The forth installment of the Silent Hill series doesn’t even take place in Silent Hill. Or at least not so bluntly. I might even argue that it takes place totally in Henry’s (the main character’s) mind. And who is Henry? Not really sure. He’s a totally flat yet possibly complex being who has no history or feelings beyond his curious care for the girl in the neighboring apartment. Through a vague system of tunnels and loops, we will wander back and forth between the abstract world and the real world which turns out to be none-the-more real and all-the-more frightening. Those tunnels may weave in and out of Henry’s dreams and subconscious revealing things that only bring about more questions. What is real? Nobody knows. This mystery is what makes this explosion of genre-exploration so terrific.
It is horror indeed. But a much different form. I can credit the entire series for that… However Silent Hill 4 takes it further, pushes the boundaries of a what a player can withstand. What makes the prior three Silent Hills great is their sense aloneness. The totality of aloneness means that nothing will progress unless YOU go through the door and face the darkness and whatever surprises it contains… and that will always be accompanied with fear of the unknown. I believe of all the games of the series, The Room lets this fear run wild.
The few scares presented periodically in the apartment are creative and un-nerving, yet always leave you with the feeling that the scare could have been pushed farther… as if the game is waiting patiently for a perfect strike. You get the sense that a moment of sheer terror could come from anywhere and appear at any time. That is truly the most frightening part. The actual scary moments are only there to put an end, if only temporarily, to the extreme suspense. But don’t get me wrong – the scares don’t disappoint.
I personally have a passion for horror done this way. Something is much scarier when it is staring at you from a distance rather than popping up behind you.
My thoughtsn some specifics, and gameplay will be in part 2 of my review.