Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Hands-On
The town of Silent Hill is just as creepy as ever in this reimagining of the original game.
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The original Resident Evil has already benefited from a remake (that originally appeared on the GameCube), and now, its survival horror rival, Silent Hill, gets in on the act with Shattered Memories. But Shattered Memories features more than just a visual upgrade over the original. In fact, not only have some aspects of the storyline been reworked, but many of the original's mechanics have also been completely changed to accommodate the Wii's control scheme.
The most significant of these changes has to do with the fact that Shattered Memories doesn't feature any sort of traditional combat. When Harry Mason--who ventures into Silent Hill to find his daughter after a sudden car accident--encounters enemies, his best strategy is to make a mad dash for the next room. If one of these enemies happens to get its creepy hands on him, you can make a motion with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to throw the enemy to the ground. The trick is that the motion required to fling these creatures depends on which position they grab you from--if they grab from the side, then you need to make a side motion; if they snatch you from the back, then you have to gesture a throwing move toward your body.
Fortunately, Harry also has some tools to avoid these confrontations entirely. In some parts of the nightmare world (a twisted and dark version of Silent Hill that appears when things start to get a little weird), there are individual flares that Harry can use to keep enemies from getting too close, but flares don't last that long so it's best to use them only when absolutely needed. And as with every Silent Hill game, you start to hear static when unfriendly creatures are approaching, which gets louder as they draw closer. But the main goal in most of the nightmare sections of Shattered Memories is to simply find a way out. Blue borders around doors and areas where Harry can climb give a general indication of where you can or can't go, but it's still pretty easy to get turned around and attacked if you're not paying attention.
When Harry is not in the nightmare version of Silent Hill, he's looking through the normal version of the town to find his daughter, which is not an easy task considering that the entire place is nearly deserted, save for a few individuals lurking inside various buildings. But as in the nightmare world, Harry has some items that generally lead him in the right direction, namely his phone. Actually, Harry's phone is perhaps the most important item in his inventory--it not only serves as a means for advancing the plot (when you have phone conversations with characters, the voice on the opposite end comes through on the Wii Remote speaker), but it also lets him see things that are otherwise imperceptible to the human eye. To be more specific, in some areas, you can take pictures of what appears to be some kind of visual distortion. When you take the picture, it usually reveals some gruesome scene or sad event that sheds light on what happened to the people that used to inhabit the area. Similarly, Harry receives text and voice messages on his phone when he comes across areas or items that hold some significance in horrible events that transpired. These areas or items are also found by following the sound of increasing static. The phone comes in handy for solving a few of the game's many problems as well--one of which requires you to put items in a specific order to decipher a phone number that unlocks a nearby door.
Many of the puzzles in Shattered Memories seem to revolve around numbers and deciphering codes, but there are quite a few that also involve simply finding a key to open a specific door. Additionally, Harry comes across a variety of mementos scattered and hidden throughout the different parts of town. In the early portions of the game, these mementos don't seem to serve any specific purpose aside from adding some background to the events transpiring in the game.
One thing we'll be interested to see pan out in the final version of Shattered Memories is the role of psychology. Near the beginning of the game, Harry finds himself in a psychologist's office discussing events that happened in Silent Hill. One of the very first things you do is take a psych test that asks some rather personal questions, and it isn't the last test you'll take. Later, you'll have to color in a picture and then rearrange a completely different set of pictures into one of two categories. Your answers on these tests inevitably affect things happening in the game. Needless to say, it adds an extra layer of weirdness to what is shaping up to be a supremely creepy game. Look for more on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories before its December 8 release on the Wii.