Shattered Memories is an inspiring horror adventure that engages till the very end.
+ Psychological, tense story and development
+ Dark atmosphere provide some chilling moments
+ Smart and well planned puzzles
- Some annoying slowdowns in nightmares
- No combat and the nightmares never evolve
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is different than any previous Silent Hill. Shattered Memories tells a personal story that offers deep meaning, and excludes any form of interaction and combat against the undefeatable foes in the game. Shattered Memories places its strength through its short but meaning story and protagonist, and rounds them up with terrific puzzles and chilling moments.
In a blizzard, Harry Mason crashes his car in a terrible accident. The first moment when he regains consciousness, he discovers his seven year old daughter Cheryl has gone missing. Desperate to find her, he ventures out in the snowy blizzard in search for her. There is more to the story than just Harry venturing into the snowy Silent Hill and searching for his daughter. It is a deeper and memorable tale, one that shifts in surprising and at times, confusing ways but saying more would mean spoiling the story. There are moments where the game will interrogate you, or rather get to know you, in a one-on-one session with a psychologist. This plays a unique role in the game, which tests you in psychological questions that have no good or bad answer like filling a questionnaire, and personal question that allows the game to 'play you', as it strongly suggests when the game initially loads. Despite the game's short length, those questions lightly affect the ending, and it can be quite a surprising conclusion.
Having played the game on the Wii (and reviewed it), and then on the PS2 (won't be reviewing that), the PSP version thanks to its lack of right analog stick mostly, is the weakest of the trio. But by no means, this is still a great action adventure. There are no stripped material or gameplay sections from the consoles. As Harry moves, the flashlight moves along with the character (instead of using the Wii's motion sensor and the PS2's right analog stick) and often when running, Harry will cover most of the screen, which doesn't give you the best view, especially in nightmares. Most of the game sees Harry progressing through the heavily snowy areas. Certain experiences will lead Harry inside nightmares, as ice literally freezes everything around Harry and he can only run and keep running as strange creatures (which have a lot of significance at the end of the game) chase down and latch themselves to Harry. You need to press the prompted button to shake them off. Harry has no weapons aside from the rare flares which can temporarily keep them at bay. You must reach the exit, a tough and demanding task since nightmares never really evolve, and it is usually a quest of running in circles. Even by the end of the game, Harry is unable to harm these seemingly immortal creatures and if you get grabbed too much, that's the only game over you will face in the game. There is no way to fight them, nor hide forever from them. The nightmares are repetitive and even at times frustrating.
The rest of the game revolves around exploring locations, finding the occasional memento, and it is the plenty of clever puzzles that require you exploring its small and sheltered areas that shine in the game. There is one or two puzzles which aren't completely logical, but the rest require you finding hint within the room, and some other require you using Harry's phone to dial numbers and talk to people. Harry's smartphone has more functions like the save game feature, allowing you to save at any moment in the game except in nightmares. Some paranormal activity will cause the flashlight to violently flicker. Getting close to it reveals old memories, manifesting themselves into voicemail and messages. Even if you are going to be meeting with several other people in the game, there are several small stories within these messages scattered throughout the game. If you can take a few moments to examine the story, the nightmares, and the psychological sections, it offers more meaning than most horror games.
Shattered Memories mainly takes place at night and under snowy weather. The atmosphere is simply fantastic as it should be expected by a horror game. It is chilling, rather than terrifying, but it offers lots of tense moments, especially in the moment Harry walks into a nightmares, because by the third nightmare, you know what you have to do and what to expect. It is a visually impressive game, though at some moments the snow looks strangely artificial, and at times real. The biggest annoyance is definitely the amount of slowdowns that hamper the game within nightmares. Running into doors prompts Harry to slam his way through, with a second delay as it opens. This happens almost every time, and it is downright irritating. There is some weird music in nightmares. Not unfitting, but strange and in a way does feel out of place, yet it doesn't. I have really mixed feelings about the soundtrack in nightmares. The voice acting is great in every way though.
It has its flaws, but the idea of trying to exclude combat with this remake of the original Silent Hill has made Shattered Memories more than just a game for fans of the long-running franchise. Its great story make it more than just narrating an experience in survival, and some interesting puzzles really highlight the experience. The PSP version may not be the best bet, but if you own a PSP, Shattered Memories is still a great game and not to be missed.
Graphics = 8.2
Sound = 7.8
Presentation = 7.9
Gameplay = 8.7
Story = 8.5
Recommendation Level: High
I never really played other Silent Hill titles, but as a gamer, I recommend Shattered Memories. Its story is memorable (so do yourself a favor and don't spoil it) like I praised it so many times already. It is not an experience that feeds you everything, and in the end it requires you to think if you want to know the meaning behind everything. Whether it's a flaw in the game that it doesn't reveal everything within the story, may be questionable.
Level of Difficulty: Easy
The puzzles are mostly logical, with hints scattered around the room. The nightmares may require some trial and error, and patience, but they never actually evolve. They remain the same so no final boss, just a new and totally different area for the last nightmare. The psychological questions may feel demanding depending solely on who you are.
OVERALL = 82 / 100