Set seventeen years after the events of the first Silent Hill game. (in which Harry Mason defeats the town's cult and was given a baby girl to care for.) Silent Hill 3 focuses on Heather Mason, a teenage girl raised by Harry.
The protagonist of Silent Hill 3 is Heather, Harry's now-teenage "adopted" daughter. The game opens during a nightmare sequence, which serves as a tutorial, and an introduction, this sequence can be ended either by completing the dream or dying. The way the dream is ended has no importance for the rest of the game. Heather awakens in a burger restaurant, in a mall. Before she can leave, a private detective confronts her, claiming to have information about her birth, Heather evades him by a window in the bathrooms, but when she re-enter the mall, she discover that it is mostly abandoned. The game, then, begin properly.
Gameplay in Silent Hill 3 resembles that of its two predecessors, the main gameplay elements being combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving. Exploration and combat, takes place in third-person view. Heather can block and perform side-step maneuvers to avoid enemies, the flashlight and radio return (which alerts Heather to the presence of nearby creatures with crackles).