When he comes around, Harry realises his daughter Cheryl is nowhere to be seen, and thus enters the town of Silent Hill for information.
The plot is sewn together via a series of distinct gameplay elements. The first places you in a psychologists office, where you'll be prompted by various questions and tasks. These lead into exploration sections in the town of Silent Hill, where you'll be required to solve various puzzles. The final third of the game represents Nightmare sequences, which have you hounded by the monstrosities lurking Silent Hill while you try to reach a specific location.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories may well be the last significant launch in the Playstation 2's lifetime. It'll take you roughly eight hours to complete, but there is plenty of reason to go back once you've beaten the game.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is definitely one of the scariest games we've played. That's pretty impressive for a game that has no combat and no gratuitous violence. Climax has focused on atmosphere, tension and psychology in Shattered Memories to staggering effect. The game is packed with little psychological tests that alter the experience depending on your state of mind. There were a couple of instances playing Shattered Memories that we got the creepy impression the game knew a bit about our personality, which is fascinating considering the game is constantly testing traits of your mental state. It's not just the psychological aspects that get inside your head though: quirky level design and some fantastic use of rumble and audio make the game unsettling. The game plays on the unknown, and constructs its set-pieces accordingly.
Much of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is very slowly paced. You'll spend much of your time with the game wandering around environments, searching for clues and having long, meaningless conversations with the few NPCs you happen across. Because the game's slow, the developers are able to will you around every inch of the game's environment — packing a tremendous number of Easter eggs. Naturally, the slow pacing also means that when the Nightmare sequences come, the contrast is extra tense.
For a ten year old console, the PS2 is packing some serious graphical prowess here. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories looks fantastic. The environments are thoroughly detailed, the character models are decent and the lighting is phenomenal. Seriously, this game is all about its lighting. Your torch is pretty much your only companion through much of the experience, and it allows for some fantastic effects. Objects cast long, detailed shadows at every corner. It of course adds to the atmosphere, but it's also a reminder that the PS2 ain't no slouch.
Pretty early on in Shattered Memories you're given a fully-functioning mobile phone. The phone has multiple functions, providing a mini-map, camera phone and standard dial functionality. What's really neat is the way the environment is littered with functioning phone numbers, providing you with hidden dialogue and a means to solve various cleverly designed puzzles.
There's not even the hint of a gun in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. This is not a game about combat. The Nightmare sequences are the closest you come to a threat in the game — and your task in these segments is to run away. The vulnerability adds to the tension, in a game that's guaranteed to get your heart racing.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is essentially a Nintendo Wii game. That means puzzles are designed with the Wii Remote in mind. Often the game zooms in on objects that you're tasked to interact with. Without the Wii Remote you don't have direct control of a pointer in these situations, meaning you have to make do with a clunky analogue stick controlled pointer. It works ok, but it's not as good as having direct pointer control.
There are times playing Silent Hill: Shattered Memories that the dialogue of certain characters doesn't feel consistent. Their plight may be extremely grave, but their conversation doesn't represent that, and it can take you out of the experience a little bit.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is genuinely terrifying without ever needing to be grotesque. At times, it feels like the game is toying with you, something which is enhanced by the game's psychological aspects. It also looks fantastic for a PS2 game, with a lighting engine that really brings the mystery of Silent Hill to life. A real return to form for the franchise.