Gore(-). It is essentially a telling of a great Silent Hill tale....
As with every Silent Hill game, Shattered Memories starts off with a scene of the main character's life before their eventful turn against the horrors that await in that crazed town. In this chapter, main man Harry Mason's life before Silent Hill is told through the lens of a video camera, with him joyfully having fun with his daughter Cheryl. It's a very good start to a game where one would really expect the worst things to happen later on in the game. A curious section in the game, involving first-person viewpoint, gives players a chance to play some mini-games that obviously psychologically profiles them, rather than the character in which they gain view of. It's a fun interaction with all the shrink paraphernalia, and oh, a shrink happens to face you during these sections. I will elaborate on this later. After completing a 'shrink-section', players return to Mason and his third-person perspective. The story continues with Mason losing his child. A desperate search begins, with the player on Mason's puppet-strings, guiding him through a blizzard and finding clues as to where Cheryl might be. As he traverses through snow-covered streets and abandoned buildings, he finds clues (more of the creepy kind) that progresses the story and the game itself. Not much action is attributed to the levels and most of the time, players just have to search for clues to be further oriented with what's going on with Mason's life. The story is a little convoluted and one would think that some of the story elements have no significant connection to the main plot, but it's a wonderful yarn that will refresh players with the world and the mysteries of Silent Hill.
The character animations are great. Facial animation is done well to every human character in the game, especially to the enigmatic shrink that's butting in once every end of a level. Incredible lighting and shadow effects are rife in the game; the developers really wanted the players to feel the sense of solitude in the game, and games featuring a lot of searching really do have to have a lot of darkness in them. The flashlight will explain all these great graphical things. It's an integral part of Mason's journey. One thing about this game is that it's not a bloody one-though it has its disturbing points. The environments are just snow cones, and even the 'nightmare' versions of the settings are not frightening (the settings just get an earthquake makeover and they're covered in ice). But despite most of the game having muted shades of blue, there's still value in the graphical standpoint.
Akira Yamaoka returns to the series to give a vibrant yet dark 'tone' to the game, literally. His new soundtrack brings back memories about the past Silent Hill installments, and they're really still a strange mix of sounds that puts a lot of color to the haunting atmosphere that makes up the world of Silent Hill. The sound effects are also great. It feels like one is pitted into a vacuum, never to return again to the land of the living. That is unless you don't use headphones to play this game. It's a really atmospheric game. Thumbs up to the sound design and the musical score!
Players actually get to play this game in two perspectives: the third-person and the first-person points-of-view. The third-person sections are the ones involved with adventuring the world, finding clues as to where Cheryl is, while the first-person ones fill players with mini-games that affect a surprise story aspect at the end of the game, with the very choices that they make in completing each mini-game. An NPC shrink facilitates this very strange part of the game. The mini-games range from answering a simple questionnaire, to segregating different items into various labeled parts of a board set on a table in front of you. In fact, every mini-game is set by the shrink on the table. While he talks to you in shrink-speak, you get to observe the new mini-game. It's weird though, that the shrink is always eying you like some freak, which makes it more exciting to wonder about the purpose of that first-person section and why you're being constantly grilled by this strange person. It's an amazing portion in the game, and the rewards for participating in those sections eventually appear at the end of the game, alongside the credits. It's a psychological profile of you, depending on your choices. Heck, you can even toy with the mini-games and get a repulsive or impossibly positive mind-profile. I recommend being honest in playing the mini-games, so that you'd really get a professional opinion on who you are. It's really cool. One of the more integral things that players can use in the game is the cellphone; it's a touch phone complete with a camera, and all phone features(save for an MP3 player). Now, the camera has lots of uses, most of them helpful in progressing the tale. Taking pictures of weird shadows in the environment gives some cheap scares, but they're fun to do. Calling people and other establishments, whose numbers radiate curiously on posters, is also interesting; they bring a lot of emotional detail to this lonesome game. Oh, and there are a slew of twists and tricks in the game. Now, the only time you get to encounter the horrors of Silent Hill is when Mason gets into this 'nightmare' and is chased by these creatures that look like people who get covered with clay from head to foot. Running is the only way to get out of these 'nightmare' sections, and the only thing you can do to the creatures is to slow them down with objects in the environment-like pulling cabinets to block them momentarily, or the occasional flare or, if they catch up to you and try to pull you down, you can push 'em away using some button-specific presses on the face pads. It's all a story-centric Silent Hill, so expect no form of action except running. The mini-games are fun, though, despite the disturbing nature of some of them.
It's a tale well-wrought, if one has strong memory retention. The story can be a bit tedious, with all its intermissions and side-stories, but it's mostly forgiving. The searching segments can be tiresome, though, but take heart, it really pushes the story forward. Don't be fooled by those memorabilia that Mason stumbles upon and collects; they're practically useless, and their part in the story is, in reality, very dispensable.