The primary division, here, which you've yet to account for, is CONSENT. Mary was killed against her will, and while we can understand or even justify it, Objective Morality may still deem that act as wrong.As long as morality is adjusable, we should perhaps consider what James did in the first place. Mary was going to die. She was in great pain, and was probably going to be in far more before her body finally gave out. If you saw an animal lying by the side of the road with its guts strewn around it, far beyond help but still awake and in agony, the most decent thing to do would be to put a pistol to its head and end its suffering cleanly and humanely. It could easily be argued that James was, rather than a murderer, a physician of last resort: the woman he loved was suffering, and he put an end to it. If morality can be adjusted to the point that suicide is a worthy atonement, then it can be adjusted to the point that euthanasia is an act of kindness. Either one can lead to a slippery slope, but that is a discussion for another time.
It's generally written off as "Playing God." Mary's life did not belong to James, and Mary did not ASK James to put her out of her misery.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... qualsDeathRedemption is obvious, since it is best defined as doing good to balance the scales for one's prior evil.
Anyway, you're wrong. Redemption is defined as being absolved of past sins. There's not necessarily a need to do good works to balance any scales. Atonement of character is often sufficient, such as in the Christian faith.
In Silent Hill 2, it is very easy to argue that having resisted the temptation of escape, delusion, or further sin and personal interest, topped with a willingness to die and throw away his life, James has demonstrated a change in character and an absolution of his self-interested mindset. Not absolutely (since suicide is inherently selfish), but enough so as to be a demonstration of remorse over what he did.
In essence, he's committing seppuku.
You're right about the Leave ending. But I would argue that all four endings in the game possess redemptive possibilities. James isn't omniscient, so he doesn't have the ability to look at all his different endings and options and choose the one that would do the most Good to balance out his murder of Mary. It is his intentions that matter, not his deeds; and as the Otherworld demonstrates time and time again, INTENT is all it really seems to care about.It has been stated (by me among others) that if James were to leave Silent Hill, adopt Laura, and raise her lovingly as his own, that would qualify as redemption. Whether I think it happened in "Leave" is irrelevant, it doesn't happen in either "In Water' or "Maria".
Unfortunately, the offending party dropping charges isn't always sufficient with the law of Man, and in many religions, certainly not in the case of God.So, redemption is out. But what about atonement? To answer that question, examine the words of Mary herself: "You killed me, and you're suffering for it. It's enough, James." In other words, Mary declared that honor was satisfied, that James misery and guilt were sufficient atonement for his actions. If the offended party says it's enough, it's enough. Additionally, consider what James says next: "Without you, Mary, I've got nothing... now we can be together", which clearly states his motivations. He believes that he has lost everything, and has no reason to go on. He hopes to be reunited with Mary in death, though the warning in Bar Neely's suggests that it may not happen.
I argue the exact opposite, just for devil's advocate. In In-Water, he pays the only currency he has to pay the fine for Mary's murder, and in Maria, he's given the chance of a do-over to make things right, and presumably take care of Maria better than he did Mary.To conclude, and hopefully get the topic back on track, "In Water" and "Maria" are similar in a number of ways. Most notably, they both involve James seeking escape from reality. In "Maria", he chooses delusion. In "In-Water", he opts for death. There is no atonement or redemption in either.