In celebration of All Hallows’ Eve, here’s the first of four scary-game reviews by GC writer and acclaimed scary person Meteo Xavier. Keep checking GameCola over the next few days for more!
I could’ve sworn I reviewed this game already…
Then again, that sort of mnemonic treachery fits perfectly with this kind of game. Maybe I did it in a dream? Maybe I did it in real life and the dream took form and removed my influence from its domain and erased it from GameCola? Maybe I’m just a butterfly dreaming I’m a mangina—who the hell knows. All I know for sure is that this game would’ve worked so much better as a movie or miniseries than it does as a game.
Enter the world of Henry Townshend, a world we never get to enter because the only thing we really know about him is that he woke up some time ago locked in his apartment, and though he can see the outside world, it is now perpendicular to whatever plane he’s on. Without a doubt, that’s one of the coolest ways to start a creepy super-psycho-horror story, and the creepiness and plot never let up, even for a moment. It’s far more interesting and entangled that Silent Hill 3’s universe. Harry must keep going to world after world as he tries to piece together this mystery that not even God can solve, at the same time trying to save the girl he spies on through a conspicuous gloryhole.
Now, if only it PLAYED well, we’d have one hell of a damn survival horror game. This game has a lot of the right elements, but almost none of them work well to your credit. I struggle to remember how I beat the game years ago.
The game unwisely ditches Silent Hill 3’s much better (though still not great) battle system. Henry’s conflict is based on one huge, misguided concept of how the odds are stacked against you: infinite enemies, finite chances. This sounds like a lot of games, but in a survival horror, where enemies don’t drop items, it’s damn crucial that, indeed, the danger becomes finite, too. Instead, halfway through the game, you start encountering ghosts that you can never truly get rid of. They don’t even have to touch you in order to damage you; they just have to be in the same area. Your weapons aren’t much help, still focusing on hand-to-hand instead of the almighty, all-useful bullet to get the job done. You get NO sanctuary in this game at all—even your apartment, once a place where you were genuinely safe and could restore health, becomes even worse than the areas you’re battling through!
Then there’s Eileen. “Whoa…” does not begin to describe how you have to cart around this half-dead women as a protectorate and battle partner at the same time. She never truly dies from enemies injuring her, but it will make a huge difference in the ending the more she gets hurt. There’s no way to truly heal her either, as anything you do is only (mindbogglingly) TEMPORARY. You’ll be screaming WTF at this game, but not because of the shocks and scares, I assure you.
By the end of the game, you’re basically doing it all. You have a handful of unkillable enemies following you, you have a mad man chasing you from room to room, you have a partner you can’t heal, you’re out of ammo and health items, and you’re scrambling from room to room to find that fucking ringing phone. It’s enough to make Balphomet turn in his grave.
And with this picture, you will, too.
My best advice for you to enjoy Silent Hill 4 is to find a dedicated list of playthrough videos on YouTube. Turn off the lights, pray you can understand a word of that Scottish fuck’s loud, fretless bass of a voice warbling over the game content you actually want to hear, pop some popcorn, fuck your girlfriend, and get ready for one hell of a show!
Only play this game on console if you’re too damn stupid to have any respect for yourself as a videogamer, and understand that if you’re expected to kill infinite enemies, you need to have infinite ammo and health reasonably at your disposal. It’s the Konami equivalent of a Pyramid Head scheme. This is not a perpetual motion, this is SPARTA!