Silent Hill 4: Maison Ikkoku, Hell-Dimension Edition
It’s not that I was ACTUALLY kept inside my house by mysterious chains and sealed windows, but being stuck inside for several days with a bad back did leave me more than a little twitchy to see the outside world.
My feelings for the game are a little conflicted. On one hand, it has a fantastic premise and a really good first half. It’s not really set IN Silent Hill, though at one point you find yourself on the shores of Toluca Lake, but it feels like a Silent Hill game regardless. The environments are brutal, twisted, and opressive, there’s fog everywhere, and there are a lot of really unpleasant creatures who want to make your life difficult.
I particularly enjoyed the part of the game where you’re finally able to visit the other apartments in your building. Including you, there are about twenty residents in your building, and there are very human dramas going on that have nothing to do with the game’s main plot.
On the other hand, the second half of the game is one long escort mission and the inventory/save system seems designed to annoy and to pad out the game length. Your character has a painfully small carrying capacity, so you are frequently shuffling items in and out of a trunk kept in your apartment, and every trip back to the apartment means a ton of backtracking and a pair of cutscenes. It really put me into a bad mood while I was playing, and I eventually resorted to an exhaustive walkthrough to get me through the last couple of levels, which is something I usually try to avoid.
The final world, and the last encounter, were VERY good, and I somehow managed to get the best of four endings on my first playthrough, so my final impressions of the game were positive. If I’d given up an hour or two before, this would have been a much more ranty post.
After SH4, I was left with four Xbox games to choose from, and the next one off the shelf was Atari’s 2003 “Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes”, a top-down game with a more-than-passing resemblence to Gauntlet but with some bolted-on RPG elements and a light coating of story to round it out a little. So far I’m about two hours in and am giving it a preliminary thumbs-up – I’m still occasionally mixing up the various action buttons and my attempts to faceroll through dungeons while chugging heal potions were met with abject failure, but it uses the D&D license well and the combat is starting to click with me.