Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004)


Genre: Survival-Horror / Action | Players: 1
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo

If anything can be said for 4, it’s that games actually can justify their place in franchises they weren't originally meant to be part of. Further, this should be judged for oneself, on the merits of the finished product. Do not let your feelings about it be determined by popular opinion or initial impressions. Akin to Hibiki of Kamen Rider fame, The Room more than earns its spot in the Silent Hill series. However, know that the differences inherent are what both define it, and make it a less than perfect entry.

The limited inventory system, while weakly validated, will not present you with extreme troubles. You will have no need of the scarce firearms and their space-hogging ammo stacks once you’ve tried out the Rusty Axe and its brethren. Indeed, 4 stands with 3 and Homecoming as an entry with a satisfying, varied, and effective melee system. Aside from weapons and health and puzzle items, you are also tasked with collecting spirit-warding artifacts to use in your apartment. Said apartment acts as a hub-world between various sub-spaces, and houses set pieces such as hauntings that must be dealt with if you are to achieve the “better” endings. This area is experienced in first-person and is effective in how it goes from being a safe-haven to just another part of the nightmare as the game progresses. It also further ties into what becomes an interconnected game world. At first, you will explore individual, discrete areas. Over time, however, you will end up revisiting each of them in a series of threaded experiences. As you do so, you will be escorting someone who can actually fend for themselves to a degree. Ultimately, their biggest impact is that they slightly slow your movement, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The final unique feature of 4 is how the lead, Henry, is hands-down the least interesting character in the game. This, however, can be attributed to what he’s experienced and affords us a (nearly) silent protagonist with which to witness the twisted story of one of Silent Hill’s most compelling denizens: Walter Sullivan. If you have the patience and inclination to try something different, I can absolutely recommend giving this a spin. It can be a bit stilted, but I think it is ultimately rewarding because of its “ancillary” characters, unique take on the structure of Silent Hill, and loose association with 2.

If you'd be interested in some of my more recent (more positive) thoughts, you can find them here.

Buyer’s Guide:
Available on PS2, Xbox, and PC. While you can occasionally find it in used bins, I would recommend hunting around online for a good deal, as it is usually pretty pricey, in all its incarnations. Borrowing it from a Silent Hill-obsessed friend is honestly your best course of action.

3½ Abandoned Umbilical Cords out of 5

Nutted by NEG

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