One of the most underrated and unfairly maligned games I've ever played. For years I've heard how disappointed SH fans were by this 4th game, and how it essentially killed the franchise. This is a VERY different game from SH 1-3, but it is still an essential horror experience.
All of the great qualities in the earlier SH games (which were lost in the later western-developed series entries) are present here; the surreal atmosphere, creepy monster designs, and subtle, psychologically complex story. Really SH4 is a companion to SH2; both are David Lynchian odysseys through a character's broken psyche. Interestingly, in SH4, the character whose psyche we journey through is not actually the main character's, but the villains (Walter Sullivan). This is another way in which the formula is shaken up.
SH4 has many objective flaws, but it's redeeming strengths are so great that I'm tempted to rate this as my 2nd favorite SH game behind 2. It's also one of the most influential of the original SH games, having been the obvious progenitor to Hideo Kojima's P.T. (the first-person perspective, emphasis on voyeurism, japanese-style ghosts).
- unsettling, surreal atmosphere
- surprisingly deep story and villain
- RE-style limited inventory ratchets up tension
- Inspired Hideo Kojima's P.T.
- unhelpful AI companion in second half
- overemphasis on combat
- obnoxious wall enemies in subway
- no tank control option
- lack of challenging puzzles
- PC version lacks some content