A refreshing view of the Silent Hill universe makes this game a must play.
As a huge fan of the Silent Hill franchise, a Wii-exclusive remake of the first game was an interesting concept. What grabbed me was improved better graphics, how true to the original story line the developers had been, and the concept of psycologically profiling players to provide a unique experince.
You play as Harry Mason. Having just survived a car crash, you begin to search for his daughter Cheryl, who was also in the car, but has now disappeared. As Harry searches around Silent Hill, he suddenly sees a change in the environment – from covered in snow, to caked in thick ice. Soon, he is chased by creatures, with no means of which to fight them, providing a new technique to scare the player in the Silent Hill world having never been done before.
This game is great fun to play, and, though enemies cannot be fought, this particular type of gameplay installs a new type of fear in the player. Having to run away from enemies, hide, block their path by knocking over objects or use a flare to keep them at bay, is absolutely terrifying. Though, after losing your way a few times and dying, this does become a bit repetitive. Being attacked gradually reduces your health and overall running speed and, if you are attacked too frequently or by too many enemies at once, you die. As Harry is always running when enemies are nearby there is rarely time to take a good look around. These running sequences are in a limited space – a mixture of corridors and some wider open spaces – but still limited until you find the right path and, eventually, the exit, where the world will shift back and enemies will disappear with the story ultimately moving forward.
Shattered Memories also psychologically analyses the player to adapt itself to create the player’s own personal nightmare. This is done through therapy snapshots and choices made in the main part of the game play. Snap shots take you to a time where Harry is being assessed by a therapist, Dr. Michael Kaufmann. Dr. Kaufmann will ask a few multiple choice questions for the player to answer, or provide a picture with only a black outline and request that Harry colour it in using whatever colours he wants. Your time spent with Dr Kaufmann impacts the game in multiple ways as does other things done throughout the game itself – collecting certain items throughout the town, or by looking at certain things; such as naked mannequins and family photos. One last way the game can analyse the player is by the choices they make, the places they choose to go to – either a diner, or a bar – and other interactions such as giving assistance to those in need. Not only does this give the game some replay value – answering questions differently, visiting different places and so on – but it is also interesting to discover what your “assessment” will produce.
Some noticeable changes will then occurr, and some not so noticeable. Characters you meet along the way will act and be dressed differently, places you visit will be called different things, and lastly enemies will change their appearance. For example, Cybil, the policewoman, turns up now and again throughout the story and, depending on how you have been playing the game, she may appear much sexier – by wearing more revealing clothing and make up – or much more “straight laced” and hard in her appearance through wearing bulky and dark attire and no make up whatsoever.
The environments are very moody, but do not have the same feel as other Silent Hill games, this game feels much cleaner, and is at the other end of the spectrum colour wise, being mostly blues and whites. Controls are very simple to use, and are intuitive for the Wii – the few simple puzzles that appear in the game utilise the Wii controls. For example, having to grab hold of a zip on a jacket, then pulling the zip downwards to find something. Or pulling out screws that has bolted a window shut. These moments happen often enough to feel engaging and cement the idea that if you were to play this on the PS2, you would be missing out. However, these moments don’t crop up too often, which keeps them fresh and doesn’t become tiring or expected. All in all, it works and is interesting to tackle without being overly complicated.
Harry also has a phone this time around, using it for a map, to make and recieve calls, texts and answer phone messages. The phone also has a camera function, which is used for Harry to take pictures to solve puzzles or to take pictures of ghosts that appear throughout the game. This also gives the game more replay value, as the player might want a bit of a challenge, trying to find them all. Otherwise, this does not affect the story. One other perk that the phone generates is being able to call phone numbers found around the town on posters, walls, and other areas. Sometimes to solve a puzzle, other times just for fun. This game is great, and a must play for those who own a Wii, or a PS2, though feels much more engaging when playing on the Wii with the button and movement interactivity at certain points in the game. For those die hard Silent Hill fans, this game is either a hit or miss. You may hate it because it feels nothing like previous titles, or you may love it because it is a breath of fresh air and very interesting, despite the story and events not correlating with the original game.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a scary game, but not as scary as other titles in the series. With the addition of the psychological profiling aspect, this game is a must play for everyone. Even if it’s only once, to see how your own personal nightmare in Silent Hill would look like.