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The Silent Hill Games have aways enticed me and which i believe have contributed to my love of all things horror and pyschological- horror based, so i was always eager to try out the next Silent hill game going, i never wanted it to end. Thus, along came Shattered dreams and yes it did kinda 'shatter' my 'dreams' because i suppose i was expecting something more explotitative and more darker than the other Silent hill games (isn' t that what games are supposed to do, the more games they make?)
Anyways, the game is based on the character that everyone seems to be fascinated by, the dependable and brave dad - almost too perfect i would say but that becomes the problem in a twist at the end which reveals the Psychiatrist's game (which i will NOT reveal, as it will bring about huge disappointment upon the revelation of a spoiler being exposed). Throughout the game, the character Harry Mason walks around in a hellish nether-world (as is common in practically all of the Silent hill games- don't expect anything less folks).
Though i have to say, there are some astonishing differences which i believe like Marmite is either liked or disliked, because instead of fighting monsters in all forms and sizes and in varying grotesque proportions, you actually have to run through some maze-like map whilst being chased by a bunch of freaky crooked blue creatures which try to tag along by jumping onto you and slow you down. I for one HATED this difference and felt that the Silent hill producers should have at least done a focus group testing this new method of Silent hill creature fighting because i hated it like the devil hates the sound of harps.
Although, on a good note the new characters were quite mysterious and inquisitive enough to wonder about, they made me feel both relived and scared at the same time (if thats even a possible feeling to feel). The visual technology used by Harry was quite ingenious, a type of modern era type of technology which was pretty vacant from Silent hill to Silent hill 4, for me i felt like i had a new mobile phone or 'cell phone', i loved how you could take real pictures on it and how you could call real numbers on it (well obviously not real world numbers) but Silent hill numbers.
The frightening thing about Shattered Dreams was how intensely psychological it was and how the hard puzzles (once you've actually completed them or looked up some cheats to complete them) contributed to Harry's psyche. But i have the say, the puzzles were quite hard, some of the characters were just plain weird and even when you do reach the ending, you find yourself questioning what it was actually trying to tell you in the first place. Maybe its just me but even if its a game, its capacity as a game should not justify its 'phony' rights to practically have plots which make no sense but lucky for Shattered Dreams, i think i got it. I challenge you to a taste of dark dreams, dreams of hope, love and a happy home but also when you reach the endless room which (like the Blair witch film with the endless return to the same woods passed), whatever you do, don't pass out- especially when you approach the room like 10 FREAKIN' TIMES!!!!!!!!! Just take a deep breath and say ok, hmmm i wonder whats gonna happen next, that should calm you down, if not then just drop the damn control pad and make a lee-way for your bed, duck under the covers and make your brother or sister do that part for you cause it ain't gonna go away!
Since development duties passed from the capable hands of Silent Hill's Japanese creators Team Silent, it's fair to say the one-time king of psychological horror has been some way short of its best. Shattered Memories is the series fifth outing on PS2, and released some nine years after Silent Hill 2, it appears one last concerted attempt to revitalise the series.
This time it's a reimagining of the classic PSOne original of 1999. And the term 'reimagining' is indeed more apt than 'remake', as though certain character names and locations may ring a bell with fans, both stylistically and gameplay-wise, it makes for a very different experience to what has gone before. You play as Harry Mason, a struggling writer who's crashed his car in Silent Hill - he's lost both his memory and his 7 year-old daughter Cheryl, and it's your job to pick up the search.
Silent Hill has always toyed with the gamers mind, but Shattered Memories takes this to impressive new levels by profiling the player's actions. At various stages of the game you're taken out of the action and put face-to-face with a psychiatrist, and given a series of tasks or yes/no questions to answer. Being a Silent Hill, it goes without saying this has an impact on which ending you get, but cleverly your decisions are also reflected in both the scenery and Harry's behaviour. Whether you choose to examine objects/scenery aligned with sex, alcohol or images of family, you'll discover the environments later on may feature more suggestive or passive elements, the same going for the characters you meet who each don a number of different outfits. In this respect, the little details of the story become very much your own creation, though it's a shame the gameplay itself isn't altered by your choices - specific scares or puzzles based on your fears and inclinations would have been nice.
The biggest overhaul is the removal of all combat elements. The series inconsistent fight mechanics had become unpalatable in recent times, and here the lack of weaponry leaves you suitably exposed. There are no bosses; no babies with knives; no violent nurses and no Pyramid Head with his ridiculous sword. Instead, you're confronted by a gathering of freaky mannequin-like monsters, and all you can do when the environments turn to ice is run from them.
They hunt in packs and will chase, grab and suffocate Harry if you give 'em half a chance. These sections aren't quite as nerve-jangling as the earlier games but they're suitably tense; you'll be charging around on instinct much of the time praying you're headed in the right direction, looking for a hiding spot or for the ever-elusive exit. You can glance over your shoulder with R1 to see how closely you're being pursued, and light conveniently-placed flares to keep the baddies at bay. Generally the Icy Nightmares are put to smart use, but it's disappointing that Harry is limited to hiding in lockers when certain areas could perhaps have made use of beds, wardrobes or curtains, for the sake of variety. The lack of enemies in 'normal' Silent Hill also means the sensation of tension is inconsistent.
Konami should be commended on the technical excellence of the PS2 version. Everything looks fantastic, from the snow and water effects, to character animations, and the incredibly slick, detailed interiors - it's a marked step from the port of Origins. There are no longer any loading times between areas as they're all linked, no fade-outs between rooms and virtually no loading times to speak of. The clarity of the scenic detail is absolutely stunning; to the point where you can easily read even the small print on posters and signs.
This in turn benefits another new addition - Harry's phone. Effectively taking the place of an inventory screen, it has a number of uses. You can pinpoint your position on a map, save your progress, take pictures (and save them) with the camera and of course, make and receive calls. There are literally scores of phone numbers dotted about the game; many of the calls are intended for amusement (like ringing Konami for help), but there are a couple that directly help with the solving of puzzles. With a bit of exploration, the phone also picks up spooky 'shattered memories' - texts, ghostly images or voice-mails that link together a number of spooky curios from the towns past.
Fortunately the infamous, dishwasher-dull voice acting of the PSOne original has been replaced with a strong and grounded cast, and virtually none of the awkward pauses or weird speech patterns that punctuated the original remain. Akira Yamaoka's final Silent Hill soundtrack is at times overly-simplistic and consequently a touch repetitive. Nevertheless, it's an atmospheric score and there are still times, particularly in the case of his haunting reimagining of Elvis Presley's "Always on My Mind", where the composer reaches a level of artistic excellence.
Unfortunately, even by survival-horrors relatively meek standards, Shattered Memories is a short adventure, one most will be able to polish off in a couple of days. The removal of combat was a conscious design decision, but having been ported from the Wii, the novelty of motion-based interaction to overturn cans/bottles; open cabinets, boxes and bags and so on is also absent. There are no qualms to be had with the controls or Harry's manoeuvrability in general; his torch is still easily operated now that it's been assigned to the right analogue stick. It's just there's no real challenge to the item-finding, and only really a couple of puzzles of note throughout the whole adventure. However, unlike the disappointing Homecoming, you will want to play the game through a second time - the UFO ending is particularly funny and it's worth giving different answers to the psychiatrist just to see how differently the little things turn out.
Shattered Memories is not the definitive horror title the 1999 original was, either in the gameplay stakes or in terms of tension, and fans of the earlier titles may find the playing experience a little thin. However, it delivers a refreshing new take on the genre and deserves a lot of credit for its beautiful presentation and engaging story. There's a surprising cohesiveness to the games many new ideas, meaning it's quite different to anything else on the market, and thus comes recommended.