A New Take on Silent Hill
Silent Hill Shattered Memories is a bold attempt through and through, ditching combat and implementing escape sequences, turning away from cult dealings and focusing on a psychological voyage, letting go of the fog and bringing the ice into town. In that it is a success! A reinvention of the Silent Hill formula and franchise, but is it as good as the best of the series?
Graphical wise Silent Hill isn't very different from its previous games, except the fog was substituted by snow and ice. You'll come to visit some of the spots of the first game and meet new and old faces, see familiar places and names from other games... it's still the same town. Although during your walk through, the city will come to resemble a bit of your inner conscience.
The gameplay on the other hand is good, arguably the best of the series, but still a bit clunky. The exploration sequences are very well designed and provide a solitary experience, both creepy and interesting into the lives and soul of Silent Hill. But suddenly everything turns icy, and the then the escape starts. These segments are well designed, and fear inducing, but ultimately flawed, as you can't dodge or have any defensive posture towards your pursuers, having inevitably to deal with them hopping into you. Completely apart from your incursion into town, and the rest of the gameplay, you get to attend a psychiatrist consult, performing tests and getting advice. A bit creepy the latter part, but it's both an interesting and fun addition.
Story is the key point to make a good Silent Hill game, or horror game for that matter, and it's great. With a good pacing - what doesn't mean that doesn't get a bit boring towards the middle -, and appropriate length (though could be a little longer that it wouldn't hurt), it unveils both a drama and a horror experience, to a surprising end. The plot is predictable at times, due to the numerous set pieces that lead to the conclusion, but it still gets to be unexpected.
The sound is Akira Yamaoka's work and doesn't disappoint, with an awesome soundtrack featuring eerie and haunting melodies. The voice performances are also top notch, and give life to the story and script. A strong point in all of the games of the series, and in this one particularly.
In comparison to the Wii version, from which this version was adapted, it is a good port, that features very responsive (except when trying to turn switches) controls, despite being a bit lacking in the graphical department, even in comparison with older entries that were also featured in the ps2. Also the sound coming from the speaker on the Wiimote, comes from your own television. There are also some slowdowns, mostly when opening doors or switching the view from a more enclosed space to a wider one.
In the end the game is great, a worthy entry into the franchise and a better game than Origins ever got to be (being developed by the same company).
But one question still lingers... Is it at the the level of the best in series? Does it surpass it?
The answer is no.
It's a victory in everything it tried to achieve, and the best game post Team Silent, but still it misses the gruesomeness and thought provoking essence of games like Silent Hill 2. The story while very well crafted and with a fitting end, doesn't disturb nor bring out the finner emotions on you, like others did. The "game plays you" gimmick like Yatzee said, while it wasn't in the first games of the series, still they did play with your brain, perception, values and mind, and leave you drained and broken. This point is missing almost completely in this game. It's sugar coated.
In the end, it's an awesome game, and a good start for a new take on the Silent Hill franchise.
You're always on my mind... Silent Hill.