Not Your Father’s Silent Hill
I had originally planed a grand write up for Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but when I try to go on I find I have to much to say, the completion of the game still to fresh in my mind. So I am going to try and keep this simple on point. I put my playing of Silent Hill: Homecoming on hold for a bit in favour of the fresh experience that Shattered Memories had promised. I wasn’t expecting just how much a departure it would be from the Silent Hill games we have come to know and love , but it is a departure in all the right ways.
Developer Climax streamlined the Silent Hill experience by replacing the tedious combat, item collection, and open-door hunt with a chase/escape mechanic, a cell phone/camera collection system, and a very straight forward world exploration which relies heavily on the story to propel you forward. While some of these changes may seem counter to the core Silent Hill experience of the past, they are refreshing, allowing players to enjoy the Silent Hill universe in an entirely different way. I personally liked the lack of combat. Being a coward in real life, my first inclination would be to run for my life, just like you have to in this game.
Two of the other big changes, the therapist sessions and the world shifting to ice rather than rust add significantly to the experience. At first I didn’t think I would like the shift to the ice world, but in the context of the game it works very well. Playing this game in the dead of winter just adds to my appreciation for it. Your in-game session with the therapist creates a very unique twist to the game you play. If you play through this part of the game honestly as ‘yourself’, you will be surprised how it impacts the game as well as the ending. I was quite surprised with how personal the game’s ending was for me.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, as I have said before, is one of those rare games that just will not let you put it down. You just want to see what is around the next corner. This game also represents game music legend, Akira Yamaoka’s last work on the game series as he has since left Konami. I don’t think Silent Hill games will be the same without him. He has been there from the beginning and his signature haunting melodies have put the series on the map.
Replayablity for me with this game may be an issue. Now this game has all the different endings which Silent Hill games have traditionally had, but if you play this game true to yourself, it has that one-shot special feeling that I don’t think you could recapture on further playthroughs. On the other hand I really want to play through it one more time because I now that I have seen the end I would like to see the game through with knowing eyes.
In conclusion I would like to leave you with this thought. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the most ‘real’ game in the series, more of a psychological thriller than a survival horror game. I will leave you with that. Enjoy your trip to Silent Hill!