In anticipation of the upcoming release Silent Hill: Downpour, it was decided that the fourth game in the series should be scrutinised once more. The first time around, it was branded as “awful” and “the game that shouldn’t have been”. Hardcore Silent Hill fans argued back that it wasn’t a true game in the series and that time would change it. Well guess who was right? The huge fans of course! Time did change it – it made it much, much worse.
You begin the game as Henry Townshend, an average guy who has no way of leaving his apartment due to the mass of chains across his door and windows so dirty they can’t be opened. No way apart from a gaping hole in his bathroom of course. Travel through this hole and you’ll enter the murky depths that are Silent Hill, filled with both monsters and people as equally insane as you. Best holiday location ever? We think so.
Before entering the mysterious, tiny, gloomy hole, you can wander around your apartment and inspect the same four walls as you’ve been looking at for weeks. Why? Because Henry is so attached to his apartment that he secretly put all the chains up, or so we believe. Now this would be a fun part of the game to do if the controls weren’t harder than steering a digger around with your little toe. Move the control stick left and you’ll turn slightly, maybe walk a few paces forward, until the camera decides to move too and Henry veers into the nearest wall. Ouch. Feel free to inspect things, but once you’ve pressed the action button, you have to completely let go of the controller in case you accidentally nudge something else, which will cancel the previous action. We know that looking at your awful photography is hard, but there’s really no need for that.
As you make your way into the infested town, be prepared to meet some unruly creatures. Whereas before the series focused mainly on running away from said monstrosities, this addition makes it almost impossible to do so, forcing you into many unwanted fights with weapons that break into many tiny, useless pieces after a few hits. The combat is absolutely fine, if you started the game up with the sole intention of walking around with an angry dog gnawing on your leg. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you care about your mental health), this isn’t the case and so the combat is nothing short of terrible. It wouldn’t be too bad if it weren’t for the controls spoiling the party for everyone else. You have to hold the aim button down and bash the action button until the monster dies with a tiresome groan, almost like a child’s version of Twister. There’s really no point trying to dodge either, as you’re often surrounded and so something is going to latch onto you at some point, leaving you as good as dead. Have fun with that, okay?
Don’t think that you can bring everything you find along with you either; the inventory is extremely limited, which adds the first and only sense of realism to the game. You can’t expect Henry to have endless space in his pockets and so you’re going to have to decide what’s more useful – the gun or the metal sewage pipe you broke off of your own wall. If the gun was your first answer, you are most definitely wrong. For the first 10 minutes, it will become your best friend but as soon as you’re praising the lord, you’ll run out of ammunition and spend hours looking for it. When you need it least, however, you’ll find plenty. This aggravation is just one of the reasons why you’ll put the game disc back in its case and hide it away in the deep depths of gamer hell – the dusty corner in your wardrobe.
Silent Hill 4 isn’t all about the combat though; puzzles are a celebrated aspect of the series and still an important one within this game. Notice that we said important, not still celebrated. As puzzles in games go, they’re fairly standard, but you know as well as anyone that standard is really the polite form of crap. Whereas before, you were left pulling your hair out over lines of confused text, you’re now wandering around the huge map searching for someone’s long lost arm. If you’re still a little lost, don’t worry, that’s the whole idea of this game, but summarised, the puzzles are pointless fetch-quests that everyone would be happier without. At one point, you actually have to search around for some chocolate milk for someone, only to walk a few more paces and find them burning to the ground. It’s definitely one of the more sad parts of the game, not because you lose an awesome character (he’s far from that), but because it’s a hefty waste of some pretty decent chocolate milk.
Not that you can tell it’s chocolate milk of course. The graphics are so lacking in just about everything that the game looks like a pile of puke from Konami after they dreamt about the dogs with spears for tongues. Not only does everything in game look as though the developers forgot to move forward with the rest of gaming’s progression, but everything seems very clunky too. Animations feel half finished and look as though they’re based upon Godzilla trying to navigate around a play park without destroying anything. Konami’s sheer half-heartedness with both the animations and the rest of the game in general will leave you wishing you’d spent your hard earned money on something much more worthwhile, like a fluffy bunny named Robbie, for example.
One thing that isn’t so tragic that it jumps out screaming at you to be mentioned is the sound; it’s just a shame that it isn’t so good either. Very simply, it’s adequate. There are a few good songs and sound effects but nothing you haven’t seen before, it’s obvious that the developers didn’t put too much thought into it and maybe that’s what the whole game needs; less thought. As the town is supposed to be desolate, there’s very little talking involved and so very little voice work, but when you do hear it, you’d have a much nicer time if you muted the television. We’re not saying it’s bad, it’s just not great, the voices sound a little forced, but hey, whose wouldn’t be when you wake up, crawl through a hole and find yourself in the worst town in history? One thing to be liked about this game is that the sound of silence is still loud, occasionally making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Sometimes.
Silent Hill 4: The Room isn’t the best delivery of horror you’ll ever see and doesn’t seem to care how it performs elsewhere. The care and attention has obviously been missed along the way and that’s what’s made it so infamous. Like the town, stay clear with a pitiful 1/10.
Think differently? Love turning into Henry Townshend every now and then? Let us know below!