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Silent Hill 4 Reviews and Plot Discussion


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Last night I beat Silent Hill 4: The Room. Not only that, but I've managed to see three of the game's four endings thanks to the clever use of well-placed save points. The short at sweet version of this post is that I liked it. I liked it a whole lot, in fact. I will admit that many of the changes Konami decided to implement in this game concerned me a great deal, particularly the abandonment of the flashlight as a device for delivering light and creating mood. I'm happy to report that most the changes work quite nicely and the game is still scary like its predecessors.

 

There's a lot to be said about The Room and it's somewhat difficult to know where to begin. I can almost understand now why Romier hasn't posted his review yet (note I said almost ;) ) I think the most important thing to talk about is the changes and how well they work since I suspect the only other people reading this are Silent Hill fans like myself.

 

As those of you who have been following the game's development realize, Silent Hill 4 breaks from the others in the series in a number of significant ways. As I mentioned before, the flashlight is gone, as is the radio. Environments are better lit, but despite what the screenshots might suggest, they aren't overly lit, as I had once feared. An eerie mood still permeates everywhere you look. Oddly enough, the sense of claustrophobia that you once felt because you could only see a few feet in front of your face remains. The difference here is in the size and scope of the environments. Whereas the first three games place your character in a fairly large sandbox, allowing you to run away from your enemies if you so desire, you don't have that luxury in Silent Hill 4. Spaces are smaller and more closed off. When an enemy or a group of enemies stands in your way, evading them may not be the best answer.

 

This leads me to the next major change, which is the combat system. While not as refined as something like Eternal Darkness (which I happen to think has the best fighting system I've seen in a horror game), it is much better than any of the previous games. Henry is a much more agile character than any other in the series thus far and the controls in this game work quite well. Not only can he dodge attacks with a quick jump to the side, he can also power up melee blows by holding down the attack button. It's still not quite as evolved as I would like to see in these games, but it certainly moves in the right direction. The only real fault I find with it lies in the hit detection, which can sometimes feel a bit wonky, leading to some frustrating moments in battle.

 

It's a good thing that the combat is decent, because the game also breaks tradition from the others through of its lack of any major puzzles. The team behind the game stated that they wanted to make a game that was much more action-oriented. If that were the case I would say that they succeeded admirably. That's not a criticism by the way. In fact, I was somewhat surprised by how much I didn't miss them. The minor puzzle solving you do undertake usually involves finding an item and using it in the correct spot. Thankfully, the majority of the solutions rely on real life logic to figure them out. As with any survival horror game, pay close attention to the clues you?re given and examine everything in the environment. Do that and you should be able to make your way through the game with relatively few problems.

 

The last major change concerns the lack of an inventory screen. Rather than allow Henry to carry an unlimited assortment of items, the game limits what he can carry to ten items at a time. Objects he?s not using must be stored in a chest ala Resident Evil. This chest is located in Henry?s apartment, forcing him to return there often to unload items and pick them up. While I understand the desire to add a level of strategy to the game by forcing players to pick and choose what they want to bring with them, the process of constantly returning to The Room to unload excess items can get very tedious, as you can imagine. Not only that, but ammunition for your guns cannot be stacked. For instance, every ten rounds of pistol ammo counts as one whole space in your inventory. So, twenty rounds takes up two spots instead of having all twenty consolidated into just one. To me, this change is perhaps the most questionable. The inventory system they had before worked fine; why mess with it? If I had one major criticism of Silent Hill 4, this would be it.

 

On the technical front, Silent Hill 4 does just about everything right. The character models are exquisitely detailed and have been brought to life with some impressive animation. The environments themselves are as every bit as grimy, dirty, and uncomfortable as you would expect from a Silent Hill title. My only gripe with the visuals is that the lighting effects come across as flat and dull when compared to the previous games. Light was once a living part of the environment; now it?s just there and nothing more.

 

As far as the audio is concerned, all I can say is that those of you with an Xbox hooked up to a good Dolby Digital system are in for a real treat. If you can, turn up the volume and enjoy the creepy ambient noises, excellent music tracks, and superb voice acting. While most of the activity takes place in the front soundstage (since that?s where most of the action takes place) you will notice some well-placed noises in the rears where appropriate. Additionally, those of you with good subwoofers will like Silent Hill 4 quite a bit, especially in this one area on the Subway level.

 

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation for The Room itself. I personally believe that this is the most impressive aspect of the entire title. It serves not only as the game?s hub but works as a device for telling the story. The windows, the peephole in the front door, and Henry?s view into Eileen?s room give it the sense that it exists in a real place with real people just outside the door. By the time you finish the game, which should take about 12 hours if you?re anything like me, you will know Henry, his neighbors and what?s going on around them with intimate detail. Kudos to Konami for building such a wholly complete world to explore and play around in!

 

Ultimately, I think what surprises me most about Silent Hill 4: The Room is the lukewarm reaction it has received from both fans of the series and the gaming press. At this point, I don?t think it will end up in my top 10 of 2004, but it is still a very good game and very scary. I almost wonder if the response would have been more favorable if this had been released as something other than a Silent Hill title as it was originally intended. I just wonder if the baggage that goes with being the fourth installment of the Silent Hill series ? and one that?s so different to the others ? doomed it to disappoint fans. Oh well, at least I enjoyed it.

 

Now, I know Romier?s dying to talk about the story, so I will get the ball rolling. One of the most striking aspects of the game for me is that it really isn't about Henry Townshend, as I had expected. It's about Walter Sullivan and his actions. Henry is simply a victim caught up in the aftermath of Walter?s plan to awaken his mother. He doesn't say much and aside from what he does within the levels themselves, he doesn't do a whole lot to propel the story forward. At first I was sort of disappointed by this, but then I realized how brilliantly it tied in with the voyeurism theme. Henry is simply an observer to the events at hand; he is the vehicle through which the player experiences this story. Yes, he does have a role to play, but it?s a limited one and doesn?t really reveal itself until the very end of the game.

 

Obviously, the prevalent theme (aside from voyeurism) is the relationship between mothers and sons. The metaphor of The Room as a womb and the boy?s desire to go back into it could launch us into a discussion wide-ranging enough to add several pages worth of posts in this thread. Alas, I will leave off here, since this post is already quite long and I want to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

 

With that, does anyone have anything they?d like to add?

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I'm going to post PART I of my review as I've done some editing and changes to it. I've just about finished the whole thing but considering this thread is up at the moment and I'd love to get some more plot discussion etc. happening I'll split it into two parts and combine it when its all set to go. Here it is:

 

logo.jpg

 

Its the room that confines me

 

I'd like to begin this review with a bit of a philosophical question. Don't worry, it's not anything terribly intimidating but its something thats been running through my mind ever since I completed Silent Hill 4: Is "home" really just a prison for the mind?

 

No doubt you must be wondering why I would ask something that could potentially give away such vital information? I can assure that you can breathe a sigh of relief as that is not the case here. If you are as avid a fan of Silent Hill as myself than you know that the series has always been somewhat progressive in how it deals with adult oriented themes and Silent Hill 4: The Room is no different in that regard. It attempts to answer questions such as the one I posed above; along the way dealing with issues of love and loss, the relationship between a mother and child and how much abuse the human psyche can take before it finally breaks.

 

Silent Hill 4 is probably the most ambitious title in the series. Its not afraid to shake up the foundations of the what gamers have come to expect from this franchise while maintaining the spirit of the series along the way. The story is well told and will keep you interested throughout the games ten-twelve hours of playtime. More importantly the improvements to several of the series underlying systems are most welcome and help to fix some complaints from previous entries. It is however unfortunate that "The Room" also features some rather annoying gameplay contrivances and in some cases would have been better served by leaving well enough alone.

 

Concept, Inspirations and the story.

 

I could go on for pages about the influences behind Silent Hill 4. Suffice it to say producer Akira Yamaoka has steered the game into more "Lynchian" territory this time around. While previous Silent Hill titles have been heavily inspired by Adrian Lynes' work in Jacob's Ladder and Clive Barkers' Hellraiser; The Room derives its storytelling techniques from other works such as Lynchs' Twin Peaks and Stephen Kings' The Shining. (Pay very close attention during your exploration of the Subway area for a fun little Easter egg!) Mind you its not the first time these two names have been mentioned as inspiring the creative powers of Silent Hill (read King's Bag of Bones and then play Silent Hill 2. You'll no doubt get a sense of familiarity) but its never been so prevelant as it is here.

 

As always, the characters that inhabit this world are almost as important as the story they find themselves in and this time around Henry Townshend is the latest soul that must contend with this world of fog and despair. Seemingly out of nowhere he finds himself alone and trapped in his apartment of two years. The windows can't be opened or broken, the walls cannot be smashed and the front door is pad locked with a network of heavy chains that make escape an impossibilty. In an even stranger twist, no one can hear Henry call for help and the only thing that the tenants of the South Ashfield Hieghts apartment complex do hear are strange noises coming from Room 302. In the end only the words "Dont go out! -Walter" written on his front door give Henry a clue as to what could be going on and considering how vague that is, you're sure to be as confused about the whole situation as our protagonist.

 

doors.jpg models.jpg peepholes.jpg

 

Awakening and Discovery

 

The game starts much like any other Silent Hill, with Henry waking up from a nightmare after his fifth day trapped in the apartment. This is your first opportunity to experience the new exploratory first person viewpoint used during the apartment sequences of the game. This new perspective adds a new level of immersiveness not found in the previous games of the series and helps to make the apartment a real character in and of itself. However getting acclimated to the default control configuration can prove annoying as the game requires that you use the left analog stick to move and turn Henry at the same time. Thankfully you are given the ability to reconfigure the control scheme and after some tweaking I was able to assign forward/backward movement to the left analog stick and turning to the right stick. There is also an invert option for those so inclined as well as an option to turn off the head bob feature if you find it too disorienting.

 

Exploration of the apartment is an integral part of Silent Hill 4's gameplay. Every last detail of the room can be investigated and is accompanied by its own text description/dialogue. Some items even expand on the history of the characters you will meet as well as Henry himself. Its also not uncommon to see mysterious blood soaked letters slipped under your door by an unforeseen hand. These notes, far more than any cut-scene, help to reveal the mystery of room 302. In fact, I could safely say that "The Room" features the least amount of cut-scenes in the entire series thus far. Some may find this to be a distressing development but I would ask these people to think back to the first Silent Hill and how the story in that game was conveyed. I think you'll find alot of similiarity.

 

As you continue to explore the apartment you'll begin to see how voyeurism and isolation play a big role in Silent Hill 4. Keep in mind that poor Henry has no connection to those around him. One of his only opportunities to interact with anything outside of his apartment is to simply look out of his window. Upon doing so you'll immediately noticed parrallels to Hithcocks "Rear Window". Everything from the layout of South Ashfield Hieghts (Its u-shaped design) to the nieghbors going about thier daily routines across the way gives the impression that Henry just shouldn't be watching.

 

Also at Henrys disposal is the peep hole on his front door. You'll often be privy to various sequences involving your fellow tenants as they try to figure out what in the world has happened to you and what it is they keep hearing coming from your apartment. As you move further into the game Henry will also be able to snoop on one very important (and attractive) nieghbor through a small opening that appears in his wall (Yet another Hitch inspired bit of gameplay as the viewpoint used here is pure Psycho). You'll also have access to a radio which provides "up to the minute" news reports and general musings. These reports can be quite humorous while only a few scenes later utterly horrifying depending on the situation. Its a unique tool that the developers use to both enhance and further the story as well as provide some playful recreation when revisting the room (which you will do alot); though it can become somewhat repetitive as the variety of news reports is somewhat lacking.

 

Whats really amazing though is how well all of these elements combine to make the room THE instrument by which the developers both frighten the player and advance the story. You'll check the windows, the front door, the radio etc. not because the game requires you too (though it actually does) but because you want to see what will happen next. It actually becomes second nature upon returning to the room to check these various elements because you want to be sure you don't miss out on some small event that may enhance the story further.

 

The apartment also acts as both a hub area and a safe haven for Henry. The only save point in the game sits right next to Henry's couch and early on you will discover that the room will heal Henry's health automatically just by returning home. Both of these elements help to prod the player into making return trips back to the apartment. Later on when the apartment finally begins to change and that safe haven is ripped away you'll be privy to some very strange happenings that I will not go into for fear of spoiling the suprise.

 

The room is of course not the only place you'll be visiting during your stay. After some time investigating the apartment you'll be lead to Henry's bathroom where a mysterious hole has suddenly appeared. Having no other options available Henry enters the hole and crawls his way towards freedom. Once on the other side players will find themselves in familiar territory as the game switches to a third person perspective. You will notice some changes to the control scheme right off the bat. For instance the spin-in-place controls from the previous Silent Hill games have been done away with in favor of full analog control over your character. Due to this change Henry is noticeably more responsive and nimble than his predecessors. Also of note is that the "swivel" camera previously used to enter "look" mode has been done away with. Pressing the L2 button will now instantly shift the camera behind Henry's shoulder while the right analog stick now bears the responsibility of allowing you to look around the environments without need of holding a button.

 

Consequently these changes are essential in Henrys' being able to take advantage of the reworked gameplay systems featured in Silent Hill 4. No longer are you tied to an inventory screen to switch items. In fact there is no inventory screen at all in Silent Hill 4. All weapon/item selections are now done real time with the D-Pad and a press of a button. Suprisingly this new inventory system is both slick and at times effective but not without its problems. The first of which is that the developers have placed a limit on the amount of items that you can carry, only allowing ten at any given time. This alone is not an issue but when you factor in that each individual box of bullets takes up one full inventory slot (ie they do not stack), you can see where this might become problematic. Making matters worse is the introduction of an item box that you can access only by returning to the apartment. Early on you'll find little use for such a contrivance but as the game progresses you'll find yourself returning to the room specifically to unload items which is tedious to say the least. I suppose the thinking behind its implementation was to add a level of realism to the game but when you have a character that can carry four golf clubs, an aluminum bat and three health kits you have to start wondering what exactly is the point? Whats really ashame is that most of these issues could have been alleviated by giving you the ability to drop items but in the case of The Room, it was not to be.

 

itcomess.jpg manwalls.jpg shadows.jpg

Part II: Coming Soon

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Jeffrey, take a look at this site. I think you will find it to be most revealing and will help in enhancing the storyline for you.

 

Silent Hill 4 victim files

 

Also what are your thoughts on the Ritual of Holy Assumption? One very big debate that has been raging on since the games release is whether or not it was Walter that actually killed himself in prison. Most believe that it was a decoy which allowed Walter to actually kill himself in the storage room of the apartment. (I do not believe this.). I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

Also which endings did you get? I'd have to say the 21 Sacraments ending is by far my favorite.

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Very interesting write-ups, both of you. If that's the kind of content we can expect when the site goes live, I imagine we'll get pretty popular in a hurry. :tu:

 

I admit I had very little interest in any of the Silent Hill games because my only experience with survival horror was a very brief and wholly unsatisfying run at one of the early Resident Evil games (on the PS1). But having had the chance to see some of SH4 in action at Scott's house and then reading these reviews have really sparked my interest in the series as a whole. I think I asked this question of you before, Romier, but for the sake of my aged and infirm memory banks, what do you think would be the best way to get into Silent Hill? Considering the only current-gen platform I own is an Xbox? Can I jump right into SH4? Or would I be missing too much background? I know SH2 is available for the Xbox (I think for cheap, too)...would that be a good jumping-off point?

 

What is intriguing about these games is that they don't seem to be like traditional action games where fast reflexes rule, or traditional RPGs where the focus is on character building, or platformers with all of the jumping and collecting...they almost seem like interactive movies that you unlock as you play. I've never played a game like that before...probably the closest was Myst, and I loved that.

 

Looking forward to Part 2 of your review, Romier!

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Most of the reviews I've read made the game sound overly tedious, constantly treking back and forth to the room and the "ghosts" that can't be killed, only staked to the ground. These reviews and impressions however, combined with a $40 price tag, have me wavering a bit, I might have to check this one out.

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what do you think would be the best way to get into Silent Hill? Considering the only current-gen platform I own is an Xbox? Can I jump right into SH4? Or would I be missing too much background? I know SH2 is available for the Xbox (I think for cheap, too)...would that be a good jumping-off point?

 

You can jump right into part 4 but you'll miss a load of references and ties to all of the games before it (Part 4 ties in aspect of part 2 and parts 1 and 3). My suggestion to you Dave is to start with Silent Hill 2. It has almost no ties to the first Silent Hill and is a truly autonomous story. Besides that I consider it to be the best Silent Hill game in the series. You and I talked about how you'd never seen a game that was built on pure atmosphere and less so on action etc. I consider Silent Hill 2 to be a more interactive old school point and click adventure game. The difference is that they have added a combat mechanic and you're not pointing and clicking. You are however solving puzzles and unlocking more and more story elements as you go (which is *THE* reason to play Silent Hill, for its story.).

 

You can pick up Silent Hill 2 on the Xbox for about 12 bucks anymore and its more than worth it. When you first start playing you'll feel a bit overwhelmed and annoyed at the amount of exploration ahead of you. Most people when they start out in SH2 will usually comment on how "directionless" the game is off the bat but once you get to the Apartment complex the game just doesn't stop scaring the shit out of you. Oh and did I mention the story is just the utter bomb yet? ;)

 

Once you finish 2 (and of course if you enjoy it), then I would suggest moving onto part 4. You can read a good plot synopsis on 1 and 3 to take care of the story elements you'll need to pick up the rest of the references in The Room. Later on when (or if) you get access to a PS2 I heartily recommend parts 1 and 3.

 

Most of the reviews I've read made the game sound overly tedious, constantly treking back and forth to the room and the "ghosts" that can't be killed, only staked to the ground.

 

Returning to the room is the very point of the game! While exploring the third person environments the game doesn't really force you to return to the room except for a few instances when the storyline needs pushed forward. There are holes scattered throughout the levels that you can take at any time but the choice is yours. If you want to check to see if maybe a new sequence outside of your door unlocked you can do so. If you want to check on your sexy little nieghbor, then go ahead. I think people feel the need to return to the room every time they come upon one of the holes and well, you don't HAVE TO but the developers definitely push you to do so.

 

The game does force your return to empty items (which Jeff and I touched upon as being a bad thing) and also you'll need to return to further the story in between worlds but I can't emphasize enough that the apartment in general is the very best aspect of the game.

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I'll second Romier's recommendation that you start with Silent Hill 2. Not only is it an excellent game, but it will give you a good idea of what a "traditional" Silent Hill is like. As I mentioned in my review, part four is a bit of a departure from the others in terms of execution. If you want an idea of what first and third games are like, you'll know after Silent Hill 2.

 

Of course, I didn't exactly heed that advice myself. I started with three, went back to two, played through most of the original, and then played Silent Hill 4. Talk about playing them out of order...

 

Oh, and I will answer your question(s) later on Romier. I dont' have enough time to get into it right now (damn you, job!). Besides, I want to read that analysis you posted of Silent Hill 4's story before making any further comments.

 

EDIT: Actually, I can answer one question of yours right now. I managed to get the 21 Sacraments ending the first time through. I also managed to get Eileen's Death and Escape.

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Originally posted by FutureVoid@Sep 14 2004, 11:18 AM

Also what are your thoughts on the Ritual of Holy Assumption? One very big debate that has been raging on since the games release is whether or not it was Walter that actually killed himself in prison. Most believe that it was a decoy which allowed Walter to actually kill himself in the storage room of the apartment. (I do not believe this.). I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

To answer that question, I turn to this passage from "The Descent of the Holy Mother -- The 21 Sacraments:"

 

The First Sign

And God said,

At the time of fullness, cleanse the world with my rage.

 

Now, I'm going to interpret this passage very literally. When it says, "cleanse the world with my rage," I take that to mean rid the world of 10 sinners. In other words, these are the first 10 victims Walter kills. It goes on:

 

Gather forth the White Oil, the Black Cup and the Blood of the Ten Sinners.

Prepare for the Ritual of the Holy Assumption.

The Second Sign

And God said,

Offer the Blood of the Ten Sinners and the White Oil.

Be then release from the bonds of the flesh, and gain the Power of Heaven.

 

So, we know that the White Oil and the Black Cup along with the blood of the Ten Sinners is needed to complete the ritual. However, Walter did not have those things with him in his cell when he supposedly committed suicide. How could he have completed the ritual in his prison cell if the materials he needed were in the storage room in 302, as we discover at the end of the game? To answer that question, I turn to the memo Superintendent?s Diary (Man with the Coat):

 

I had that weird dream today.

The one with the man with the long hair and coat. He was crying and looking for his mother again.

I saw that man with the coat 10 years ago at this apartment.

He was going up the stairs, carrying a heavy tool, and old-looking bowl and a bag that was dripping blood.

I never saw him again after that.

But a few days later, the neighbors complained that they heard strange noises coming from the supposedly empty Room 302.

So I took a look around Room 302 and found signs that someone had been in there, but nothing odd other than that.

 

Taking this into account, it's obvious that the man with the coat was Walter Sullivan and he was carrying the Black Cup, the White Oil, and the Blood of the Ten Sinners. My guess is that he broke into the then-vacant room 302 and performed the Ritual of Holy Assumption. The end result of this was that he gained the "Power of Heaven" and was no longer bound by his flesh, as "The Descent of the Holy Mother" indicates would happen once the Holy Assumption had been performed.

 

I also noticed while playing the game that Walter could be harmed and taken down for a short time. During the second run through the Apartment World, I kept running into him in that one room (206, I think). I found, however, that a few rounds of the revolver would "kill" him. Unfortunately, because he had completed the ritual, it didn't stick. When I left the room and came back, he would be revived as if I had never fired a shot into his body.

 

I think what may have happened is that Walter was captured by the police before he could complete the 21 Sacraments. Since it would be impossible for him to finish the job locked away in a prison cell, he faked his own death to get out of prison. As I just noted however, fleshly wounds would have no affect on him in the long run. Once his body was removed from the prison, he could continue his mission and do it without the police on his trail. This would also explain why Joseph Schrieber didn't find a body in Walter's grave.

 

Who, then, is hanging on the cross in the storage room of apartment 302? I'm willing to bet that it's Joseph Schrieber himself. How about you?

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Originally posted by FutureVoid@Sep 15 2004, 10:22 AM

Jeff, I'll be responding to your theory a bit later, I just woke up and want to gather my thoughts a little more on the subject. Thanks for the interesting read though! :tu:

Excellent, Romier! I can't wait to read your response and perhaps get your own theories on the matter.

 

By the way, I also finsihed off Silent Hill last night. If Sly 2: Band of Thieves doesn't completely consume my free time when I get home from work tonight, I'll try to post something about it in the Boneyard. Please, don't ask me about the story though. You were right; I have not frickin' clue what's going on there! (Although some of the online write-ups do clear things up a bit.)

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Played about an hour last night and it really made me feel... :shock:

Although it has some elements I don't really care for (the "floating dead"), it has given me a real uncomfortable feeling playing it, and it being close to autumn that ain't a bad thing! Sets up the Halloween time of year perfectly.

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Ok, I just returned from Forest World for the 1st time from the Toluca Lake hole. I've only played for about 90 minutes but I already like The Room way more than SH3. THe game is very refreshing. The peep hole in the wall and door is way cool. Interesting that no one can hear me outside my apartment. The game is very creepy, especially that manequin you get the tokens from.

 

The combat controls seem worst than the past games. Running is still the best option. I like how puzzles are pretty much non-existent. Also love the landlords name. :)

 

Can't wait to play some more.

 

One last note, this game rocks the SVS. The bass in this game is out of this world. :tu:

 

-Dean-

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Originally posted by RingWraith@Sep 17 2004, 07:09 PM

The combat controls seem worst than the past games. Running is still the best option.

Believe me, if you want to have a shot at getting one of the better ending of the game, you'll want to fight the bad guys later on. Although there is this one trick I read about that could help. :D

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Finally getting around to posting some theories and my apologies for not answering earlier Jeff. This is going to be lengthy so be prepared. Let me first begin with a passage from Silent Hill 2 which you may be familiar with:

 

"The police announced today that Walter Sullivan, who was arrested on the 18th of this month for the brutal murder of Billy Locane and his sister Miriam, committed suicide in his jail cell early on the morning of the 22nd. According to the police statment, Sullivan used a soup spoon to stab himself in the neck, severing his carotid artery. By the time the guard discovered him, Sullivan was dead from blood loss, the spoon buried two inches in his neck.

 

An old schoolmate of Walter Sullivan's from his hometown of Pleasant River said "He didn't look like the type of guy who would kill kids. But I do remember that just before they arrested him he was blurting out all sorts of strange stuff like "He's trying to kill me. He's trying to punish me. The monster... the red devil. Forgive me. I did it, but it wasn't me!" The schoolmate then added "I guess now that I think of it, he was kinda crazy.

 

This is the piece of newspaper that James finds in the trash compactor and is the first time we're introduced to the character of Walter Sullivan. The first thing that I want to focus on is the "The Red Devil" part of the passage. Alot of people have mistakingly equated Walter seeing the "Red Devil" as him having seen Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2. For anyone thats read the translation of The Lost Memories of Silent Hill book however, you will know that is false. The developers have noted that Pyramid Head is a demonic manifestation created by James. It is his very own punishment demon. Also of note in the Lost Memories book is that Pyramid Head is said to be the demon known as Valtiel (the valve turning demon in Silent Hill 3) taking on a different physical form. Valtiel, as noted in an earlier passage I posted is an attendant. To quote the book:

 

In short, he is the being that attends to and watches over God. For the

purpose of carrying out his duty

 

In the case of Silent Hill 3 it was to protect the holy mother (ie Heather). In Silent Hill 2 it was to torment James for the sins he committed. In the original Silent Hill he is not an active player, but his presence could still be felt:

 

In the school's otherworld, a number of body-shaped figures can be seen. If one looks closely, it becomes clear that there is something familiar about what

the figure is wearing. What looks like a body bag is actually the ceremonial

robe of the town's religion. This robe is modeled after the appearance of an

angel from Silent Hill's traditions, namely Valtiel.

 

Another quote taken from the Lost Memories book. How does Valtiel make his presence felt in Silent Hill 4? To see the connection we need to take a look at the victim files I posted earlier. More specifically we need to take a look at one victim in particular:

 

victim: Jimmy Stone

occupation: Priest of Valtiel

sex/feature: middle aged white male, muscular

height/weight: 190 cm, 85 kg

hobby: darts(playing darts?)

other: nicknamed as "Red Devil"

theme of murder: ten hearts

way murdered: shot on the back of his head by a gun

location murdered: 1st floor in the Hope House, Silent Hill

thing left behind: shred of scripture(at the spot)

 

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"Jimmy Stone created Valtiel sect to mediate between Saint Mother sect and Saint Ladies sect and he became a priest of Valtiel sect. Valtiel sect is closer to the God and their ethics is to worship Valtiel which also means executioner. Jimmy was killed with a gun and his body was found in the Hope House which was managed by Saint Mother sect. Ironically, his right-hand-man George Rosten's body was found in the Hope House too."

 

Notice the nickname? The Lost Memories book notes that the ceremonial garbs The Order use to perform thier rituals and ceremonies is a red robe with a triangular shaped hood. The connection in Silent Hill 4 is two fold. First of all if you remember near the end of the game Henry finds a note relating to Walters father (and a drawing of him). That denotes to me that Walters' father was a big part of the cult and the visage of his father can be seen hanging on the roof of the apartment complex (hence the ties to Valtiel and more importantly the Valtiel sect).

 

Reading through the victim files and other interviews with the devs, it's apparent to me that Stone was one of Walters' teachers at Wish House and may have been the one that showed Walter the passage of the 21 Sacraments. It's then no suprise that Jimmy was victim number 01121 (ie the first victim).

 

Which leads me to Walter and his time in prison. He was arrested shortly after the bodies of Bill and Miriam Locaine were found (victims 7 and 8) and had already killed victims 9 and 10. It was after the Ritual of Holy Assumption (years later) that victim 11 was found. I believe that Jimmy Stone is the second connection to Valtiel in Silent Hill 4. He was the priest that created the Valtiel sect and is who I believe Walter sees as "The Red Devil". Perhaps Silent Hill had taken some effect on Walter by that point in his murdering spree. Instead of facing the fact that he was a murderer (like James) he blamed the demons of Silent Hill for the murders of the children. The demon in queston I would imagine was a manifestation of Stone (his possible mentor and first victim). No doubt the only problem with this theory is that Walter had a singular vision. These were not murders of passion. Every crime Walter committed was done so to further his goal of reuniting with his "mother". Why would he try to push blame away from himself? Perhaps being arrested was not exactly on his timetable. Walter was not a stable human being to begin with and being captured maybe triggered some form of desperation in him causing him to attempt a form of insanity so that he would be able to continue the 21 sacraments.

 

Either way (and both theories are plausible IMHO) I do feel that it was Walter who killed himself in prison. It was not a decoy. Walters body is also the crucified body hanging in room 302 but the question is why? What really interests me about the body in the storage room is the amount of supplies around it. It appears that is the room where the Ritual of Holy Assumption was done. The refrigerator (to keep the hears) and the flasks on the table etc. Mind you this is all speculation on my part but I believe Walters body was necessary in creating the alternate dimension that Henry finds himself in. I think perhaps the ritual required two parts and not just one. Walter freeing himself of the flesh was completed when he shoved a spoon in his throat and killed himself. Keep in mind that Walter died in Silent Hill and was an active participant in the order. Before he was captured I think he moved the supplies into room 302 (the oil, hearts etc.) and when he was freed of his human form he removed his own body from the grave (carving 11121 on the coffin) and completed the ritual to create another world.

 

Around that time Joseph Schrieber was already investigating the goings on at Wish House and found himself in the South Ashfield Hieghts apartment complex (not by accident mind you.) I believe both Joseph and Henry were called to that building and this is supported by Henry's thoughts when he examines the photo of South Ashfield.

 

The ten hearts Walter used in the original Ritual explain why the spirits of his first 10 victims are haunting Henry. They all attack Henry by plunging thier hands into Henry's chest. Seemingly to rip out his heart. I don't think that is a coincidence. Every victim Walter killed afterwards follow the rules of the alternate world. To quote the text:

 

Anyone caught in that world will remain there as a spirit for eternity

 

Explaining why Cynthia and the others returned to haunt Henry.

 

Anyway I'll stop now as my fingers hurt and so does my brain. Looking forward to reading any retorts/replies to my theories.

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I wanted to also comment on The Room itself and how it fits into the overall storyline or more importantly what exactly Walter was trying to accomplish. Jeff mentioned this earlier and I would like to expand on it some.

 

The Room is a metaphor. The game is in fact full of metaphor which is not all together different from the other games in the series. Walter returning to Room 302 is in his mind the equivalant of returning to the womb. The sordid history of his past, the conversations you are privy to by listening to each hanging body in the second run through of the apartment world makes it clear (at least to me) why his parents abandoned him. Consider the fact that Henry and Eileen are caught in the middle of Walters' own world. This world that he created is almost completely built on emotion. At the end as you descend deeper into "him" you get to his very emotional core. You get to the hate he has for his parents for what they did to him as well as the brainwashing he underwent while being imprisoned in the Water Prison and Wish House. I believe the whole emphasis here is that in Walters own mind he should never have been born. What better way to correct that than to return to the womb or in this case Room 302, the place where his life both began and ended.

 

The ending sequence with Henry descending below the cross is very direct in its meaning. Henry awakens in a red room, in the fetal position no less. This is a very visual metaphor for the uterus IMHO. He falls further and reaches the final creature which is essentially a monstrous fetus. More specifically it is how Walter sees himself. A monster from the very instant of birth. He promises his last shred innocence/humanity (or in this case, little Walter) that he will get them back to thier "mother" and all the pain will have ended.

 

People say the story of this game is lacking. I disagree completely. It has the depth and emotional content that I have come to expect from Silent Hill (and that Silent Hill 3 lacked IMHO). I have said it many times over in various threads on various forums; you are not meant to care for Henry, Eileen, Cynthia, Jasper. They are nothing but numbers. Victims meant to fulfill thier role. In teh beginning you care about finding out why Henry is trapped in Room 302 and once that has been revealed the game shifts it's focus to the true main character, Walter Sullivan. The entire emotional wieght of the storyline falls on Walter at that point and continues on throughout the rest of the game.

 

I really do enjoy this particular Silent Hill the more I play it. It has surpassed both 3 and the original Silent Hill to become my second favorite of the series. Go Konami. :tu:

 

Paging Jeff! :D

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I just skipped your last post Romier because I am only up to the Hospital World. ;)

 

So far I am really enjoying the story. It ranks right up there with Silent Hill 2. However, the scares and uneasiness of the series just isn't there in The Room. The game still has a great atmosphere, but I just don't get that 'I wanna turn the lights on" feeling while playing it. What does keep me coming back to the game though is the story. The developers have really hit a home run so far with it. It reminds me of Identity, the film with John Cusack. So far my favorite world has been the Underwater Prison.

 

The one thing that really creeped me out was after receivng the doll from that blonde dude on the apartment stairs, he then showed up in the regular world....just staring through my peephole in my front door. For some reason that creeped me out. Probably because I wasn't expecting that. Oh, and little Walter also does a decent job of creating uneasiness. I also love the little touches of the handprints increasing on the wall outside your door when someone else dies. And I did like the "Check on your neighbor" message that appeared there before entering the Apartment World.

 

-Dean-

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wanted to post this for those who are not aware of it:

 

http://www.translatedmemories.com/index.html#book

 

This is a seriously useful page in a number of ways. They have the fully translated victim files for Silent Hill 4. Reading each file after completing the game will be most beneficial in broadening your understanding of the story. The "Lost Memories" book translation area is a *MUST READ* for anyone wanting to understand the story of the original Silent Hill as well as some insightful creator commentary on the characters/creatures.

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Just finished it tonight. It's tough to say whether SH4 is better or worse than SH3, but it's definately several notches below the first two games. SH3 was extremely scary, but didn't back it up with a good story. SH4 on the other hand, offers a decent enough story, but the fear factor is almost gone.

 

The obvious culprits are lighting, audio, and poor monster design. Doing away with the flashlight was a huge mistake, as being able to see monsters all the way down the hall kills the tension. Audio effects accompany monsters to a much lesser degree, so while you might get a quick jump from the relatively silent "twin-baby" that snuck up on you, the psychological terror is gone. The scariest part of SH1-3 was slowly advancing forward, barely able to see, while the audio cues ramped up, letting you know that you were getting closer and closer to something horrible.

 

The moths, leeches, and fungus weren't even remotely scary, and the ghosts just seemed campy and silly because of the way they floated. Dogs have a "been there, killed that" sense of deja vu. The monkeys, wall monsters, and twin babies were decent, but didn't disturb on the same level as past enemies.

 

As far as gameplay goes, SH4 is a clear worst in the series. As I played through the first half of the game, I thought reviewers were being petty when they complained about going to the Room too much. However, the second half was absolutely maddening with the constant trips to return bullets, candles, health items, etc. to the item box. I saved every time I had to go back, and I have 60+ saves on my slot. The combat was also a step back from SH3, which was the best in the series. Beating down enemies doesn't feel nearly as visceral with the new system, and Eileen is constantly in the way. Just trying to coax her to stop fighting with an unkillable ghost and come through the doorway is a game in and of itself. The puzzles are sorely missed in SH4. Everything is either a fetch quest, or spelled out so obviously that there's no satisfaction in solving it.

 

The actual structure of the game is pretty interesting and I'll give Konami credit for trying something new, but it didn't really work for me. It was nice to see a new set of "rules" in place but it worked to the detriment of the game IMO. In earlier games, there was a relatively set structure of light world>>>dark world>>>rinse and repeat at next locale. It's nice to have things mixed up a bit, but I miss the tension of going through a creepy area, knowing that when I reach the end, I'll have to go back through and things will be twice as bad. SH4 takes you through the areas twice in linear sequence, but unfortunately the areas are mostly unchanged the second time through. "Dark" worlds the second time through would have been welcome, and also would have fit within the plot better, but I have a feeling the game was rushed. Sticking new fetch quests in mostly unaltered areas was a cheap way to extend the length. Was I supposed to get satisfaction from putting the birthday candles on........the birthday cake or putting a volleyball in the......bin full of volleyballs? I can't even describe the complex thought processes that lead me to decide that the cue ball might actually go on.....the pool table.

 

Fortunately it's not all negative. The puzzles where you had to return to your room were pretty clever, although a bit too obvious. They would have added a lot to the game if the item descriptions didn't outright tell you to go back to your room and do something. Still, a good idea, and I also liked the apartment becoming infested.

 

 

This brings me to the most important part of any Silent Hill game: the story. It's a definate cut above SH3 where I knew almost exactly what was going to happen when I saw the first screenshots, but it's missing the mystery of SH1 and the character of SH2. While there are a few plotholes in SH4, analyzing and solving them won't really change the scope of what happened. SH1, on the other hand, forced you to work just to get a basic idea of what happened, and even once you figure that out, there are still other unsolved mysteries. SH2 was pretty cut and dry, but it featured a huge plot twist and excellent characters. In addition to the main characters, the supporting cast was well fleshed out.

 

In SH4, you don't find out much about any of the characters, save Walter. If Henry and Eileen had been given even semblances of personalities, the game would have been much more compelling. This goes double for the murder victims, none of which I was really concerned for. Had the victims been developed like the supporting characters of SH2, I'd probably be raving about the story. It wouldn't have been that hard either since the identities of the victims weren't all that relevant to the overall plot. For example, the detective from SH3 could have been used in place of the character that eats it in the store complex level, and it would have instantly piqued my interest.

 

The plot was pretty good, especially in the way it was advanced through the use of the Room. While the whole thing isn't wildly open to interpretation, it was still pretty interesting. It would have been really interesting if Henry himself inadvertantly committed the murders (ie: an ill-timed move of a subway cart crushes cynthia, henry accidentally burns down the wishhouse, henry inadvertantly floods the victim's cell in the prison, elevator shenanigans crush the victim in the 4th area. Then there would be some tension as to if Henry was Walter, or perhaps posessed by him. Cool idea for the last boss, and I like the way Eileen's damage taken throughout the game came into play.

 

On the whole, a pretty good game and generally enjoyable experience, but there's a certain standard I expect from a Silent Hill game and SH4 didn't meet it. Generally sequels in a series should improve on their predecessors, but it's pretty tough to make a case that SH3 and SH4 are better than either of the first 2 games.

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