Hello all! Last week’s game was an over-the-top shootfest inspired heavily by grindhouse cinema.
This week’s game is much more somber and scary, and it’s likely the last time I’m visiting this franchise for this article series.
That box art tho.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a remake of the original Silent Hill, which I wrote about way back, and I even mention how I’d like to cover this one someday.
As in the original, you play as Harry Mason, an everyman who is looking for his missing daughter, Cheryl, after they get into a car accident in the town of Silent Hill.. Esentially, that’s where the similarities end between the two games. They share characters, but this is by far a different tale. It’s kind of a remake, or a reboot, or maybe a rethought, even. In short, it’s a different story, focusing less on the mythology of Silent Hill and more on the psychological aspects of the various characters, particularly Harry.
Harry Mason, in this game, is less of a stiff cipher in this title. I love the first Silent Hill, but one of my problems with it is how Harry is just sort of...there. That’s probably a problem with the voice acting, or the technology available at the time, but nevertheless, he’s a better character here. So is everyone, really, but that depends on how you play.
The game is also pretty great looking, considering it’s on the Wii.
The coolest aspect of the game, and a major contributor to the unsettling feeling you get playing it, is how the game psychologically profiles you. See, when you start playing, the game greets you with this super-happy warning:
The game begins with you sitting in a therapist’s office, in first-person view. The therapist, Dr. Kaufman, hands you a questionaire that you fill out with the Wii Remote, asky you yes/no questions, or has you color in pictures, all with the Wii Remote. Some (most) of these questions are really personal; you don’t expect to answer questions about what sort of person you were in high school when you sit down to play a video game.
These sections in the therapist’s office influence the rest of the game. For example, Cybil’s appearance can change drastically depending not only on how you answer Kaufman’s questions, but how you act throughout the game. Spend time ogling a sexy calendar on the wall and, combined with answering the doctor’s questions a certain way, Cybil may end up with a more sexualized appearance. It’s not just Cybil, it’s every character and the monsters, too. Things you examine, areas you linger in...everything affects everything in this game. Shattered Memories is watching you.
Speaking of monsters, unlike every other Silent Hill, there’s no real combat here. Monsters are encountered only in Nightmare/Otherworld segments. Much like the first game (and every Silent Hill since), the town of Silent Hill periodically transforms into the Otherworld. But it’s different here. Whereas previous games’ Otherworld was hellish, with rusty fences and metal everywhere, the Otherworld of Shattered Memories is icy.
It transforms in real-time and without warning, and this is where the monsters appear. Like the rest of the game, their appearance changes based on the game’s psychological profile of you. Their behavior doesn’t change much, because all they do is chase you. These chase segments are pretty intense, but can get a bit tedious sometimes. Then again, combat in Silent Hill is historically clunky anyway. So, really, no combat isn’t better or worse, just different.
Still, Shattered Memories is a fantastic example of Silent Hill done right. It’s unnerving, unsettling, and scary, and it’s really the last great Silent Hill (the later games aren’t terrible, but they just don’t hit the heights of this or Silent Hill 2). I actually like the motion controls a lot as well; they mostly involve pointing your flashlight around, but it’s immersive. And I like the cell phone mechanic; you spend a lot of time looking at your phone in this game, which is a lot like real life.
In short, Shattered Memories is amazing despite the chase sequences and relatively short play time. I hope that, on the slim chance a new Silent Hill game ever comes out, it can be as great as this. People never really talk about Shattered Memories enough, and that’s too bad, because it’s great. It’s on Wii, and on PS2 (and, bizarrely on PSP), so go check it out!
Thanks for reading, and I just realized, with this article, I’ve now been writing Game of the Week posts on TAY for two whole years. Here’s my first article; the writing is fantastically terrible, but I like to think I’ve gotten a little better. Still, the response I get every week is so tremendous. TAY is easily the best online community I’ve ever written for and been a part of, and I’ll keep up these articles for as long as I can. Thank you all for reading my weird journey through my game collection. It means a lot.
As always, you can leave comments, suggest future games to be featured as Game of the Week, and find me on Twitter! Also, read more of my stuff at Current Digital, and catch up with my (currently on hiatus) other article series here!
Next week brings us to a game that lets you fire a shark at your enemies. That’s one of the more normal weapons in this kinda-funny gem.