In a candid interview with gamesradar.com, the chief designer of Silent Hill 4: The Room has admitted that the game can be a "pain in the ass" and has acknowledged that the horror sequel has met with a poor response from Japanese gamers.
Discussing the game's structure - which forces players to continually return to The Room of the game's title - Masashi Tsuboyama, of Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, said: "Since it's the fourth title, we wanted to have a major difference to past games. We wanted to introduce a new play style. If it's just like a linear map, it's a one-way route and the story proceeds one way. But if we put a central part in the middle, the storyline is more three-dimensional.
"If you have certain limitations, you'll get more thrill from it. It could be kind of a pain in the ass going back to the room to save but if you can save anywhere you want then it's not thrilling."
Tsuboyama also admitted that the reaction from Japanese gamers has been "not good for this one because we think that they want to play shorter games in which you do a lot of things. Their play style and what we intend are different. What we intend is that the more you play, the more you search, the more things you find. Obviously there's a difference between what they want to do and what we intend to do. As a result, their feedback is not that good."
The conceit of having a central hub is not the only new construct in the game - while in The Room itself, players are able to make use of a first-person viewpoint, a first for the Silent Hill series. This, revealed Tsuboyama, was not only to create "the different atmosphere that can be created by a first-person view" but also to test first-person gaming for future incarnations of Silent Hill.
"We're not sure that we can express the horror via an FPS," he told us. "You need to have a certain atmosphere for these [horror] titles. We're kind of testing if it works or not but we're not 100 per cent sure if we can adapt the game to a first-person type of game. We're at a testing stage for the next-generation of hardware - PS3, Microsoft's next machine, whatever." Tsuboyama also confirmed that Silent Hill 4 is indeed the last game in the series for the current generation of consoles.
Talking about what direction Silent Hill would take in the future, Tsuboyama expressed a sense of boredom at having to develop games so closely tied to the horror genre, while acknowledging that they have to give fans what they want.
"We are not exactly sure if we should remain just in the field of horror or maybe take a different approach," he said. "We know that the fans out there like the Silent Hill atmosphere so we are not sure that we can just get rid of that and bring in something new. We are not sure exactly in which direction we are heading. I guess the fans get really mad if we combine Silent Hill with some elements from, say, Splinter Cell. It's hard to tell how the fans will react to it.
"But we feel a lot of restrictions in creating only horror titles. We have to focus on what the user wants, what the user pays for. At the same time we need to convey what we want to say in games."
Finally, Tsuboyama revealed that some monsters in the game had to be dropped for simply being too gruesome. "We had a two-headed monster with kids' faces. We thought it could be a bit offensive after we had news where a kid was born [in the Dominican Republic in February] with one body and two heads. We thought that could be a touchy subject."
Silent Hill 4 is released in the UK for PC, PS2 and Xbox in September. For PSM2's verdict on the Japanese version of the game,