Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Was "A Great Opportunity to Explore New Ideas and Techniques"
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
The aim was to exploit "different ways of using interactivity"
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories certainly stands out within its franchise, and was a notable Wii release back in late 2009 — early 2010 for Europe. Its attempts at psychological profiling and a focus on avoiding combat were divisive, but for our money it was an unmissable horror title, as we approved of the somewhat bold choices in game design.
It was the work of Climax Studios, and lead designer Sam Barlow has provided some interesting context on the project's development, and the decisions behind its unique style, in an interview with EDGE magazine. Early pitches by the studio were for new games in the franchise that would include varying degrees of combat — though psychological profiling was a common theme — but these struggled to make progress. The arrival of Shattered Memories as a sort-of remake seems to have been as the result of exploiting a loophole, as Konami's HQ had signed off on the idea of a Silent Hill remake; therefore, that's what it became.
The Wii Remote's pointer control for the torch was integral — though Konami's profit concerns resulted in ports on PSP and PS2 — to bringing ambitious ideas into play. The psychological aspect took results from a questionnaire and the player's activities to adjust and tweak the experience, such as enemy designs and even the ending itself.
The driving thing was exploring different ways of using interactivity. There's so much data that games take on board about their player — we know where you are, what you're looking at, how long you spend looking at things, what you're doing — but 99% of games don't use any of that.
Because the pointer interface was so responsive and fast, it meant you could walk into a room and just flick your eyes around and look over things. We had lovely detailed information on how the player was looking at things and how they were moving through the world.
Reaching a wider audience — especially as a result of the series' movies succeeding at the box office — was a priority that certainly was a fit for the Wii.
Combat didn't fit the idea of selling a horror game to a broad demographic. For example, the point where my girlfriend would stop playing games was when she was asked to pick up a weapon and start fighting. It would conform to her idea of what a videogame was and she would become very, very bored.
Shattered Dreams wasn't a commercial smash-hit, perhaps justifying Konami's caution in pushing through ports, though Barlow expresses a belief that a flawed marketing strategy didn't help.
In the end, Konami marketed it as a core gamer title.
...Generally the negativity came from people who were opposed to playing a core game on Wii anyway. [It was] something that could have been negated by selling the game [differently].
Let us know what you think of these comments, and whether you're in the camp that rates Shattered Memories as an under-appreciated gem, below.