I should consider it ironic that my time with “Silent Hill: Shattered Memories” left me with such a scattered idea of what the game would be about, but I’m too tired to do so. I will merely say that the game from developer Climax looks incredible. Sure, it is the same essential story from Silent Hill 1 released for the PSX before time began, but it’s remixed like a rap master jeff g guy… I don’t know. It doesn’t matter anyway because most of you reading this haven’t even played the first Silent Hill.
The E3 demo features two parts; “the beginning” and “skip to nightmare.” I made the mistake of checking out the very beginning which was a first person meeting with a therapist. This seemed interesting, and I enjoyed saying yes or no to the doctor by moving the wiimote in the appropriate direction, but there was no dialogue I could hear due to the noisy show floor. I did my best to skip through it quickly, but one particular element worth noting is the psychology test you take. I went through probably ten or so true or false questions ranging from the mundane “do you have trouble making friends” to the more exciting “do you enjoy roleplay with sex.” As previously established, the game will change and evolve based on how you interact with it but the initial pysch profile in the beginning makes sure that once you start the game proper things are already subtly different. It’s a neat idea, and amusing, but we’ll see how elaborate these changes get. I selected all true for my answers in the psych profile and if I have a chance I will play it again in a day or so and select all false to see if I notice anything different.
After the psych profile Harry Mason (the dashing main character who now wears glasses all of a sudden) wakes up from the famous car accident at the start of the story (also seen in Star Trek: Silent Hill Alternate Mirrors the movie). I wandered around the city a bit, and was immediately impressed by the graphics. The game begins at night and the flashlight comes into full use. No longer is it strapped to the character’s chest, you move the wiimote to shine the light in any direction you like.
Investigating the environment was interesting, but I got the gist of it after a minute. Third person over the shoulder control of you navigating dark and creepy spaces. I then backed out and tried the “nightmare” portion of the demo. Obviously a demo cannot speak for an entire game, but there weren’t any rusted and bloody floors present here. The world was covered with tons of ice. This proved to be creepy, even on the busy show floor, simply due to how alien it looked. I went into a house and walls of ice blocked off a stairway which I could just glimpse through the distorted ice. It’s a very good effect, especially when shining a flashlight on it.
I cannot stress enough how impressed I was with my limited time with “Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.” It made Cursed Mountain (impressions later) look naive and childlike.
As announced previously, there is no fighting in this game. You will run like the dickens from Charles Dickens and his various monster pals. The only monster I witnessed in the demo was a child-like monstrosity similar to the gray children in the original and in the beginning of the movie. They were pretty fast and featured that nice and now generic strange alien shake like a disgusted mother was shaking their baby to get it to shut up. Also they had no faces, so that’s fun.
Running from them was actually a fairly deep experience. It’s not a matter of simply running to other rooms (since they do follow you) or merely outlasting them (though I assume you can) but there are places to hide and obstacles which you can pull down behind you as you run (like shelves and lockers) to impede them. Holding down on the d-pad lets you run while looking behind you, which is a big help at times. It was a nice thrill to run for my life and not go gung ho with a shotgun I mysteriously found in a hospital of all places.
When the aborted babies DO catch up to you they are quite simple to throw off. You make a motion with both the wiimote and nunchuck as if you were directly pushing them off of you. If one is behind you then you shove in that direction. If one is grappling you on the right then you shove in that direction, etc. It works really well and doesn’t seem as silly as I was expecting. You find yourself running for your life, throwing down a book case and just barely breaking free of tackles as you head for the next door.
You can also hop fences and be grappled while doing so. The monsters are very aggressive and I died multiple times during the demo. To fight them off you can use flares (because light bad?) to distract them for a while. This is helpful and helps mix things up more. I don’t know if there will be other tools you can use against them later.
So far “Shattered Memories” is an incredibly good looking experience that plays well. Unfortunately, as glowing as my impressions are, a big part of the game is going to come down to pacing and it’s hard to say now whether that will work out. Climax is an experienced Silent Hill developer, however, so I’m not too concerned. Sadly, the noisy show floor meant I can’t give you an impressions on the music or ambient sound effects, but I also suspect that to be a none issue as Akira Yamaoka, who worked on the music for the other Silent Hill games, is working on this one.