Video Game: Silent Hill 4

"Don't go out!!"
Walter

A popular rumor about Silent Hill 4: The Room — the fourth game in Konami's Silent Hill franchise, and the first to receive a subtitle — says Konami originally conceived it as a wholly original Survival Horror game, but converted into a Silent Hill game during development. In actuality, Konami intended for it to serve as a spinoff/separate Gaiden Game from Team Silent called Room 302. After Konami nixed this plan, it incorporated elements of that game into SH4, which explains why it has several differences in gameplay to previous Silent Hill games (including an on-screen health bar, limited inventory space, and a number of first-person sections).

Henry Townshend lives in Room 302 of the South Ashfield Heights apartment complex. One day, he wakes up to discover that he has become trapped in his own apartment: He can't open any of the windows, his telephone doesn't work, nobody outside of the apartment can hear his cries for help, and multiple chains and locks have sealed off his door from the inside. A short message written on the door in what appears to be blood begs Henry not to go outside.

Henry spends 5 days trapped inside his apartment, plagued by recurring nightmares every time he sleeps. Just before he gives up all hope of escape, a hole appears in his bathroom wall. Henry decides that crawling inside the hole beats staying in the apartment, so he slips into the wall...and ends up teleported to various locations around the town of Silent Hill. These locations, all infected by an evil power that seems to eat away at its surroundings, force Henry to defend himself various monsters and ghouls that pursue him for unknown reasons. In each location Henry goes to, he always finds one other person trapped in there with him — and that person always dies.

The same power haunting Silent Hill appears to have taken up stalking what few living humans Henry manages to meet in this strange otherworld before killing them in a ritualistic fashion. What purpose do these killings have, and how do they tie into Harry's attempts to escape Room 302?

The true horror of SH4 comes from the eponymous room itself. Room 302 initially serves as Henry's only safe haven — he can heal injuries and store items found during his excursions — but as his journey into madness deepens, his apartment becomes overtaken by the evil power haunting him in Silent Hill. The room eventually degenerates into something sentient and demonic that will actively hurt Henry unless he can exorcise the forces invading his apartment and defend his last bastion of safety and sanity.

SH4 has loose ties to previous Silent Hill games: Names and locations briefly mentioned in memos found during past games are fully realized in this game, and the father of James Sunderland (from Silent Hill 2) works as South Ashfield Heights' superintendent.


Silent Hill 4: The Room contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The game features a variant. During the final battle, Eileen will make an Unflinching Walk towards the giant death machine in the middle of the room. Letting her die means you'll see either the "Eileen's Death" or "The 21 Sacraments" endings.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Silent Hill Smile Support Society (4S).
  • All Just a Dream: This is subverted to hell and back the first few times Henry returns to his room via the holes.
  • An Axe to Grind: If you get it, the rusty axe gives you a high-damage attack, reasonable range, good swing speed, and an impressive charge attack. It is arguably the best weapon in the game.
  • And I Must Scream: Joseph. And he does as the game begins.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A variant in that it's not the Player Character who gets extra costumes; Eileen and Cynthia have unlockable alternate costumes.
  • Anti-Villain: You can't help but feel bad for Walter when you realize just how much his life sucks.
  • Artistic License Biology: Very minor case: the umbilical cord is technically Walter's flesh, not his mother's.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Walter Sullivan was mentioned in Silent Hill 2 in a newspaper clipping. Expanding and rewriting his role has resulted in some continuity problems when you compare him as described in the clipping to the way he's portrayed in this game.
      • There's also the twin victims mentioned in the same clipping.
    • Joseph Schreiber wrote an article about the cult's orphanage in Silent Hill 3.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Richard Braintree doesn't engender a whole lot of sympathy in his brief appearances.
    • Andrew DeSalvo doesn't display any jerkass behaviour towards Henry when they meet, but if you check out the in-game notes and supplementary material, you'll find out that he more than deserves what happens to him: Andrew was a guard at the already-horrific Water Prison who went out of his way to abuse the children there. He forced a young Walter to drink water with leeches in it, and possibly killed Walter's only friend.
  • Back from the Dead: All victims of Walter Sullivan, including himself, return as ghosts or monsters. One of the apartment hauntings is even a projection of what Henry's ghost will look like if he gets the "21 Sacraments" Bad Ending.
  • Batter Up: Later in the game, an aluminum bat can be found as a slower, shorter but more powerful replacement for the pipe. It probably won't see much use, though, as you can get the Rusty Axe shortly afterward.
  • Bloody Handprint: You can see a whole bunch of them on the wall opposite to your apartment through the peephole. The initial count is 15 prints; more appear as people start dropping dead.
  • Camera Screw: This game suffers what just might be the worst case of this in the entire franchise. Sometimes the camera follows Henry; sometimes it's fixed at a certain point, and you have to manually get it to focus on Henry again. Combined with Tank Controls, and the direction the controls take you being relative to the camera, it makes even the less tense moments of the game so needlessly frustrating.
  • Charge Meter: Interestingly, this game puts a large focus on Henry charging his moves up, to the point that this is the only thing on the HUD aside from his health bar.
    • Charge Attack: As stated above, a large part of combat. Henry can do the standard build up charge and strike, but he can also build charge over consecutive strikes. This means as he attacks, the charge will continue to build, allowing him to combo into a strong attack. Also, the time it takes to charge is proportional to the weight of the equipped weapon.
  • Companion Cube: The apartment itself is this to Walter. Deconstructed? Definitely.
  • Creepy Child: Young Walter.
  • Creepy Doll:
    • Turns out, taking dolls from serial killers is a very bad idea.
    • Robbie the Rabbit points an accusing finger at you if you peek into Eileen's room after she's beaten half to death by Walter.
    • There's also the dismembered, wheelchair-bound doll Henry has to fix during his second visit to the woods. After it's rebuilt, it suddenly comes to life and rolls itself away to reveal a staircase it was previously blocking.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Walter's messages are scrawled in blood.
  • Decoy Protagonist: At the beginning of the game, you are actually playing as Joseph Schreiber, gone mad from the room's influence, wandering through Henry's apartment and wondering where all the new items have come from.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Room 302 of the past.
  • Depth Deception: One room in the Water Prison's basement does this. On Henry's first time there, it leads to a locked door that's absurdly huge and is too big for Henry to open. The second time, however, the corridor leading to that very same door is now stretched to a certain length so that by the time Henry and Eileen make it to the other side, it's just the right size for them to go through. However, this time around, there are six Twin Victims blocking the way.
  • Did I Say That Out Loud: After Eileen and Frank's unsuccessful attempt to open up Henry's apartment door, Frank casually mentions that this situation has happened before — and, more awkwardly, that he keeps a dried-up umbilical cord in his room. Frank quickly tells Eileen to disregard that latter fact afterward. The player shouldn't, though — it's actually a Chekhov's Gun.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The game was initially conceived as a gaiden game, but was made an official part of the series in the midst of development.
  • Doomed by Canon: All of the new-type victims.
    • Walter's adult form dies in every ending. Even the one where he wins. Though there is Dead All Along.
    • A pseudo-case in James Sunderland. His father, your superintendent, says he went to Silent Hill and never returned.
      • In James's case it's still up for debate as possible that he may still be alive. He may have stayed in the town in the Rebirth Ending, and Dena Natali theorized that James may have chosen to cut off all ties to his past in the other endings.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Played with: Henry can "leave" the apartment through a strange portal in his bathroom to enter the current level, but leaving the level by one of the portals available causes Henry to wake up back in his bed as if the experience was merely a dream. To emphasize how much of a Mind Screw this is, Henry tries taking Eileen with him, but ends up alone back in his apartment. When he returns, Eileen complains that she couldn't see the hole, and that he just suddenly disappeared.
  • Dull Surprise: Henry's the master of this trope, facing unimaginable horrors and gruesome murders with utter apathy on his face and in his voice. That boy needs some more iron in his diet.
    • It gets pretty hilarious at one point towards the end. Henry displays some genuine disgust after breaking down the wall to the secret room in his apartment, covering his nose and gagging uncomfortably at the smell. Once he sees the source of the odor — Walter's crucified, decaying body — he goes right back to being bored.
    • When Henry confronts Walter before the final battle, he slightly furrows his brow. Shit is about to get real!
  • Easter Egg: After using the Keys of Liberation, you can go back in the hole, walk aaalllllll the way back to Hospital World (backtracking a good 40% of the game) and find a Silver Bullet under Eileen's hospital bed.
  • Eldritch Location: The room. And, as revealed late in the game, everything else outside it, too.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Young Walter talks like this, and his influence upon Eileen causes her to adopt it if Henry lets her get attacked too much.
    "I'm scawed!"
  • Empty Fridge, Empty Life: After a mere five days of being trapped in his apartment, all Henry has in his fridge are a carton of chocolate milk and a bottle of wine.
  • Escort Mission: Half of the game — the second half — is one of these. On one hand, your escortee cannot be killed, and they can fight back if provided with a weapon. On the other hand, your escortee can still be hurt (the amount of damage taken affects the difficulty of the final battle), and providing her with a weapon will often lead to suicidal attacks on things that probably would be best avoided. For what it's worth, she becomes appropriately more defensive if you decide not to arm her.
    • The game toys with this trope when you meet Cynthia, whose escort in the beginning is mercifully cut short when she suddenly has to visit the ladies' room.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: This is Walter's entire motivation for becoming a Serial Killer.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: According to the Crimson Tome, even "The Order" — a cult that has no problems with drug trafficking, murder, torturing and mutilating children, and half a dozen other Moral Event Horizons — considers the 21 Sacraments "heretical".
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: If Elieen's injuries get very grave, her mumblings are subtitled as random symbols.
  • 555: The phone numbers that Henry dials for plot advancement.
  • Flash Step: As the only ghosts that walk rather than float, Richard and Walter can warp across rooms.
  • Foreshadowing: On your first venture into Apartment World, a cursory look at one of the rooms shows you that the other rooms appear larger than Henry's. One of Joseph's notes even mentions him sealing off the storage room. On entering Room 302 of the Past, one of the walls has a pickaxe embedded in it, with a note beside it saying, "Why must I destroy this wall?" Once Henry does break down the wall in his own room, he not only finds Walter's corpse, but also the Keys of Liberation which finally allow him to leave his room... and find himself back in Apartment World.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Eileen (unless you let her walk into the giant death machine during the final boss fight).
  • The Ghost: Joseph Schreiber. Literally. You finally get to talk to his spirit, embedded upside-down in the ceiling of Room 302 of the Past.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger:
    • The Twin Victim monsters. While you're out of their attack range, they're pointing at you.
    • Robbie the Rabbit. Tonight. You.
    • A shadow of a young boy will appear in the closet, point at you and cry.
    • Child Walter will also point out of the window in Richard's room. Eileen and Henry live more or less directly in that direction.
  • Guns Are Useless: This trope applies to the gameplay. Each full reload of a gun takes up one of ten inventory slots, and even for the basic handgun, rounds are somewhat rare throughout the entire game. One particular ammo type, Silver Bullets, can help subdue ghosts — but they're as rare as ampoules. (There are only two pickups of both throughout the entire game, not counting the Easter Egg.) But guns are not entirely useless, as handgun rounds can penetrate enemies.
  • High Voltage Death: Walter kills Richard Braintree by strapping him to an electric chair.
  • Hikikomori: Henry kinda counts, but not entirely of his own free will. His neighbors mention that he hardly leaves his room anyway, but since he's been locked in, they haven't seen him at all.
  • Hub Level: Room 302 serves as this. In the second half of the game, the apartment turns on you, so the various Worlds are connected via a spiral staircase.
  • Human Sacrifice: Walter is trying to complete a ritual called the 21 Sacraments to "purify" his "mother", which consists of killing 21 people based on certain characteristics about them. Including himself, halfway through.
  • Inn Security: You will soon learn to dread that apartment.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: Ghosts/Victims in The Room. They can damage Henry just by being near him.
  • I Want My Mommy: Walter's last words when Henry defeats him.
  • Jump Scare: There are a few. It is Silent Hill, after all. Accordingly, they're not the scariest parts of the game.
  • Kill 'em All: The "21 Sacraments" ending.
  • King Mooks: Cynthia, Jasper, Andrew, and Richard. Unlike the other ghosts, they possess long-range attacks and are more resilient. Here's hoping you have at least 4 out of the only 5 Swords of Obedience!
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Eileen survives Walter's murder attempt, and you eventually get the privilege of taking her with you all the way through your second run-through of all the previous levels.
  • Mind Screw:
    • Victim 21.
    • Having Eileen in the room with her giant head. Neither of the characters bat an eye or even react to it, which makes it eerier. And the heavy breathing and moaning, not to mention her eyes following Henry, doesn't help, either.
    • Henry can (initially) see and hear the outside world just fine while trapped in his apartment. This can make a player assume he's just been locked in (with perhaps some small supernatural push to keep anyone from hearing his calls for help). The world outside his window grows more desolate as the game progresses; when he finds the key that unlocks the front door, he stumbles out and discovers that his apartment has been in the otherworld the entire time. He is still somehow able to see the normal world from inside the apartment, though. What.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cynthia until she dies and becomes a malevolent ghost.
    • Cynthia and Eileen can have alternate costumes that have notable jiggle increases. And if you don't immediately trigger Cynthia's introductory cutscene by walking up to her, she's actually dancing while wearing her extra costume.
  • Multiple Endings: The game has four, and this marks the first Silent Hill to lack a joke ending:
    • "Escape" — Eileen survives and decides to move out of South Ashfield. To achieve this ending, Eileen must survive the fight with Walter, and Room 302 must be exorcised of all hauntings beforehand.
    • "Mother" — Eileen survives and decides to stay in South Ashfield. The ending's title implies that Walter might still be a future threat to both her and Henry...and that she isn't completely free of Walter's influence. For this ending, Eileen must survive the fight with Walter, and Room 302 must remain haunted.
    • "Eileen's Death" — Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Despite Henry exorcising Walter once and for all, Eileen succumbs to her injuries. To get this ending, Eileen must die and Room 302 must be fully exorcised.
    • "21 Sacraments" — Walter finally enters Room 302 after having killed Henry in brutal fashion. As with "Eileen's Death", Eileen dies from her wounds. Walter's still not smiling, though. To see this ending, Eileen must die and Room 302 must remain haunted.
  • Mundangerous: When Henry returns from the Hospital World, the ceiling fan in the living room collapses and the air becomes heavy. At this point, the room becomes more vulnerable to ghosts.
  • New Game+: Beating the game on Hard mode once unlocks One-Weapon Mode. In this mode, the hallway leading to Cynthia on your first entry into Subway World is filled with all the weapons found in the game, and you can take only one with you. Beating this mode will let you play All Weapons mode — Henry's trunk will contain all collectible weapons, as well as a decent amount of ammo for the guns.
  • Orphanage of Fear: So much so, it almost makes you feel sorry for Walter. Almost. Alessa is even mentioned in one note.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: And annoying as hell.
  • Perma Stubble: Both Henry and Walter are in dire need of a razor.
  • Pipe Pain: As par for the series' course, the first decent melee weapon you get is a broken length of pipe.
  • Powerful Pick: The most damaging weapon in the game, but slow as molasses.
  • Sanity Slippage: Eileen's dialogue and actions tend to shift quite a bit depending on how "damaged" she is; she'll be more and more "in tune" with Walter Sullivan, and in the worst case, he'll have pretty much overshadowed her own consciousness entirely. This can be (temporarily) mitigated, however, with a Holy Candle.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Looking through the peephole after Richard's death, you will see a message scrawled over the bloody handprints — " better check on your neighbor soon!" — just before Eileen gets brutally attacked.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sinister Subway: The one in this game includes a maze of half-opened and closed subway cars populated by unkillable ghosts who can phase between cars and damage you just by being near you. Fun times — doubly so when you're on the Escort Mission phase.
  • Speech Impediment: Jasper Gein's got a pretty bad stutter. Notably, after he's set on fire, he's not stuttering. Maybe he was cold.
  • Undead Child:
    • The two faced owls/dolls/monsters have the faces of two of Walter's child victims.
    • The fact that Walter is dead makes Young Walter this.
  • The Unfought: The Greedy Worm.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: That one room in the hospital (see the page picture). Whether alone or with Eileen, Henry has absolutely nothing to say about a freakishly large and familiar-looking head whose eyes follow Henry around, not to mention the incessant moaning. Unlike anyone who's ever played the game and stumbled into that...
  • Villain Protagonist: It becomes increasingly clear throughout the game that Walter is the main character and Henry is just an important co-star.
  • Wall Master: Almost to Goddamned Bats-level on That One Escalator.
    • There's more in the Prison World depending on which cell you enter.
  • Wham Episode: That cute next-door neighbor you've been watching throughout the first half of the plot is brutally attacked. From then on, your room will no longer automatically heal you, and you can also be affected by hauntings (worse if you accepted Walter's creepy doll).
  • Wild Wilderness: A few levels, notably the graveyard and outside the train station, fit this trope well. They are secluded, you fight monsters, and no one notices. Of course, it's also in another realm of existence, but still.
  • Yin-Yang Clash: If you boil it down, the story is about the battle between someone desperate to leave his apartment against someone who will do anything to get in. They just happened to meet at the door.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle/Hope Spot: Henry finally finds the keys to the padlocked front door in the coat pocket's of Walter's corpse — but when he goes through the door, he ends up back in the Otherworld.

"Guess I'll have to find a new place to live, huh?"