When I first played Silent Hill 4: The Room, I’ll admit, I didn’t like it much. But a few years later, I picked it back up and played through it with Angela. I ended up not just enjoying the experience, but being terrified of the experience. Big thanks to my editor, Chris, at Tor.com for letting me talk about my experience in time for Halloween.
“Silent Hill 4: The Room is the best Silent Hill game after the second one and one of the most original horror games ever developed. If SH4 hadn’t been part of the Silent Hill series, it’d probably be considered one of the most unique games in the genre. Part of what makes it so distinct is that it goes against the formula of what we’d come to expect of the series. Many gamers, including myself, were initially turned off by how drastically it had changed. But once the expectations faded, a horrifying experience awaited, unrelenting in its oppressive terror…
As much as I enjoyed parts of Homecoming, Downpour, SH3, and Origins, they felt more or less the same games, only rehashed. In short, protagonist has issues in Silent Hill, an evil cult causes a whole lot of trouble, and we wish we’d never entered the hellishly foggy suburbia. Revelations uncover a dark past that can be resolved in a number of different ways. Awesome sound effects and music from Akira Yamaoka (and Daniel Licht for Downpour and Memories) scare the crap out of us. Occasionally, a UFO reveals its grand machination to take over the world. Rinse and repeat.
SH4 began as a side story with loose connections to the series before becoming a full-fledged sequel. Because of its tangential origins, Team Silent was able to experiment and innovate on some of the core ideas in the series, sometimes scrapping them altogether. The Room’s biggest achievement is that it makes mundane, every day living, horrifying. At least with the previous three Silent Hill games, I felt like I was transported to a place that was far away, a slice of American life seen through the prism of Japanese developers.”