Home > Gaming, Horror > Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Impressions

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Impressions

Sorry, but ice just doesn't really scare me

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Silent Hill games. I think Silent Hill 2 was one of the best games ever made even. When the games were put into the hands of other developers I was really worried. I attempted to give them the benefit of the doubt and picked up Silent Hill: Origins, but someone needs to teach the new developers that Silent Hill is not about monster slaying. Constantly respawning enemies combined with the PSP’s terrible controls simply made the game unplayable for me.

Then came Homecoming which I haven’t touched yet because of the bad taste Origins left in my mouth.  I’ll attempt it eventually, but I just don’t have faith in the new developers.

Finally Shattered Memories hits and I hear they went the exact opposite way.  This time they removed all combat and instead focused on story and character development.  This intrigued me and I decided to pick up the newest in the franchise in spite of the very short playtime (about 6-8 hours).

The game takes place in retrospect as you talk to a psychiatrist about the events that occurred in the game.  So you’re jumping back and forth from the present to the past.  It is in these moments in the psychiatrist’s office that the game attempts to actually do a psychological profile of you and change elements of the game based on your responses to questions.  This is a very interesting idea that should hopefully be implemented fairly well.  I really won’t know how much changes without going back through and answering opposite of my prior answers.  From what I could tell though from my playtime in the game I really don’t think anything I answered had much of an effect.

My first real complaint is that the world itself just isn’t scary.  I will say that it’s rendered really well on the Wii, and the flashlight lighting effects are really amazing to see.  But in the end you’re just walking around an empty town with empty buildings.  Without monsters or strange architecture in random places or other minor touches, the world just doesn’t feel intimidating.  Instead it really just feels more like a blank canvas with nothing really happening on it.  There are “scare moments,” but you basically have to look for them via static noise and a humming as you get closer in a game of “hot and cold.”  You find the “scare moment” and generally it’s a poster flapping or a picture ripping in half or occasionally a stationary ghost that you take a picture of.  After you get these moments you’ll get a message related to it that breaks down to humdrum moments that just sound like everyday conversations most of the time.

These messages are where I actually got kind of annoyed at the game in all honesty.  This really isn’t as much a jab at the game as it is something that bothers me.  When the games were handed to american developers I was curious about their approach to horror/the games.  Instead I just found the games to become more sexualized and filled with more american sensibilities, and this is true in Shattered Memories.  So far the messages have been things like a Redneck calling his son a queer for not shooting an animal, or a teenage boy complaining cause he wants to get laid and his girlfriend won’t put out.  That particular message was repeated at least three times all with slight variations.  Among that are things like porn magazines and brothels and all sorts of elements scattered about the game.

Was all of the sexualization really necessary?  I could almost let it slide if it was Silent Hill 2 because part of the premise of that game was James’ sexual frustration that was represented by Pyramid Head, the creatures, and Maria.  But this is Harry.  All he cares about is finding his daughter.  The acting in this game is really good and the characters feel real for the most part, but Harry is just off sometimes.  He’s supposed to be focused on saving his daughter, and yet sometimes he’s laughing and reminiscing about things and seems almost happy in a few situations.  He just doesn’t feel as convincing as his prior incarnation.

The biggest complaint I have by far though is the Nightmare realm scenarios.  In this game you have moments of exploring and puzzle solving with no fear of combat that are followed by moments in the nightmare world.  The world basically entails of the place you just went through, only in this game its frozen over instead of being a nightmarish hell.  Well I guess it’s hell if your biggest fear is the ice and cold.  In this world you have to run from point A to point B while being chased by some of the tamest looking silent hill creatures I’ve ever seen.  I mean look at this guy.

Darling! Welcome home! I missed you.

The real nightmare is the gameplay in these segments.  As you’re running the game tries to highlight areas you can move across with blue highlights a-la a colder Mirror’s Edge.  It also might direct you sometimes in the path layout, but the problem comes in the fact that there’s only one true path and you can end up going in circles over and over again as you attempt to navigate it.  The game provides you with a map, but in order to view it you must pull out your cellphone, then open up the map, then zoom out to examine it.  This proves downright impossible 95% of the time because the creatures are always chasing you and attack you as you do so.

When the creatures attack you they basically just latch on to you in a bear hug and the only way to get them off is to use the Wiimote.  The problem is that you have to move the Wiimote in specific motions as opposed to the normal “flail arms about wildly” motions.  This is just annoying beyond belief because you will see the motion you need to do, but the game just doesn’t accept when you do the correct motion.  Sometimes the example doesn’t come up and you’re left shaking the Wiimote in all the ways you can think of in hopes of throwing them off.

With all of this I can still find the game playable because eventually I just pick the right path and make it through.  Then I reached the third nightmare world stage and found my breaking point.  I finally reached the checkpoint after four attempts.  After that I was required to navigate this screwed up ice maze, find four specific moments, and take pictures of people as ice statues.  The same issue came up in how you are constantly being chased and it takes too much time to whip out your phone, go to the camera mode, focus on the picture, and then take the picture.  Perhaps there is some way to get around all of this, but after so much frustration and failed attempts I just don’t have any desire to continue.

I really wanted to give this game a shot, but in the long run I came away unimpressed.  I do still suggest trying it if you’re not sure, but it’s definitely not worth its current price.

  1. December 20, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Yeah I saw the endings on youtube, I don’t know if they were worth extra playthroughs, they say their 5 but it’s basically 1 with only one scene that changes and really doesn’t add any difference to the overall plot.

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