Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the site knows that I am a huge fan of the Silent Hill series. I try to work a mention of it into every podcast we record (by the way stay tuned for a new one very shortly) and I even wrote news stories for Shattered Memories when the cover art was revealed, and when the delay was announced. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I am writing the full review of the game now that it has been released.
Even the most hardcore of Silent Hill fans, of which I easily count myself, can admit the series hasn’t quite been up to par with the last few entries. I love love love the first three games (2 will always be my favourite) but was underwhelmed by The Room, Origins and Homecoming. They weren’t bad games, they just couldn’t compare to those original three.
The idea of a reboot/remake/reimagining/whatever the hell they’re calling it these days of the first game was intriguing and the more I saw of the game the more my anticipation grew. Worth the wait? You know how this works, click onwards.
Now when they said they would be reimagining the first game, they weren’t kidding. They reimagined the shit out of this game. Aside from character names and the basic plot, virtually everything has been completely retooled.
For starter’s, there are no weapons in this game. In the past people have complained that sometimes they felt too powerful and Shattered Memories definitely addresses that because now you have nothing. You have a flashlight, that is all. You can’t use that to bash monster’s heads in or anything, you can only point it at things.
The flashlight is put to incredible use here. You of course use the Wii Remote to point it at the screen and it works very well. It controls smoothy and the lighting effects are fantastic. It helps add to the atmosphere and there’s never an issue of not having enough light to see where you’re going, an issue I had with the flashlight in the Saw videogame.
The only other item at your constant disposal is a cell phone. You can use this to make calls, listen to voicemail, check your map, take photos, etc. Taking photos is particularly cool because it’s portrayed as a realistic somewhat shitty camera phone. When you’re looking through it and moving around, everything is kind of blurry and jerky. Once again, atmosphere baby. You catch a glimpse of a monster through that thing and you will weep like a child, that I promise.
However my absolute feature of that phone is whenever you are on a call or listening to a voiceover. And why? Because all of the audio comes through the Wii Remote speaker. If you’ve read my review of Cursed Mountain (which of course you have, silly I thought otherwise) you know how much I appreciate solid use of the Wii Remote speaker, and it’s something you don’t see that often. This is hands-down the best use of it in any Wii game so far and other developers should take note of this.
Shattered Memories is definitely a slow burn. For the first 30-45 minutes, there is very little action to speak of. You start in a psychiatrist’s office where you are asked a series of questions that will help shape the experience you have in the game. Then you move into an exploration sequence where you simply walk around, solving puzzles (which are actually quite well done, one involving a computer password is a definite standout) and traversing the town. It sounds like it should be boring but guess what…ATMOSPHERE! You’re always on edge thinking something is going to happen and even just taking in the visuals is plenty rewarding.
I hadn’t touched on this yet but the game looks fantastic. The Silent Hill games have always been top notch in terms of graphics and this one keeps the tradition alive. The locations are detailed and I already mentioned the terrific lighting effects from the flashlight. I’m sure not everyone will do the same but I enjoyed just walking around and soaking everything in.
Between these exploration sequences are the chase sequences where the monsters come into play. As I mentioned earlier there are absolutely no weapons in this game. So how do you fight? You don’t. You run. You run your ass off and hope you can find your way before these things get you. These sequences are in-fucking-tense. There is even a button to look behind you to see how close these things are to catching you.
The one complaint I have is that the game does fall into a pretty basic pattern. Sequence in the psychiatrist’s office, exploration for a while, and then a chase sequence. It would have been nice to shake this formula up a little but it’s not a huge complaint.
The game is quite short, with my first playthrough taking about five hours. However this is a good place to talk about something I’ve yet to mention – the story. The Silent Hill series has always had fantastic stories, even if the game itself wasn’t quite up to par. This one is no exception and although it does borrow the same basic plot as the original game, it completely changes it around. I was completely invested in what was going on and was not let down when it came to its conclusion.
What makes it even better is that on each playthrough, the story will play out differently based on decisions you make throughout the game. I’m not sure if it’s all based on what you say/do in the psychiatrist’s office but I will say my second playthough was very different than my first. There are also I believe five different endings (could be even more) so if you enjoy the game, there is definite replay value here.
I’ve read many people saying that this is no longer Silent Hill (the same people who said the formula had gotten stale, you can’t have both people) but to me, despite all the changes, it still definitely feels like a Silent Hill game. The gameplay has been switched up but it keeps the same atmosphere and overall feel of the previous games. I really hope this one does well because I would absolutely love to see a sequel.