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I have recently done a blog about potentially remaking Silent Hill: Origins and what could be done to it to make it properly successful and in line with older games. Now, I have decided to do the same for what is arguably the most divisive Silent Hill game – The Room.
Most people will agree that it was one of (if not the most) experimental instalment of the series, one which was interesting, but with flawed execution. Thus, here are my best ideas of what I think will update the game for the modern times, letting its story and ideas shine in the modern day without being hampered by the design issues like before.
P.S. If you were amongst the people who couldn’t read the earlier blog because of its size, rest assured: this one is two times smaller. I would also like to acknowledge Alex Shepherd for suggesting some improvements below.
Story/First half changes
The core plot is good by itself, so it the only change to it would be the umbilical cord: rather than being just kept there by Frank Sunderland who was aware of it all the while, it would be preserved in a jar formalin or medical alcohol, which would be simply forgotten and need to be rediscovered. Similarly, the “Are you OK?” line at Cynthia’s death will also go to the scrap heap. Needless to say, whoever Henry’s voice actor was, he will be replaced with someone good, or at least with someone who knows what actual human emotion and fear sound like. I’m not sure if any of Walter’s stuff should be changed: while he’s probably the most menacing and well-done of the SH villains at this point, the part about him continually thinking that the room is his mother is somewhat flimsy: people that insane generally don’t manage to get into universities. As such, I’m suggesting that in some of his dialogue/notes (potentially when he’s offering you the doll), it will become clearer that he stopped believing the room was his real mother when growing up, but instead he decided that the ritual will allow him to make redefine it into one.
Then, there would be optional dialogues added in with Frank, ghosts-in-waiting and Eileen. Unlike what I propose for Origins remake, this wouldn’t be morality-based (since the ending selection mechanism is different and wouldn’t really be much affected by morality) but instead be more like the dialogue selections for Oblivion or Skyrim, where you can simply talk about the multiple topics of interest with each person. For the future ghosts, it would be more of who they are, why are they there and what they knew of Walter, etc. , etc., while for Eileen the dialogue will update at each zone and after each plot-important discovery. Amongst other topics, it would be possible to talk about the spying and the dialogue will change if she has noticed you looking at any point earlier. This will both significantly flesh out the supporting characters and ensure that 90% of the plot isn’t delivered through the notes like before. Of course, if you feel that it takes away from the horror aspect, all dialogues can be turned off in the game settings and the story will be conveyed like before.
The gameplay mechanics will also receive an update right from the start. Besides the new weapons and enemies (more on that below), the room will stop being the only save point for Henry: there will be one for the each Otherworld as well, in order to cut down on the amount of unnecessary backtracking. Henry will also comment on each save point much like how Heather did in her internal monologue in SH3. Then, player will find the Cynthia's handbag near her body when finishing the Subway World, increasing the inventory size to 14. Finally, you can automatically disable the "tunneling" videos that appear when you go down the holes in the game settings.
I have put this under a separate heading both because the gameplay changes significantly at this point and because most of the complaints had been addressed at this part of the game, with the lack of new content and having to constantly escort Eileen. As such, her AI would be improved to allow her to block and side-step from attacks (albeit very slowly due to her injuries) and to make her recognise between vulnerable and invulnerable enemies so that she wouldn’t attempt to melee a ghost or a wheelchair for a minute. There would also be an option in the menu to enable a simple command wheel for Eileen akin to early Ghost Recon (i.e. stay back/retreat, follow me, move to the chosen location and stay there, attack selected enemy) to accommodate those players with dislike of escort missions. Those seeking more challenge/disliking HUDs in horror can simply turn this wheel off in the settings and it will never come up again.
A lot more rooms would also be added to the levels when visiting them the second time around. For the Water Prison, you’ll get to visit the outside of it with several smaller buildings placed around (some might not exist now, but could have in the past). The Forest World will also get considerably expanded (it could be said that Walter is recollecting more of it as his ritual nears finishing, etc.), the Subway world will have a section of the sewer opened up by a wall collapsing, the Hospital and Building World …. OK, I’m not really sure about those two. My current best idea is to allow the player to visit the outside of the hospital at the time of Walter’s birth, with this section being visibly hazy and incomplete, as it was constructed by Walter from the old records and hearsay as he tried to find out about his birth mother before settling on the idea that the room is one. It will have visibly old buildings that Walter knew/imagined to be there before being demolished. The Building World could also be expanded in the same fashion. Either way, all of them should get far more interesting the second time around.
These expanded levels will also get truly dark in this part of the game and you would be just as helpless without the flashlight as in the other titles. You’ll find the said flashlight in Eileen’s apartment, alongside a storage backpack, which will allow you to increase the storage limit to 20. The enemies in each world also become more twisted and upgraded with every plot-wise visit (see directly below). The save points I mentioned earlier also transform and become temporary: in each world, the room/location around the save slot gets more twisted and disturbing after 1st and 2nd save; at the third save, the save slot breaks and powerful monsters would then spawn there each time you visit.
The part that always interests me the most in games. It might just be me, but usually when the game’s combat is criticised for being bland or clumsy or pointless or whatever (all three descriptions were used for the Room’s combat in various reviews), the problem lies in the enemies’ AI being too simplistic or not sufficiently varied, rather than the player not having enough tools at their disposal. However, just to be safe, the game would have an enemy AI slider similar to what I suggested for Origins, letting people adjust the enemy AI from low (same as in the original) to high (see below) in order to let the people enjoy the game regardless of their skill with combat. Without further ado:
Tremer – black Tremers remain the same, while red ones are faster, get slightly increased health and would also cause Henry to stumble back with each hit. In the second half of the game, black Tremers would become outphased by the dark green ones: these have the same speed and resilience as black Tremers, but their attack inflicts additional poison damage for about 5 seconds, which also slows you down and causes the camera to blur slightly for as long as you’re poisoned. The poison’s effects can also be interrupted by healing immediately.
Gum Heads – The Old Types at the start all learn to side-step the attacks if they see them coming and will attempt to flank and surround Henry. They will also have more than one type of melee attack, able to kick Henry and elbow him if he’s directly to their side. The New Types will also learn to block occasionally, and will be able to hit you straight across the face to disorient you: both actions will be more effective if they have the golf clubs. The most upgraded new types would also be rarely encountered alongside the lesser ones to make the game more interesting. These will have much greater resilience and in addition to all the New Type abilities, they’ll also be able to charge at you to perform shoulder tackles, do roundhouse kicks, move faster and jump aside from attacks. If with clubs, they’ll be able to perform short chains of attacks: if without, they’ll instead be able to pick up knocked down/disoriented Henry and slam him down onto the floor for great damage unless you break free in time.
Sniffer Dogs –They will all get much better at evasion and learn to flank and surround from the beginning of the game. Male/female division only works in the first half: later, they all learn to grab and bite onto Henry’s leg, as well as being able to leap on the move (either towards you, or to the side to dodge attacks) . Most upgraded variant would also show up occasionally, with greater health and able to: a) jump onto your back and pin you down to the floor until you shake it off, if it gets behind you; b) if not directly engaging you, it will begin to scratch the floor, then howl, stunning Henry and/or Eileen if they’re within five metres of the creature.
Patients – the more basic variant will learn to side-step and kick Henry (including reverse kicks if you’re behind them). Stronger variants will appear later and will also learn to block with their crowbars and perform short chains of attacks. There would also be a different (not necessarily stronger) variant with clear and visible head wounds, thus affecting their behaviour. This variant is unable to block, doesn’t chain attacks and barely side-steps, but it’ll instead move faster, attack faster and be more unpredictable, with a wider range of attacks: they might swing their weapon wildly around or they’ll instead quickly thrust it outwards several times, and those attacks won’t necessarily be centered on their target. In short, this variant will miss often, even if you’re in front of them, but will also attack more often and be difficult to reliably dodge.
Mothbats – gain two other variants in the second half of the game: a faster, slightly more damaging one that is also better at avoiding attacks and flanking and a larger, more resilient one that will split into two regular ones at death , the “splitting in half” animation creating a swarm of regular flies and mosquitoes, which will buzz around for several seconds before disappearing (just a visual touch to add to the general atmosphere). The Bug Spray will also have bonus effects against those two versions to make the game more tactical: the fast variant will be slowed down when sprayed, while the large mothbat will not split in half if killed with the Bug Spray.
Toadstools – they’ll create spores around them that will cause your vision to blur significantly. In the second half of the game, there would also be a stronger variant that doesn’t get destroyed when you walk into it and that would be able to lash out at you by itself.
Ghosts – they don’t drain health JUST by being there: instead, they’ll stop in place (slow down for post – Ten Hearts ghosts) and create a visible health-draining vortex around themselves: for Ten Hearts, it is blood-coloured and centered at their chest, for others, it’s more of a dark aura around them. The only ghosts with constant health-draining aura are Walter Sullivan and Richard Braintree: Sullivan’s aura hurts more, but Richard’s can also stun once enough damage has been dealt, due to the electricity. All ghosts will also emit light and be clearly seen in the game’s second half when you get the flashlight.
Bottoms, Twin Victims, Wall Men and Wheelchairs – the same, since giving them particularly complex AI would go against their symbolism. Twin Victims would also keep the appropriate baby-like cries, rather than the grunts they ended up with at the original release.
Since those changes would understandably make the game far more difficult, additional weapons would be added in. When visiting the Forest World for the first time, you’ll pick up a hunting shotgun a lot like one in Origins, but all the ammo at beginning will be birdshot; you’ll only begin finding buckshot in the second half of the game. A scoped rifle will be picked up when visiting the Water Prison world for the second time in a guards’ house, which will become unlocked amongst with the other areas (the game remains third-person, but you can fire outright or hold down aim button for Henry to lift it up to his eyes) . Finally, you’ll also find a tranquiliser gun on your first visit to the hospital. While the other weapons function much like they do in other games, this one will hardly do any damage, but it will tremendously slow the corporeal enemies down, thus making them far more vulnerable. On your second visit to the hospital, you could also find a box of poison darts in one of the new rooms. These don’t slow down much, but inflict great damage over time.
Another of Room’s issues has been the almost complete lack of unlockable content. Here, I propose to follow one of the few things Origins did right and provide the following unlocks for each ending, rather than simply award a chainsaw at the end of the game:
Escape: You’ll receive a Holy Brazier, heavy and burning with a white-hot flame. This’ll deal very high damage, have moderate swinging speed and the same reach as the baseball bat. If you charge your attack to the maximum, it’ll also produce a shockwave of this white flame around the point of impact, regardless of whether you hit an enemy or just slam it into the ground. Finally, its white light will also provide illumination in the second half of the game, allowing you to replace the flashlight with something else in your inventory if you so choose. This ending will unlock a bishop or a cardinal outfit to go with it.
Eileen’s death ending: In order to symbolise Henry purging the room at the cost of Eileen’s death, he will unlock the black monastic robes outfit and a bloodied staff with a cross on top as a weapon. The staff will only deal moderate damage, but have good reach and decent speed, and it will also deal a lot of bonus damage to ghosts.
Mother ending: Because you have successfully saved Eileen but weren’t successful in pacifying the room, you’ll receive the Taser stun gun. It has the same range as the handgun, deals slightly higher damage than the manual Stun Gun and will stun the enemies for the same period of time. It will have infinite ammo, but is slow to recharge battery: you can safely fire about one shot in 3-5 seconds (adjusted with difficulty) without the risk of going flat, with the full battery only enough for three - five shots (also adjusted with difficulty) . You’ll receive a neighbourhood watch costume (no, not like one from the crap movie!) to go with it because you have done about as well as a well-trained watch member with no experience in occult would.
21 Sacraments: You’ll receive the Walter’s ceremonial dagger. It does high damage and has great speed, but also has the shortest range, so it’s not much of a reward since it’s a failure ending and all. This ending will unlock the journalist outfit (i.e. something like a decent, inexpensive suit with the pencil behind your ear and a notebook protruding from the pocket), because you have repeated the fate of Joseph, who was also a journalist.
Other achievements: these are the things you’ll receive for successfully achieving certain feats as a reward, to further increase the replay value. I doubt Konami of today would have the will to implement them all, but since we are talking about bringing the game to its full potential, why not!?
- You’ll unlock a crossbow and an archer/old-fashioned hunter outfit if more than 85% of your total attacks/ranged attacks hit. The crossbow is quite powerful, very precise, and will stun the enemy in question for a while, but it is single-shot and is very slow to reload, which is why it will be awarded to those with high accuracy. To compensate for those shortcomings, its ammo comes in 30-bolt quivers, which will also occur quite frequently throughout the game.
- If you manage to kill a particularly high number of enemies on your playthrough (I haven’t decided on one yet for obvious reasons) , you’ll have advanced ammo types unlocked (not awarded; they don’t replace regular ones and you’ll still have to find them yourself) for the firearms. There would be three tiers of awards depending on how many you manage to kill: first tier awards the hollow-point bullets for the pistol, second provides them to the rifle and to the revolver as well, while the final, third tier grants one box of single-slug ammunition for the shotgun, which will give it the same range as the rifle, as well as a box of Dragonfire rounds (yes, the ones that create a 2-3m jet of flame when used.) Each tier would also unlock recruit, private and officer outfits respectively.
- If you find every item hidden in the game, you’ll unlock an explorer outfit and the upgraded shovel (i.e. one that is made of alloys and possesses a compass and serrated edge, and so is especially powerful.)
- If the player manages to move a particularly high distance throughout the game, then the runner outfit will be unlocked for the player, as well some speed-boosting energy drinks to allow you to flee quickly (can’t really think of an appropriate weapon at this point.)
- If you manage to finish the game without taking much damage in total, you’ll unlock the survivor outfit (probably something like Rambo, McLane or some other well-known movie badass) and the good ol’ chainsaw.
- Finally, if the game is finished quickly, in the X number of hours, you’ll be able to find an automatic shotgun in the building world on the second try, which only has one clip available for it, but is obviously extremely powerful.
I don’t know about you, but I would say that the logic-based puzzles were always the stand-out ones in the franchise: when we think about the one puzzle of the original, for instance, chances are we’ll remember the Birds without a Voice rather than turning valves to get to the Split Head or unscrewing the metal plate at Nowhere. The plot of Silent Hill 4 is a rich material to base such puzzles on, yet disappointingly, they weren’t used enough. I would then suggest adding in 2-4 of such puzzles in the Walter’s Otherworlds in the second half of the game, where they would need to be solved in order to either unlock a path or obtain one of the plot-critical objects. To give you a quick example, the cabinet containing the jar with Walter’s umbilical cord might be locked with the puzzle akin to the “Sky on the Sunny Day/Liquid flowing from the slashed wrist” in SH1.
So, this is it! Please tell what you think in the comments: this wiki appears somewhat devoid of discussion IMHO, so please try to comment.