Silent Hill 4: The RoomReviewed By: John Alessandro
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
That said. This is a deeply disturbing game that will likely offend practically everyone.
The story, begins when Henry Towsend awakens from a nightmare to find that he's trapped in his apartment. Or, more accuratly, someone named Walter Sullivan has strung heavy iron chains across his door, sealed his windows and cut his phone lines. Shouting to his neighbors does very little good, since for some reason no one can hear him. After a couple of days a large portal appears in his bathroom which takes him to various locations of the not-terribly-tourist-friendly town of Silent Hill.
Graphics: Beautifully detailed (if gore-covered walls of living, rotting flesh could ever be considered beautiful), but somehow lacking. I think Silent Hill 3 did a better job. This one feels a bit rushed. Also how many forest/subway/prison/hospital settings does this town have? And why do we need to visit them multiple times in the game? Silent Hill 4 isn't nearly as bad at this as Final Fantasy X-2 was. But it's still annoying.
Sound: Um… who okayed the burping sound when one of the monsters gets hit? That's just silly. Otherwise it's what you'd expect from this series. Creepy, creepy, creepy. Voice acting is pretty good, though a little stilted. Henry has ZERO emotion, you'd think after the fourth or fifth neighbor to die horribly he'd register something like outright terror.
Gameplay: The game plays nearly identically to the previous installments. A reasonably intuitive 2D controller scheme helps avoid the dredded Resident Evil-style controller nightmare. Storywise, while interesting, SH4 isn't quite as deep as Silent Hill 2, but thankfully not quite as offensive as Silent Hill 3. Problem is, the entire game has a disjointed "been there, done that" feel to it. Rather than walking from one end of the game to the other, you return frequently to your room before moving on to a new level. There's no sense of continuity. No feeling that you're moving deeper and deeper into a waking nighmare. Henry has a lifebar which is a welcome addition, but he con only carry a limited amount of items. This is further aggrivated by the fact that he can't “stack” anything. 2 amo clips take up two spaces. Because you can't drop any extra items there's a lot of backtracking to your room to drop things off in the only storage box. Oh, and to be unreasonably sadistic the game designers felt that if your inventory was full there was no need to tell you what item you're trying to pick up. Meaning you could conceivably backtrack through hordes of enemies for an item you didn't really want in the first place.
Blood and Gore: What can I say, it's gruesome. Not quite as gruesome as SH3, but it's still a must avoid for young children or the easily squeemish. For your part, much of the violence is centered around killing various unidentifiable monsters. Blood abounds, but nothing uncommon to the style of game. Human-form enemies appear as Ghosts, who, try as you might, cannot be disposed of. As with most Silent Hill games, running from the bad nasties is always advised. The cut-scenes, however, are another matter. The story revolves around a serial killer with a penchant for carving codes into his victim's flesh. There's far too much graphic detail here, inculding a string of numbers carved into a woman's chest, a graphic electrocution, an individual set on fire and another woman beaten almost to death.
Apropriateness: Do I really have to elaborate? The game is gruesome, but not without some (small) measure of redeaming value. The game continues the story of the Wish House Cult with all the blasphemous nonsense and child-abuse present in Silent Hill 3. Unlike it's predecessor, however, Silent Hill 4 makes note of the fact that the cult members were deceived by Satan into THINKING they were worshiping God. Personally, someone would have to be pretty darn gullible to believe that anything in Silent Hill was heavenly, but that's another story all together. Beyond that, the Mark of Samael makes a return and is seen pretty frequently (it's a load screen animation). 2 children murdered by Walter Sullivan appear as a mutant 2-headed baby monster thing that's extremely disturbing. There is Excessive violence against women. Women wear revealing clothing. One woman makes suggestive comments to Henry and attempts to touch him inapropriatly.
Commendable: The game makes note of the fact that the Wish House Cult had been deceived. Henry honorably protects his neighbor from harm (though depending on how well you do, he may not be able to protect her sanity). Walter Sullivan is finally stopped.
Overall: While not as uncontionably offensive and blasphemous as Silent Hill 3, this is still a Silent Hill game. Deeply disturbing and brutally violent, only the most mature gamers should even approach this one. Children should be kept far, FAR away. Honestly I miss the more psychological approach taken in Silent Hill 2. The gore is excessive and really unnecessary. Only die-hard fans of the series will really enjoy this game. Everyone else should probably just avoid it since it has nothing terribly interesting to add. Parents should make certain their children and young teens do not have access to this game (or any Silent Hill for that matter).
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