Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii review

Note: This post was supposed to be my Halloween post, to review the game I was playing during that time. In my silly stupidity I left it as a Draft Post, meaning it was never actually published to the blog. Everything still stands in it, and so I'm publishing it as my proper "review" of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Enjoy.

Ah, Silent Hill, it's good to be back, even if I am stuck being dragged into frozen hallucination worlds every now and then. Which actually helps to break up the problem the old games had of "Should I be solving this puzzle or running like hell" by separating the game into two very different "modes" as you play.

And thank you for doing motion controls right, for once. It makes the escape sequences and exploring, and even talking to people(due to the ability to look around during dialog) very immersive and actually good to play. That is, if "unnervingly creepy and real feeling" can be called good to play, which I say it can.

Every time I step away from the Wii Silent Hill game, I keep asking myself "why haven't other motion games done it this way instead of just replacing button presses with motion gestures?" And I keep coming short of an answer. It just...works.

Gotta say one negative thing about it though. It's really hard to read the cell phone text messages on a smaller TV. It's very clear this game is meant to be played on a widescreen TV, but unfortunetly our only TV that fits the bill is right in the middle of the living room...which is not where Silent Hill should be played when there are younger siblings about for obvious reasons. So I'll just have to put up with barely being able to read them. (So far, everything important to playing the game has been in audio tapes or had subtitles that are big enough to read even on small screens. I have no idea why they didn't think to include the text messages on the cell phone in this treatment.)

Edit from later: I've now since finished the game, and I can safely say that it's conclusion is well worth the effort of finishing it. It also helps to explain what is fully going on in the end if you're paying attention, which sadly makes the game suddenly less scary and more tragic on a replay.

I also must say this game is certainly not for kids. It's got adult content up the walls and beyond. But that's actually ok, because the subject it deals with in it's conclusion is a pretty serious, deep, adult subject about the mind and how easily it is broken, and kids might not fully understand or sympathize with who they are meant to in the end. I'm trying not to spoil it, so I can't go into details.

But I will say this game is both about your own mind and way of thinking, and yet it's also deeply about it's own main character's mind(who is not who or what you think they are at the beginning). It's got a message but it tells it in a very deep, dark, and yet simple way. Even the main menu has a deeper meaning that's only apparent after you see the game's conclusion, and will leave you with a much different feeling about it then when you started playing. It's beautiful, and not entirely heartless, despite telling it with a perfectly straight face and deeply tying it to your own psyche.

Yes, it's also creepy as usual, and quite a bit different from the old Silent Hill(yet not, some parts are almost a mirror of the old game on purpose for reasons I can't say here.) But I for one am glad I took the ride.

Happy Super Late Halloween all!


  1. You make it sound like an amazing game.

    I always got the impression Silent hill was just another gory zombie slasher or something.

    Maybe I wasn't mature enough for it at the time?

  2. Silent Hill is the one game where you can't fight the zombies, actually. Gameplaywise, Silent Hill has always been about crossing "Adventure Game exploration with a flashlight" and "Run for your life combat" sequences. You never get a gun in the game, and have a distinct Adventure Game Character flaw of never thinking you need a weapon other then your mind, quick thinking, and legs.

    The gory zombie shooter you are probably thinking of is Resident Evil, which has always given you pistols and ammo management, and lately has become a "cheap Blaarg scares" game, much to the sadness of this used-to-be-fan. (Most people get the two mixed up because of the advertisement and the "horror" genre similarities, but the two are like night and day in the way they scare you and how you play them.

    True to it's name, Silent Hill prefers to creep you out by simply existing and begging you to explore each "level" area, often with a distinct lack of nobody around except the ghosts, who usually just lead you into the rooms where they died and let their corpse speak for itself.

    That's why I've always preferred Silent Hill to Resident Evil. I'd much rather be able to explore and let the meanings of everything slowly seep in instead of shoot a bunch of zombies. Plus, it's much scarier when you can't shoot the thing that's chasing you down.

    1. Now that I look at this reply later:

      Evidently when I wrote this, I meant to say Shattered Memories instead of Silent Hill. Of course, it was also 2:00 AM when I posted, so I probably wasn't even fully awake.

      The running and lack of weapons still stands for every game of the series I've played though. The others work more because the gunplay/weapon use is usually so clunky(on purpose) it doesn't work against a horde of enemies. It's always seemed a better solution to run in Silent Hill.

  3. I am a huge silent hill fan. From day one back in 1999 when I picked out a PlayStation game to buy that month. I loved the combat style the exploration and most importantly Harry had something to say about almost everything you looked at in the game. Also the atmosphere and story lol.

    I flipped when I heard they were remaking the first silent hill for wii. I thought finally they are going to give the developers a chance to finish there masterpiece. To my horror I find that the original team is nowhere to be seen and worse yet this is a re-imagining. This by the way was the most horrifying part of the game.

    I bought it anyway thinking I would have to enjoy it anyway. But after 2 hours the story reminded me of a high school drama and the lack of combat was just me flailing my arms in a horrific muscle cramping fashion that just led to me smashing my hands into a stone fire place.

    The lack of combat was a no for me. I couldn't get over the naked pink people running into you that just "pinned" you to the ground. WTF If this was the first silent hill I ever played it would have been the last and that is it's worst crime.

    1. RetroTechnofuturism:

      I must agree with you on the lack of combat being a bit lame, being a fan of the original silent hill myself.

      However, after sticking through the whole game and seeing what they were really saying, I understand why they did it this way. There is a reason why we can't fight back in this game, and it's a good solid reason, but it's not explained till very late in the game(or at the end, if you miss the suggestions before). The game is really not meant to play anything like the other silent hill games for a deliberate purpose.

      MAJOR SPOILER, SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH TO AVOID. (In character, Shattered Memories ISN'T a "proper silent hill game". What we are playing through is actually the creation in the mind of someone who has played the original silent hill game, and then suffered something traumatic in real life. In their mind, they've used what the original game supplied to build their own reality to avoid the situation, thus the Shattered Memory title of the game. I can't go into details because that would spoil the game much further then I already have.)


      I think this game may have in fact done much better if it was titled differently then the other silent hill games. It's not a bad game, it's just not the same as the other ones in the series. It tries to do something very different, and in most ways succeeds brilliantly, but it certainly should not be played with the expectation of offering more of the same gameplay/scares we've come to expect from the rest of the series.

      It's one real flaw is in advertising itself as a Silent Hill game. But then again, it sort of relies on that for it's own storytelling. We are supposed to believe it's a Silent Hill game and the differences between it and other games are supposed to actually become significant later in it's own story. The problem is that the payout for that twist takes way too long for it's own good, and so the fans who should be picking up on that end up leaving early.

      I think they should have titled it simply "Shattered Memories", and maybe said it was "based on the Silent Hill series" somewhere on the box in small print, instead of outright declaring it a new entry.

      For the record, I did like the game, and I also like the original Silent Hill.

      But I also understand how if you are simply expecting the Silent Hill type of combat/exploration, this one will only disappoint you. I think it's not fair that this game advertised itself during development as being a Remake of the first game, because while it technically is in a way, the developers should have know better then to say so. There comes a point where the developers should have broken "In Character" and just outright said that their goal was NOT to remake the first game.

      Shattered Memories literally is what it says, a "Shattered" version of the memories of the first game, with a storyline stacked on top of an alternate, twisted version of the first game. If you give it a chance and play it for the intrigue, as well as the interesting(if not always serious) exploration of your own psych, it's a good entertaining game and has a multitude of endings that make it work out in the end.


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