If you’re familiar with the town of Silent Hill then you know that it is a sad old resort town that harbors the most evil and disturbing gaming that anyone has ever, or will ever play. When it was announced that Silent Hill would hit the Wii my first thought was, “oh shit, I hope they don’t fuck it up.” When I say that I am a fan of the game, that would be a gross understatement. I go way back with this series, and all in all they have never let me down. Now that Shattered Memories is out, the question you are probably asking is, does it deliver the goods? The answer to that question isn’t quite clear cut as you would hope it to be.
What I liked:
The one thing the Silent Hill series has always delivered is a creepy unsettling atmosphere and a hard to follow David Lynch esque storyline. Shattered Memories has without question hit the nail on the head with both. It is a solid blend of remake, sequel, and original. It feels familiar while all the while hitting you with a new set of scares and disturbing imagery. It follows Harry Mason again and he’s looking for is daughter, AGAIN. Aside from that there are some recurring characters and themes but, it really is an all new story. It is very sad and very moody and(wait for it) very cold! It’s Silent Hill in a snow storm. Harry is trapped in a blizzard and all he wants to do is find his daughter and go home. It has the twists and turns and multiple endings that we have all come to expect from the series.
Since this game is on the Wii the wiimote of course has a lot to do with the gameplay. This game is, in my humble opinion, the very best use of the wiimote that a developer has ever come up with. My Hat’s off to Climax for what pulled off here. The wiimote is essentially Harry’s right hand. He has a flashlight and a iphone esque cell phone that is all handled with the wiimote. It fucking rules! The flashlight is some of the best lighting I’ve ever seen in a game ever and it’s on the WII. Can you believe that shit? Actually, the graphics for the most part are stellar and very, “Next Gen,” looking. On the Wii that is saying a lot. It really adds a a whole new level of immersion that the series has never been able to achieve in the past. You really get that sense that you are Harry Mason. Gone is the way of the radio now you have a cell phone. This is your, communication to other characters, it’s your map, and it’s your inventory. It works really well and one problem I have always had with the series has been the inventory system. In the past it really pulls you out of the action to fuss around in the inventory menu. Now, you just pull up the phone real quick do what you need to do and you’re right back into the thick of it. This goes back to the level of immersion but, when shit happens, or people call or text you, or an enemy is near, the sound all comes out of the wiimote speaker and it sounds great. I have already found myself holding the controller to my ear like a phone. It just works! This gameplay mechanic is the added boost that the series really needed.
Now that we’re talking about immersion lets talk about the psychological profile the game does on you. At certain points in the game you will find yourself in a shrink’s office. He’ll ask you a bunch of yes or no questions and end his session with an activity. How you answer all these questions and how you complete the activities will change certain things in the game. Although, the end result isn’t much more than changing the type of clothes a character wears or, it might add boobs to a monster. There are moments though, that really give you the “wow that was cool,” feeling. Yeah, it is a little on the shallow side but, it is still effective and it’s one more tool the game has to pull you into the characters and story.
What I didn’t like:
There aren’t any weapons. Yeah I know, right? You have absolutely no defense against the messed up looking monsters in this game. All you can do is run for your life and hide when you can. In theory that sounds terrifying. I definitely commend Climax for what they did here but, the end result isn’t as scary as I think they wanted it to be.
Which brings me to the Nightmare sequences. Like in all the other games, at certain points you end up in a nightmare version of the area you are exploring. All that happens is everything freezes over and you got to run. Enemies jump on you and you have to get them off by flicking the controller. What ends up happening is that you are running so frantically that not only do you not have any time to admire the creepiness but, you also have no time to even pull out your map. So you run around in circles not knowing where you’re going then monsters jump on you and kill you…Try again!
Also the frozen world just isn’t as scary or as interesting as all the other games and it feels like a big step in the wrong direction. I guess ice just doesn’t scare me. Then there is the monsters. All they are is a generic creepy Silent Hill monster and that’s all you get. If you were hoping for some cool looking monsters you will most certainly be disappointed.
With all said and done Silent Hill: Shattered Memories does deliver most of what you want in Silent Hill game. It does so much right that it is hard for me to condemn it for some of the poor design choices. Let’s be honest, Silent Hill usually falls a little short in the gameplay department so if you like me are in it for the story and the atmosphere than trust me you will enjoy it a lot. One word of advice, when in nightmare land get very good at puling out your map fast. It will give you the time you need to plan your getaway which in turn will keep the frustration level in the green. If they make a more traditional Silent Hill game with this wiimote gameplay it will be more than likely flawless! One can hope.
3.5 out of 5