Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Silent Hill is a series that have been sending shivers down my spine for a few years now but to be honest the newer titles seem to have traded the psychological horror for a more hack and slash approach. It’s for this reason that I was sceptical when I heard that Silent Hill: Shattered memories was going to be a remake of the original 1999 PSone classic. Another thing that put a damper on my excitement was the fact that I beat the original game many times over and explored every nook and cranny. What could Shattered Memories offer me that I haven’t seen before? Boy was I wrong…
Silent Hill is the tale of Harry Mason who loses control of his car and crashes near the town of Silent Hill. Upon regaining consciousness he discovers that his daughter Cheryl is missing and sets off to find her. In his mission to find Cheryl he discovers that Silent Hill has quite a few disturbing secrets and locating his daughter is just one of his worries. Shattered Memories takes this classic tale and turns it on its head leaving you more confused than ever before but it all comes together quite nicely in the end.
If you have been following the series of Silent Hill games there’s going to be quite a few raised eyebrows over the changes in story and gamplay mechanics which although mostly good has a few new features that I am less than happy about.
Shattered Memories was originally a Nintendo WII title which might explain why the traditional “evil” realm of Silent Hill have been replaced by a frozen wasteland but then again the game contains lots of sexual references so maybe Nintendo’s child friendly attitude is not to blame. Don’t get me wrong the games graphics is very good but it just doesn’t feel like Silent Hill without the nightmarish environments of rust and blood. Just as controversial is the complete absence of combat in this game. Yes that’s right you can’t defend yourself in this game at all so your only option is to run away or hide. Even more disturbing is that these chase sequences have been confined to only certain parts of the game which means the majority of time in Silent Hill is spend wandering around without any threats. This and the new frozen theme completely destroys the oppressive atmosphere that the series thrives on. Lastly your inventory has been done away with and the only thing you can carry with you is your flashlight and cellphone.
I’m sure after hearing all of this a lot of fans have already written this game of but wait there’s more. Another staple of the series, the brain bending puzzles have been simplified and most of them are confined to a single small location so no more running around collecting obscure objects to use in weird puzzles. Instead you usually find everything you need right in front of you and the solutions are never that hard to guess. Lastly the game is quite short which may just be the final nail in the coffin for this one.
The strange thing however is that I couldn’t stop playing this game! The storyline really drew me in and I was genuinely interested to see what would happen next. The graphics are also very good for a portable game with some outstanding light and shadow effects. If there were stray monsters wandering about this game could have been so creepy but alas the lack of danger really throws a damper on the atmosphere.
The game has a very interesting twist in the form of a psychiatrist that ask you all kinds of personal questions which the game then goes and uses against you. How you act and what you look at also has subtle influences on the game which is a very interesting and unique touch. It also adds some much needed replay value to a short game and getting all the different endings gives the lifespan a boost. Seeing all the familiar characters in unfamiliar circumstances is an interesting experience but one that is lost on newcomers to the series.
Considering this game was originally made for a console with a motion sensitive gamepad I’m very impressed by how it controls on PSP. Interacting with the environments are a breeze and using your cellphone for everything from taking pictures to reading messages and calling every number in sight is pretty neat. The audio is also very memorable with haunting melodies and very good voice acting.
Overall I have very mixed feelings about this game. It was definitely fun to play but as a Silent Hill game it left a lot to be desired. The chase sequences in particular was a pain in the arse and like I said the game lacked the typical oppressive Silent Hill atmosphere. The game is fairly linear without any aimless wandering around or trying to open hundreds of broken or locked doors but I would have gladly traded this for more challenging puzzles and scarier monsters. In the end I can still recommend this game especially to those who are fascinated with this series’ underlying meaning.
*Review originally published 2010.