The scariest town in America
A car crash. A young man searching for his daughter. A lonely town and a truth buried in the snow.
Harry Mason wakes up at the wheel, his car wrecked, to find his daughter Cheryl is missing. He desperately trudges through the snow through the mysterious town of Silent Hill, racked with guilt and confusion and armed only with a torch and a mobile phone.
As the mystery unfolds, prepare to delve deep into the psyche of Harry Mason... and your own.
Building the tension
In keeping with the Silent Hill tradition, the graphics have a grainy look, adding to the mystery surrounding the gloomy town. Creepy visual effects such as childlike silhouettes running across your vision have you jumping out of your seat and atmospheric sound, like white noise emanating from important objects, keeps your nerves on tenterhooks throughout.
When you're not running from ghouls or solving puzzles, you'll spend a lot of time using your mobile phone. It acts as your communication device, map, camera and information store. It's also able to tap into the supernatural and will often pick up text and voice messages from Silent Hill's sinister past.
The game's soundtrack is composed by Akira Yamaoka and features the vocalist Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who has also worked on several Silent Hill titles. It too helps set the sinister mood and builds into crescendos at moments of high drama.
Fight or flight?
Harry Mason is not a superhero - he is a normal man trapped in extraordinary circumstances and when faced with mindless ghouls his first reaction is not to fight, but to run. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a unique entry in the series as there is no combat. Instead, you must escape the demons that lurch after you and use evasive tactics in game sections that really get the heart racing.
With monsters in the area, Harry will burst through doors on approach and pull down anything he can use as an obstacle. If an ememy gets close they will grab you and you'll need to press the correct action button in time to escape. There are multiple paths so you'll also have to think on your feet, as there's no point escaping their clutches if it's not going to get you to where you need to be.
The rest of the game is spent exploring the town and solving puzzles, which are ingeniously implemented. One highlight takes place in an art room, where you have to rearrange a sculpture so that a telephone number, which in turn unlocks a door, can reveal itself...
Which puzzles you encounter and how the story plays out depends on your actions and even your own personality. Scattered throughout the game are sessions with a psychologist in which you are required to complete activities, such as colouring a picture, and answer questions honestly. Your responses affect how the plot unfolds and even which areas are open to you.