Silent Hill 4 is perhaps the low point of the original part of the series. But in saying that, it was originally supposed to be a different game altogether.
The concept behind this entry to the series is this: you play as Henry Townsend, an average joe who finds himself trapped in his apartment, Room 302 and can’t get out and enters the nightmare world of Walter Sullivan through dreams. In the apartment, these sections play out in first person with you interacting with various objects, your item boxes and so on. The controls in these sections are simple but occassionally fiddly, having to wrestle with them at times to make it behave the way you want. But your time in the nightmare world is played very similarly to the rest of the series, with a few catches. The first is that you have a dodge move, which is welcome. But what is removed are the flashlight and the radio and now your inventory is limited. This last aspect is quite frustrating as it requires constant backtracking to the apartment to deposit and remove items from the item box, especially since items cannot be dropped in the nightmare world where you stand. So if you have a golf club and you need to pick up that key but you have no space, you have to backtrack to the nearest hole, deposit it in your apartment, come back and pick it up then do the puzzle. It’s tedious and annoying, but somewhat mitigated by the small level size and frequency of holes.Some weapons also break, but most don’t so you’ll want to stick with those that don’t , such as the pipe or axe. Other than these changes, the game plays mostly the same as previous entries.
Visually, the game has not aged as well as it’s predecessors, especially the first person apartment section, with some very very shoddy textures.The nightmare worlds fare better, which comprise of a subway world, forest world, water prison, building world and apartment world and they don’t have the same level of quality as the previous games in texture work and light.The noise effect seems to be of lower quality too. Character models are still of good quality, however. The designs of the monsters seem uninspired and while the game has some creepy moments and disturbing imagery and sounds, such as Eileen’s HUGE head in the hospital or the footsteps in the cells in the water prison, they again do not match up to the previous entries. The soundtrack is nothing to write home about either and neither is the voice acting.
Some of the more annoying things include some unkillable enemies and most egregiously, the game pulls a Devil May Cry 4 and has you go through the same levels again through the second half of the game and even worse, you have to do it as an escort mission which can at times be very frustrating. While Eileen cannot die, she runs very slowly and you have to wait because she does not go through doors with you unless she’s very close to you. This can get you quite damaged. Thankfully she cannot actually dies otherwise this part of the game would go from frustrating to hellish. This second half of the game is quite the difficulty spike as well.
All said, Silent Hill 4 isn’t a terrible game, but it just doesn’t live up to it’s predecessors and has many frustrations of it’s own along the way. But I would say it is a skippable entry of the series despite being the last one made in japan.