in third person perspective looking over the shoulder of Harry Mason, a father who just got into a car accident during a snow storm and is searching for his daughter Cheryl, who was with him but is now missing. As you begin to explore the snow-bound small town of Silent Hill, your only tool against the darkness is a flashlight. This is a dark game, both in tone and illumination, the music is creepy, and the periodic ghostly flickering and apparitions ratchet up the tension levels with every icy step.
On his quest to find his daughter, Harry encounters puzzles, a few of Silent Hill's residents, and numerous disquieting sights. And of course, there are monsters. Without spoiling too much, I can say that when the monsters come they are relentless. All you can do is run and hope to find shelter. There is not combat in this game, if a monster grabs you, you can shake it off, but once they dog-pile you, it's all over. I really like this idea it's a bold move to leave combat out of a video game, but it's the right decision and highlights the terror of the situation. That said, I think the implementation of the creature chase sequences in Shattered Memories is the weakest part of the game. I often found myself running in circles, not sure which way to go (hard to discern between darkly lit spaces that all look pretty much the same). What's worse, shaking off a monster means gesticulating with the Wii remote, a control that's annoyingly imprecise. Towards the end of the game, I started using online cheat guides in just these sequences, because I found them more annoying than fun.
But the chases are a small distraction from the larger experience. I loved wandering through Silent Hill, interacting with ghostly memories, receiving disturbing text messages and phone calls, and wondering who all these weird people I kept meeting were. It felt like I was playing a David Lynch movie, an ever more surreal story where simple things like a child's toy or and empty school room seem innocent on the surface and yet fill the player with mounting existential dread. Yeah, that's right, existential dread. How many games on the Wii offer that? This one and Mario Kart and that's about it.
The game is short, maybe five or six hours, but its ending is powerful and surprising in the best way you don't see it coming but it makes perfect sense of everything you've just experienced. Because of the psychological molding aspect, the game is worth replaying through several times at least once just to see the story in a completely different light now that you know The Truth. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the best game I've played on the Wii in a long time, and one of the creepiest games I've played in a decade. Not for your kids, and best played with the lights turned low.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is not the kind of game you're used to seeing on the Wii. This is not the kind of game you're used to seeing anywhere, unless you seek out obscure and disturbing PC games from indie developers. It's certainly not what you're used to seeing if you played other Silent Hill games. Shattered Memories is a unique horror experience, one that aims squarely at the that's damn freaky part of your brain and largely hits the target.
The game warns players from the beginning that it uses psychological methods to play you as you play the game, adjusting the story and content based on your responses to a series of interview questions. The game's action is framed by a series of sequences where you interact with your psychologist, a man with a mix of orthodox and very unorthodox therapeutic techniques. But the majority of the game has you