Silent Hill 4: The Room is the fourth installment in the Silent Hill survival horror series. The game was developed by Team Silent and published by Konami on June 17, 2004 in Japan, on September 7, 2004 in North America, and on September 17, 2004 in Europe for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC.
- Note: For more information about Walter's Otherworlds and the events and characters in them, see Walter's Otherworlds. It is implied that the game is set in 2001.
Henry Townshend is living in South Ashfield, a city that's half a day's drive away from Silent Hill. He is content with his life, living in the South Ashfield Heights apartments. However, one day he finds himself mysteriously locked in his own apartment, Room 302. Along with experiencing strange and nightmarish dreams, he cannot escape through either the windows or his front door, which has been chained shut from the inside. No one, not even people standing directly outside the door, can hear him when he pounds on the door and cries for help. The other residents notice Henry's absence, but carry on with their everyday lives. Even with the right key, the superintendent, Frank Sunderland, cannot open Room 302. Eileen Galvin, Henry's next door neighbor in Room 303, is concerned about Henry's welfare, though he can only observe her through Room 302's peephole and walls. By listening to Eileen, Henry learns that Eileen is passing time in her apartment just before arriving at a friend's party.
After five days of entrapment, Henry finds a hole that has opened up in his bathroom wall. Armed with only a steel pipe that broke loose when the wall opened, he proceeds to venture into the hellish madness of various Otherworlds. The hole leads Henry to a variety of strange areas, inhabited by dangerous and sometimes immortal creatures. He is able to travel between these worlds and his apartment through mysterious holes resembling the Halo of the Sun. Every time he travels back to his apartment, Henry finds himself waking up on his own bed. In these worlds, Henry witnesses the murders of people who are stuck in corresponding realms like him; the murders also occur in the real world. The victims are Cynthia Velasquez, Jasper Gein, Andrew DeSalvo and Richard Braintree.
As Henry investigates further, he learns more about Walter Sullivan, a serial killer that terrorized Ashfield several years ago and left numbers carved into his victims; Walter was eventually arrested and killed himself soon after. However, these new victims bear similar numbers carved into their bodies, matching Walter's modus operandi, and subsequent events suggest that Walter has come back as a ghost. Walter was born in Room 302 and his parents abandoned him immediately after he was born and were never seen again. Frank Sunderland handed the newborn to the medics, and Walter found his way to the Wish House Orphanage in the woods outside of Silent Hill, where he was taught occult rituals and teachings of the Order. Walter began to believe that Room 302 itself was his "mother". As an adult, Walter decided to "awaken" his "mother" by purifying "her" through the "21 Sacraments" ritual, which required 21 murders. Walter killed 10 people in different ways and he ended each murder by taking their hearts out. Afterwards, Walter performed the Ritual of the Holy Assumption, which allowed him to make himself the eleventh victim through suicide and still remain in his own, manifested world. The four victims that Henry encounters in his wanderings are victims 16 through 19. In Walter's Otherworlds, Henry also meets two Walters: an immortal adult and a child manifestation conjured by Walter's reminiscences.
After exploring Walter's first four Otherworlds, Henry arrives in the fifth Otherworld: an alternate South Ashfield Heights. He sees Walter Sullivan knocking on Eileen's door. After finding the key that unlocks Eileen's room, Henry witnesses her bleeding to death on her living room floor, having been assaulted by Walter and named the next victim. Eileen thanks Walter's younger self for trying to protect her from his adult self and then passes out. Following Eileen's supposed death, Henry wakes up in Room 302 and notices an ambulance on its way to St. Jerome's Hospital.
In his apartment, Henry notices "hauntings" invading from the Otherworld. Henry creates a new hole in his laundry room that leads to St. Jerome's Hospital's Otherworld, where he discovers Eileen, alive, in one of its rooms. Henry and Eileen decide to stay together and find a way out of Walter's world. Henry takes Eileen to a Halo of the Sun, however, he realizes that he is the only one who can use them as she is unable to see them. Eileen tells Henry about Joseph Schreiber, Room 302's previous resident and a journalist who disappeared six months before Henry moved in. Henry and Eileen then decide to "go down into the deepest part of him and look for the ultimate truth."
After leaving the hospital, Henry and Eileen find themselves on the top of a spiral staircase, full of strange objects such as human limbs and shadowy figures. Each Otherworld is connected by the staircase and Henry and Eileen must descend it in order to "find the ultimate truth." The Otherworlds are the same as before, except that a few paths that had been blocked before are now accessible and each victim is now a ghost that can be deadly to Henry's health. In the first Otherworld revisited, Henry meets the victim Cynthia Velasquez, who has long, flowing black hair that covers her face. In the second Otherworld revisited, Henry meets the victim Jasper Gein, who is constantly ablaze. While exploring this world, Henry realizes that Walter Sullivan is now pursuing them. In the third Otherworld revisited, Henry meets the victim Andrew DeSalvo, who is shirtless and must be pinned down with a Sword of Obedience in order for them to continue. In the fourth Otherworld revisited, Henry meets the victim Richard Braintree, who has the ability to teleport; also in this world, Walter Sullivan kidnaps his younger, manifested self.
After defeating The One Truth, Henry and Eileen reach the bottom of the spiral staircase and find a dark abyss with Room 302 of the Past, a memory of Joseph Schreiber's. Henry and Eileen meet Joseph Schreiber in Room 302 of the Past, who appears as a statue in the ceiling. He tells them about Walter's history and reveals that these Otherworlds are a creation of Walter's Holy Assumption ritual. Before his voice fades away, Joseph tells them that they are the last victims, Eileen, the "Mother Reborn" and Henry, the "Receiver of Wisdom". They must kill Walter in order to prevent the 21 Sacraments, or else he will kill them. In Room 302, Henry is shocked and speechless when he discovers a sealed room in his apartment that contains Walter Sullivan's crucified corpse. After using the keys found in Walter's coat pocket, Henry unlocks his chained front door and is bewildered that South Ashfield Heights has also been transformed into a nightmare. Eileen then appears in the corridor and they reunite.
In the apartment Otherworld, Henry examines six, hanged corpses; each one eliminates a chain that is forbidding entry to the superintendent's room and has a memory of Walter's father's voice. Inside Frank Sunderland's room, Henry discovers Walter's umbilical cord that Frank had kept in a box for decades. Henry suddenly sees flashes of Walter's memories in his mind and falls to the floor with a massive headache. Eileen tries to comfort him, but she leaves to find Walter's child self on her own, and they separate.
Henry returns to Room 302 and discovers that Walter's corpse has disappeared. Underneath where Walter's corpse was lies a round, black abyss. Henry enters the abyss and comes across a large room with a spiked, spinning mechanism in the center with a pool of blood surrounding it. There are also eight spears and a giant monster resembling a torso in the room. Walter Sullivan confronts Henry and Henry realizes that Eileen is possessed and is about to walk into the large mechanism, unconsciously killing herself. The final fight of the game takes place; Henry uses Walter's umbilical cord on the monster, allowing him to spear it. Walter then loses his immortality and Henry defeats him.
The game has a total of four possible endings. Unlike the previous three installments, there is no UFO Ending. It is also unknown which ending is canon.
There are two factors that determine the ending:
- If Henry saves Eileen in time during the final battle (if Eileen was injured too much during the game, it may be impossible to save her; however, Henry can place Holy Candles to slow her down)
- If Henry cleared 80% of the Room 302 hauntings throughout the game.
The endings are:
- Escape - After Walter falls to the floor, he raises his arm, calling out "Mom" before he goes motionless. The room starts to shake. Eileen, still alive and no longer possessed, slumps to the ground. Henry calls her name and reaches out to her. Young Walter knocks on Room 302's door in Walter's apartment world, calling out to his mother to let him in. He then falls to his knees and to the floor, fading away. After he disappears, the door leading to Henry’s apartment opens. Next, Henry is walking away from South Ashfield Heights. He looks back and then continues on, saying Eileen's name. One day later, Henry visits Eileen in a normal hospital. Henry smiles and gives Eileen a bouquet of flowers, alluding that their relationship has strengthened over their previous recognition of one another. Eileen says to him, "Guess I'll have to find a new place to live, huh?" This ending is considered the best. To obtain it, the player must save Eileen and clear at least 80% of Henry's apartment of hauntings.
- Mother - This scene is the same as Escape, except when Henry visits Eileen in the hospital, she tells him "Well, I guess I can go back to South Ashfield Heights now." Henry's apartment is then shown as it was at the beginning of the game, covered in blood and rust, implying that spirits still haunt Room 302 and that Eileen may still be possessed. To obtain it, the player must save Eileen, but not clear at least 80% of Henry's apartment of hauntings.
- Eileen's Death - After Walter falls to the floor, he raises his arm, calling out "Mom" before he goes motionless. The room starts to shake. Young Walter knocks on Room 302's door in Walter's apartment world, calling out to his Mother to let him in. He then falls to his knees and to the floor, fading away. After he disappears, the door leading to Henry's apartment opens. Henry sits up in his bed once more, then hears on the radio, to his despair, that Eileen has died of her wounds. After Henry finds out about Eileen's death, he falls to his knees and says her name. To obtain it, the player must let Eileen die, but they do have to clear at least 80% of Henry's apartment of hauntings.
- 21 Sacraments - After Walter falls to the floor, he raises his arm, calling out "Mom" before he goes motionless. Henry stares down at him, and then suddenly falls to his knees, holding his head in pain. He then stands up, as if possessed by Walter. Young Walter then appears in Room 302 as it was at the beginning of the game, with blood and rust. He cuddles up to the couch saying, "I’m home, I won't let anyone get in the way... I'm gonna stay with you forever..." The radio turns on with a news bulletin announcing the deaths of Eileen, Henry, and others, as the adult Walter lies motionless against a wall. To obtain it, the player must let Eileen die and not clear at least 80% of Henry's apartment of hauntings.
Silent Hill 4: The Room is the first game in the series to feature a first-person perspective. In Room 302, the player navigates through a first-person perspective and can access their only save point and enter the Otherworlds through holes formed in the walls. For the first half of the game, the room will also heal the player.
However, the second half of the game has the room become possessed by various hauntings which drain Henry's health. They can be exorcised with Holy Candles and Saint Medallions. The player can turn on the radio by Henry's TV and its static will notify the player of hauntings.
In the main levels of the game, the third person perspective returns. Unlike other Silent Hill games, the player only has a limited item inventory which can be managed by dumping unneeded items in a chest in Henry's room. In addition, the tanks controls are completely removed in favor of directional controls.
Breakable melee weapons are also introduced including a variety of Golf Clubs. Henry can also charge his melee weapon if the attack button is pressed for a few seconds for a more powerful strike.
One of the most significant additions are Ghosts, which are the unkillable ghosts of Walter Sullivan's victims. The ghosts have the ability to hurt Henry with a damaging "aura" which can be nullified by Holy Candles and Saint Medallions. The same items can also exorcise the hauntings in Henry's apartment. Ghosts can also be knocked down for a long time with one of the two Silver Bullets and pinned permanently with one of five Sword of Obediences. There are 10 types of Ghosts in total (excluding Walter who cannot be pinned), so it is up to the player to decide who to pin. However, Eric Walsh is already pinned by default, so if anything, there are 9 ghosts to be concerned about.
In the second half of the game, Henry is accompanied by his neighbor Eileen Galvin and must escort her. Eileen cannot die while she is with Henry, although as she takes damage, she succumbs to possession by Walter Sullivan. Eileen walks slower than Henry due to her injuries and cannot climb ladders. The player can also equip Eileen with a weapon to have her join Henry in combat or to defend herself. The damage Eileen takes in the game determines whether or not she dies in the final boss fight, directly affecting the ending achieved.
Further divergences from the other games include the absence of a flashlight and radio, although Henry has a stereo which alerts him of hauntings and uses a torch to illuminate dark wells to find the pieces of a burned doll. The controller vibration in the previous three games does not indicate Henry's heartbeat, but vibration is present when Henry is attacked or uses a weapon.
- Main article: Silent Hill 4: The Room Original Soundtracks
The original 2-disc soundtrack for Silent Hill 4: The Room is Silent Hill 4: The Room Original Soundtracks, which was composed by Akira Yamaoka and was released in Japan on June 17, 2004. It also contains some songs that were unused in the game.
The game's main theme is Room of Angel, written by Joe Romersa with vocals by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. It is played during Cynthia's death scene. There are also many vocal songs in the soundtrack, including Cradle of Forest (the game's ending theme), Your Rain, Tender Sugar and Waiting For You ~ LIVE AT "Heaven's Night" ~. A remix of Your Rain was featured in Dance Dance Revolution: Extreme.
A noticeable difference of the music compared to the other games in the series is that the game features songs that have more rhythm and beat, giving a more "hip" or "trance-like" feeling. Guitar and drums are prominent instruments.
Despite what has been popularized around the Internet, Silent Hill 4: The Room was always meant to be connected to Silent Hill (at least as a spin-off). If Silent Hill did not exist, The Room would not have been created.
While it is true that the "initial concept idea" was a spin-off called Room 302, it is false that the game was a completely unrelated separate horror game that was changed and converted into Silent Hill title late into development. Even before actual development began (such as programming, music composing, story writing, character modelling, etc), it was intended and decided to be a Silent Hill game from the get-go.
The different gameplay mechanics and change were intentional because the developers wanted "change" and "new" as the focus, not because the initial concept idea was a spin-off. This may have been because negative criticism of Silent Hill 3 largely stemmed from the lack of any innovations in gameplay; the game "doesn't do anything major that the series hasn't done before", "does little in term of innovation" and "doesn't offer much beyond the other titles in the series."
Silent Hill 4 was generally well-received, although some fans consider it a downgrade from the first three Silent Hill entries. The PlayStation 2 version has a Metacritic of 76.
The story, music, detailed environments and graphics were well praised. Some fans loved the surreal atmosphere of the game. However, many fans felt that Henry is a boring protagonist.
Some criticisms were having to constantly revisit Room 302, the ability to only hold 10 items and the lack of detailed puzzles and boss fights. There was also the absence of the traditional radio, flashlight and UFO ending.
Many players disliked the second half of the game, which involves revisiting the same worlds twice as an escort mission and massive backtracking. While there are a few new areas to explore, and more routes, many fans felt that a better option would have been to just combine the "first visit" and "second visit" segments into one world, and create new worlds instead. For example, instead of returning to the Subway World, Forest World, Water Prison and Building World, Henry and Eileen could visit an Otherworld version of Pleasant River's campus, and the Otherworld streets of Ashfield.
Eileen's slow walking pace was also noted to be frustrating at times, as the player must have her beside Henry upon entering rooms. This can lead to a lot of moments where Henry must try to dodge monsters while waiting for Eileen to catch up.
Some players felt that the Ghost enemies were annoying, while others felt that they added to instill a constant fear of danger, especially after staying in an area for too long. (Silent Hill fans who claim that Silent Hill isn't a ghost series should be reminded of Ernest Baldwin and Amy Baldwin and the Subway Ghost).
Some players also felt the burping Patients removed the horror atmosphere.
- Silent Hill 4: The Room uses two minor unseen characters from previous installments as major characters in its plot. The antagonist of the game, Walter Sullivan, was first referenced in a newspaper scrap in Silent Hill 2 as having killed himself shortly after killing twins Billy and Miriam Locane. These two victims also appear in the form of the Twin Victim creature Henry encounters. The second reused character is investigative journalist and previous tenant of Room 302 Joseph Schreiber, who was first referenced in Silent Hill 3 with a magazine article he had written condemning the "Hope House" orphanage run by the Order which the game's protagonist, Heather Mason, can discover at Brookhaven Hospital.
- Memos about Mary Sunderland's nurse, Rachel, can be found in Silent Hill 4: The Room. There is even a painting of her in room 202 of South Ashfield Heights giving a face to the character.
- Frank Sunderland is the father of Silent Hill 2's protagonist, James Sunderland. James is said to have disappeared in Silent Hill together with his wife "several years ago". As with such, Walter Sullivan's grave site is visible in the graveyard in Silent Hill 2.
- Silent Hill 2 appears to contain several foreshadowings of Silent Hill 4. At one point, James enters a bar with a cryptic message scrawled on the wall: "There was a HOLE here. It’s gone now." This could be a reference to the kinds of spontaneously appearing and vanishing "holes" Henry uses to travel between realms in Silent Hill 4.
- Eileen Galvin owns a Robbie the Rabbit doll which can be seen sitting on her bed, who was first introduced in Silent Hill 3.
- The Halo of the Sun, first appearing in Silent Hill 3, is seen during the loading screen and are the holes which Henry uses to travel between his apartment and Walter's world.
- In Silent Hill: Downpour, Murphy Pendleton can climb a fire escape ladder in Hillside and enter through a window into a replica of Room 302. The window Murphy uses to enter leads to the living room, next to the television and bookshelf. The coffee table is gone, as are some of the paintings from around the apartment, but there are chains on the door and a black spot on the wall adjacent to Eileen's room. Murphy can explore the living room, kitchen, and hallway, but cannot enter any other rooms (the bedroom, bathroom, or laundry room). There is a handgun on the kitchen counter, and a first aid kit on a chair beside the window.
|Silent Hill games|
|Main series||Silent Hill · 2 · 3 · 4 · Origins · Homecoming · Shattered Memories · Downpour|
|Ports / Adaptations||Play Novel · Mobile · HD Collection|
|Spin-offs||The Arcade · Orphan · Orphan 2 · Orphan 3 · The Escape · Book of Memories|
|Cancelled||Silent Hills (P.T.)|
|Production||Konami · Team Silent · Climax Studios · Double Helix · Vatra Games · WayForward|
|Extras||Inspirations · Features|