Written by Twisted Ideas
More Silent Hills gameplay was shown at the Tokyo Game Show that just passed. It seems to be keeping its first person perspective which a huge departure but has a lot of potential for the series.. On the topic of Silent Hill, lets talk about the best Silent Hill game since Silent Hill 2. Silent Hill Shattered Memories was a stand-out game when it was announced at E3 in 2009. It was taking Silent Hill in a new direction for the series and was appearing on the Wii at the time it needed more 3rd party hits. It moved away from the action focused The Room, Origins and Homecoming.
Silent Hill Shattered Memories
Developer: Climax Studios
Platforms: Playstation 2, Playstation Portable, Wii
Silent Hill Shattered Memories is a retelling of the story of Harry and Cheryl Mason. Harry Mason is looking for his daughter in Silent Hill again but the story takes a very different direction and tone. The game uses psychological examinations to ask players questions about themselves which alters aspects of the game. I’ll just say this right now, this has nothing to do with cults.
The gameplay has taken some drastic changes from the series. Exploration/roaming and puzzles are still major elements of the game but the combat has been removed.
As Harry explores Silent Hill finding clues as to his situation and the town’s, Silent Hill starts to freeze over and becomes inhabited by faceless monsters who endlessly chase him. You are left in large areas trying to find an exit while evading the monsters. Harry cannot harm the monsters and if they grab him he can only throw them off. However, he can hide and use flares to keep them away.
Shattered Memories does have its share of flaws. The game clearly divides the roaming and the chases. The chases are tense and appropriate but there’s no consequence in dying. The game doesn’t try to scare you while you explore. There is some eeriness but the game never has much in terms of jump scares or even surprise chases without it being telegraphed heavily.
The psychology examinations doesn’t really work in terms of the player. They ask very adult questions. Even for players just above the ESRB suggested age, they’re probably going to be non-applicable questions for young people. It’s a strange way to frame the narrative. While it changes the events of the game you’re never sure how it does unless you play through the game again or read about it online.
The controls for the Wii aren’t great either. I can’t speak on behalf of the PS2 and PSP versions because of their lack of motion controls but throwing monsters off can be frustrating. The controls does try to make the most out of the Wiimote, by having you aim it like a flashlight or have the speaker on it to act as a cell phone.
The puzzles do have cleaver elements to them but you’re never going to be too stuck on them.
The strength of the game lies in its story. The developers understand what the core of the story is. While the events before, during and after the story can differ none of the endings feel too foreign or unrealistic for people to make. While the psychological examinations weren’t the best way to branch the story, it give the story a lot of weight.
This is a game that benefits from analysis after completion. The game doesn’t use symbolism the same way that Silent Hill 2 and 3 did. The game uses the clue to help the player to piece together the story after the final revelations. The mementos you can find adds a lot to the characters as well. Some players may figure out the game’s revelation but it’s still a well excited and great story.
This is the type of game that benefits from analysis after completion. The game doesn’t use symbolism the same way that Silent Hill 2 and 3 did but the clues and moments riddled throughout the game provides context on which you can form the story. This is one of the series strongest points in the past and is where games like Silent Hill: Downpour failed.
Why Should You Get It?
Silent Hill Shattered Memories steps away from the survival horror genre and becomes of a psychological game with some horror and eeriness. If you can get past a few gameplay issues you will be rewarded with an excellent story worthy of a Silent Hill game. Hopefully the upcoming Silent Hills will become another great entry in the franchise.