This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
You know, Nintendo, if you ever want me to stop hating on the Wii, then the first thing to do would be to make it stop kicking me in the balls! Red Steel 2 was a step in the right direction. A small and shaky step made by a drunk dog onto the surface of a recently frozen lake, but a step forward at least. A positive second step would be to find a way to localize games for the PAL regions in slightly less than a human lifetime. I only just got hold of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but to American viewers this is practically going to be a retro review. And No More Heroes 2 isn't out for another month! What the hell are you people doing to these games that takes so fucking long? Re-rendering every scene so that the characters stick their pinky fingers out when holding cups of tea? Well, better late than never, I suppose, unless you're an electric chair repairman, so here's Shattered Memories. A new Silent Hill game was recently announced, so this is sort of topical. Yes, let's go with that.
Shuttered Mammaries is technically a remake of Silent Hill 1, in the same way a dog biting off your dick is technically foreplay. You play a bloke called Harry Mason and you're looking for your daughter in a town that has trouble remembering if it's a completely shitty holiday destination or just a mostly shitty one. And that's where the similarities with the original end. It's snow instead of fog, the backstory of the town is completely different, and Harry has better voice acting than a fucking breakfast cereal mascot. Now, this is everything a reboot should be, one that's not afraid to fix shit that didn't work, taking things in a new direction that refers to the original without feeling that it has to clamp its lips around its big, fat cock and suck all its internal organs out through its urethra. Thank fuck they've gotten rid of that stupid evil cult business that's been hanging over this otherwise excellent series like a parasol of frozen turd. The horror of a formless, unknowable evil is dimiinshed when you attach a human face to it. Humans are reasonable; they wear underpants, go to the toilet, eat crisps, get their sleeves caught on doorknobs. I feel that the best horror antagonists are ones you could never imagine doing the gardening or going shopping for pyramid-shaped helmets.
The unique feature of the game is that it psychologically profiles you as you play, altering itself to fuck with your head better, which I was dubious about. Who you are in a game is a very different person to who you are in real life, a sort of high-functioning autistic you probably wouldn't want to leave your children with. If I go into a ladies' lavatory, for example, in real life it would be to sniff the seats for some illicit sexual thrill, but in a game it's because I want to make sure someone didn't leave first-aid kits in the cisterns. But, regardless, I played through it twice. First doing what came naturally and secondly trying to do the opposite of that. Got the same ending anyway, so the game may be cleverer than I thought. Some characters were wearing different clothes, though. Not sure how that works. "Oh, I don't find that red dress very intimidating, but oh fuck! A pink dress! Shit's getting real!"
At the end of the game, you also get a little analysis of your personality, though I'm not convinced it's not just a random selection of newspaper horoscopes. After my first playthrough, it declared I was: "fastidiously clean and tidy," which is true, that when there are three garbage bags in the kitchen waiting to be taken down to the bins I can't rest until they've been diligently ignored; "family oriented," which explains why I live 12,000 miles away from anyone remotely related to me and never write; and "possibly crap in bed."
The levels are extremely linear, but do indulge in the kind of appealing surreality that characterized Silent Hill at its peak, but the problem with Shattered Memories, besides reading me mostly- I mean completely wrong; is that it's not scary. And for a horror game, that's a pretty fucking massive problem. That's a 300-pound problem with a pimply underbelly and severe flatulence. Monsters only show up when you enter the ice-covered dark world, so you're 100% sure to be completely safe as long as your surroundings don't look like the night God drank his Slurpee too fast. When they are around, you can't fight, just run away, which sounded like a great idea to me. Combat in Silent Hill games has always been like fighting with your arms stuck in buckets of wallpaper paste, and it's scarier to be weaponless and desperate. That is, assuming the monsters chasing you are themselves more threatening than a wheelchair-bound elderly woman on a fire escape. They're scampering wooden dollies squealing at you like pigs doing impressions of Jamie Lee Curtis. It's like you're being chased by nagging housewives brandishing rolling pins. They're not trying to stab you or cough acid in your face, they only want to give you a cuddle, and you can just throw them off again with a Wiimote flail. It's like a simulation of Robert Pattinson trying to walk through a room full of fat 15-year-old girls. I only got overwhelmed once or twice because the Wiimote decided to get all prima donna on me and stop registering my flails, so once again, the biggest threat in a Wii game is the hardware, and even then I only got teleported back to the start of the section. Fuck, why don't you just give a fond slap on the bum and send me on my way? Oh yeah, and there are cupboards to hide in if all the squeaking cuddly toys get too much for you. And why not change into an elegant frock while you're in there, because you are a girl.
Most glaringly of all, the dark world is both fairly evenly lit and blue. Blue is a calming color! You don't paint the giant, leering face of Oliver Reed on a nursery ceiling. I don't think there's even any blood in the game! Well, there's a bit. Someone coughs it up at one point, so that's what? A quarter of a pint? That's a poor amount for a fuckin' episode of ThunderCats.
What I'm saying is that there's very little that's grotesque about the game, and subtracting the wet sticky icky factor from Silent Hill is like pulling the fangs out of a skinless zombie dog. It's a "psychological horror experience" that tripped over the whole "horror" aspect. And I can't even honestly vouch for the "psychological" bit when it seems like you get an equally accurate reading by throwing darts at a wall. Even if it does read you right, it doesn't create a customized horror landscape so much as a visualization of a fortune cookie paper. So dropping the "psychological" and the "horror" bits, all we have left is an "experience." Not a bad experience, mind. It's a fun little story, well told, and vastly more interesting than other newer Silent Hills. It stands proud and tall over Origins and Homecoming, and next to Silent Hill: The Arcade Game it's like a firmly built brick house next to a dog poo.
- Fulfilling the dog quota this week: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- 'Course you try to run away from the monsters in Homecoming and they just follow you, I had a conga line of those motherfuckers going down the street
- It's just that unless something is bleeding I can't get hard