James: she’s a construct born from Silent Hill’s cleansing powers and his own mind’s repressed memories and desires from when Mary was still alive. She might as well be the antagonist in James’ story. In most endings her personality turns to be demanding of him, recriminating him for not being consistent between his desire to either be with her or to die. Knowing that he won’t choose her, she turns into an enabler for his suicidal impulses, but he ultimately overcomes that as well.

Innocent little Laura

Last, but not least, we have Laura, the little girl who somehow knew Mary during her illness and became good friends with her. Since she is still an innocent and pure girl, the town has no reason to torture or subject her to the many horrors that the adults she encounters generally do; that being said, she’s still very much a brat to Eddie (who surprisingly doesn’t attempt to even harm her when she tells him he’s a gutless fatso) and James, who he has never seen, or as with many of his memories, he represses it. As such, even when James shows concern for her, she literally has nothing to worry about, as there is no virtual danger in the town for her. Though one has to wonder why a little girl really is alone in a desolated city like that… not that when being a child you care too much for that. If anything of the intro is to go by, at least she knew Eddie before coming to Silent Hill. Given Eddie’s outcome… there are two options to go by about her fate after the events of the game: either she is adopted by James, as was Mary’s wish for her, or… we have no idea of the last option.

They only serve one purpose during James’ road: they drive his hardships over to him as much as the town itself does with each monster. Every abomination he meets in his travels is a reflection of his mental dilemmas leading up to this very moment. The game heavily implies that he did not return because of a letter Mary wrote since it was a hallucination his addled mind made for him. The real reason he returned to Silent Hill was to commit suicide. The memories he might have forgotten resurface just as soon as he sees the tape he left accidentally on the hotel, and the terrible truth is revealed to us all: Mary did not die because of her illness, but rather because of James. While attempting to be caring of his wife, she lost hope and began to become aggressive. Conflicting between his duty as a husband and her denial (or rather, impossibility) for sexual relationships with him, he became to turn sour and angry as well. Eventually, unable to cope with the idea of her suffering, and in a fit of hatred and wishing to have his life back, he smothered her with a pillow during her sleep. With her death, his own will to live started to fade. Laura was not happy when James confessed the truth to her, and how could we blame her?

James only has one thing left to do: find out where Mary is if she is still alive. Finding Maria alive again but chained, the Pyramid Heads execute her. Understanding that they were there to punish him as he himself asked for punishment, he fights them, no longer desiring his own suffering. Finally, he rejoins “Mary”, only to find out the woman there isn’t his deceased wife. Once the demon shows it’s true form, casting aside the image of Mary, James fights it and once again, watches himself end its life while it is in suffering.

Based on factors such as keeping James’ health low or high, healing constantly, checking items like Mary’s photo and letter or Angela’s knife, the game decides on a first playthrough 3 different endings. On later endings, other 3 endings (although 2 are considered joke endings) are unlocked, but I’m here to talk about the serious ones.

“Leave” is my favourite. It’s the only one I can get because I never bother to beat my instincts. In it, James finds Maria on the rooftop, but he denies her, knowing that she was created by his desire to see Mary again, even if it was a fake copy of her that would make him happy as he wished. While they are allowed a final time to talk with each other, James confesses his crimes to her, receiving the forgiveness she could give him as well as accept his own. As Mary’s final words appear to us as a real letter, we’re shown Laura walking ahead of James, as they are on the way to his car. It shows that James was finally able to move past his own sufferings and made his peace with what he did to Mary, though it’s inconsistent since Laura told James she hated him for killing Mary. Perhaps she could see the truth in his words… but we shall never know.

“In Water” is the fan favourite. Given James’ condition, after realising he can’t go on without Mary, he decides he will take his own life instead, as was his original plan. He drives his car off the tracks and drowns himself with it on the lake, all the while Mary’s note for him is read aloud. It gives him a certain closure, but at the same time, it makes the whole road he’s taken, and ours by extension, worthless. Not only is an ending hard to get since you need to constantly watch Angela’s knife, you also have to keep James’ health on very low levels, and with stronger enemies, later on, it becomes too painful. I suppose it is the preferred ending because it seems “fitting” to how James feels overall in the game, ranging from the isolation and loneliness of his life and the town itself to seeing what becomes of Angela, Eddie and Maria, knowing that Laura hates him.

“Maria” is pretty straightforward. James meets her again after killing the demon upstairs, once again in the same place where he met her for the first time, overlooking the Toluca Lake. Acknowledging that she has become real and that she exists for herself, James leaves Silent Hill with her… but Maria starts to cough in the same way Mary did in the hotel. And so the story repeats itself.

“Rebirth” requires you to play the game a second time and find the references to Silent Hill’s occult club. In this time, after taking Mary’s body across the lake, James implies that with the help of the entities that reside in the town, he’ll bring her back to life, since he’s unable to live without her. One has to wonder if he paid attention to what he was reading, given that the previous title and the two posterior ones emphasised that aspect of how dangerous was Silent Hill in the first place. Perhaps it’s what he’s looking for: she might come back to life in the wrong way and repay his kindness to her in the same way he did the first time.

In the end, Silent Hill 2 is a game that reflects your style of gameplay and rewards you with an ending appropriate for it. If you’re a scaredy cat like me and you’d rather keep health high and remember Mary, you will find a sort of closure to his travel. Otherwise, well, you just need to keep on trying.

For the meantime, I guess I can keep on playing Cry of Fear: the best free horror game I’ve found on Steam. Takes heavy influences from Silent Hill as well, so that’s a plus. But I’ll never forget that once, I was in the shoes of a man who lived his love for his wife, and in regretting his actions for her, embarked on his own mind.


A supercut of every gear shift in every Fast & furious movie

1 of October, 2016 |

You get exactly what it says on the tin, but there’s so damn many.


Crime and punishment in Antarctica

29 of September, 2016 |

How do you judge someone guilty of a crime in Antarctica, a country technically no one owns? As the New York Times explains:

An unsolved death. Assault with a deadly weapon. Lots of alcohol-fueled misbehavior. It’s quite a rap sheet for a continent where almost nobody lives.

Antarctica is a vast place, nearly twice the size of Australia, but it has no permanent population, other than a few thousand scientists and support staff members from dozens of countries who are sent temporarily to conduct research.

Still, anywhere there are humans, there are bound to be violent acts and petty offenses, and that raises the question: How are criminal cases handled where sovereignty is a muddle and there are no permanent courts, prisons or police forces?

Under the terms of the 53-nation Antarctic Treaty, workers accused of serious crimes at a research base are subject to the jurisdiction of their home country.


A dad getting a pair of light up shoes

29 of September, 2016 |

This video, of a dad getting a pair of light up shoes which he’s wanted for so long, genuinely made me smile. Reminds me of something my granddad would do.


The Canipa Show on animation

29 of September, 2016 |

The Canipa Show on Twitter:

Animation isn’t just a way of making something look cool, it’s the bridge that the narrative must cross to resonate with its audience.


Hillary Clinton Wiggle gif

29 of September, 2016 |

wiggle wiggle

Wiggle Wiggle1


  1. I can’t remember if I wrote this here, but during the debate Hillary was so on point.

Donald Trump sniffing compilation

28 of September, 2016 |

If you were (un)lucky enough to watch the first 2016 Presidential Debate yesterday, or even for an hour like I did, you probably noticed something. Trump sniffed. A lot. He vehemently denies this, claiming it was a conspiracy against him with a faulty mic. Classic Trump. And they want to let this man run a country


If Uno was adapted into an anime

28 of September, 2016 |

I present to you what Uno would look like if it was adapted into a Yu-Gi-Oh clone, presented with the expositions and characters we have come to expect.


27 of September, 2016

I recently worked my way through all 360 chapters of Berserk (Counting chapters 000a to 000p) and considering I don’t even like manga that’s a pretty good effort on my part. But with the most recent Fantasia arc, the series has gone high fantasy, which I, and a lot people didn’t like.

The Black Swordsman and Golden Age arcs of Berserk were my favourite arcs of the entire series. The writing, world and art style just felt better than today’s high fantasy, which reminds me of a JRPG.

Cue my happiness when I come across the Vinland Saga, which I was told by a friend is “The Golden Age Arc with Vikings.” Instant read.

So far (Only Chapter 18) so good, it’s got the humorous art and writing style of early Berserk. The main character, Thorfinn, is on the timeless quest to avenge his father’s death, but he goes about it in a way you wouldn’t expect. This turns him into someone like Guts, but smaller in form and with dual knives.

I don’t want to spoil any more of this awesome series. If you need something to fill the Berserk shaped hole in your heart now that it’s on hiatus, give the Vinland Saga a try.


Typora themes gallery

27 of September, 2016 |

Typora, the app I’ve written nearly everything for this site since the start of this year has recently released a theme gallery to highlight the best themes for the markdown editor. There’s only five right now, but they’re all really nice and clean. If you need a good theme, chances are you can find it here.


Valiant Ghost, now served in Medium flavor

27 of September, 2016 |

In a goal to spread what I write to more people, this site now clones itself on Medium, at least for now. I’m messing around with the IFTTT experiment, so certain things may or may not work.


27 of September, 2016

I just finished watching the US Election debate, not because the choices would effect me directly, but because I knew watching Trump argue would be good for a laugh.


26 of September, 2016

Daft Punk may be my new favorite band. I’ve been streaming their entire collection on Spotify for the past day or so. I like them for the exact same reason I liked the No Mans Sky soundtrack, it’s electronic with some great synth, but also super chill at the same time.


Bikers Against Child Abuse are the most badass bikers ever

26 of September, 2016 |

This is really, really touching, and the perfect thing to wake up to. Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) are a non-profit organisation why assist children who are victims of child abuse, including being there in court when they testify against their abuser, playing Barbies with the kids, and even giving them their own custom biker jacket.

And even if the child has a nightmare at 2am in the morning and feels afraid, BACA will ride up and stand guard outside for the kid so he knows that he’s safe. A group of modern day paladins.


The man who cleans up blood after a murder

26 of September, 2016 |

Donovan Tavera is a man who cleans up blood for a living in Mexico, the city with the worlds highest murder rates. He wrote about his job for the BBC, about his fascination with blood and the work he does to rid of it, and make a house look livable after someone has been murdered in it:

What happens to the blood after a murder? The question haunted me for years, until I answered it myself.

The first time I saw a dead body was when I was 12 years old. Early one morning we heard that somebody had died on the street outside our block of flats. We went out to look. There were clear signs of violence. The man didn’t have a shirt. I was struck by the streams of blood going down the street. But I didn’t feel scared - I was just very curious. And that’s how my fascination with blood began[…]

When I was about 17 I started experimenting. I went to the butcher and bought cow’s liver and bones and then at home I would investigate how to clean up the blood.

And that’s how I became a forensic cleaner.

Over the years I have invented more than 300 different formulas to clean up blood. Some I have perfected over the years. Others haven’t changed since I first used them.


The sexism of pockets

26 of September, 2016 |

Chelsea Summers, Racked:

Writing for* The Spectator* in 2011, Paul Johnson offersa witty, thumbnail history of the sartorial convention of the pocket, and he caps his piece with a 1954 Christian Dior bon mot: “Men have pockets to keep things in, women for decoration.” Tease apart that quote and you get a fairly essentialist view of gender roles as they play out in clothing. Men’s dress is designed for utility; women’s dress is designed for beauty. It’s not a giant leap to see how pockets, or the lack thereof, reinforce sexist ideas of gender. Men are busy doing things; women are busy being looked at. Who needs pockets?

This makes utterly no sense to me why women’s clothes aren’t designed with pockets, a factor I have seen many times. Earlier this year I was visiting some family in Tasmania, and my cousin asked my to carry her phone because she couldn’t in her pocket-less jeans. My favorite jacket1 has a seven pockets, and I couldn’t imagine not having them to carry everything with.


  1. I might write an article about it at some point, if I can be bothered writing about a jacket.

In the US, you are more likely to be killed by a deer than any other animal

25 of September, 2016 |

From Vox, this shocking stat: you are more likely to be killed by a deer than bears, sharks and alligators combined:

Within those odds, however, deer are more likely to cause deaths than other animals — more than dogs, bears, sharks, and alligators combined, according to the LCB analysis. (One inventive solution to the deer problem: helping reestablish the cougar population to kill a lot of deer.)

The deadliest animal/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/7155897/deadliest%20animals.png)


The self-destructing blog

25 of September, 2016 |

The Self destructing blog

Normally I wouldn’t provide an image and just give you a link, but I feel like just in case, for this idea I should. On /r/writing Grayson Wright posted a new experiment he has posted: A blog that deletes everything he’s written if he does not write a new post for a week.

Not really for me, as there may be some reasons why I can’t post for a week (As rare as they are, as I’ve got a pretty good set up here), but for those who don’t feel the intrinsic arseholish desire to just write for fun, I feel this could be useful.


The Senpai notice me hat

25 of September, 2016 |

Senpai will now notice you wherever you are

Now Senpai will always notice you no matter what time of day it is.

Get it on Etsy


A metal cover of Heathen by Twenty One Pilots

24 of September, 2016 |

I honestly love this guy. I was first introduced into him with his metal cover of Adele’s Hello, and since then I’ve watched nearly all of his videos. He’s made some songs, like 2013 Frozen’s Let it Go, long ago made unbearable by constant repetition, actually a song I like.


Simpsons Time: Simpsons x Adventure Time Opening

24 of September, 2016 |

This is an awesome and creative mashup of the Simpsons (A show I have watched too much of) and Adventure Time (A show I have watched too little of) for the opening couch gag of the Simpsons episode “Monty Burns’ Fleeing Circus.” I love the little touches, like Mr. Burns as Ice King (Which he probably would be) or Maggie as Princess Bubblegum.

And that the sword in Adventure Time’s opening was replaced by an inanimate carbon rod.


Suave and official Star Wars pajamas

24 of September, 2016 |

A photo posted by OppoSuits (@opposuits) on


I present to you, official and nerdy as hell Star Wars pajamas by OppoSuits. Is the tie included as well? The sleeping would be uncomfortable but you would look suave as hell while sleeping.


Guy sneaks into a hotel in order to jump off a balcony and into a pool

24 of September, 2016 |

… But why? I mean it’s cool but why?


A Star Wars drunk driving PSA from the 1970's

23 of September, 2016 |

The video puts it best:

When friends drink too much, even in galaxies far, far away, friends don’t let friends drive drunk.


What's inside the iPhone 7

23 of September, 2016 |

I don’t know if I’ve written it here before, but I love to take things apart just for fun. I have a pulled apart iPhone 4 sitting around somewhere, and my old laptop which I started Valiant Ghost on has been pulled apart when it broke on me earlier this year. This brief blurb was also relevant to this video, which is taking the iPhone 7 apart.


Why Neanderthals were thought to be savages for a century

22 of September, 2016 |

An interesting article from Vox on why Neanderthals were thought to be savages for more then a century, when in reality they were pretty advanced and contact between them and modern humans happened all the time:

“The desire to create a story, or to narrate and create characters, I think is really powerful” for anyone doing archaeological research, Lydia Pyne, a historian, anthropologist, and author*,*tells me.

Among the most famous characters is a Neanderthal called “the Old Man of La Chapelle,” which Pyne explores in one chapter of her latest book,* *Seven Skeletons.

That one fossil became the archetypical Neanderthal. And despite best intentions, the scientists on the case made some cruel judgments about his character.

Ever since that scientific description was published in 1911, we humans have told the story of Neanderthals in a way that makes *us* look good: We were smarter, less savage, better equipped to inherit the Earth than the Neanderthal. This story makes us feel better about our future. Because if Neanderthals were our equals and still died out, what’s stopping nature from being as cruel to us?

They were, however, cannibals. Can’t win ‘em all ¯_(ツ)_/¯.


An interview with a creepy clown terrorizing the South

22 of September, 2016 |

Freddie Campion, GQ:

The “creepy clown” phenomenon isn’t even that new. Two years ago (right before Halloween again—what a coincidence) local news was awash with scare stories about clowns loitering outside houses fitted with home security systems. And if you live in Southwest Florida, you’re probably already familiar with Wrinkles: a 65-year-old Rhode Island transplant in a beat-up white mask and red polkadot onesie, who charges $150 an hour to show up to parties and scare badly behaving kids.

What do you think is causing [The Creepy Clown Phenomenon]?
They probably see things in the news. Here’s the thing though: there’s a difference between scary and violent. You can be scary without being violent, but I don’t think these kids nowadays are able to grasp that. Once you start threatening to kill people at school, you’ve taken it to a different level, clown costume or not.

How much do you charge for what you do?
I’m $150 an hour for parties. Children’s behavioral stuff varies, since it’s more involved. I’m cash only and mostly do gigs within a couple of hours of where I stay in Florida. [I’ve] been thinking about taking the show on the road, but we’ll see what happens with that.

One thing I love is just how normal the guy is underneath the mask. He’s not some homicidal 20 year old out for blood. He’s a guy like your granddad bored out of his mind.


Open source cola

22 of September, 2016 |

Have you ever been sitting at your laptop on a hot summers day, sipping mildly at your coke and thinking “Hot damn is this good, but you know what it’s now? FOSS.” The internet, as always, is one step ahead of you. Open Source Cola does exist, called OpenCola and licensed under GPL. Here’s the recipe, which I’m yet to try (I might make it after making some Shadowrun Soykaf):

Ingredients

7X (Top Seekrit) flavoring formula:
3.50 ml orange oil
1.00 ml lemon oil
1.00 ml nutmeg oil
1.25 ml cassia oil
0.25 ml coriander oil
0.25 ml neroli oil
2.75 ml lime oil
0.25 ml lavender oil
10.0 g gum arabic
3.00 ml water

OpenCola syrup:
2.00 tsp 7X formula
3.50 tsp 75% phosphoric acid or citric acid
2.28 l water
2.36 kg plain granulated white table sugar
0.50 tsp caffeine (optional)
30.0 ml caramel colour

Preparation

7X Flavoring:

Mix oils together in a cup. Add gum Arabic, mix with a spoon. Add water and mix well. I used my trusty Braun mixer for this step, mixing for 4-5 minutes. You can also transfer to a blender for this step. Can be kept in a sealed glass jar in the fridge or at room temperature.

Please note that this mixture will separate. The Gum Arabic is essential to this part of the recipe, as you are mixing oil and water.

Syrup:

In a one gallon container (I used the Rubbermaid Servin’ Saver Dry Food Keeper, 1.3 US Gal/4.92 l), take 5 mls of the 7X formula, add the 75% phosphoric or citric acid. Add the water, then the sugar. While mixing, add the caffeine, if desired. Make sure the caffeine is completely dissolved. Then add the caramel colour. Mix thoroughly.

Cola:

To finish drink, take one part syrup and add 5 parts carbonated water.


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