|System: Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Climax Group||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec.8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
June 5, 2009 - Silent Hill has always been one of the most terrifying members of the survival horror genre. Whether it has been disfigured nurses or the always-terrifying Pyramid Head, the series has always been over the top when it comes to complex thrills and scares that will make you leave the lights on. However, even though the combination of story, visuals, and audio has almost always delivered a satisfying experience, the game has always been a directed affair, with only minor changes to the game that depend upon your actions. However, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories will feature evolving gameplay that not only changes depending on your actions, but also gets inside your head!
We were recently treated to a hands-on demo of the Wii version of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories at E3 2009, and so far, this title is truly terrifying. The biggest draw to this game is the way that it psychologically profiles the user. As we started up the demo, the game made us aware that it was watching the way we played, in order to determine what will scare us the most. For instance, if you are the type to focus in on items and clues, the game will change to fit this gameplay style, using your comfort level with the investigation aspects of the game to its advantage.
The demo starts off with you sitting in a therapist's office, where you are given the usual "we are here to help" pep talk. He also gives you a survey to complete. This survey is the most obvious way that the game will change based on your actions. For instance, one of the questions asks if you use drinking as a means to calm down. If you answer yes, you will probably be offered a drink later on, and if no, the opposite will probably happen. Of course, this is a minute aspect of the changes to the gameplay that will occur, as it seems that there will be more frightening elements of the gameplay designed to heighten the sense of fear that you experience.
Speaking of gameplay, the actual mechanics are very interesting. In the level we played, there were no combat elements whatsoever. The thrills in this title come from your character's ability to escape from the creatures that prowl the dark shadows of Silent Hill. The Wii controls are very intuitive, and you point the Wii-mote at the screen to look around with your flashlight as well as investigate items.
When you are investigating, it is also a good idea to wave your wand over pretty much everything. While things will sometimes pop out at you and demand to be investigated, sometimes you can only see crucial parts of the environment by mousing over the screen. For example, and empty swing set in the level just looks creepy by itself, but when you point the Wii-mote over it, an even creepier little girl can be seen on the swing.
Even though the atmosphere certainly gives this game a lot of its fear factor, the creatures are where all the sudden thrills come from. When you are attacked by a creature, your only option is to run, but one of them will inevitably get the best of you. When this happens, you will need to put the Wii-mote up and shake it to get them off. The use of the motion controls is smartly done, and from what we saw, the controls are very responsive.
Although we didn't get to test drive the PSP or PS2 versions of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, I have to say that I am optimistic about the Wii version of the game. The focus on investigation over combat is certainly an interesting choice, but I think the inability to fight the creatures, or anything else for that matter, gives the game a new kind of fear factor, and the fact that the game adapts to your play style makes it just that much more intriguing. Look for Silent Hill: Shattered Memories to drop later this year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor