“I’ve read your notes,” says a digital therapist to gamers. “The other therapist didn’t work out for you. We take this at your pace. We go back to the start so we can understand what happened. Let’s get started.”
These are the opening words of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the new re-imagining of the class survival horror franchise from Konami. The company previewed the game yesterday at their E3 press conference.
Our protagonist, Harry Mason, is once again searching for his daughter Cheryl after she vanished in a car accident. When he goes to the house he remembers as his own, he discovers another couple inhabiting his home. The scene soon shifts to the hellish version of Silent Hill fans know, fear and love.
Head past the the break to read more, and check out the screens, and scroll back through our E3 articles a little ways to check out the demo from G4TV. “If you played the old game, this will probably raise a few interesting questions for you,” Lead Designer Sam Barlow tells the audience after the brief demo. “This is a re-imagining of the original Silent Hill. We’re going back to the beginning. We’re true to the original core concept. This is still about Harry Mason searching the town of Silent Hill for his lost daughter Cheryl. From there, many things have changed. [Shattered Memories] is about returning to pure terror, the archetypal fears, the kind of fears that would see you wake screaming from a nightmare as a child. The fear of being along in the dark and vulnerable, of being chased and running for your life…”
Employing the controls unique to the Wii, players will step behind the eyes of Mason as they explore this not-so-familiar take on Silent Hill. “The forefront of this is our flashlight gameplay,” says Barlow. “The player moves with the nun-chuck and simply points the Wiimote as if they are holding a flashlight in their hand. It’s intuitive, seamless and immersive… The world we’re exploring is also seamless. There are no load screens, no pauses. Everything flows organically. It’s all about keeping you grounded in the world and letting the atmosphere work for you.”
Fans of the franchise will find plenty of familiar elements, but the designer warns that each play-through will bring about unique experience. “The puzzles have been re-imagined and they’re now about physical interaction… It’s all about letting you reach out and touch the world of Silent Hill.”
Along with your trusty flashlight, you’ll also have a swanky new cell phone at your disposal. “The cell phone is a way of eliminating those elements of other games that throw you out of the experience,” says Barlow. “You can receive calls and messages from characters within the game world. As you’re exploring, you’ll discover phone numbers in the environment and you can call these.”
The most unique aspect of Shattered Memories is the ability of the system’s AI to analyze your gameplay and customize the experience each and every time out. “One of the core aspects is the psychological profiling,” says Barlow. “As you play the game, we are watching you. We are looking over your shoulder and we are analyzing your personality. We take this information and use it to tweak the game, to alter content and to tune it towards the individual. So for any given player, the experience is more intense, more emotional and more terrifying.”
The scares of Silent Hill will be built upon and worked towards. While there are some scares of the standard jump-scare variety, most of the frights in this Silent Hill will result from your immersion into the detailed world. “Our scares are not scripted,” says the designer. “They are not canned or pre-planned. We have created a dynamic system composed of a sense based AI, adaptive music, level designs full of choices. Every run through a nightmare sequence is different and a player cannot anticipate what will happen. They cannot play it on autopilot and they cannot relax.”
Shattered Memories is set for release this Fall for Wii and PSP.