Conveying an intense, unnerving experience in the din of E3 is like reciting a poem behind an airplane barreling down a runway. The packed show floor, filled with colossal sub-woofers and eccentric excessiveness, couldn't be a less ideal place to play a survival-horror title. And yet, despite the copious distractions and some truly awkward sensor bar placement, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories managed to fool us -- if ever so briefly -- into thinking we were skulking around the world's least hospitable and most perplexing town.
Some things haven't changed. The melancholy atmosphere and lonely environments that make up Silent Hill's eek-o-system are presented in surprising fidelity on the Wii, with shadows dancing across the walls as your flashlight probes abandoned halls and snow-covered streets. Akira Yamaoka's off-kilter soundtrack is the only thing accompanying protagonist Harry Mason in his search for his missing daughter. Press A and he'll call out to her -- a minor gimmick, but a big help in connecting you with the character.
Silent Hill's eek-o-system is presented in surprising fidelity on the Wii.
Whereas previous Silent Hill titles allowed some measure of defense against assailants (usually in the form of a clumsily wielded pipe), Shattered Memories embraces the everyman conceit and runs with it. As in, running away from the town's twisted, meat-faced monsters is the sensible thing to do. And they're relentless this time, giving chase throughout nightmare sequences and grabbing at whichever of your appendages happens to be within range. Shaking them off (in the game's only gratuitous bit of waggling) or lighting flares will give you some reprieve, but only by climbing over fences and charging through doors -- all marked by a Mirror's Edge-esque highlight of blue frost -- will you survive. It's a terrifying, cinematic chase, especially if you press down on the d-pad and take a look at what's behiiiind youuuuuuu.
Running away from the town's twisted, meat-faced monsters is the sensible thing to do.
What isn't known about Shattered Memories yet is how much the original game's plot has been warped, or how much of it you'll inadvertently alter. Starting with a first-person psychological evaluation and monitoring your decisions throughout your scary sojourn (the game will even make changes based on which rooms you visit first), there's no telling which characters or situations it'll throw at you. A quick glance at the other E3 demo stations revealed not only different versions of characters, but different encounters entirely!
If the Fall release of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories can keep us off balance and avoid becoming formulaic (see: exploration, chase, exploration, chase), it has every chance of luring us back to the town that takes all. If you're a fan, "unreasonable" or not, that's great news.