Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Yahtzee discusses why Silent Hill: Shattered Memories just wasn't that scary.

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Wow, Yahtzee's getting more forgiving.

It's nice to see people remaking things in such a way that makes them different, rather than dull retreads. If I wanted to replay game X, there's always game X itself.

An interesting article. I can see some of your points and agree with them wholeheartedly. One of the scariest moments in gaming for me was the crawl through the ghost ship in Metriod Prime 3, where you spent the first fifteen minutes of it (if you were quick) walking around without seeing an enemy. And when one did jump out at you, it as threatening, because they were the hardest enemies at this point, and just one was a substancial threat. The fact that many of the corridors were dead ends, some of which with indications that they could be unlocked, without saying so outright (not until later on, when you wrapped up everything else) made it more interesting to explore peice by piece, as well as give an insight into the Space Pirate enemies, showing that they were scavengers looking for parts. The bodies that you oud littered everywhere reacted to your movements by disintergrating, whereas others did nothing, making it feel more threatening because of the unknown damage.

While I did truly enjoy playing SH:SM, Yahtzee is correct in that the game really isn't that scary, which does hurt things a bit. I did find the Nightmare sequences to be rather "thrilling" at times with Harry bursting through doors, throwing down lockers while crazy screeching "things" chased after him, but it didn't compare to the other games where monsters could be ANYWHERE and the limited visibility made things even more tense.

It seems like the developers realized that the Silent Hill series was about 2 main things: Horror and loneliness/fear of the unknown. When you weren't fighting off monsters in SH games you were typically wandering around just trying to see what was going on and get to your next destination. SH:SM does a GREAT job with that and I was genuinely intrigued by the numerous areas and set pieces that Harry ended up in, and him finding all the creepy voice mails and texts along the way. It seems though that as good as they did with that, they sacrificed quite a bit in terms of genuine horror and fear.

You make a great point about the cleanliness of the environments in Shattered Memories, and how that and the lack telegraphed fear moments pretty much undermined the horror of the game. It ended up feeling like an episode of Twin Peaks as a result, which is fine, but just not Silent Hill.

Also, the monsters were fairly generic: even if their appearances changed, their behavior didn't, so it didn't really matter. Maybe if in the next one, Climax codes four or five different types of beasts, with specific personalities, that alter based on the whole psychoanalysis thing, that would help. That, and add a lot more uncertainty (open a door on "normal" Silent Hill, and going into another room, without warning, and finding the Otherworld), grit, and grime.

Regiment:
Wow, Yahtzee's getting more forgiving.

He must be getting old and sentimental.

Anyhow, entertaining and interesting article as always Yahtzee.

I think they lost sight of "atmosphere" as the major selling point of Silent Hill. Just keep building up that sense of dread, let the thrill build continually instead of brief spikes.

And definitely make the player fear the enemy. I don't know how you can reconcile a kick-ass hero with the horror genre. If I'm capable of utterly destroying any enemy in my path, why should I fear what's around the corner? Or perhaps increase the penalty for failure, not necessarily a huge burden, but I liked Fable adding scars to your character for losing a fight.

Wear that player down and make them genuinely concerned about risks.

I said the same things when I reviewed the game months ago; it doesn't really work as a horror title, but it is still compelling enough from a storytelling perspective.

As someone who lists Myst in their all-time top 10, it didn't really bug me that there were moments of certain safety, and I found the regular atmosphere creepy without being oppressive. I mean if you're looking for an oppressively tense atmosphere, this would no doubt disappoint. But if an adventure game with a creepy, psychological-thriller ambiance is what you're after, I think you could do worse than Shattered Memories.

Nobody needs to explain WHY Shattered Memories wasn't scary. Just play the game, they'll figure out why themselves.

Having only just played through the first silent hill, and just getting the second one, I'm not interested in this remake, or any really. The whole point of the originals is that they're just that, original. Even though the older game looks like to quote Yatzhee ass made out of lego. I was freaked out, yet glued to my console (in my case the PSP as this was played as the downloaded version off PSN).

Horror films usually are too much for me, but playing horror games are much more interesting. For one, the heart pumps more,but unlike the horror movies you can hit the monster in the face with a pipe. Half of the reason I don't like Horror movies is because the people in it are so incredibly stupid that just adds frustration to the experience as well as the if you touch me I'll either jump a mile in the air or drop kick you.

What this game does it seems is prevents you from fighting back, while the earlier games in the series do let you fight back, but makes it almost not worth it. Like he says, it's the difference between American horror and Japanese horror, in the former you're a victim, the the latter still a victim, but you've got the strength to fight back or at least the will. If you've got no ability to fight them off, it's just a guided tour of Silent Hill where you have to sprint to catch the next bus.

Yeah, I think you might be getting a bit jaded on the horror aspect, sir. I've been playing horror games for some years and the Raw Shocks in SM still made me as tense as crap.

Yes, the "this is safe, this is not safe" aspect did lessen the blow a bit, but here's another thought on the subject: always being in danger in older SH games kinda wears a bit thin after a while, because you're always expecting things to shamble about after you no matter the situation. Being suddenly thrust into Frosty Land at the drop of a hat forces you to abandon any kind of pretense of exploration and switch right to "scamper off" mode, offering a more jarring shift of mood than "mist to rust", at least for me.

I have only watched a walkthrough/ending on youtube, so what I have to say may not reflect the experience.
It seems to me that SM isn't trying to be a real horror game, it's more focused on the experience of total uncertainty, a more human vision of the usual horror one can expect from this series. This is of course better than Homecoming, just to give an example, but not nearly as enticing as SH2. However, I never found SH2 to be scary, it was just a profound sense of "wrongness" if that makes any sense; the world was filthy and devoid of life, strange creatures roam around, but don't really do much unless you get too close (or investigate, perhaps?), the characters acted strangely and unpredictably, and nothing made much sense until close to the end. I don't know if this can actually be called horror, but I still find it preferable to anything else I've come across.

Anyway, it's a great article, and I hope some devs/publishers take note of it

These horror games are just not doing enough to play with our emotions. Hell put in some more characters and set it up in a way to where the player cares for them or wants them around cause their beneficial then put the player in a situation where unless something was done the character would die and even if successful kill the character later there is nothing like the sense of helplessness to add to the tension. Heck even make the player put in a situation where he has to kill this other caring/beneficial character or die himself mess with the head a bit more. Some of these horror games use weapons make those games have situations where there will be so many enemies they run out of ammo or the weapons become innefective or quit function like their supposed to in other words give the player control and then chip it away till they don't have control. I have to agree with yahtzee though the majority of horror games just don't take advantage enough of the immersion a player can experience in a video game and make things really really scary.

thethingthatlurks:
I have only watched a walkthrough/ending on youtube, so what I have to say may not reflect the experience.
It seems to me that SM isn't trying to be a real horror game, it's more focused on the experience of total uncertainty, a more human vision of the usual horror one can expect from this series. This is of course better than Homecoming, just to give an example, but not nearly as enticing as SH2. However, I never found SH2 to be scary, it was just a profound sense of "wrongness" if that makes any sense; the world was filthy and devoid of life, strange creatures roam around, but don't really do much unless you get too close (or investigate, perhaps?), the characters acted strangely and unpredictably, and nothing made much sense until close to the end. I don't know if this can actually be called horror, but I still find it preferable to anything else I've come across.

Rather well put. I've always felt one of the defining aspects of proper horror gameplay is a lack of comfort. When you're uncomfortable, you're more open to suggestion, or more suspicious of things that seem wrong, and then horror can truly take hold.

To be honest, I did feel it in this game, because I knew the rules would be changing, so instead of knowing I could sink in to the old standby of "cult, mist, rust, blood", I had to alter my expectations. It worked for me, at least. >_>

If there's one area in which I can pretty much always agree with Yahtzee, it's in opinions on horror games. Everything in this article made perfect sense to me.

Regiment:
Wow, Yahtzee's getting more forgiving.

If you love a series, you tend to be. Liked Yahtzee's points, especially the Kiss My Ass segment cause this part of horror games tends to give the most scares.

I think Dead Space deserves more credit then it gets. Yes, it has cheap scares, yes it seems to emphasize combat more than evasion (a real shame but there you go). But it's full of atmosphere. The ship you're on literally seems to crawl and breath at times. I think the problem with the story was that they made the character a silent protagonist that we were supposed to "feel" for. Sadly I really couldn't. They should've given him a dialogue. :\

Yahtzee should really, -really- play Call of C'thulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.

Ah. This reminded me that I need to play Silent Hill 2 this summer.

Good points here about the "telegraphing" and the linearity issues. I'm not sure what Yahtzee would make of this (given that he is on the record as disliking RE1, 2 and 3), but I thought the early Resident Evil games did what he wants horror games to do: make the player feel lost and threatened.

That's one of the things that really did Urk me a little, lack of enemies in both worlds. It felt like I was a headless chicken half the time just trying to go from A to B.

I really wanted...more I supppose. It was a good game bit it left me wanting

If you're looking for a recent horror game, there's one called Deadly Premonition, but I haven't played it myself because it doesn't have a PAL release.

I played SH3 and made a bet with my friend that the game wouldn't scare me. I lost when it got me so bad I jumped and fell off my bed. Anyone who's ever played it will remember the part in the Amusement park with the rocking chair...yeah. I agree with Yahtzee about SH2 being about exploring and that inducing terror. I actually had to stop playing the game because once I got outside and it was night, with all the nurses roaming around, it was too much for my nerves. Really should go back and finish it.

Yahtzee, do you have any hopes for Alan Wake? That game looks like it might being doing horror some justice--from what I've seen anyway.

Yahtzee talks about the running away option combat, I've gotta say when this is done properly it's quite nerve-racking. Best example I can think of was the Call of Cthulu game that came out years ago. I remember damn near wetting myself trying to escape my hotel room as the badguys were busy kicking the door in. A far from perfect game, but one with a great atmosphere, developers take note.

Penumbra: Black Plague (or Overture, whichever was the first one...) used the "running away" element pretty well, but only by making you completely crap at fighting. Still, pretty scary with the headphones on an lights out.

QmunkE:
Penumbra: Black Plague (or Overture, whichever was the first one...) used the "running away" element pretty well, but only by making you a completely crap at fighting. Still, pretty scary with the headphones on an lights out.

Yeah, I remember that one but I got rather annoyed at the character going mental when you see something scary. It was used in the Cthulu game I mentioned earlier and always peeved me. Forcing "fear" into a character is a cheap shot. If you're game is written well enough and scary enough then the player will exhibit the symptoms not the character.

I'd like to point out Yahtzee, that gore doesn't necessarily improve horror. Alfred Hitchcock often had very little to no gore in his films and yet they were scary as hell.

Clear as mud-free water, the entire article made sense and reflects my feelings on horror games. Hence why I don't bother playing them anymore unless someone that's not so biased can point me to one.

And more gore, YES please. I love it, it should be an important factor in any horror games. Without blood and only seeing clean bodies, I am not so tempted to be scared. Yahtzee's description of what things should be gave me faint goosebumps.

Keep it up, these Extra Punctuation articles really flesh out Yahtzee's opinion well.

5. Kill my dumb ass

Interesting, because this seems to be in direct contradiction with what Shamus Young told us about horror games in one of his articles some months back.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/experienced-points/6715-You-Dont-Scare-Me

(...)

Once you build this connection - once you have a player who has stopped thinking about the fact that they're sitting on a couch and holding a controller and is instead feeling as if they actually were inhabiting some baleful ruin, armed only with a bit of pipe and a few shreds of courage - then you need to maintain it as long as possible. You want them to think and act as if they were really there, and so the last thing you want to do as a game designer is kill that mood by killing the main character. Paradoxically, dying makes the game less scary.

I know this sounds odd, and goes against the classic survival-horror formula of springing "gotcha" deaths on the player every ten steps and putting save points ludicrously far apart. But consider these two types of fear:

1) Oh no! I'm going to DIE.
2) Oh no. I'm going to lose the game.

(...)

Creating real fear requires immersion, and sending the player back to the loading screen kills that. A second ago they were afraid for their lives. Now they remember they're in their living room, it's all just a game, and the danger was never real to begin with. You can threaten them all you like but once you actually kill the character, the player will remember you're all bark and no bite because you can't really hurt them. The worst you can do is stop them from progressing in the game, which just isn't all that terrifying.

Now, my viewpoint might be biased because it doesn't take alot to scare me in games. For example, i find games like Doom 3 and Dead Space scary to hell, but maybe it's just that i have some kind of fobia against dark horror in video games. But even so, i have never actually played those games to the end, or even far enough to die in either of them. But they still scare me to hell. I don't need to die to feel horror.

I will, however, agree with Yathzee, in that the monsters need to be percieved as an actual threat. If they aren't, the horror goes away. No matter how scared i get from playing Dead Space, if i suddenly found out that all the monsters wanted was to cuddle with you instead of killing you (don't think too much about that one), then 80% of the horror would go away. But i still agree more with Shamus, in that killin the player kills the immersion, especially because of loading screens.

Oh, that reminds me... I really have to empty my dismemberment bucket.

I think a big problem with most horror games I've played is that I don't really feel any attachment to the main character. Some characters, such as Isaac Clark, I am able to relate to, and that seems to take what could have been a sub-par experience and amplified it (for me, anyways).

Well, I have a chance to actually have my post seen, but I have absolutely nothing to add. Once again.
It'd be better if Yahtzee would stop saying things I agree with so much and leave me room to argue, but as he doesn't, it leaves me feeling like I'm the one doing something wrong for not finding anything to disagree with.
Damn you, Yahtzee, for being right all the time!!!

Eremiel:
Yahtzee should really, -really- play Call of C'thulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.

He has, as he said on his online journal:
"...an underrated little adventure gem with some nice little touches if a little bit too reliant on a dodgy combat system."

http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/

He mentioned Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem in passing in his Too Human review. I wonder how kind he'd be to it, considering it has no problems screwing with your brain and killing your ass.

I've never been into the horror genre. The only "horror" game I can recall playing all the way through was, "Alone in the Dark." Leaving aside the primitive (by today's standards) graphics, I never found it creepy. More often than not, I found it annoying for its control system.

I spent maybe fifteen minutes with the 3DO port of Resident Evil.

Having the headcrabs gratuitously leap out at you in Half Life is about as scary as I can manage.

Nearly two years old, and it's still "The New" Prince of Persia, eh?

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