by Max Keogh
reviewed on WII
Welcome to Silent Hill…
Both films and video games have their own definitive hallmarks in the horror genre. For Hollywood, there have been the masterworks from Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho, and John Carpenter, Halloween. Both films have left a lasting, iconic impression on the film industry. For games, we’ve had Resident Evil, F.E.A.R, and of course, the series based on the foggy, deserted and lifeless town of Silent Hill.
There are a number of reasons as to why Silent Hill broke the boundaries in gaming. One reason could be the game’s perfect execution of a horror atmosphere. The foggy, deserted town really terrified yet completely absorbed the player. The town was dead and had barely any life, just ominous noises filling the air. Nothing was clear. Everything in the town was shrouded by one fog after another. The game completely sucked you into this dead town and nailed executing a simple yet incredibly effective horror atmosphere.
Another reason could be its main characters and the story’s heavy focus on psychological horror. You really feel your character’s fright and pain in the series, and you can really believe that they are characters with real flesh and blood emotion. It is possibly these reasons in particular that to the series’ strong legacy.
Silent Hill: Shattered memories, the latest in the series, developed by Complex Studios and published by Konami, is a re-iteration of the original game. No, not a remake, a re-iteration, as the developers at Konami is consistently telling the fans. Whilst the game borrows a lot of the same qualities the initial game had, there have been quite a few twists, changes and turns added in to the experience.
Whilst a lot has been added, the already rich, deeply scary atmosphere the Silent Hill PSONE classic has been enhanced greatly. After all, the atmosphere has been one of the series’ strongest pedigrees. The execution in this game is already looking rather complete, and Shattered memories seems to experiment with a lot of different ideas rather effectively for the game play.
Where’s my daughter?
The game kicks off just like the original did. Your main protagonist, Harry Mason, has suffered a terrible car crash due to being blurred and steered off course by snow covering his view. Harry then finds himself alone and lost in this forgotten town. His quest, just like the original did too, involves you tracking down his lost daughter: Cheryl, but little does Mason know what horrors await him in Silent Hill.
The most noticeable change to the core game play is Harry’s inventory. He now has a wide variety of gadgets and materials at his disposal. Mason has a flashlight with him and a cool iPhone-esque phone that he will occasionally use and may even receive some in-game clues on via text messages. A small map with him highlights specific areas that he is either in or he may need to get to. However, these are the only items in the game that you can use. Yeah, seriously. Only those three. No other weapons for combat, nothing. No joke.
However, considering combat has always been the series’ weak point, it’s actually a blessing that it has been removed here. The game instead solely relies on you solving as many puzzles as you can and collecting as many clues as you can retrieve. There is a potential to be getting mauled by monsters, of course there is. But instead, the player needs to run as fast as he can to a safety point, or ANYTHING that can help you escape.
Nifty new gameplay features, haunting atmosphere, engrossing physological-based gameplay.
Some minor unresponsive control mechanics, may be a bit too different for veteran Silent Hill fans.