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Silent Hill 2 art director denounces fourth wall break as “headcanon”

Silent Hill 2 art director and creature designer Masahiro Ito has debunked a player myth about protagonist James in the classic horror game from Konami

Silent Hill 2 art director calls fourth wall break "headcanon": James Sunderland looking into a mirror

Art director on the original Silent Hill 2 and creature designer on upcoming horror game Silent Hill 2 Remake Masahiro Ito has addressed a common theory from the original game, debunking it and addressing why it makes little sense in the context of the game’s overall plot.

In the original Silent Hill 2, there’s a scene where protagonist James Sunderland stands in front of a dirty mirror. This scene has been the topic of healthy debate for years, with players discussing the symbolism of the scene and what it means for the overall story. There’s another debate surrounding the scene as well though, and it’s that (apparently) James’s reflection looks at the player, through the screen, in a sort of meta fourth wall break.

You can check out the mirror scene in both Silent Hill games for yourself, thanks to a comparison video from Purification Dreams on YouTube, which we’ve embedded below.

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Personally, I don’t see it, but now Ito has come out on Twitter and talked about the scene and labelled the fourth wall breaking element as “headcanon” and, despite a developer on both the original Silent Hill 2 and the remake saying that, some players are having unhealthy disagreements with him online.

“So many people have asked me. But it’s a headcanon. James doesn’t look at the player,” says Ito, with a version of the image that has had the brightness turned all the way up accompanying his statement. When another player agreed with Ito he added that people should “consider the context of the story!” adding “why does he have to see the player who exists out of the story? He is now there looking for his wife. Consider the context of the story.”

For the record, it appears that Ito has no problem with the idea of player headcanon, but he’s rightfully frustrated at the fact that players are treating it as canon, even when he, someone who worked on the game itself, knows it isn’t.

I have nothing but sympathy for Ito in this scenario: he didn’t start the rumour of the fourth wall break, and a lot of people are telling him he’s wrong, even though the image he’s shared was made by someone else brightening the image (which, I’ll be honest, clearly shows James looking at his own reflection) and after he already worked on the game itself.

“These make me feel Annie Wilkes from Misery by [Stephen] King really exists,” adds Ito in the Twitter thread, and I’ve never heard something so cutting and so accurate in my life.

If you want some more horror content, I recently broke down how and why Resident Evil schooled Silent Hill in its showcase this week, and we’ve also got a look at the Silent Hill 2 Remake trailer, alongside the Silent Hill 2 system requirements for your PC.