What are the horror video game franchises that come to mind? There may very well be none other than the Silent Hill series. Perhaps Resident Evil is considered as the best horror game out there but it was always more of an action horror series rather than purely horror based, especially in recent times it is completely action based. The Silent hill series meanwhile has always focused on spooking its player, usually employing quiet foggy places to put you at unease. It has worked for them, however, over the course of time has felt draggy for some. In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories the series formula continues somewhat but like the re-imagined story, the game play and the setting is also realized in a different way.
Storyline wise the game succeeds in sending its message to the player, the tone, the acting the chills preceding a sudden attack by monsters are executed effectively. You will play the game as the character of Harry Mason, a father who finds himself waking up from a car crash only to find his daughter missing. Thereafter, throughout the game your task is to help Harry get to his daughter. Along the way Harry comes across the ghosts that reside in Silent Hill. Shattered Memories offers a complex story line which is a delight to uncover. It is the story that easily carries the game on its shoulders. There are many twists and surprises to be revealed, at numerous points you'll find yourself annoyed that the cut scene has ended and you have to play more to go forward in the story line. The game has plenty of supporting characters, each of whom Harry comes across in his travels, each of whom prove only to increase your confusion and curiosity as to where the story is going. All of this sets up the finale which some could guess beforehand but makes the impact it has no less powerful. The unique aspect of the Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the fact that it is you who decides where the storyline progresses. This is done through a number of "doctor therapy sessions" that take place numerous times in the game. The doctor asks you to respond to his questions, the answers given by the player help shape the characters in the story. For instance, if the player responds in an introverted manner, the character of Michelle will be built in that way. This gives the game a ton of replay value for you to go back and start over again to see the different outcomes.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is one of the games to be released on the Wii which truly captures the potential of the Wii remote. Every decision of yours, even storylines, are guided using the remote. You will be using Harry's flashlight in the game, this works perfectly with the remote giving you the flavor of the atmosphere in game. To actually feel all of it the best way to play would be with the lights closed. The torch illuminating the path in front of you will feel be a beacon for your enemies but also will be your only way to go ahead. Other tasks include picking up things and assembling them together to open up pathways for Harry. You'll also be using Harry's phone, this is a very important feature, using it can show you things which you wouldn't be able to see with your normal vision. One of the most heart pounding moments are the ones where you're supposed to use the camera to see ghosts hiding in the vicinity. As soon as you locate them a boom is heard which will definitely make you a jump a few times. The town is used to induce fear into the player and that it does, Finding the source of the disturbance will lead to a spooky moment and the receipt of an eerie voicemail or text message on your cell phone, which helps to explain the significance of that particular localized haunting. You'll feel scared to go forward but the lure of the story reveal will be strong enough to motivate you forward.
It's not all perfect though, the game can't keep up with the chills throughout so in these moments the creepy scale is dialed back for chase sequences which almost prove to be a deal breaker. This is a real shame as these occur right at the points when you're about to uncover something major in the plot. Here game play consists of frozen environments where monster chase you around. These monsters differ, again due to the player's psych profile answers, they can range from skeletal corpses to bloated cadavers. The only instance they might scare you is at their initial introduction, thereafter, evading them simply feels like a boring chore. Your only defense against them is by igniting a torch to counteract the iciness from them. This sounds simple enough, however, these monsters are way too many and the only resistance Harry has is to shake them off of himself. If the monsters succeed in bringing you down, you're returned to the beginning of the maze to try again, they can sometimes take several tries, these mazes are frustrating.
The Soundtrack of the game deserves a clear ten. Half of the chills you feel are because of the beautifully placed pangs of noise when you come across something. In the instances where the player comes close to a hidden ghost Harry's light begins to flicker rapidly, the rush of sound followed by total silence are what precede the huge pang of noise. The fog covering the entire town, snow all around Harry and the eerie tense music offer exquisite game play moments. Voice acting is efficient, the characters succeed in selling the tension of the story and the regular change in characters, how they suddenly disappear and reappear with no notice only adds to the oddity of the game.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a game which you can enjoy by yourself or with your friends, it doesn't matter because the chills in the game are enough for everyone, it's such a shame the chase sequences were so poorly added. If done correctly, this surely would have been a guaranteed A list game, similarly the short length of the game is a letdown. These are just a handful of flaws but make a huge dent on the quality of the game. A seasoned gamer will take no more 5-6 hours to finish the game in his first play through. However, the brilliant execution of the Wii remote helps in the moments where you just want to unearth the plot and the creepiness of the town, which is different in every play through, makes this trip to Silent Hill completely worth it.