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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Preview

The Silent Hill series has been around for a decade, providing some of the scariest moments ever seen in gaming. When Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was first announced as a reimagining of the 1999 original, it was met with some trepidation from fans. After playing the opening section of the game at E3 I found it is noticeably different but retains a lot of the atmosphere.

 Shattered Memories Logo

With a premise straight from the original, you play as Harry Mason searching for his daughter in the town of Silent Hill after a car crash. However, despite sharing the same set-up the two games play entirely differently. As the opening section of the game loads it becomes clear that Shattered Memories is designed to be as psychological and unsettling as its predecessors.

Before the gameplay begins a warning appears on screen explaining that the game will psychologically evaluate your actions. Whilst this seemed like a bold claim, it was evident that different decisions would lead to alternative characters and even other locations appearing. To begin with Harry was tasked with filling out a psychological profile with questions ranging from drinking habits to sexual role-play. This took place under the guise of a psychiatrist's appointment acting as a prologue to the game. At one stage the psychiatrist even queried an answer asking for truth which felt like the game was digging deeply.

Silent Hill Shattered Memories Screenshot 1

Soon enough the fateful car crash occurs, leaving Harry stranded in the snowy town with his daughter missing. With only his PDA for company the gameplay starts and it is clear that this is a title designed for the Wii. The control system is innovative and natural and makes navigating the town simple. One of the nicest features is mapping the flashlight control to the Wii Remote so as you move the controller the flashlight moves about the screen. This is a very intuitive and simple design which works very well making exploration painless.

As Harry sets about exploring the deserted streets and buildings some of Akira Yamaoka's evocative and haunting soundtrack kicks in, creating that traditional Silent Hill atmosphere. Whilst there were only a handful of music tracks in the demo they were of a typically high standard and they really helped to focus the game, providing a chilling backdrop.

Silent Hill Shattered Memories Screenshot 2

Graphically, Shattered Memories is also impressive and really seems to be getting the most out of the Wii. The snowy streets are different from anything the series has seen before and the cool palette is both oppressive and uninviting, just what a Silent Hill title needs. The falling snow and icy environments are well rendered and some of the new locations are cleverly used and centred on this theme.

Exploration and puzzling are still key features and there are some great examples using the Wii's motion sensitivity. One example involved removing the bolt from a locked door by highlighting the bolt and sliding the remote in the same direction. Whilst this wasn't exactly ground breaking, it was a nice example and was different from the item searching and combination of previous games. Elsewhere the puzzles were a little more complex. In a dress shop it was necessary to search clothes for a key to a door which was pleasingly unusual. Perhaps the best demonstration was using the remote to shake different cans in order to find a key by listening for the rattling. It was then necessary to tip the can upside down to get rid of the key, which is a subtle but clever application. Hopefully other puzzles will be as well designed as these early ones.

Silent Hill Shattered Memories Screenshot 3

As the demo progressed further we reached a location and met one of the early characters, a policewoman in a local diner. However, when we witnessed a second play through, there was a completely different character and location: a barmaid and a tavern instead. These changes are all influenced by a variety of factors which is sure to help keep Shattered Memories unusual and unpredictable.

Soon enough though, in true Silent Hill style, the town took on its demonic alternative which instead of being rusty metal and blood was even more icy and frozen. In real time the environments changed with icy columns emerging from the road and buildings being locked behind walls of snow. Here the game's PDA became important with its camera being able to detect images not visible to the naked eye. A photograph of a nearby child's swing revealed your daughter creepily sitting in it.

Silent Hill Shattered Memories Screenshot 4

Not only does the environment change, but nightmarish enemies appear to hunt you. With combat removed entirely from Shattered Memories, this means you have no option but to run and hide leading to some excruciatingly tense chases as you desperately try to escape the creatures. In the demo I found myself hiding in a cupboard as a faceless monstrosity stood outside until it moved away and I could leave. As I explored the building further, I was soon cornered in a room and hid underneath a bed. Suddenly I found myself pulled out by my legs by one of the monsters and needed to frantically wave the controller to escape.

The lack of combat makes you feel seriously vulnerable and really raises the fear levels as at times you find your heart in your mouth as multiple enemies race after you. In one memorable section I was surrounded in a deserted swimming pool with the "things" approaching me from all angles. Thankfully, a mysterious item lay in the centre which turned out to be a flare. This drove them back giving me precious seconds to make a dash for the exit.

Silent Hill Shattered Memories Screenshot 5

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is surprising as it is clearly taking the series in a new direction. After some found Homecoming a little lacking, this fresh twist will be a reimagining that cleverly moves away from comparisons with the original and looks set to provide some scares a decade after the original first arrived. Available on the Wii, PS2 and PSP the title is set for release later this year.

evilgiraffeman | 8th June, 2009
Angelfromabove's picture
I had no idea that this was even in production!
I cannot wait to see how this turns out, especially on the wii.
Rasher's picture
it plays rather well from what i have seen
i think this preview does sum it up very well.
Angelfromabove's picture
Yeah i watched a few vids on youpube and it suprised me, looks very good.
Not sure if im keen on adapting the original story to fit you, but i do like the fact that the enemys appear really plain to begin with and the more delusional you get, the more grotesque they get!

And i dont know what to think on the ice world...i wonder if thats because its on the wii theyve tried to tone it down a bit?
GuNsLiNgEr's picture
It wasn't directed by Uwe Boll was it?

Few I thought it was another movie, read Memories as movie.
Angelfromabove's picture
LOL!
There was rumour of a second movie coming out though wasnt there. I actually enjoyed the movie, looks like im part of the minority.
GuNsLiNgEr's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Angelfromabove View Post
LOL!
There was rumour of a second movie coming out though wasnt there. I actually enjoyed the movie, looks like im part of the minority.
I enjoyed the film aswell actually, but game films are never safe from the anti christ that is Uwe Boll.
Angelfromabove's picture
Haha fair one
djdawsonuk's picture
I quite liked the film as well.
Angelfromabove's picture
Ahh maybe not as many haters as i thought then!
Dead Alive's picture
I hated it. And Sean Bean's accent was ridiculous.
Angelfromabove's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Alive View Post
I hated it. And Sean Bean's accent was ridiculous.
Hey you leave my reletives out of this :P

(Hes apparently a very far removed distant reletive on my dads side)
ExcessNeo's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuNsLiNgEr View Post
I enjoyed the film aswell actually, but game films are never safe from the anti christ that is Uwe Boll.
Postal is one of the greatest films ever and that was done by Uwe Boll.
Dead Alive's picture
Sean Bean is an awesome actor imo. Just wasted talent in the Silent Hill movie.

His American accent is daft and he's hardly in it.
Angelfromabove's picture
Yeah his accent is ridiculous and to be honest they could have used a lower profile actor to do that part but oh well, still enjoyed it.
I really enjoyed the movie, one of the better game - movie conversions.
Angelfromabove's picture
Yeah i though so too, much better i felt than the Resi Films. Need to catch the new one actually, the cg on, degeneration or something i think its called. £4 at tescos lol
Dead Alive's picture
I liked Resi 1 and 2. Haven't actually seen 3 all the way through yet but it looked a bit naff. Then again I'll probably come to like it eventually.

/Jovovich fan
Degeneration isn't too bad.
Rasher's picture
i loved Degeneration
may of been to do with the timing of L4D/Degeneration, as we was all zombie fans at the time.
Angelfromabove's picture
I may have to pick it up then, i have the others so be nice to get the set.

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