With its eerie environments, creepy characters, and grotesque monsters, the Silent Hill series has long given nightmares to PlayStation gamers. Shattered Memories, the latest in the series, rocks the boat in many ways, however, the most important being that the game’s development was heavily focused on the Wii. Can the PS2 version measure up to its motion-controlled counterpart?
The storyline of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is pulled from the original game on PS1: Harry Mason is driving through the town of Silent Hill with his daughter, Cheryl, when they get into a car accident. Harry wakes up from the accident to find his daughter missing, and so begins his frantic search through the eerie and mostly-deserted town of Silent Hill to find her. All is not as simple as it appears, however, and the game will take you on a twisty and mysterious road to the truth. To reveal more about the plot would do players a disservice, but suffice it to say, I was impressed by the depth and maturity of the storyline, which deals with issues such as marriage, responsibility, and human frailty. This is definitely not a game for kids–they wouldn’t get it.
What really sets Shattered Memories apart from the rest of the Silent Hill series is the psychological profile system. Interspersed into the game are ‘sessions’ with a psychologist, Dr. K, who assesses your personal values through a series of questions and activities. This starts with a few personality profile questions, but later in the game, Dr. K asks more involved, and sometimes macabre, tasks of you, such as sorting photographs of people with their eyes closed as either ‘sleeping’ or ‘dead.’ Further, the game “watches” you as you play through, noting how you behave, and what you look at.
All of this is put together by the game to make your ‘psychological profile,’ which, influences the game in many subtle and some not-so-subtle ways. Depending on how the game assesses you, different locations are available, characters’ clothes and attitudes are different, and the ending changes.
You’ll definitely want to play through the game more than once, too–for one thing, it’s quite short–your first playthrough will last only 5 or 6 hours, assuming you don’t rush through, and I highly recommend that you don’t rush through, as this is a game to be savored. Subsequent playthroughs are shorter, but you’ll want to play the game to completion at least twice to get the full experience and see the many subtle changes between playthroughs.