My first take on the Silent Hill series; I was impressed by its power to induce critical thinking skills & patience.
"The Room" is an extension of the happenings at the mysterious town of Silent Hill. As Henry Townshend, players get the opportunity to explore the dated outbursts of death and destruction in the deepest cultist underground of the said town. It's a series of 'find this and read it' and 'don't get killed and don't kill the man who's stalking you'. It's really mundane, judging by the fact that whatever element in a game that moves and is hostile to your character, you must kill it. It's also a long stretch to its own sense, and I'm really not sure if the story of this game made sense at all.
An evil force haunts your apartment, and the nearby rooms are also involved [even a stuffed bunny seems like a sinister character in the story's plot]; Henry's locked in his own room, and there's chains all over the doorframe; he can't go out the window because they're 'shut tight' [why won't he just smash 'em to smithereens?] and all he has in his ref is a bottle of milk that's supposedly stale. Things can't get any better than this, can they? Well, scary apparitions start to come out of Henry's walls, and while we're on the 'wall' subject, a nasty hole appears on his bathroom tiles! So, with nowhere else to go, and no other crevice to crawl into, Henry's, as well as the player's, choice leads to squeezing his way into the enigmatic hole, which is surprisingly round and not randomly plowed. It's actually the gates to the alternate world influenced by the forces surrounding Silent Hill. Cue in unwashed cat-dogs and 'lost' people.
Remarkably, this game does depict the horror of Silent Hill, even when Henry's on the 'real world'. The superb use of light and shadows puts 'color' into the dark essence of the game. Blood is frequent here, as with all Silent Hill games, and the character animations and design are notable. The set pieces are very detailed, the enemies all look gross, but overly done in my opinion [a two-headed giant baby that walk on its hands?] and the overall feel of the visual presentation of the game is nicely done.
This game aims to initiate a bad feeling of claustrophobia and panic to people and that goal is well hidden yet magnificently delivered through the outstanding level designs, murky and filthy sets, and sudden visual surprises that'll leave you laughing at yourself because you fell for one of their scare tactics.
This is one visually entertaining game, and it is obviously not for kids. It may instill in them a sudden fear of pink-colored stuffed toys with big eyes and pointy ears.
Distant moans, nearby groans, the wind beating on the trees, the eerie sound of 'ghost-static'; this is the trademark sound design of Konami in the making of Silent Hill games. That element is faithfully present in this game, though sometimes the lack of an intuitive musical score makes the game feel incomplete, especially during the battles and the final boss fight; I mean who wants to fight a baddie without the sound of a cello abysmally winding its way into a sexual climax?
There's a song here that sounds like one of Johnny Cash's pieces; it's great, though. Most of the sounds heard here are muted grunts and the 'ghost-static' that fails to induce panic to gamers.
It's the first Silent Hill that features an inventory system that won't pause the game, which means that whenever there's a battle, changing weapons would be on the fly. This is great for this game, and is really essential because when this game fails to scare people with its sound design, it would certainly put some critical thinking on what weapons to use and when to drink those Nutri-drinks which are scarce in supply. The puzzles, although great in their sense, feel so stagnant and dragging. The camera system isn't helping much either. It's the same-y video cam on the wall that follows the character wherever he goes.
Each section of the game is one big puzzle broken down into tiny puzzle-etes so expect to explore every room, every corner and every space in the section until you find every single key to advancing in the game and in the story. And that's tiresome work. There's also this multiple ending feature in the game, four to be exact and the requirements to get the best ending are of great mystery to everyone who has ever played this game. So, multiple endings are very negatively met by the gaming community, especially when the grounds to attaining the best one seem like major bugs in the game.
Don't get me wrong; this installment in the Silent Hill series is not a complete let-down. Loyalists of this game will definitely love the new direction, the puzzles and the story, while other gamers will undoubtedly become converts when they finish this game and will want to play the rest of the series' offerings. Though a little off in variety and a bit tiresome, this game presents solid gaming that'll prove to be worthy in the eyes of gamers.