Unlike previous games in the series, Shattered Memories removes combat from the equation–there are no weapons, so when monsters show up, you have only one option for survival: run. In fact, the monsters in the game only show up during certain times, denoted by an icy shell covering the world. The result of this separation is a slight reduction in overall tension, but a greater emphasis on exploration and storyline. Shattered Memories is, in fact, probably best categorized as an adventure game with horror elements.
Shattered Memories was developed primarily with the Wii in mind, and one place the game won’t let you forget it is in the controls. The PS2 controls are perfectly natural in moving around the world, but when you examine an object more closely, the game provides you with a cursor to interact, a modus operandi clearly more suited to the Wii. Additionally, there are many actions that seem custom-tailored for a Wii remote, such as pulling, turning, and otherwise physically manipulating objects in the world. It is rarely any trouble to perform these actions with the PS2 controller, but I ocasionally had the sense that I wasn’t getting the full experience in control.
The graphics in Shattered Memories are serviceable, but they certainly don’t push the limits of the PS2. The environments are sparse, and there is a grainy visual effect on the screen, which veterans of the Silent Hill series are used to, but which may take some getting used to for newcomers. The most impressive visuals in the game are the character models, which, while obviously not on par with PS3 visuals, still manage to impressively convey a wide range of emotions.
Sound effects are decent overall, although the frequently-heard screams of the monsters can be a bit irritating during chase sequences. Voice work is exceptional, with a talented cast that knows how to act subtly without being wooden, and effectively deliver emotion without overacting.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is an excellent addition to the series, and having played all of them, it is now one of my favorites. Its deep storyline, complex characters, and intriguing profile system come together to make it shine in the darkness. Developer Climax took a risk in changing the series’ format so radically, but I believe it paid off handsomely.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Short, but encourages multiple playthroughs
Controls work, but sometimes feel like Wii hand-me-downs