Wii

Best of the Wii: Our Top 10 Third-Party Wii Games

#9 - Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

by Andy Goergen - September 7, 2012, 7:45 am PDT
Total comments: 9

Please, have a seat; we have a lot to talk about.

Released in late 2009 for Wii, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is Climax’s second take on the long-running horror franchise. In addition, it is the first Silent Hill game on a Nintendo console. It is a game that feels designed specifically for the Wii, and doesn’t really have much in common with the storylines of previous games in the Silent Hill series. Originally billed as a re-imagining of the first title, it feels more like a “cover” of that game with a completely different style.

The flashlight mechanic works seamlessly as an extension of your eyes and makes brilliant use of the Wii Remote’s pointer while giving you only a narrow view of the world around you, which is fascinating to explore, but terrible to exist in. Exploring the city and surrounding areas is, if nothing else, a memorable experience.  The town of Silent Hill, as presented in Shattered Memories, is a broken world with subtle touches of brutality and misery from days gone by. More than that, it is a lonely place, even when you manage to stumble across other people. The NPCs in the game are usually unhelpful, and even if they seem to try to comfort you, nothing they can say will shake the feeling that you, as Harry Mason, don’t feel like you belong in the game. Early on, a police officer reads your address back to you from your driver’s license, and it’s clear to the player (and to the officer) that you seem surprised to find out you’re supposed to live only a few blocks away. Harry insists this is his address after the fact, but initially seems uncertain. This uncertainty sticks with you throughout every experience in Silent Hill.

The visuals in the game are fantastic, with an icy smooth frame rate and decent, if not great, facial animation. Signs are readable without zooming in, but if you choose to do so, Harry often comments on what you are looking at; this plays into the way the game slightly changes its presentation to fit the psychological profile of the person playing. This doesn’t really have any affect on the gameplay, but is a nice way for the game to customize itself to your wants, desires, and fears.

There are a few neat presentation tricks employed that give the game an unsettling vibe. The entire thing feels as if it is being presented on a slightly worn out VHS tape, and players will squint as the tracking begins to fade during action sequences. The game also sounds incredible, with convincing voice acting and a few killer moments in the soundtrack.  

The chase sequences are somewhat problematic, but succeed in their goal of evoking panic from the player. You need to check the map, but you can’t. Everything looks the same as you run around in circles, trying desperately to find the exit. These sequences are not fun, and when you begin to see the area around you freeze over, you want to get out of there just as badly as Harry Mason does. Some players bemoaned the fact that Harry can’t pull a gun out and shoot the baddies, but it always felt natural to me that panic, not aggression, would be the base instinct that comes out in full force while being chased by deformed monsters. In fact, the game completely lacks any combat, which makes it feel more like an adventure game than a survival horror game, but the consequences of being attacked by monsters are the same as in other games in the genre: if they get to you, you’re a goner.

The game is clearly designed for the Wii, taking advantage of motion control in largely successful ways without feeling too gimmicky. Having to lift a pin to unlock a door, or turn a switch on or off feels good, but even more impressive is the use of the Wii Remote as a cell phone. The grainy speaker built into the controller suddenly fits perfectly into the story of the game. Using the other smartphone-like features for in-game help like a map or camera actually makes a lot of sense, and just goes to show you the level of detail Climax put into the game.

The main draw with Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, though, is the story. Putting aside the therapy angle, where the game claims to “play you as much as you are playing it,” the game builds to a really fantastic finish that will have you immediately wanting to start over again to look for clues. It’s the kind of ending that makes you mad for not seeing it coming a mile away, and maybe most players will, but I didn’t. It hit me with the emotional punch intended, and left a lasting impression. 

Even aside from the ending, there are a few moments of genuine panic. One moment in particular left me literally gasping for air as I struggled to come to grips with the abrupt turn the story had taken. I had to stop and calm myself down after that moment had ended and remind myself that it was all just a game. A creepy, realistic, and fear-inducing game. It’s not the kind of game that has been prevalent on the Wii, and it didn’t exactly sell particularly well. Nonetheless, it’s a interesting take on the survival-horror genre and one of the most unique titles in the Wii’s library.

Check out the podcast segment featuring Andy and Neal.

Talkback

LouieturkeySeptember 07, 2012

You just sold me on this game.  If I can find it for a good price, I'll probably pick it up.

ShyGuySeptember 07, 2012

I enjoyed this game except for the Ice and Bubble Gum Men sections.

HeyItsMeSeptember 08, 2012

I was actually thinking about trading this game in months ago. But for some reason I never did. Glad I never did.

YmeegodSeptember 08, 2012

?  Wouldn't have made my list for top 10.  The story was about the only reason why I bothered with it but the gameplay was just not there.  For the most action parts, you running from these ghouls and it's more or less an maze.  It was fun at first but when there's 6 or so of these segments you'll get sick of being the "rat".

And the adventure/puzzle elements wasn't that great neither.  For the most part you just have to find the item/key and move on, the only memorable puzzle piece they had that recalled was the "key in the soda can".  You picked up what appeared to be an empty can but if you shook the remote you heard an rattle, then you had to tilt the can upside down to get the key out of the opening.  That was great IMO but for the most part the glues are pretty much found laying right out in the open.

Overall the game is only 6 hours long with little replay value.  It's not bad (the story is has it's moments) but it lacked in other areas. 

pandamanSeptember 08, 2012

This would actually be in my top 5 Wii games - seriously. Certainly greater than the sum of its parts, this game was one of the most engaging games Ive played this generation. I really, really recommend this game - I have often since it's release.

Pixelated PixiesSeptember 09, 2012

This game is definitely in my top 10. It's one of the few games in which I began a second run through immediately (and I mean immediately) after completing it for the first time. I found it to be very atmospheric and thought provoking.

azekeSeptember 10, 2012

Beat it yesterday.
Can't really play this kind of games with original audio (too intense) so i listened to your podcasts instead while playing.
Good, thought provoking story.
I started a new game right after the ending and answered all answers in the first test "wrong" to get sexy cop Cybil i saw in Giant Bomb's GOTY 2009 video, but she was almost the same (slightly different, but mostly the same) D:
Also i found a sign with a list of telephone numbers right in the beginning, before you unlock the phone. I wrote them down and then i tried calling them, they were just automated messages, few of them didn't work and only one from what i see had a hint to where the plot is going.
Speaking of telephone numbers. I got stuck on a puzzle on a with swans and two statues and "555" written nearby, which threw me off -- i thought you're supposed to make 555 with the shadows from figurines and wasted half an hour on it i think. Had to look it up on gamefaqs.
Chase sequences... You really get the feeling minimal game design in those is very deliberate, and the ending confirms it, but i think they really should have added more diversity to it.
Have to note that graphics looks very good, wii or not. Just a few weeks back i got xbox and Red Dead Redemption and was disappointed how dated models look there. Coming after that and booting this game i was surprised that detail is pretty much the same, really nice job. Add dynamic lightning from your flashlight and you get generally good looking game regardless of hardware.
Overall, fantastic game, great story, good presentation, good voice-acting, gameplay is flawed but i can deal with it.

Pixelated PixiesSeptember 10, 2012

Quote from: azeke

I started a new game right after the ending and answered all answers in the first test "wrong" to get sexy cop Cybil i saw in Giant Bomb's GOTY 2009 video, but she was almost the same (slightly different, but mostly the same) D:


I don't know if you remember Giantbomb's game of the year deliberations that year. I love the Giantbomb guys, but as Johnny mentioned on RFN before they're kind of uninformed when it comes to Nintendo platforms. As a result, that year they were having some difficulty selecting a Wii game of the year. Brad then brought up Shattered Memories as a potential candidate (none of the other guys had played it). They took a quick audio break so that Brad could tell them the twist at the end (without spoiling it for the audience). Based on that alone they all agreed that Shattered Memories was the Wii game of the year, lol. I agree with their decision if not necessarilly the method by which they made it.

azekeSeptember 10, 2012

Quote from: Pixelated

As a result, that year they were having some difficulty selecting a Wii game of the year. Brad then brought up Shattered Memories as a potential candidate (none of the other guys had played it). They took a quick audio break so that Brad could tell them the twist at the end (without spoiling it for the audience). Based on that alone they all agreed that Shattered Memories was the Wii game of the year, lol.

This blows.
And here i thought these guys had a long and constructive debates between choosing NSMBWii or SH:SM but no, most of them didn't even played their own GOTY...
Shame on you, GB.

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