Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

An ambitious re-imagining of Konami's spine-tingling masterpiece, Shattered Memories proves itself an innovative, if flawed take on one of the forefathers of the survival horror genre.

My first exposure to Konami's Silent Hill series of scare-fests was back in 1999, fresh off of a week-long bender of Resident Evil 2. Ready for even more malformed monsters and mutant crocodile menaces, I was somewhat surprised when I powered my Playstation on to find an incredibly different environment than RE2's Raccoon City. Instead of facing a horde of genetically altered flesh-eaters, I was met with twisting camera angles, hauntingly melodic background music, and faceless creepy crawlies straight out of Jacob's Ladder. Silent Hill's titular fog-infested locale was frightening in a much more psychological sense, creating a general sense of uneasiness and anxiousness that offered a nice change of pace from RE's conventional Romero-esque scare tactics.

The franchise hit a high point with the scarring Silent Hill 2, a journey through the psyche of a tortured widower that garnered both critical and commercial acclaim; after a relatively successful direct sequel to the original with Silent Hill 3, the franchise slowly headed back to obscurity with the remarkably dissimilar Silent Hill 4 (originally not even a Silent Hill title), then ran safely back towards the horror conventions it tried so hard to stray from with the American developed Silent Hill: Homecoming. Despite its masterfully frightening origins, the Silent Hill series fell victim to contrived and confusing plot twists, as well as several inherent gameplay issues such as unwieldy cameras and a slow, cerebral pace that proved too taxing for survival horror fans accustomed to Resident Evil's gut-wrenching pace.

Luckily, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories returns to the game's glory days by re-imagining the first Silent Hill and combining it with a more psychological ploy that harkens back to the classic second installment; Harry Mason is still searching for his daughter in the barren villa of Silent Hill and as the game progresses, players slowly begin to unravel the mystery of the town and the man who haunts its snowy streets. But rather than being a direct remake, Shattered Memories has an interesting twist: the developers -- Climax Group, the promising minds behind 2007's handheld prequel, Silent Hill: Origins -- bills it as a game that "plays you as much as you play it." Every so often, the core action will be broken up by small psychiatric sessions, prompting an unorthodox doctor to ask you almost uncomfortably personal questions about your hopes, fears, and sexuality. Depending on your answers, the game will shape itself as more tailor-made for whoever's playing it. After all, what's more frightening than a horror game that knows what scares you?

While the psychoanalyzation angle is certainly an ambitious one, I just didn't feel like it went quite far enough. Two separate playthroughs of Shattered Memories with polar-opposite answers did alter character dialogue and appearances, but the game's simplistic puzzles and repetitive nightmare sequences were left entirely untouched. Add in the fact that the game can easily be completed in about five hours, and there isn't an awful lot to keep players around for another playthrough.

The aforementioned nightmare sequences are especially disappointing: Unlike previous Silent Hill titles, Harry is unable to actually fight his faceless foes, instead resigned to meekly pushing them aside and scurrying away. Discretion is the better part of valor unless, of course, you're mired in a dense fog that surrounds a labyrinthine city, at which point it just becomes jarringly annoying. Harry does come equipped with a GPS on his cell phone, but the level design is so straightforward -- every path but the one you are meant to take is blocked off by a convenient wall of ice or some other debris -- that it's almost completely useless.

At the end of the day, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories isn't a bad game by any means -- it's an incredibly original and ambitious project, but the weight of its problems, both old and new, keep it from being much more than a nostalgic love letter addressed to diehard series fans.

PROS: Intriguing psychological angle; looks great for a Wii title; fantastic voice acting
CONS: Far too short; nightmare sequences are frustrating; way too easy to get lost

Comments [23]

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metalreaper101

Overall I disliked the game very much. At least in Silent Hill Homecoming they TRIED to keep it silent hilly but with this? HEY! I got an Idea, lets replace the Rust and Decay look of the hellish silent hill with a boring ice dreamland. KIDS WILL LOVE IT!!!! Yeah right. Some of you who are new to silent hill are probably just used to silent hill: origin, homecoming etc and don't know what made this game stand out and what made it good which was the feeling! The choking feeling of metal and hell that made you dive into an insane world and made you come out with a sense of wanting to crap your pants. The various monsters in this game aren't that various actually. All of them do the same thing, grab you and fall off when you throw them. If you liked it for the game play then go play Wii boxing or something, at least there it makes sense AND your actually hitting something. Their attempt to revamp the silent hill saga with this spin off is a joke and regretfully I threw 30 bucks down the toilet buying this game! You like this game because its emotional? Go listen to your girlfriend while she's on the rag, you'll get a face full of emotion there. You like it because its scary? You wanna be chased by something and not be able to do anything about it, then just wrap yourself in bacon and jump in a lions den. I don't know what they were thinking when they made this game. It could have had a different name like a previous member stated and kept the name of SH safe. Sorry fellas, you can't compare this to RE4 either, in RE4 despite the badguys not being zombies at least you still SHOOT something. I rate this game a -10 on my scale of 1 to 10 for worst attempt at making something awesome better and end up making it go down the toilet

shlimmy

I just finished the game and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. While the graphics were subpar, I felt they didn't take away from the experience of the story. I don't need 'Avatar' visuals to enjoy a good story. The controls also were a struggle but never for an extended amount of time. I think a lot of this stemmed from my not playing the Wii in over six months and getting back used to the controller. The cellphone integration is the best I've come across in a game. The experience was unique enough for me to recommend this title to anyone looking for darker, and yet enjoyable Wii experience.

TripleO

patsfan365 wrote:

lol, shattered memories. ironic title. this games shattered your memories of old, awesome silent hill games by sucking so bad.

Just like your mom, with women.

StormKing

sterbacblu wrote:

The game doesn't need a GPS because it's straightforward...but it's way too easy to get lost? Did anybody even proofread this?

"Harry does come equipped with a GPS on his cell phone, but the level design is so straightforward -- every path but the one you are meant to take is blocked off by a convenient wall of ice or some other debris -- that it's almost completely useless."

"CONS: Far too short; nightmare sequences are frustrating; way too easy to get lost"

LOL, I see your point.

sterbacblu

The game doesn't need a GPS because it's straightforward...but it's way too easy to get lost? Did anybody even proofread this?

I know this has already been brought up in the comments but this is really appalling to me and I'm hoping someone at GamePro addresses this. I'm not even a fan of the series, I just wanted to read some reviews of the game and it's so frustrating to see contradictions like this because readers can't tell which side of the fence the reviewer was really on. Is it easy to get lost or is it straightforward? All it takes is that one contradiction and I have to discredit the entire review, which only seven sentences of are actual opinion and game play experience.

I started coming back to GamePro thinking that they were really going to start making some positive changes, but then things like this happen which cause you to lose trust in a reviewer. More importantly, when it becomes more widespread, you lose trust in the site it was posted on. It's hard to believe that somebody was compensated for this work and that it was even approved to be posted.

There's no reason this complain needed to be made public, but the Contact Us page for management provides no email addresses where I can send this to.

PaladinLady

StormKing wrote:

PaladinLady wrote:

I see a lot of "imho's" today around the game media, that doesn't quite sound honest or anybody's own. "People" are demanding freedom of opinion suprisingly ferociously, when defending nauseatingly populist Wii bashing fan-"pro's". Game"pro" is nothing else but an account phishing piece of populist fanboy media, lobbying HD-Ready-game industry while at it. Well congratulations, you made one more account out of me. Who really would sign in an site like this, for defending the clearly crooked magazines staff? The reviewer himself, clothed in womens account to make credible look? If i was to pay for a review like this quick look, I would demand my money back.
Why horrorgames are not scary? Because they become become humdrum action games, when you learn the routines needed to remove its monsters from your way, like a coulisse. In horror movies protagonists are powerless against the forces of darknes, so I think Climax Studios made excellent innovation, that should have been discovered a long time ago! This is how horror game stays horror game to its end. This game is full of interesting things, Game"Pro"(they still call them selves a pro!?) purposefully fail to notice.

While I agree with your assesment of horror games will you pleeeeaaaaase quit your MuthaF*cking bitching. If you hate GP's reviews (also known as opinions) so much then stop reading them.

You read what I said, and even understood it? This review is certainly not an opinion. And yeah I stop reading them, but they still are hurting my systems game support, so I will hurt these fan boys back in any small ways I can.

Maropo

shortANDcurlies
You are C R A Z Y. The graphics are TERRIBLE? It looks like a PS2 game!??? GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE, YOU SILLY 360/PS3 FAN BOY! I've played this game through many hours in a well calibrated 32' LG LCD screen at 480 progressive scan and what I saw was GORGEOUS for a Wii game. Very crips textures, incredible ice effects, incredivle shadowing of snow flocks everywhere, the city is also gorgeous, you're either totally blind or your tv is defective. There is no chance we've played the same game. The only game I'd put above this game overall as far as graphics go would be Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3.

shortANDcurlies

I put the game in last night and after 90 minutes I had enough. The game controls horribly and is one of the worst looking games I have played in a while... looking at the shadowing you would swear it was a PS1 game... Thats TWO SIlent Hill games in a row that I have hated and it's pretty upsetting since I love the series.

This game clearly shows off the Wii's inability to make a great horror game that looks decent on a big screen HDTV... enough with this crap.. Put out a Nintendo HD console... the WiiHD, the Zii, something, ...PLEASE!

The games frustrating controls and overall direction is aweful. Really, I have many more games that I start and stop right away for the Wii then ay other system. If it's not Mario, Smash Bros. or Zelda and Metroid... it's just not worth it.
I DO NOT recommend this game, ... and I love horror, shoot... I even bought The Grudge and Cursed Mountain for the Wii.

StormKing

PaladinLady wrote:

I see a lot of "imho's" today around the game media, that doesn't quite sound honest or anybody's own. "People" are demanding freedom of opinion suprisingly ferociously, when defending nauseatingly populist Wii bashing fan-"pro's". Game"pro" is nothing else but an account phishing piece of populist fanboy media, lobbying HD-Ready-game industry while at it. Well congratulations, you made one more account out of me. Who really would sign in an site like this, for defending the clearly crooked magazines staff? The reviewer himself, clothed in womens account to make credible look? If i was to pay for a review like this quick look, I would demand my money back.
Why horrorgames are not scary? Because they become become humdrum action games, when you learn the routines needed to remove its monsters from your way, like a coulisse. In horror movies protagonists are powerless against the forces of darknes, so I think Climax Studios made excellent innovation, that should have been discovered a long time ago! This is how horror game stays horror game to its end. This game is full of interesting things, Game"Pro"(they still call them selves a pro!?) purposefully fail to notice.

While I agree with your assesment of horror games will you pleeeeaaaaase quit your MuthaF*cking bitching. If you hate GP's reviews (also known as opinions) so much then stop reading them.

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