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Review | Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

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Format: Wii/PS2/PSP | Genre: Survival horror | Publisher: Konami | Developer: Climax Group | Release date: 05/03/10 | RRP: £34.99

Shattered Memories is much like the feared movie adaptation of a popular videogame. Although there is a real Silent Hill movie in existence, it’s probably much closer to the canon story of the videogame series than this “reimagining”. Like a movie adaptation, Shattered Memories takes the basic concept of the first Silent Hill game – Harry Mason searching for his lost daughter after a car crash – and morphs it into a much shorter, watered-down experience.

All the principle characters make an appearance, although all have radically altered roles in the story. The supernatural elements behind the evil of Silent Hill have completely disappeared. In spite of this, the psychological element of the series remains intact, perhaps stronger than ever. In fact, Shattered Memories claims to psychologically profile the player throughout the game, in order to create a custom nightmare.

On paper, this is perhaps Shattered Memories’ most attractive feature. The game opens with Dr. Michael Kaufmann, now apparently a psychologist, asking the player a series of questions. While there are a multitude of factors to influence the game experience, the answers you give at the start have a heavy impact on how things play out. The characters that the player encounters, for example, are clothed in different attire, mostly as a result of these questions. Throughout the game, you’ll return to Kaufmann’s clinic to either answer a series of questions, or to complete various minigames in order for Kaufmann to come to conclusions about your mindset.

But its effect is questionable. The monsters change slightly depending on how certain questions are answered, but this mostly doesn’t matter, since you’ll spend the entire game shatteredmemories2running away from them as fast as you can, not really leaving much time to see your inner demons except when they decide to grapple you. That said, the way you respond to Kaufmann has a few moments that really showcase the way the system works. Early on in the game, you’ll be asked to colour a picture of a family home, and its occupants. When you eventually encounter the house and family in question, they will be the exact same colour that you drew.

The majority of the game revolves around getting Harry from point A to point B, usually having to look around the environment to solve various puzzles in order to obtain a key to a locked door. Gone are the days of obscure Shakespeare puzzles, or pulling a key out of a drain with a piece of hair and a hook. The puzzles in Shattered Memories are usually pretty simple: turn over three cans and see which one had a key inside, and suchlike. These aren’t the alarmingly easy puzzles of Resident Evil 4, nor are they are mind-destroying ones of Silent Hill 3. Instead, they feel just right for this type of game.

SCRATCHING YOUR HEAD
The puzzles themselves provide insight into the back-stories of the areas you’ll have to traverse. Gone is the small pocket radio that Silent Hill protagonists have traditionally carried. Instead, Harry owns a mobile phone, which emits noise when a monster is near. It also emits static when a text message or voicemail is on the way. The phone also has several other interesting uses. The built-in camera can be used to take pictures of ghostly figures trapped in other dimensions, to obtain text messages or voicemails from people who had been in the area previously. And, of course, the phone can also be used to answer calls from other characters, as well as to dial various extra numbers found hidden throughout the environment.

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