Silent Hill 4: The Room – PC – Review

I love scary movies, scary books and scary games. 
I have a DVD collection that boasts an affinity for "B" grade horror movies
that my wife would love to throw out.  I have all sorts of scary books by King
and Koontz and I have a bonafide addiction to all things creepy.  So with that
being said, whenever a scary game is released, I lean towards trying to pick
it up and play.  Problem is, that only some games possess the atmosphere and
plot devices to reeeeally scare me.  I enjoy the Resident Evil series, but
they no longer are scary.  I did not like the game Cursed for it’s wafer thin
plot and the Alone in the Dark series is exactly that, alone.  But the Silent
Hill series is different…
Starting off, you play as a man named Henry
Townshend, a quiet man who keeps to himself.  Henry wakes up one morning and
finds that he is locked in his apartment by the mysterious appearance of locks
and chains on his front door, barring him from leaving.  The game picks up as
Henry is in his fifth day of being trapped and a rather large other-worldly
hole has appeared in his bathroom.  Having already had a really rare week,
Henry is about to experience allot worse as the hole engulfs him, plunging him
into a series of macabre events that are more then slightly influenced by
recent Japanese horror movies. 
The Silent Hill series has done a good job
of moving forward in terms of new and different ways to scare and titillate. 
My first thought when I had heard about this game was how scary could a room
really be.  Well I found out as I made it a point to play late at night with
the lights off.  Poor Henry jumps from black portal back to his apartment and
finds things slightly askew, only forced to continue his strange travels as
his only way out of the hellish nightmare he is living is to move forward.  It
should be noted that when Henry enters these portals, the residents of the
locales aren’t exactly friendly.  Monsters, ghosts and the deformed all have
malicious intent on their mind.  Fortunately, weapons can be found and used
to protect poor Henry.  But what are these underlying messages being
discovered in the pages found about the game?  What are those strange
sounds?  It really was a surprising idea using a small apartment to jump from
one alternate reality to another (with a quick stop in the town of Silent
Hill), attempting to understand why these things are happening.

Screen Shot for Silent Hill 4: the Room

I played the game using a Microsoft sidewinder
control pad.  This style of game originated on the console systems and
actually plays quite a bit easier using the control pad.  You can use the
keyboard controls, but I believe that most players will find the control pad
The fighting in the game provides some interesting
opportunities.  Items can be used several times over and over, like a pipe. 
While others will break after the initial attack (bottle).  The combat
controls are designed to allow for an easier combat experience, as you ready
yourself for combat you can hit the attack button furiously or hold it down
for a more powerful attack.  After being chased by a pack of weird dogs,
you’ll start to incorporate strategies in dealing with multiple enemies.  I
really thought it was cool how dogs will swarm one of their own if it’s killed
and begin feasting.  Some real feral thought was put into this game.
A couple of things of note that I think bear
Henry does try to get out of his apartment using
conventional means, but the phone no longer works and all of the windows are
sealed.  His cries for help go unanswered.  
Only moving to the alternate planes/realities/dimensions and then coming back
to the apartment can Henry save his progress.  
Why would anyone live in an apartment for years
with a hot neighbor and not ever try to become more then a casual passerby?
I was really happy with how well this game
looked.  The seedy, gritty locations made for a nice visual atmosphere. 
Everywhere Henry seems to go is designed to look disturbing on one level or
another, even his apartment seems dingy and unhealthy.    The creatures I
encountered had different positive effects on me.  Creatures moved with
deliberate motions and even seemed to be in pain themselves, only looking for
relief by killing my poor characters (Eileen, the neighbor).  Shading was done
by the bucketload and a nice smooth texturing was done on the humans that are
in the game.

Screen Shot for Silent Hill 4: the Room

The audio too, was designed to disturb.  Not so
much music as, ambience designed to keep the hairs on your neck standing on
end.  The faint sound of voices whispering, only you can’t make out what is
being said.  The noises are almost industrial feeling in my opinion.  Very
scary and very appropriate.
One thing that I found myself on the fence with,
was the amount of cut scenes that the game contained.  I would swear it seemed
that you were watching as much as you were playing, and while the game’s plot
was necessary to push the story forward, I almost wondered if they could have
made a few less scenes. 

Review Scoring Details
Gameplay: 8.0
If you use a keyboard then the experience might
not be as smooth as it could be.  I strongly recommend using some sort of
control pad.
Graphics: 8.2
Strong use of disturbing imagery makes this a game
to only be played after the smaller children have gone to bed.  Heavy on the
blood, heavy on the gore, heavy on the foreboding.
Sound: 7.7
Good use of sound effects here.  There is
definitely a creepy feeling when a monster crawls, stands up and then starts
coming at you with an almost airy, unholy wheeze.  The constant background
noises make the game feel like a bad dream.
Difficulty: Hard
You will have a challenging time, getting through
this title.  Some of the brain-busting puzzles are hard, the monsters can be
down right impossible to kill in some situations. 
Concept: 8.1
Again, the whole idea of trapping some poor schlep
in his own apartment and having him bounce through horror filled dimensions is
quite original.  On more then one occasion I thought of the horror author
Clive Barker, who in my opinion had some influence on this title.
Overall: 8.0
A strong entry for horror game enthusiasts, I
really did jump thanks to some creepy imagery and well places scares.  Konami
did a bang up job of making a scary game, with more then a little borrowed
from several popular movies and books.  The plot can only be described as "out
there" for most people.  Still, for real, genuine scares, this does not