Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Review for the PSP
Updating the gameplay for a title that has become a Survival Horror classic is a good way to appeal to fans, but a few key design mistakes keep the game from having a high replay value.
Anyone who has played the original Silent Hill knows the premise of Shattered Memories.. The PSP remakeoftheoriginal game contains much better graphics than the original Playstation did. The graphics of the game contribute to the surreal atmosphere. Snow that always falls in the background yet never seems to pile up. Whether this was done intentionally or not, it was a nice touch to contribute to the game's over all mood. The designers of this game decided to psychologically profile the user to further enhance the fears, although the game seemed to skip the author’s greatest fear, heights.
The biggest problem with the game is that it does not capture the trapped in a nightmare feeling that is the thread throughout the other games.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories uses the same design philosophy used in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. There is no heads up display and you must pay attention to the clues on the screen to track the health of the main character. The game points out vital clues to the player by placing a small triangle over key sequences or by changing the music. The clue-finding interface is not implemented in a consistent manner throughout the game.
The player can get main get hints and game play tips through his cell phone. The cell phone interface contains a GPS and stores messages and videos that you take throughout the adventure. Other game designers have used a similar interface, but Konami’s developers integrated it seamlessly into Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
Shattered Memories Graphics
Shattered Memories features grainy backgrounds throughout the game. This could be done to heighten the dramatic tension, or it could be the result of poor art direction. There are times when both explanations hold equal validity.
Designers for portable game systems frequently making the mistake of using backgrounds to artificially raise the difficulty level. Shattered Memories uses the same trick, but the inclusion of a flashlight helps overcome this limitation. The PSP does have some brightness controls of its own. Despite the grainy quality, the graphics are definitely the best part of the game and earn 4 out of 5 stars.
Silent Hill Shattered Memories Sound Quality
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories tries to use the sound to foster a sense of hopelessness and despair, but it does not succeed in this area. The background noises in Shattered Memories are irritating. The music is all right, but not particularly memorable. The sounds of static and occasional buzzing frequently obscure important voice overs in cut scenes. The sound caused the author to miss several important clues.
The voice acting further contributes to the games sound problems. The actors do not speak in crisp, clear voices. The hushed tones used in some of the cut scenes are quickly drowned out by other noises in the area.
What the designers wanted to do was obvious. They came very close to doing so, but needed to pay more attention to the implementation. Removing the annoying background static and buzzing in cut scenes would have made Shattered Memories more enjoyable.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Game Play Score
Survival horror games do not seem to have learned the lesson about simulator sickness yet, even if they keep it to a minimum. The look feature allows the user little control over where the flashlight goes and can cause headaches during prolonged play sessions. In spite of this minor flaw, the player will not have difficulty navigating the town of Silent Hill in this remake of the original game.
Silent Hill Shattered Memories Overall Score
Shattered Memories will delight fans of the original Silent Hill. The Silent Hill video game series even inspired a movie which failed to be bad as most other movies based off of video games.* Shattered Memories is a game you can play for a little bit, get sick of and forget. The idea of psychologically profiling the player might be interesting. It is unclear what if any impact this has on the game unless the designers know the specific fears of the person. Instead, it seems overburdened with a background soundtrack that makes it difficult to understand the plot.
The PSP version of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories may appeal to fans of the survival horror genre, but it needs to improve in some key areas to appeal to more gamers. Most people will play the game for a little bit, complete it, and forget about it. It does not have high replay value.
*The author is aware of the ease of this task.
Author's Note: The Silent Hill of the video games is usually a small town somewhere out in the Rocky Mountains. The Silent Hill depicted in the movies is in a Southern State. The southern town the fictional community is based on is a nearly extinct Pennsylvania coal mining town called Centralia. Centralia's demise started when the town was burning trash near an open vein of coal. The trash fire spread to the coal vein. Town workers had thought they put the fire out and walked away. The vein started to burn underneath the ground. The Federal government bought up most of the land community in the 1980s after a twelve-year-old nearly died after falling down a sinkhole.