Winter!: Prepare for holiday gaming!
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories feels as if they were doing more than just "re-imagining" the first game, and doing something along the lines of a series reboot. Similar to what Resident Evil 4 did, Shattered Memories streamlines and simplifies the experience to make it more approachable, understandable, and above all else, fun.
Shattered Memories, isn't exactly what I'd consider a Survival Horror, anymore though. Being the type of person to prefer more unique experiences, however, this stands out as a strong point. There's no needless ammo management, or digging around to find new and better weapons to use against the hellish monsters, like previous games in the series. Instead, it's down to the "horror movie classic" running for your life. Given the backgrounds and situations that these characters come from are just your average every day job, "everyman" people, it just makes more sense for it to be this way.
There's still puzzles, but they may be a bit more simplified than previous games. There is only one puzzle that got me stuck for a brief while, and it was more because of a couple poor design choices, with it not being quite so obvious what you were supposed to do, and then what the solution was. Other than that, most of the interaction, which you do via a cursor, is merely interacting with clothing or other standard normal every day objects to gather a key. It's a little disappointing, and I'm not sure there was a difficulty setting that would offer more of a challenge.
Silent Hill veterans may be at a loss, either with how changed the story is or at the lack of Silent Hill staples. Gone are the sirens and rust, replaced instead with more interesting devices such as the "echoes" and mementos, as well as the various objects that have strong emotional ties. While I say that the Silent Hill "staples" are gone, this game still FEELS very much like it's Silent Hill, in fact, it has more in common with Silent Hill 2 than probably any other game in the franchise. No, Pyramid Head does not appear in this game, in any form. In particular, I feel the story changes were exceptionally well chosen, making the game more approachable. There's no reason to go into the town's backstory, it's better off without one. In fact, in Silent Hill 2 and Shattered Memories, it should be abundantly clear what the town is.
Towards the beginning I was having a little problem with the pacing, it felt incredibly formulaic. Answer the psychiatrist's questions, wander the town, get closer to your objective, enter the nightmare realm, run for your life, get to the objective, and then return to the psychiatrist's office. Around the third or fourth time, the formula starts to change, almost as if the game had anticipated that you would be already predicting what would happen next, which helps keep things fresh and appealing. The psychiatrist segments, which almost felt to break the flow of the game, eventually became something that I looked forward to each time. It was a nice break from the action and scares and it keeps you from getting too burnt out on the experience and needing to shut the game off for a breather.
While I'm not particularly a Silent Hill veteran, I feel that this game will still have some surprises up it's sleeves for the veterans. Even if you have played a survival horror game, or if the genre never interested you, I highly recommend you play this game before any of the others. This game easily tops my personal pick for survival horror games, even though I'd prefer to put this game, and this game alone, in it's own genre of "Psychological Horror", which even the opening warning screen seems to want you to think of it as. For the 29.99 PS2/PSP versions, I'd say this is easily a 'must own' for any gamer looking for a unique and different experience. Even the 49.99 Wii version would be a great purchase. It was obviously designed for the Wii, and you'll get the most enjoyment from that. However, do NOT pass this up if you don't have one. I played it on PS2, I enjoyed it on PS2, and I cannot wait to go and play it through again.
Game Traits applied to Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (PS2) by Fausk