Down the rabbit hole. Review

Silent Hill 4: The Room Info

genre

  • Action/Adventure

players

  • 1 - 1

Publisher

  • Konami

Developer

  • Konami

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC
  • PS2
  • Xbox

rating

Down the rabbit hole.

You wake up from a nightmare. The ceiling fan spins lazily over your bed; slowly,

the world comes into focus. Confused at first, you gradually piece bits of it

together. You’ve been trapped in your apartment for five days now. Through

the sealed windows you can watch the distant street outside, commuters driving

to work or descending into the subway. Occasionally, you glimpse your

neighbors as they walk by their windows in the adjacent building. Despite the

bleak vision, your apartment seems mostly normal. Dishes are piled by the sink,

a kettle waits for you to make some coffee. The chairs look comfy enough and

there’s even a TV in the corner.

But

everything changes when you get to the door and realize at least one of the reasons

you can’t leave your apartment. You find the door covered in chains, locked from

the inside, with a hastily scrawled message: “Don’t go out! Walter.” Maybe you

haven’t really awakened from the nightmare after all.

Unfortunately for you, Silent Hill 4: The Room places you squarely

in the deranged world of Henry Townshend, and Henry’s life is currently a decidedly

unhappy place.

While full of disgusting monsters and creepy settings, Silent

Hill 4
departs from the first three by taking the game out of the town of Silent Hill. While Henry has visited Silent Hill, he and his apartment are actually in the nearby city of South Ashford.

Your life inside the apartment (and you’ll be there a lot) is played

out in first-person, allowing you to look around and examine all of your belongings.

However, you’ll

quickly discover a mysterious hole in your bathroom. Crawl through it and, just

like Alice, you enter another world, albeit filled with more horror

than wonder.

Here the game switches to traditional Silent Hill gameplay.

You take control of Henry from a third-person perspective as you run him through

the dangerous otherworlds. The first place you’ll explore is a demonic subway

station, but your apartment’s

rabbit hole changes. You’ll end up in a haunted lakeside forest, a very strange

prison tower, and other evil locations.

During your excursions, you’ll have to fight or run away from an assortment

of supernatural bad guys. You’ll want to beat down the zombie hyenas because

they’re faster than you, while the floating zombie ghosts are nearly unstoppable

and are better left watching you disappear in the distance. The combat is a little

sluggish (as it always has been) and the assortment of weapons is pretty limited,

but the Silent

Hill
series, with its total lack of special agents, has always been

much more about horror than combat.

It’s no surprise, then, that Konami once again has chosen to stick with the game mechanic of making you to stomp on anything to finally kill it. It might take 20 bullets to put a monster down, but unless you step on it, it will get right back up again. It’s gotta be tha shoes!

Once you’ve reached a particular place or picked up a particular object or killed a particular creature (you won’t know exactly when), the screen will fade to black…and then you wake up again, back in apartment 302. Sometimes little things have changed in your room, and your apartment slowly degrades into an increasingly horrible place as the game progresses.

However, most of the time you’ll return to your apartment via the otherworld’s

many rabbit holes. Since your living room is the only place in the game where

you can manage your limited inventory or save your game, you’ll spend a great

deal of time there. If you want to pick up the blue key but

your inventory is full, you’ll have to backtrack all the way to your apartment

to drop some stuff off first. It can be frustrating. In essence, your apartment

becomes the game’s

hub, so Silent Hill 4 feels more linear and less exploratory

than previous versions.

But it’s actually more than a hub – your apartment is your only link to the real world outside. Even though you cannot leave, you’ll notice small events in South Ashford, and you can spy on the town through the little peephole in the door. You’ll even discover a peephole chipped in the wall looking into your neighbor Eileen’s apartment so you can watch her put away the groceries or watch TV.

This is my favorite part of The Room. At first, the world outside

room 302 seems so normal, it makes you question Henry’s sanity. Are these strange

otherworlds real, or are they just the nightmares of some lunatic shut-in who

chained up his own door? It effectively blurs the line between reality and delusion,

leading to a singularly creepy game.

At

least in Henry’s world there’s plenty to look at. The graphics are excellent

and the environments are full of little details, all of which are visible since

the traditionally thick Silent

Hill
fog is gone. Whether they run, float, shamble, or crawl out of

the floor, all the gross monstrosities are well-animated. Loading times are mercifully

short, especially when compared to the recent survival horror-fest Resident

Evil: Outbreak
. Unsurprisingly, the Xbox version is a bit cleaner

and sharper than the PS2 and has some more detailed textures. It’s a noticeable

difference, but not a big deal.

The sound is good, too, suitably edgy, creepy and grating. It just makes you

nervous. There’s very little music in Silent

Hill 4
, so other than the occasional theme fade-in, it’s all about the

environmental noise. On the other hand, the voice acting is mediocre. It’s not

laughably bad like many other horror titles, but considering all the disgusting,

dangerous, scary stuff that’s happening to these people, they seem pretty calm

about it all.

By their very nature, survival horror games are pretty limited in replay value.

Still, The

Room
packs four different endings depending on how well you play as

well as a few unlockable weapons and outfits. That should entice some people

to play through again, but it’s not a major incentive.

Though it follows the same old formula pretty closely, Silent

Hill 4: The Room
is a worthy sequel. The contrast between your deranged nightmare apartment and the seemingly normal world outside gives it an especially tense feeling of psychological terror and uncertainty. I wouldn’t mind being locked in my apartment for the weekend with Silent

Hill 4
.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

3.5
Rating