The game itself is pretty linear (if you have played any of the previous Silent Hill games, you'll soon feel used to this one), but since it has different levels of action and puzzle difficulties, the answer to your question is variable. If you play it for the first time you should choose Normal-Normal difficulties, since the game has more (and better) action than SH2. Also, Normal puzzles are not that hard to get through, even if some of them can make you squeeze your brain a little. Hard puzzles are (in my opinion) VERY hard to solve without a guide or a tip or two at least. Easy puzzles, on the other hand, are barely a nuisance, and some of them even come 50% or already solved.
I hope this answers your question. However, keep in mind that it's more enjoyable to play this kind of games without a guide, since it doesn't spoil all the suspense it has. But when you're stuck with a boss fight or puzzle, which often happens, it may come in handy.
"Endure. In enduring, grow strong" - Dak'kon, Planescape: Torment
Besides SH4, which basically used "stages," it has the most straightforward progression of the PS1/2 games. The street-roaming aspect of SH1 and SH2 (which some dislike) is nearly absent in SH3. It's possible to get somewhat lost in those games, if you don't pay attention to your map and any directions given. SH3 will only ever have you make a short walk from point A to B, at the most.
sign ladies and gentlemen, it's a ****ing werewolf!