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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (PSP) artwork

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (PSP) review

"Silent Hill, for years, has been in a downward spiral, caused by the developerís inability to both capitalize and re-create the magic the series once had, or listen to its fans. It produced lackluster sequels that shifted ideas furiously, only furthering confusion amidst an already waning demographic. "

Silent Hill, for years, has been in a downward spiral, caused by the developerís inability to both capitalize and re-create the magic the series once had, or listen to its fans. It produced lackluster sequels that shifted ideas furiously, only furthering confusion amidst an already waning demographic.

With their latest installment Shattered Memories, I feared they had made matters even worse. Rather than build the series back from the ground up as Resident Evil did, they opted to re-introduce the first Silent Hill, re-model it and attempted to put a new spin on it. Such an idea seemed foolish. Like many others, the original was ingrained in my memory, so terrifying and brilliant, that I had no other choice but to constantly replay it. No other game sufficed. What on earth would make Climax believe this to be a good idea? I had the first one practically memorized and, Iím sorry, horror games thrive on their ability to disturb and shock players. Without the element of surprise, a game like this is all but useless.

I held off on playing it, for a long time, for that very reason. But Iím not completely devoid of hope, and I still sometimes cling to the foolishly optimistic outlook that this series may once again be great. So I gave it a chance.

And at the very least, my opinion on the story was shattered. You are dealing with Harry, Cybil and Cheryl, amidst a slew of other characters both new and vaguely familiar but make no mistake; this is not the Silent Hill you knew. It starts out the same, with a car accident and your daughter missing, but everything to follow is completely original.

In ways, this was a stroke of genius. Placing old characters in a new storyline is a gamble, but when itís done right it works. I was already committed to Harry, my desire to save Cheryl already that strong. Time didnít need to be spent to introduce them, and give you reasons to align with them. All the while I was able to see a different side to them--Cybil being a seasoned law enforcement agent whoís now hunting me, as opposed to a friendly, possible love interest. Harry with more of a dark side, and a fragmented personality. Or, quite possibly, even unstable. And the enigmatic, elusive Cheryl who now may or may not be the innocent young girl weíve come to know.

Shattered Memories, with little character development required, thrusts you into the middle of madness. Your hunt leads you to new areas of Silent Hill, you find random clues via your phone that donít initially make any sense, then taunts you with pieces to a puzzle that youíre desperate to solve. Itís not like anything indicated to in any of the predecessors, and buries within you that one question that truly makes a survival horror game: What the hell is going on?

Your confusion is only furthered by random, abrupt shifts from the story to a modern day visit in a psychiatristís office, where no evidence is given as to why youíre here--or even who you are. But he knows a lot about you, and to delve further into your mind, has you take on a series of tests and questions that eventually bleed over into your obvious recollection of Silent Hill.

It was maddening, and inventive at the same time.

I thought--hoped--that Climax had finally done it right.

Then, like so many of the installments before it, they did something very foolish. I can understand giving me only a flashlight to start out with. It builds the suspense and fear when Iím traipsing through an unfamiliar, potentially dangerous world. It darkens the atmosphere, tightens my focus, so that even the most minuscule objects caught by the corner of my eye jolt me out of my relaxed state.

I can even understand their desire to remove the combat to focus on puzzle-solving, leaving the gamer to take a more intelligent approach. Again, it involves them. And for most of the game, it works. Yet like all those before it, Silent Hill has two sides to it--one light, one dark. The Nightmare World that no Silent Hill game should be without.

Sadly, though, itís just that. A nightmare. And not one thatís horrifying or decayed. Itís frustrating, annoying and entirely out of place. Rather than the rusted, decrepit atmosphere that rattled us prior, itís a world thatís been iced over, bright blue and expansive, with very little to see except doors and seemingly unending escape routes.

To make matters worse, your travel is impeded by tortured, fleshy, unrelenting creatures that litter every corridor. Trying to hide from them is useless, for unlike other installments they have the ability to open doors, follow you, and will track you whether or not your flashlight is on.

While that sounds terrifying, remember that your ability to fight back is completely gone. If they leap on you, you can shove them off but that doesnít stop them, only incapacitates them for a time, leaving you only one option: Run.

At first it was entertaining, but as the game progressed, my desire to delve further into the mystery of Shattered Memories became all the more dominate, and the Nightmare World became increasingly frequent. More often than not, I was overwhelmed by creatures while I scrambled to find the correct way out, as opposed to having the ability to kill them. And the game has little forgiveness when it comes to wrong turns and dead-ends, leaving the only option as die, start over, and choose a new route. So many times I played the same level over and over, until by luck, I was able to pick the right way the first time. And thatís just agonizing.

It leads me to wonder about Climaxís sanity in the first place. How can a gameís one aspect be so flawless, so brilliant, so fascinating and then have a complete lack of effort on others? Why even add that at all? Because if they were doing it to try and make the game more frightening, they failed. It was there already, and removing the combat but keeping the enemies is just foolish and uncalled for. It only frustrates and disheartens the gamer, so much that even the story canít save it--no matter how mesmerizing it is.


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Community review by Nightmare (May 14, 2010)

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