For those reading one of my Wii review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:
Without further ado, here is:
16: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories:-
Genre: Adventure Horror.
Developer: Climax Studios.
First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
The Silent Hill franchise is one that Konami thought they had figured out, abruptly realized that they didn't, and then subsequently fired in all directions. The fourth game was, in my opinion, unfairly criticized. Apparently, that scared Konami into both changing directions and going doubling down at the same time.
After two duds (three if you are unfairly counting Silent Hill 4), few had high hopes for Shattered Memories.
Yet, the game managed to defy expectations, and was apparently both a commercial and critical success. Sure, it was a very different game compared to the original Survival Horror games in the series, but it was a good game in the end. For me, I saw why it succeeded, but I also could not look past some of its more glaring flaws.
"Whatever ails us, whatever weakness our flesh may suffer under. Our love will cure all ills. Our love will be our rock"
Like with the other Silent Hill games, it is important to note all the details in the story, as the game thrives in being vague, and the player can never be sure what is "reality" and what is not. This game starts with a psychotherapy session, where the world's probably worst psychologist is "analyzing you".
The game claims to be analyzing the player, using their profile to influence the game's world according to their fears. Also, this will have a slight effect on which ending "video" the player gets.
After that first session, the game starts with a car accident. After that accident, you control Harry Mason, who suddenly realizes his daughter is lost after that accident, and as such begins your goal of finding her.
Finding your missing child is an immedite, relatable objective, but nothing is straightforward in the Twon of Silent Hill
However, nothing is straightforward in the town of Silent Hill. It looks as if everything is engulfed in an eternal blizzard, and the car accident may have disoriented Harry more than he realizes. As you walk through the town and interact with what seems like the only few inhabitants of the town, the game throws narrative curve balls left and right. Between parts of the story, there are more times with the psychologist.
The psychoanalysis sessions are important, and they add to the confusion between reality and insanity.
You, the player, can never be sure what is real and what is not, and this is exactly the disorienting feeling the game wants to convey. At no moment is Shattered Memories a scary game; there is little to no effective horror elements in it. However, it does attempt to have an atmosphere of consistent creepiness. It mostly succeeds.
However, there does seem to be a sense of the game resting on its laurels, and on its atmosphere. While the story is pretty good, and even effectively revealed, it sure seems as if an expert hand is missing in all of this.
Effectively Creepy Atmosphere: +3
Good Story: +3
"I'll get my answers"
"You might not like them"
Immediately, if you are hoping for a survival horror Silent Hill, then you shouldn't expect that from Shattered Memories. This is not Survival Horror game at all. There is none of that genre's elements; the game doesn't even have a fail-state.
It can be considered an adventure horror game. It can even be considered a precursor to all those "Walking Simulator" games but with more interactivity.
The game is divided into two parts. Mostly, you control Harry as you walk around Silent Hill, with no real threat at all. In this "mode", you walk around using the Wii mote top point your flashlight around, solve some minor puzzles, and look for clues. In game, you use a mobile phone as a very effective menu navigation system. You use it to look at recorded clues, check out the map, call numbers you find posted around town, etc.
You will look at the phone as much as mellenials sitting with their parents
These clues are basically snippets of life in Silent Hill. SMS messages or Voice recordings, showcasing both the mundane and the disturbing parts of Small Town America.
As for the other "mode", it is where the game becomes threatening. At some points in the story, the world suddenly turns to ice, and Silent Hill releases its nightmares. In this mode, Harry must run to a specific waypoint in a maze like version of the town, running away from the single type enemies (yes, there is only a single enemy type, and no nurses).
Here, the game introduces some type of tension, as the player cannot fight against these enemies, but must run away. Both modes compliment each other, as moments of creepy exploration turns into an adrenaline filled chase scene.
Gameplay is Ok in Theory: +3
"Don't beat yourself over it. Blame the world, blame God, blame me!"
By designing the game for the Wii, Climax Studios made a conscious decision to utilize the system's inherent capabilities.
First, it does that by having the Wii pointer control the game's camera. This works exceptionally well, as the pointing is a natural fit for camera control, and the Wiimote movement simulates the act of actually pointing a flashlight around. As such, exploring the environment becomes a natural movement of the hands, and the tension in controlling the camera while being chased only enhances the experience.
Second, the game attempts to utilize the Wiimote's motion capabilities, and that doesn't go as well. There is a variety of little things to do that are annoying but not game breaking, such as rotating the Wiimote to change a dial in a safe, or move stuff around. However, the game does some serious missteps due to the inherent limitations of motion controls.
When the conclusion of a game changing event is based on controls that work only half of the time, its not tense, but just plain frustrating.
Hey wait a minute, the Wiimote is out of sync because of all the waggling
The same is with the "combat" controls during the chase scenes. Theoretically, as enemies grab you, you must jerk the Wiimote in the direction of those enemies to throw them off. Except, that doesn't work all the time. Its simply frustrating when you lose because the controls do not work.
Of course, dying doesn't mean anything, which actually makes things worse. Basically, you are required to repeat these chases over and over, cramping you hands and pulling you shoulder, and there is no tension at all.
Simply put, the game doesn't control as well as it should be. As a result, its "immersive" gameplay breaks immersion more often than not.
Poor Motion Controls: -5
Breaks Immersion Due to Low Tension and Technical Difficulties: -3
Effective Use of the Wiimote's pointing: +3
"Sshh, no more craziness. You're freaking me out"
While the game falters technically in its controls, it does a great job in in the production department.
Silent Hill is at once both a creepy town, and a believable one. An obvious nod to Rust Belt America, this is a dying town that may have once been prosperous because of an abandoned tire factory or something.
Now, its a location of nightmares, where snow replaces the fog effect to create a spooky obscure atmosphere. Sure, its there to hide the technical limitations of the Wii, but higher visuals are not what's going to creep you out.
Snow is the new fog
Nor are the low resolution assets going to do that either. The game's atmosphere is due to the reality of the place, as it is filled with advertisements, graffiti, and other blemishes that you can actually interact with (any phone number you see you can call).
Its presented with solidly built cast of characters, who probably look as good as they can in a Wii game, and their VA is very good as well. While the dialogue can get hammy at time, its mostly solid.
The same goes for the soundtrack, which while nothing special, does hold the atmosphere of the game and adds a level to its creepiness. Its not a game that attempts to amp up the scares and jump at you, nor does it try to keep up a high level of tension throughout. Its simply holding a one note of creepiness throughout, that it simply becomes part of the town's fabric.
Good Graphics and Animation: +3
Effective Build of the Town: +3
All about the Atmosphere: +3
Other than through the technical task in creating the game on the Wii, all while having really minimal loading, Shattered Memories never really impressed me.
While the story is pretty good, including an excellent twist at the end, it actually suffers in comparison to the earlier Silent Hill games.
In the other hand, the game's dedication to motion controls definitely backfires, and has soured the experience for me just as I get into the story. Still, I can see a good game here. One that could have even been a great game if it has a master's touch.
I am not sure anyone is supposed to get butter with this psychopath
"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"
Obviously, Dale North enjoyed Shattered Memories more than I did, as he both enjoyed the story more, and did not mind the controls limitations. He ended up giving the game a 9.5 in his review, summing it up: "While Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a total departure in every way from what Konami proper had started, it manages to reinvigorate the series. This "re-imagining" could have been a story rehash, instead we get a brilliantly deep game with subtle subtext and surprising symbolism. It's deep enough that some may glaze over the reasons behind the game play decisions and story elements, which were, again, brilliant. It focuses on the horrors of the human mind and gets away from the tired ghost story, making for a story much more involving and disturbing than recent Silent Hill titles. A lovingly crafted story draws you in and then wows you with a surprise ending that leaves a lingering fascination. And chills. I'm still thinking about it. From one die-hard Silent Hill fan to another, this is a true Silent Hill game. A better Silent Hill game. Do not miss this game."
The rest of the community were apparently just as surprised as Dale.
This was aptly said by one Darren Nakamura: "This surprised me, definitely. I may have to check this thing out now."
I wonder if he did eventually check the game out.
Kyle MacGrego was another long tie Dtoid contributor who was surprised by this review: "I wasn't expecting anything from this game, save luke warm reviews like a lot of other mature/core titles that have been hitting the Wii library over the past couple months.
However, this review and that video definitely have me intersted in this game. It's great to see developers actually designing a great game for the console, instead of making a quick cash in. Great review Dale. As a massive survival horror fan, I'm definitely excited for this game to be my first devle into the Silent Hill universe." Note that this is not a survival horror game though.
There are those who disagreed with the review though, like gizmo, who thought more in line with my own review:
"I've played through it twice, and except for the Shyamalan twist ending I've been pretty disappointed with it. It's like an adventure game on rails with very easy puzzles. The ice world is tense, but not scary. And the psychology component of the game doesn't really get any deeper than what you'd find in an astrological profile.
It might float your boat, but I wouldn't say Shattered Memories is a slam dunk for Silent Hill fans."
Since the seires only went down Hill from there (get the pun), we can at least look back fondly at a time when a Silent Hill review comment;s section actually had some positivity.
I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).
Its actually surprising that Shattered Memories was actually a very decent commerical success for Konami. On the Wii, it sold 470K Units which is not bad. On a single console, this makes it the sixth best selling Silent Hill game. However, with its ports on the PS2 and PSP, the game managed to sell 590K and 300K Units respectively.
This actually pretty baffling, for a PS2 game released on 2010 to sell that much. Overall, the game is a huge success, with a total of 1.36 Million Units sold, which makes it the second best selling Silent Hill game.
I can't say the game fullfills this promise
1- Check your Wiimotes and hope their moton detection isn't faulty.
2- When you walk around and feel the Wiimote vibrating, look around for some clues; the vibration increases as you get closer.
3- Note that what you linger your look at counts towards your profile points, which changes the ending slightly.
Actually, I was supposed to go back and play Rhythm Heaven Fever at #22 instead of playing this game. However, I realized that I did not have any Rhythm and as such couldn't continue with what looked to be an excellent game for a niche crowd. Instead, I played Shattered Memories, which went below my expectations given what I heard about it.
All the next games in the list, from #15 to #12, I have already played and enjoyed. Which is why I am jumping to #11, the very famous Xenoblade Chronicles. I actually played around 10 hours of that game, but when I lost 5 hours due to not saving the game, I stopped playing. This time, I am going to finish it. Except, I don't know which VA option to use.
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