Konami and Climax Studios re-imagine the Silent Hill franchise with the latest installment in the series Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
Shattered Memories allows the player to enter the shoes of Harry Mason on his quest to find his missing daughter Cheryl after a car accident in the town of Silent Hill. The Wii version of the game, which this review is based off, has the player controlling Harry with the Wiimote and Nunchuck. The Wiimote controls where Harry’s flashlight is aiming, and the Nunchuck controls Harry’s movements. Graphically the game looks quite good for a Wii game, especially in the facial details of the main characters and the emotions they show. The addition of the controllable flashlight adds a bit of a spooky atmosphere to the game, as there are some areas where the player cannot see anything other than what is lit up by the flashlight. Often times focusing in on what is lit up by the flashlight will trigger Harry to comment on his surroundings, adding even more believability to the game and engrossing the player into the world.
Another interesting addition to the gameplay is the use of Harry’s cell phone. The player can find many “shadows” of the past throughout the town, which are photographed using the phone’s camera and help the player understand what is happening in this seemingly deserted town through either text messages or voicemails pertaining to the events. There are also some phone numbers the player can call using the in-game phone, some of which are just there for fun, while some actually help solve puzzles blocking Harry’s path. An example of this is a puzzle where the player has to line up various objects to match a painting, and the shadows of these lined up objects form numbers which the player calls to unlock a door.
Perhaps the most interesting addition to the game is the in-game psychologist and how the game changes depending on the player. One of the first things the player does is fill out a true and false questionnaire, which is used to determine how the enemies and some characters will look. The game also tailors its looks to how the player actually plays the game. If the player focuses in on a calendar of a girl in a bikini, the female characters in the game will dress more sultry and the psychologist will talk more about sex. While these changes are only physical and do not change the actual story, it is worth a few playthroughs to see what differences one can get, especially since the game is only about seven hours long.
One of the only negative aspects to the game is the “combat”, or lack of. When enemies appear in the game the player must just simply run, as there are absolutely no weapons to attack with. This may seem boring to most, but the intensity of these areas make the game feel more like a survival-horror game. This is added to even more as these areas are not a linear path. A door to in a room or area will reach to another room or area, but that does not mean every door in this new area leads to the actual exit of these sections. It is very easy to go in a circle and not even realize it. The major flaw to these areas is actual controls when fighting off the enemies, which attack Harry by jumping on him and attempting to crush him. They are thrown off by jerking the Wiimote and Nunchuck in whatever direction of the enemy is attached to, but doing so does not always work. It is also every easy to throw an enemy off and then get attacked by another while trying to line up the Wiimote with the sensor bar, which was thrown off due to the motion controls. However, these sections are very few and still fun enough to continue through the game.
Shattered Memories is a great title for any fan of the previous Silent Hill games or survival-horror fan in general. The additions of the controllable flashlight and cell phone add clever ways of solving puzzles to what some thought was a stale series. While the “combat” sections of the game may not be what most survival-horror enthusiasts are looking for, they add a nice touch of feeling helpless to the game. It is worth playing through a few times, as the game changes its appearance based on the player’s decisions throughout the game and the short length of the game. In true Silent Hill fashion there are multiple endings to unlock, complete with the standard “UFO” ending that is just as insane as always. For anyone looking for a great horror title, this is a great choice.