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Silent Hill 4: The Room

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Release Date: Sept. 7, 2004


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PS2/Xbox/PC Preview - 'Silent Hill 4: The Room'

by Eric on Aug. 25, 2004 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Henry Townshend finds himself trapped in his apartment that has been cursed by a deeply rooted evil. Only by exploring mysterious portals leading to disturbing alternate worlds can Henry begin to uncover the truth. However, in true Silent Hill fashion, mysterious new characters, horrendous creatures, and the undead use any means necessary to impede his progress.

Akira Yamaoka, director of the Silent Hill series, was up next, to premiere a brand new trailer for Silent Hill 4, with brand new horrifying imagery. The intro in question featured several of Silent Hill 4's new enemies: crawling humanoid monsters that can slither through walls. We also got to hear an ethereal, slightly jazz-tinged song, sung in English, over the trailer, as the camera slowly closed in on a man who was intent upon writing on his arm. The closer we got, the more apparent it was that the man had a hole, or perhaps an eye, in the back of his head…

Silent Hill 4: The Room is a game of psychological horror, moreso than the previous game in the series. “Immersion” was a word Yamaoka used a lot, to describe many of the decisions that were made: first-person perspective, more character interactions, more characters, and real-time menus.

In Silent Hill 4, as many of you probably know by now, you play as Henry Townsend, a man who wakes up one morning to find his apartment door chained shut, and the words “Don’t go out” written on the door in what very well might be blood. After several days spent unable to leave his apartment, Henry finally finds a strange hole punched through the wall above his bathroom. Even though that hole should lead elsewhere in his apartment, when Henry crawls through it, he finds himself in a strange and frightening new place, where monsters prowl.

The idea behind Silent Hill 4's approach to horror is the feeling of being chased, according to Yamaoka. You’re supposed to feel like you’re being followed, all the time, even in your character’s apartment. As Yamaoka explained, your room is your space. You’re supposed to be safe there, and to be able to let down your guard. When that’s suddenly taken away from you, then the horror really begins.

While you’re in that apartment, you’re in first-person mode, to heighten the sense of really being there. Outside of it, as you’re exploring the living nightmare of Silent Hill, you’re in third-person, wielding the typical Silent Hill arsenal (a steel pipe, a handgun) to defend yourself against a variety of new monsters.

Unlike the other games in the series, though, you’ll often have company. In the floor demo, Henry was accompanied by a woman named Eileen, who was slowed down to some extent by recent injuries; her arm is in a cast, and she limps as though badly hurt. A set of numbers are burned into her exposed back, and while all she can do is flail weakly at enemies with her purse (and later, a length of chain), she still does attack them. Later helper characters will have to be armed before they can help you, but they will help you. (This, as opposed to Silent Hill 2's Maria, who had this nasty habit of dying…)

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