Silent Hill 4: The Room
“There’s that familiar sense of tension and gaping unease…”
Silent Hill 4: The Room sets you in the jeans of mild-mannered everyman Henry Townsend, photographer, who wakes up one day from a horrific nightmare to find himself locked inside his own apartment. And not ‘I’ve lost the keys to the front door’ locked, but outright trapped by some mysterious supernatural force – his door’s been padlocked and chained from the inside, the windows are sealed shut and the glass seems solid as granite. In a very dramatic touch you can still look outside and observe the world going about its business, oblivious to your rather dire situation.
But You’ve Only Just Arrived
In either case, the apartment is undeniably cursed. You’ll eventually find demonic literature hidden behind your bookshelf (who placed it there?), and when you hear a roaring crash from your bathroom and find a giant gaping man-sized hole, you wonder if you should call your friendly neighborhood witch-doctor to perform an exorcism on the place. But crawl through the hole you must in order to solve the mystery, traveling to various nightmarish otherworlds filled with trademark zombies, demons, undead nurses and other such hellspawn.
Possibly the best thing about Silent Hill 4 is how refreshingly different the game is structured. It received quite a bit of flak for it initially, but what it boils down to is your apartment serves as a sort of pit stop where you can save, store items and sometimes advance the story, while the rest of the game (accessed by crawling through the hole in the bathroom) is where the action takes place. You’ll eventually explore new worlds where you’ll battle ever tougher creatures and puzzles. This formula works well until about halfway, where you replay slightly modified versions of earlier levels and walk away feeling a tad ripped off.
Saving your game here is considerably more difficult than in past PC-based Silent Hill games, but this actually does good heightening the tension when you’re ‘trapped’ in the otherworld contrasted to the relative safety of your cheap flat ( I say ‘relative’ because the nightmare world eventually seeps into your apartment, inch by inch, as the game moves on ). The limited inventory and larger puzzles change the dynamic of the game quite a bit, but otherwise it’s still the same Silent Hill.
There’s that familiar sense of tension and gaping unease that Team Silent so professionally delivered in past games. Although not technically set in Silent Hill, you’ll nonetheless visit a fair share of downright bizarre locations warped by the twisted alternate reality of the nightmare world. Freaky sightseeing includes a haunted subway, prison tower, a secluded orphanage, and – as tradition mandates- the requisite hospital populated by zombie nurses. Finally, composer Akira Yamaoka’s subtle sound design completes the game’s somber mood.
As far as sensory atmospherics, SH 4 is a great piece. It’s only a shame the porting process went as it did. Little if anything has changed visually, keeping the same blurry textures from its console days. Both third and first-person views suffer from a painfully restrictive POV, a limitation which could have easily been fixed on the PC, and the controls are more than a little awkward with the exaggeratedly zoomed-in combat camera. Even hampered by some familiar console-related quirks, the game is a good trip story and horror-wise.
System Requirements: PIII 1 GHz, 256 MB RAM, 32 MB Video, 2 GB HDD, Windows XP
Please READ THIS before downloading!