Title: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
System(s): Wii (Also for PSP and PS2)
Release Date: December 8, 2009
Publisher (Developer): Konami (Climax Group)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Sexual Themes and Violence
Pros: Game changes based on your actions/responses, perfect atmosphere, great story and take on the original game, multiple endings, Clocktower-style escape challenges added, you can’t die, can save anywhere and there’s novel use of the Wii remote.
Cons: Shorter than other the Silent Hill games, no monster variety, any puzzles you find aren’t challenging and more psychological than supernatural.
Overall Score: One thumb up, one down, 79/100, C+, * * 1/2 out of 5
The original Silent Hill was released over 10 years ago, in 1999 on the PlayStation. It’s unusual approach and thrilling story spawned a series of beloved horror games. On it’s 10th anniversary, Konami made an unusual announcement stating the company would be “reimagining” the original game. Even more striking was that this reimagining would not only appear on the PlayStation 2 and PSP, but also the Wii. The result is an unorthodox entry in the series that, while intriguing, may disappoint fans of previous Silent Hill games.
A new look at the first Silent Hill.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories starts in a manner similar to the original Silent Hill. Harry Mason and his daughter got into a car crash, and when he came to, Cheryl was gone. He then treks through the somewhat deserted resort town of Silent Hill, trying to find her again. Instead of searching through a foggy town, he’s now searching through one in the middle of a snow storm. Things aren’t what they seem in Silent Hill, and strange ice storms cause monsters to suddenly appear out of nowhere.
Instead of taking place in the present, players are playing through a series of flashbacks. Harry is really the office of Dr. Michael Kaufmann, a psychologist, talking about the experiences and relating what happened. What is said or happens during these moments in the clinic change what the rest of the game will look like, like who Harry will encounter and what will happen. Players must find out what happened to Harry and Cheryl in Silent Hill.
More similar to Clock Tower than Silent Hill.
When I first started playing Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, I experienced a strong sense of deja vu. It wasn’t because I remembered playing the original Silent Hill on the PlayStation. It was because Shattered Memories reminded me so much of the Clock Tower series of games, specifically Clock Tower 3. Both are psychological thrillers, with the protagonist being chased by otherworldly monstrosities. The basic gameplay in both consists of investigating, solving puzzles and running from the predator. It isn’t bad, just interesting and unexpected.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories does a number of things right. It uses the Wii remote in unusual manners, as it becomes a cell phone, monster detector and means of solving every puzzle and shaking off monsters. It also does a wonderful job of creating an incredibly eerie town. The atmosphere is great and it looks really polished and realistic. It’s also quite interesting to see how the game psychologically profiles you, resulting in different endings.
Unfortunately, Silent Hill: Shattered memories also does quite a few things wrong. First, there’s no variety when it comes to the monsters. They all are the faceless mannequin creatures. There also isn’t much variety when it comes to escaping. You pretty much run, and occasionally find ways to hide or throw them off your path. Another huge downside is that the game is extraordinarily easy, and you won’t have to think too hard when solving puzzles or even have to worry about dying if you don’t escape the monsters. (If they catch you, you restart the chase.) Shattered Memories is also one of the shortest Silent Hill games I’ve ever played, though the multiple endings do help encourage replays.
Go into this psychological thriller with an open mind.
Personally, I prefer entries in the Silent Hill series that contain equal parts of psychological and supernatural elements. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories focuses on the psychological, though it does rely on some supernatural imagery through most of the game. It isn’t what you’d expect from a Silent Hill game, both in terms of appearance, specifically the lack of monster variety, and gameplay, since all you can do is investigate simple puzzle and run, but that doesn’t make it bad. It is interesting and fresh, and a good thriller for mature Wii owners. Die-hard Silent Hill fans may initially be disappointed, but I have a feeling even they will warm to the title and appreciate Shattered Memories for what it is, rather than what it isn’t.