Day #285: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

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Time for an experiment, albeit probably an antiquated one. Seek out a retail outlet that still sells physical copies of movies and purchase Zoolander in the format of your choice. Once arriving home, you are to then take a Sharpie and add in big bold letters “NAKED GUN” on the cover. Whenever anyone asks, you are to act as if it is the fourth movie in that series.

Now, you may be wondering why, since Zoolander, obviously, isn’t part of the Naked Gun series, shares none of the same characters, and presents an entirely different flavor of comedy. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that they were both distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Welcome to the story of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.

After two middling attempts at a Western developed Silent Hill, Konami decided to explore a new format, the Nintendo Wii, putting it, once again, in the hands of Climax Studios. This is the part where I remind you that they are the same people that made Origins aka the worst Silent Hill game. That said, the messy development of said game is well documented, so I went into Shattered Memories with a (mostly) open mind.

The end result? An interesting game that has absolutely nothing to do with Silent Hill.

Shattered Memories was marketed as a “reimagining” of the original Silent Hill. Not a remake, no. It’s a reimagining. That’s totally different. I don’t know why that’s different, mind you, since both words mean the exact same thing, but throughout the entire pre-release cycle for the game, they were very careful not to use the word “remake”, perhaps because they felt that word would come with some sort of expectation of any similarity to what it was adapting. A reimagining meant that Climax was free to simply make a Wii game called Shattered Memories and then copy-paste character names from the first Silent Hill for the sake of obligation.

The sad thing is, free of the series it was grafted into, Shattered Memories isn’t a terrible game. Given the system limitations, it’s one of the better looking and playing titles that the Nintendo Wii has. The problem is that it simply doesn’t relate to Silent Hill, the original game or the series as a whole, at all. The game starts with Harry Mason looking for his daughter and then goes its own direction from there. There is no cult.  There is no obfuscated lore. There are no real puzzles to solve. At no point are you shaken or disturbed. You don’t even experience loneliness, since this version of the town is full of people to talk to and interact with. There is a grand total of one monster in the entire game, and it only appears during chase sequences in the frozen Otherworld. You are completely safe the rest of the time you are walking and exploring. As such, there is no combat to speak of, which may or may not have been a response to how much there was in Homecoming.

Now, the monster may look different depending on the “psychological profiling” system, meaning that you can choose one of four binary paths for your character to take based on your actions, all of which lead to the same plot twist that you see coming from a mile away, probably because it, as usual, just steals from Silent Hill 2. In that sense, I guess you can say that it is at least true to the more recent entries in the series, but Shattered Memories exists as a weird contradiction of itself, a game that wants to both have the Silent Hill cake and eat it, wanting the boost from the name whilst freeing itself of any connections to it.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. In my own entitled fanboy head canon, I’ve long banished the Western developed titles in the series anyway, but in the case of Shattered Memories, half of the work is already done for me – it’s not a Silent Hill game.

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2 thoughts on “Day #285: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

  1. I disagree.

    The game (with a few detours) takes Harry through the same locations as the first game. The choices are not binary aside from some of the therapy tests as they rely on what you look at, what you do and how you approach your search. It changes not only the character design but your interactions and the ghost stories you hear (which are echoes of Cheryl’s grieving).

    As I said in my comment on Downpour, the cult element is the least interesting thing about the series and aside from the easter egg Rebirth ending completely stripped from SH2.

    As for the sense of loneliness, yes you do meet people but only for a fraction of time before they are lost or frozen. Your interactions with them shape how you are being remembered by Cheryl either an idealised figure, a lousy drunk or weak etc. This is key to how Cheryl moves on with her clearly damaged relationship with her mother.

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  2. Like I said, the biggest issue with Shattered Memories is the expectation that comes with the title. It hinders the game as opposed to enhancing it, and you could have changed nothing but the character and some location names and treated it as a completely different game.

    The choices never felt meaningful and their destinations lacked nuance. Ultimately, Harry was either a good person, a drunk, a lech, or a meanie, which means the game is just looking to see which of the four buckets get filled the most by its conclusion. You see four versions of the monster, four versions of Cybil, etc, which is the complete opposite of how they said the system worked. I made Harry look at a calendar, so now he’s a pervert, even though I was just exploring like I do in any other game.

    I would have much preferred if the videotape portion of the endings just didn’t exist at all. The variations on the first cutscene, with the reveal, while predictable, work better on their own.

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