Silent Hill 4: The Room E3 2004 Hands-On Impressions

We got to spend some disturbing moments with the latest game in the Silent Hill series.


In a genre traditionally populated by groaning zombies and shattering windows, the Silent Hill series has represented a wholly different sort of scare--the psychological thriller. We were recently able to cozy up to Silent Hill 4: The Room at Konami’s E3 booth, and fans will be pleased (or perhaps unsettled) to learn that the traditional, often deeply disturbing formula appears to be in full effect.

In Silent Hill 4, you take on the role of a man named Henry Townsend, who wakes one day to find himself trapped in his apartment. Gradually, you’ll begin to find “portals” in the room that will enable you to visit an alternate dimension, and you’ll eventually be able to piece together why it is you were trapped and what exactly is going on. The game will shift perspective depending on your current location in “reality”. When inside Henry’s apartment, you’ll see everything through his eyes in a first-person view, and when you leave through a portal, things will switch to a third-person perspective.

When we first arrived in Henry’s apartment, it was clear what was keeping us from leaving--Henry’s front door was locked shut from the inside with multiple loops of chain. Behind the chain--on the door--we were able to discern the words “Don’t go out!! Walter” printed hastily on its surface in red. We still don’t know who Walter is or why he chained Henry into his apartment, but it’s one of the mysteries that will be revealed as you progress through the game.

When moving around the apartment in first-person view, a small icon in the shape of an eye would appear in a corner of the screen when we came upon an item we could investigate or something else of interest. We could gaze out of our clouded, dirty window to the street below, watching (apparently) ordinary people milling about the streets and going about their business in the apartment building across the way. There was also a small hole in one of our walls that we could use to peek into the neighboring apartment. A woman named Eileen lived next door, but it wasn’t until we entered the alternate dimension that we were actually able to meet her.

The portal was an actual, gaping, dark hole in a wall of the apartment that we could travel through by just climbing inside. The outside area that we were able to visit was what appeared to be an abandoned, dilapidated playground. In the middle of the area was a wheelchair with a man-sized doll in it, bereft of its limbs and head. We found a slip of paper near the doll imploring us to find its pieces and put it back together. While in this area, we were trailed by our neighbor Eileen, who appeared to be quite the worse for wear. Her arm was in a sling, she was limping, and her clothes were in disarray, revealing a large area of her back exposed that looked as if it had been beaten or flogged. Faintly among the welts, there was a four-digit number. Apparently, this number will be significant at some later part in the game.

Pressing the D pad allowed us to cycle through a number of weapons for Henry that we had in our inventory. We could either swing the weapon or hold a button down to fill a charge meter that enabled us to enact a heavy attack, though the recovery time for the charged attack was increased. We didn’t encounter any enemies in the build of the game that we played, though the environments we got to see managed to be plenty creepy on their own.

Silent Hill 4: The Room is currently scheduled for release in the fall of this year and will appear on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles as well as on the PC. For more information on this game, please check out our previous coverage.

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