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Joystiq impressions: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories


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Although it was probably the most impressive looking game shown at Konami's Gamer's Night 2009 event last week, the "Wii-imagining" of Silent Hill, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, was sadly not playable. It's a shame, too, considering how natural the game's motion controls appeared in the on-stage demo; seeing them in action made us really want to try them.

We were left to watch the footage of the Climax-developed title and imagine what it will be like, roaming the streets of the snow-covered town, flashlight in hand and camera phone at the ready to catch the unexplainable and unnerving. Fortunately, it was a fairly meaty bit of footage that provided a good idea of what to expect from the game when we finally do get our hands on it.

Gallery: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Wii) | 27 Photos

When faced with an unusual scene, players can take a photo and find frightening (and, we imagine, somehow helpful) sights in the resulting image.

As it was explained and demonstrated, Climax is keen to make playing the game as natural -- and supernatural -- of an experience as possible. The Wiimote serves triple duty as a flashlight, radio (static plays through its speaker as creatures draw near) and the means for players to direct their character's focus. Movement's on the Nunchuck's analog stick, and, from the looks of things, walking (and running) in one direction while looking in another seems to work very well. At one point in the demo, the character ran one way while looking back over his shoulder.

The amount of in-game text is being kept to a minimum. For example, players will interact with doorknobs, cabinets, objects that can be picked up, and other elements directly with the Wiimote -- there are no prompts asking "Do you want to open the door?" or, "Do you want to pick this up?" etc.

An example of using object interaction to solve a (very) simple puzzle was shown. The player needed to get through a locked door. Nearby, the player spotted some empty soda cans, picking them up and shaking them one at a time. The final can produced a jingling sound from the Wiimote when shaken; turning it over caused the key to the locked door to drop out.

We saw absolutely no combat; instead, the demo focused on what players would be doing after encountering most of the game's monsters: running for their lives. The sequence shown had the player fleeing without even looking back, weaving in-between obstacles and eventually hitting a button to dive into a low opening -- only to be grabbed by the hideous pursuer and enter into a button-mashing tug of war to escape.

The player's cell phone, a new element in this re-imagining, serves a variety of purposes, from managing notes to placing calls and snapping photos. Phone numbers are found on billboards and other signs around Silent Hill, and each one can be called on the cell -- Climax is being coy as to the exact benefits of doing so. It's not holding back on the camera function; players can snap pics of puzzle elements, or, when faced with an unusual scene, take a photo and find frightening (and, we imagine, somehow helpful) sights in the resulting image.

A look at the iced-over "nightmare" world was given, but only briefly. Most of the demo was spent in what passes for the "real world" in Silent Hill, providing plenty of opportunity to appreciate the fantastic light and shadows produced by the flashlight as it passed over objects and even individual snowflakes.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is looking good, and goodness knows we definitely want to get our hands on it. E3 is drawing close, so we're adding it to our "absolutely can't miss" list for the show.

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