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Hands-On With The Wii's New Silent Hill

A survival horror game without guns? The heck you say!

The flashlight exploration feels really natural.
A couple of months ago, I gushed over the new Silent Hill reboot/remake on the Wii, Shattered Memories, after it made a big impression on me at a Konami press event. As E3 closed out last week, I got a chance to briefly play the game for myself and verified that, yes, this does look like a very interesting rethink of what Silent Hill should be. After all, how many survival horror games can you think of with no guns in them?

The game's free-form exploration--which has you pointing directly where you want to shine your flashlight with the Wii-mote--feels perfectly natural, and the real-time lighting effects look extremely good for a Wii game and are roughly on a par, I'd say, with the lighting in Doom 3-era games. (That's in terms of general fidelity, not the specific lighting tricks being used.) Harry's tendency to comment on things he has something to comment about is also a nice touch; it makes the exploration feel streamlined.

After checking out an abandoned, pitch-black building to see how these controls worked, the E3 demo jumped ahead to a combat scenario--or what passes for combat in Shattered Memories. One of the bizarre conditions afflicting the town of Silent Hill in this game is a pervasive deep freeze, where everything around you becomes suddenly and violently encased in ice. I started fleeing the ice as it spread, only to come face to face with some of Silent Hill's trademark repulsive monsters.

GET IT OFF GET IT OFF
As mentioned, there's no gunplay in this game, so the only thing I could do--at least at this stage of the game--was flee from them. The game has a specific button for letting you look over your shoulder, which tells me you're going to be fleeing from monsters a lot, and the over-the-shoulder perspective has a good horror-movie vibe to it as you watch the beasts closing the distance on you. If they manage to grab you, the best you can do is shove them off, which you do by shoving the Wii-mote and nunchuk in the direction they're attacking you.

Like the flashlight, the defensive controls felt natural and actually tied into the frenzied panic of what was happening onscreen, which--if you'll allow me a Wii cliche--drew me a little more intimately into the action. The developers at Climax seem to be distilling what makes a survival horror game scary and focusing directly on those elements, finding ways to make the Wii's controls work for those elements rather than allowing them to be an obstacle to good, direct control.

These scenes were shown at the Konami event a few weeks ago, so I'm merely verifying for you that they play as well as I hoped they would then. But here's your brand new information about Shattered Memories, a truly unique and sort of creepy technique for personalizing your experience that I didn't expect. Essentially, the game has its eyes on you at all times, watching what you're doing and recording what sounds like an enormous array of minutiae about how you're playing. The game starts with a psych exam, which you can see a bit of in the trailer below, where the doctor asks you increasingly personal questions about your likes, dislikes, bedroom behavior, and other strange topics.

Somebody's watching you.
That exam is explicit, but later in the game, according to a company rep, the game will more invisibly track your every move. The sole example involved that first deserted building I was exploring. When I came to a hallway junction with a sign indicating the exits were to the left and the bathrooms to the right, the rep pointed out that the game would remember whether I went right to investigate the bathrooms or went straight to the exit. And if I did hit up the facilities, it would further remember whether I went in the men's or ladies' room first. How all this data will manifest later on the rep mostly wouldn't say, though he did let slip that your cumulative choices will determine what the monsters will look like. Presumably, the game will attempt to get inside your head, figure out what scares you the most, and then do precisely that.

Shattered Memories seems like an ambitious game, from the eschewal of standard survival-horror tropes like shooting, to the quality of the graphics the Wii is crunching here, to the application of data-mining to a psychological horror context. I really hope Climax pulls it all off; if it does, this seems like it could be one of the better third-party games from a traditional "hardcore" genre we've seen on the Wii yet.

  




42 Comments
Posted by Brad
The flashlight exploration feels really natural.
A couple of months ago, I gushed over the new Silent Hill reboot/remake on the Wii, Shattered Memories, after it made a big impression on me at a Konami press event. As E3 closed out last week, I got a chance to briefly play the game for myself and verified that, yes, this does look like a very interesting rethink of what Silent Hill should be. After all, how many survival horror games can you think of with no guns in them?

The game's free-form exploration--which has you pointing directly where you want to shine your flashlight with the Wii-mote--feels perfectly natural, and the real-time lighting effects look extremely good for a Wii game and are roughly on a par, I'd say, with the lighting in Doom 3-era games. (That's in terms of general fidelity, not the specific lighting tricks being used.) Harry's tendency to comment on things he has something to comment about is also a nice touch; it makes the exploration feel streamlined.

After checking out an abandoned, pitch-black building to see how these controls worked, the E3 demo jumped ahead to a combat scenario--or what passes for combat in Shattered Memories. One of the bizarre conditions afflicting the town of Silent Hill in this game is a pervasive deep freeze, where everything around you becomes suddenly and violently encased in ice. I started fleeing the ice as it spread, only to come face to face with some of Silent Hill's trademark repulsive monsters.

GET IT OFF GET IT OFF
As mentioned, there's no gunplay in this game, so the only thing I could do--at least at this stage of the game--was flee from them. The game has a specific button for letting you look over your shoulder, which tells me you're going to be fleeing from monsters a lot, and the over-the-shoulder perspective has a good horror-movie vibe to it as you watch the beasts closing the distance on you. If they manage to grab you, the best you can do is shove them off, which you do by shoving the Wii-mote and nunchuk in the direction they're attacking you.

Like the flashlight, the defensive controls felt natural and actually tied into the frenzied panic of what was happening onscreen, which--if you'll allow me a Wii cliche--drew me a little more intimately into the action. The developers at Climax seem to be distilling what makes a survival horror game scary and focusing directly on those elements, finding ways to make the Wii's controls work for those elements rather than allowing them to be an obstacle to good, direct control.

These scenes were shown at the Konami event a few weeks ago, so I'm merely verifying for you that they play as well as I hoped they would then. But here's your brand new information about Shattered Memories, a truly unique and sort of creepy technique for personalizing your experience that I didn't expect. Essentially, the game has its eyes on you at all times, watching what you're doing and recording what sounds like an enormous array of minutiae about how you're playing. The game starts with a psych exam, which you can see a bit of in the trailer below, where the doctor asks you increasingly personal questions about your likes, dislikes, bedroom behavior, and other strange topics.

Somebody's watching you.
That exam is explicit, but later in the game, according to a company rep, the game will more invisibly track your every move. The sole example involved that first deserted building I was exploring. When I came to a hallway junction with a sign indicating the exits were to the left and the bathrooms to the right, the rep pointed out that the game would remember whether I went right to investigate the bathrooms or went straight to the exit. And if I did hit up the facilities, it would further remember whether I went in the men's or ladies' room first. How all this data will manifest later on the rep mostly wouldn't say, though he did let slip that your cumulative choices will determine what the monsters will look like. Presumably, the game will attempt to get inside your head, figure out what scares you the most, and then do precisely that.

Shattered Memories seems like an ambitious game, from the eschewal of standard survival-horror tropes like shooting, to the quality of the graphics the Wii is crunching here, to the application of data-mining to a psychological horror context. I really hope Climax pulls it all off; if it does, this seems like it could be one of the better third-party games from a traditional "hardcore" genre we've seen on the Wii yet.

  




Posted by frenchdork

am I the only one who has the video overlapping the full size images?

Posted by gingertastic_10

i am looking forward to this, ill get it for psp, since i dont own a wii......

Posted by jakob187

Brad, you're a busy muthafucker today!!!  = D

Posted by Curufinwe

Looks pretty good, but it doesn't make up for Nintendo not releasing Fatal Frame 4 outside of Japan.  Bastards.

Posted by Scooper

Looks awesome. It's like you said, very ambitious but if it pulls it off and finds out what scares you and what doesn't and then focuses on the things that do then this could be a damn crazy game.

Posted by bcfish

dude that's messed up!  and I only got a wii for mario and fire emblem!  whoo-hoo!

Edited by Al3xand3r

PSP version screenshots :S

Should have recorded your hands-on, good stuff like this would ensue.

Also is it just me or is video volume way too low?

Posted by Kowalski

I've followed this game for quite a while now.I am veryexcited for this "re imagining" of Silent Hill. The IGN demo was totally balls.

Posted by AgentJ

The morality decisions are definately the most interesting aspect of this game. Changing the appearance of the enemies? Dramatically altering the story? More games should be like that

Posted by TmlMatus

why does this game look worse than SH 3 and 4?

Edited by Al3xand3r

Because it doesn't, considering the lighting effects with the flashlight, the no-loading/continuous world after initial load, the real-time transformation to nightmare world complete with glaciers and other effects, the open and accessible environments, the more agile character who can bash himself through doors and climb up shit rather than be 100% restricted by the environment, etc.

I do think their modeling/texturing work isn't as good as that of their Japanese co-workers though, alas what can you do. Also held back by PSP.

Posted by RedSox8933

I think this looks a lot better than Dead Space Extraction, I might even finally pick up a Silent Hill game! I'm really interested to see how stalking you pays off later in the game.

Posted by PocketfullaButtholes

Am I the only one who cares how it is for PS2? I don't have a Wii...

Posted by DrRandle
@Curufinwe: Nintendo doesn't see the profit in releasing a poorly reviewed, broken game. Why is that a bad thing?

This game looks amazing and if it works as well as it sounds like it's going to... well then I'll be putting this up there as my Game of the Year. (I mean, at least this far. It's just really hopeful at this point, I guess?) That trailer itself is decidedly creepy.

On that note, the animations in this game are amazing. Both the facial animations and just the character movements all look really impressive. Maybe I just played a lot of Fallout 3 recently, but they're some of the best animations I've seen as of recent. And the monster's still have that classic insane movements that make them so damned terrifying. I can't wait for this game.

(Also this game isn't held back by the PSP. This is the main SKU. The PSP and PS2 (if they're still making that version?) will be the ones that get shafted if need be.)
Edited by Curufinwe
@DrRandle: The two English reviews listed at gamerankings gave it 80% and Famitsu gave it 34/40, so when you say it was poorly reviewed you are factually incorrect.  And whatever's "broken" could be cleaned up for a US release.

Fatal Frame is a great series and Nintendo deciding not to release it outside Japan is a dick move.
Edited by Al3xand3r
@DrRandle said:
" @Curufinwe: Nintendo doesn't see the profit in releasing a poorly reviewed, broken game. "
Fatal Frame IV scored 9 / 9 / 8 / 8 - (34/40) in Famitsu.

Some import hands-on articles stated the controls are bad but they're just of an acquired taste from what I gather, not game breaking. It's not an FPS where you need precision control, the controls hinder you similarly to the first RE games' tank style controls, to show your character isn't the most agile in the world that can just sidestep all the monstrosities. In Fatal Frame IV they did it by gimping the camera controls. Instead of aiming with the IR like in an FPS, you use tilts to move the camera view. Adventure fans would probably love the game anyway.

Okay there was a game-breaking bug under very specific conditions and possibly other issues. They could have fixed it for the US/PAL releases. Tomb Raider shipped with a game-breaking bug as well, there was a little noise about it and nothing more, no recalls or anything. In this case they already know the issue and can fix it so there's no such danger. A bug is not an excuse.

But Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is completely unrelated and looks like an awesome game. Let's hope it is :)
Posted by DrRandle
@Al3xand3r: Eh, I'm just saying turning the remote like a key to aim sounds counter-intuitive and painful.

But yes. Let's all just watch Silent Hill which will be awesome~
Posted by DrRandle
@Curufinwe: Look I'm just citing Nintendo's comments as talked about on IGN's Nintendo Podcast. They said that the game was not up to their standards and so they didn't want to publish it.

You can just as easily blame Namco (it is Namco, right? I could have that wrong) for not publishing it locally. The fact is NOBODY wants to publish that thing here.
Posted by Gump

Really impressive.
Looking forward to it.

Posted by bjorkkis

Seems like something I would not play in the dark...

Posted by PureRok

Ho-ly shit.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

Looks really cool, especially if they can integrate the data in interesting ways. 

Not sure I'm a fan of the trailer specifically, I think it needed much more cohesion, but the lighting works, and some of the other elements look really cool.


Posted by Reverseface

TORCH ACTION

Posted by Kazona

I wonder if you can tell what kind of person someone is by looking at the monsters they face in this

Posted by Kou_Leifoh

The game looks interesting.

Posted by JJWeatherman

I like how they tried to hide in the closet but it didn't work. That's great because gamers have come to expect all old school game mechanics--such as nobody can see you while in a shadow or something--to work every time. It would be legitimately scary when it failed to work, and that's exactly what this game does.

Posted by davide

"After all, how many survival horror games can you think of with no guns in them?"

Fatal Frame, Clocktower, Haunting Gorund and to a certain extent Siren.

Posted by Meowayne
@davide said:
" "After all, how many survival horror games can you think of with no guns in them?"Fatal Frame, Clocktower, Haunting Gorund and to a certain extent Siren. "
The Grudge (Wii) also won't have guns.
Posted by PlatypusPlatoon

This is now my most anticipated game for the Wii.

Posted by Death_Unicorn

Impressed.

Posted by supersatanic

Why the hell couldn't they put all this cool stuff in homecoming???  That would have been a true next gen silent hill......

Posted by Nasar7

I wonder if the flashlight will be able to run out of battery. That would be terrifying.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Wow, color me impressed. It looks great for a Wii game and I like that there are in-game storytelling elements.

Posted by teknohed
I saw this game on the show floor and was blown away by how good it looked.  Well that is to say how good it looked "for a wii game".  I didn't play it so I didn't get to try the "no combat" combat.  This has me a little worried.  I HATED running from the ghosts in Silent Hill 4.   Still I like the fact that the game will "watch" you.  If nothing else Silent Hill games have always been about psychology so it'll be intereresting to see how all those metrics shape the game.

We shall see.
Posted by Galiant

Me and my girlfriend are very excited about this =) Assuming the PS2 release is confirmed? =S

Posted by Nadril

I have to agree about the closet. Even in the trailer it made me jump a bit and I was totally expecting it.

The game sounds intense. Not having guns will make it just that much scarier.

Posted by OmegaPirate

I want a wii for this - but not trying to troll or get hopes up


Was i the only one seeing the playstation logo next to the wii one at the end there?
Posted by Mushir

After reading that hands-on impression and watching that trailer, this game is officially on my buy list.

Posted by Ket87

Ugh I've always wanted a SH1 remake and now they do it but I don't have a Wii and don't really want one and my PS2 died about a year and half ago and I replaced it with the PS3 with no BC. Really why Wii/PS2/PSP? It'd sell just as well if they just built the PS2 version with slightly next gen graphics and put it on 360/PS3. Sure the graphics and gameplay won't be great but who cares SH was never about graphics or gameplay to begin with.

Posted by craze7

Anybody notice the number of the house? "1206" 206 is the time Alex died in silent hill home coming!!!

Posted by Media_Master

looks spooky