Base-Breaking Character: The Boogeyman. Detractors, most notably The Real Silent Hill Experience feel that he's yet another rip-off of Pyramid Head in the vein of the Butcher from Origins to cash in on Pyramid Head's Wolverine Publicity. The concept, "a big monster with a heavy weapon who represents the player's hidden psychosis," is too similar to Pyramid Head. Other reviewers like Nitro Rad and Dena Natali felt that he was a much more original character with a different meaning in the plot and that while he's similar to Pyramid Head he's not an outright rip-off like The Butcher.
Best Level Ever: The final moment of gameplay involves Murphy, transformed into the Boogeyman, chasing Anne through the prison. All those Weeping Bats, Juggernauts and other nasties that got in your way? Flatten them.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: All the people Murphy meets in the town are either bound there due to their own sins or are a manifestation of Murphy's guilt. Except for the homeless guy found in the subway, who asks for a candy bar, a coat and a fishing rod as part of a sidequest, before opening up the glitchy subway doors and falling asleep/dying as part of a sidequest.
Broken Base: This being a Silent Hill game it was inevitable. But a big sticking point for many is how Murphy's past changes depending on the ending, with fans arguing back and forth if this was an interesting concept or just sloppy writing.
Critical Dissonance: Critics weren't kind to this game mainly due to technical issues and gameplay frustrations, but it got a rather positive fan reception thanks to putting the emphasis back on survival instead of combat and a storyline that was more remniscient of the older Team Silent entries without feeling rehashed.
Disappointing Last Level: Not to any severe degree, but the Prison increases the focus on combat and One-Hit Kill death traps, eschewing the atmosphere of the former stages somewhat.
Foe Yay: So much between Cunningham and Murphy. Especially when she talks about all the sick and disgusting things she debased herself with just to get Pendleton under her thrall...
Murphy and Sewell, even more so. The prison setting does not help one bit.
Goddamn Weeping Bats!: As well as Goddamn Screamers, Goddamn Dolls...half the enemies in the game, really...
Hell Is That Noise: As always, the enemies. The Dolls in particular have particularly chilling laughter and moans. The tortured cries of the Wall Corpses aren't any better.
Also of note is the Vader Breath of both the Bogeyman and the Wheelman.
The walkie-talkie. Sometimes it emits static when there aren't any enemies nearby (at least, none that you can see... yet), to add to the Paranoia Fuel.
Murphy's screams, especially when the Void damages him.
Of course, the radio, giving of bites of police chatter while monsters are trying to kick your ass.
It's Short, so It Sucks: Without the sidequests, the game will only last 4-5 hours. And the sidequests really only pad out the length due to the difficulty or trawling around the map looking for random items.
Moral Event Horizon: Sewell beating up Frank Coleridge in the game's Good endings and Murphy drowning his own son in the "Execution" ending.
Narm: Some of the sidequests, especially since it's almost unheard of to have something heartwarming happen in a Silent Hill game. Notables ones include scattering a woman's ashes on her favourite bench by the lake, and returning stolen items to the residents of an apartment block. Entering the old war vet's apartment him triggers stock gunfire and explosion noises to clue the player in on what item needs to be returned (a war medal). Returning the item makes a heroic wartime march theme play. The player will either smile happily or stifle a laugh.
The otherwise very spooky "Gramophone" sidequest ending with the banished spirit giving a "YURRRAAAAGGGH" Stock Scream.
One that can happen at random: a grotesque Weeping Bat falling down from the sky would be a heck of a lot scarier if its skin texture had finished loading yet, and if it looked less like an anorexic clown and more like a bat.
Or their goofy vaudeville-esqe walk animation.
The appearance of the void that chases Murphy in the otherworld for some players. The concept is frightening, but the thing itself looks like an unfinished explosion graphic. It doesn't really help that it doesn't have a visible effect on the environment other than certain objects despite supposedly being an all-consuming black hole.
Paranoia Fuel: The surprise loading-screen hints seem specifically designed for this purpose; Say you have a girlfriend and suddenly the game says "She's lying to you". Maybe you have a guilty conscience and suddenly "Everyone knows what you've done" or "Was it worth it?" pops up. Or if the game has got you hiding under a blanket biting your nails: "Are you sure you're alone?" "It's in the room with you. You just can't see it..."
The best one of them all: "STOP DOING THAT." That's guaranteed to make you jump no matter what.
The walkie-talkie sometimes emits static even when there aren't any enemies around. In some cases they may show up (ie. if you open the back of the van in the Centennial Building garage), but most of the time nothing happens... most of the time.
The subway system is a safe haven from monsters and allows Murphy to travel quickly and unscathed below the town, but still has a very unsettling feel to it. However, should you use the system to return to Hillside? There's a Doll waiting for you! Not so safe, after all...
What an Idiot: Surprisingly, Sewell. His plan relied on him being able to convince Murphy (who had previously refused to murder Napier) to kill Coleridge and if that didn't work he would have to fight two grown men by himself and hope that Coleridge wouldn't be able to tell anyone the truth. He actually was very lucky things worked out as they did.
Sewell didn't even try to convince Murphy to off Coleridge; he just expected him to. If he couldn't kill the pedophile who murdered his son, what the hell made Sewell think Murphy would kill a guy he actually liked?
Actually, Tomm Hulett has said that Murphy killed Napier in every ending except for ending A, despite what the flashback in ending B tells you.
I'm more inclined to believe that Hulett forgot the content of ending B than that the flashback was outright false.
Purportedly, it wasn't exactly false, just a design hiccup. Since all of the endings have mix'n'match elements of who killed Napier and who almost killed Coleridge, someone forgot to swap out the line of dialogue saying Murphy spared Napier with the line saying Murphy killed him in ending B. All of the other endings are correct as is. Which is why Hulett said what he said.
That said, the requirements of Ending B are that you kill lots of enemies but try to help NPCs, which, given the pattern of the other endings as well as the theme of the game, would make more sense to have Murphy kill Napier. Otherwise, Ending B is the odd one out regarding the relationship between the requirements and the details of the endings.
Actually, the requirements for Ending B are that you spare Anne; you can still get it even if you completely screw over NPCs (if anything, doing so helps, since bad karma is required to get the B ending). Take that as you will.
Tear Jerker: Early on, there's a poster for a missing dog. And only minutes later in the house, you find the bloodied dead body of a dog on a bedů oh.
There's a police dog locked in a cruiser in the garage of the Centennial building that barks at Murphy should you investigate. After you get the Security Card, some Weeping Bats swarm the area, and you hear it yelp. Then you see the poor creature's bloodied corpse. This game series does not like animals.
Murphy's flashbacks. You know the ones. Not to mention how Silent Hill seems to take extra measures to rub it in and show him increasingly disturbing hallucinations and Otherworld features to remind him.
Win Back the Crowd: Somewhat. While the base remains as broken as ever, the general fan reception towards Downpour have been surprisingly positive. The majority even states that they'd be OK with Vatra producing another Silent Hill game, should they be able to iron out the obvious technical bugs and remedy the relatively average enemy design.