Quick, what is Silent Hill
about? Thematically speaking. Many would say it's about an ordinary person who's caught up in a nightmarish situation beyond their understanding. And many would say that the town creates imagery based on the individual person's history (backed up mainly by Silent Hill 2
), or by occult-like things that happened to others (the original Silent Hill
promotes this idea, via Alessa). What everyone can agree on is the two trademark features of the series: twisted misshapen monsters that look like no creature on this earth, and a curse that causes the world around the hero to transform from its normal self into a modified, disturbing, nightmare-like mimic of the real world.
What about the gameplay? The thing is, there's more than one way to convey this type of horror, and the approach taken by Shattered Memories
emphasizes the "ordinary person" aspect tremendously, as well as the sheer difference between the real world and the Dark World
, which this time around is ice-themed.
Making the player walk around, explore, and examine things in the real world before being thrown into the transformed "ice" world, and being chased by monsters, could be argued to blunt the suspense. After all, you soon learn that nothing can kill or hurt you in the real world, and before long, most of the "real world" scares become unscary. On the other hand, you could say that it's horror movie pacing. The character development and story largely occur in the day, and then in the night, you have the chase, the hiding, the danger, etc. One thing I think would have helped, though, would be if the transition was randomized, rather than occurring only at set points. As it is, if you've played before even once, you know when the "ice" world will show up and when you'll change from exploring to running for your life. On the other hand, that could also add tension, because now you *know* when you'll suddenly have to start running.
has always been about atmosphere. This game has a very different atmosphere than the others, and a different, more personal theme, but I do feel that as an experiment that took the concept of Silent Hill
and went with it in another direction, it worked very well.