In Shattered Memories players take control of Harry Mason shortly after he wrecks his car in a small, snow covered town named Silent Hill. After he regains consciousness and discovers that his young daughter Cheryl is no longer with him, he grabs his flashlight and heads out onto the icy streets in an attempt to track her down.
This is where the game starts, and from here things get extremely interesting in terms of story. Full of twists and turns, the ever evolving story proved to be much more interesting that the initial premise may lead you to believe. From start to finish you will likely be enthralled with trying to piece the mystery together and figure out what is going on before the game tells you, something I don’t often do with games.
However, no matter how well you think you have the game’s story figured out, nothing will prepare you for the ending, an event that not only completely caught me off guard but also really impressed and satisfied me.
The gameplay consists essentially of three different components: exploring, puzzle solving, and chase scenes. During exploration, the aspect that the developers executed best, you will roam around the town in search of clues and answers about your daughter and your life, picking up small collectibles along the way. Your surroundings are always eerie, but once you realize that you are only in danger during the chase sequences things get pretty stale.
You’ll also be tasked with puzzle solving, which is definitely the game’s weakest performance. The puzzles are almost insultingly easy, and the majority of them have you searching for a key that is in the same room as the locked door. There were many times when I actually found the answer to a puzzle before finding the question.
The chase scenes are the only scary part of the entire game, as these will be the only times the player is ever in danger. As you run from psychotic naked man children monsters your palms will sweat, your adrenaline will pump, and you will be scared. It does get frustrating though, as the monsters move much faster than Harry and are easily able to catch him. When they do your only defense is shaking them off with motion gestures. The fact that there is no combat whatsoever in the game means that you are defenseless, and that is what adds to the terror level when you run for your life.
The most interesting thing about Shattered Memories is the way that it is constantly evolving and changing itself based on subtle actions of the player. Depending on choices you make or things you look at, the game will change everything from the mysterious voicemails and text messages you get throughout the adventure to even completely altering the way certain characters look and the discussions you have with them.
Thrown intermittently between the action and adventure sequences are scenes where you are sitting in a psychiatrists office answering questions and doing little tasks for him that allow the game to psychologically profile you even deeper. One very interesting section has you coloring in a picture of a scene. This scene includes a house, a mailbox, two people, a garage, and a car. How you color that picture determines the way the house looks in game, something that I thought was pretty neat.
The psychological profiling doesn’t stop with just shaping the adventure. It actually builds a profile of you based on everything you do throughout the game and lets you read it as the credits roll. My jaw nearly hit the floor after my first playthrough, as everything it said was very accurate and true about my real life personality. It was really extremely impressive.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories’ graphics are a mixed bag. Aside from some jank shadows, ugly water, and a few graphical glitches the game looks mostly fantastic, well above over 70 percent of what is seen on the Wii. Most impressive is the in-game flashlight, which is controlled via Wiimote and looks stunning in motion. It even lights up individual snowflakes as you wonder around outside. The worst part of the visuals is the absolutely jarring lag whenever you open a door or engage in any animation other than running. It completely tears you out of the experience and looks awful.
Less impressive is the audio. While most of the music in the game is spot on, there are times when the background tunes simply don’t match the mood of what’s going on a feels very out of place. Sound effects are pretty great though, and are used to scare the player just as much as the visuals. Sound effects also aid in the chase scenes and in exploration. Whenever a horrible static shriek starts to build up through the Wiimote speaker you know something bad is going to happen. The Wiimote speaker is also used for phone calls and voicemails, both of which are crucial to solving puzzles and figuring out where you need to be going.
The biggest drawback of Shattered Memories is that it clocks in at a laughable six hours long. For a game that you can plow through in a few sessions, it is hard to justify a $50 price tag. Actually, I got about eight hours out of it thanks to not one, but two game ending glitches. One where Harry’s arm was the only thing visible after hanging up and once more where the game just froze. This could’ve been avoided with an autosave feature.
Some extra entertainment value can be found through replaying the game to get different endings and change events up by making different decisions, but once you make it through the first time you won’t have near as much fun the second or third.
I had fun with Shattered Memories. Despite some quirky design choices, laughable puzzles, two game ending glitches and insultingly short length, I still rather enjoyed the game. The psychological profiling worked flawlessly and seeing the game evolve was really quite a spectacle. The biggest problem with Shattered Memories is that it just feels rough overall. It doesn’t seem quite as finished as it ought to. While the experience is mostly enjoyable, the game definitely has its flaws, and they are rather hard to ignore.
I recommend Silent Hill: Shattered Memories as a rental.
- Textures, particles, and lighting effects are gorgeous
- Eerie use of sound effects creates engulfing experience
- Great use of Wii remote
- Terrifying chase scenes
- Extremely easy puzzles
- Way too short
- Terrible framerate drop when entering doors
- I hit two game ending glitches
Score: 7.0/10 (Good)
Entertainment Value: 5.0/10