|Yesterday we talked about that old creepy beat 'em up side-scroller Altered Beast. Today we will take a look at a different type of scary game, the psychological thriller. Silent Hill is a 8 part series originally released in 1999 by Konami for the Playstation. Many people got hooked on the intense story line and creepy settings in the first few games, and like any good thriller, things got scarier as the story went on. What stands out in the series as the most disturbing and frightening is Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.
Shattered Memories is the 7th installment, and part of why it was so popular is that is was a re-imagining of the first Silent Hill game. It maintains the premise of the original- Harry Mason's quest to find his missing daughter in the town of Silent Hill- but it is set in a different fictional universe, with new plot twists and new characters. The gameplay consists of 2 parts: a first person psychotherapy session with an unseen mystery patient, and an third person perspective of Harry's journey through Silent Hill. Harry's journey through the town is interrupted at strange intervals with a shift into another dimension as he tries to make sense of the mystery.
Climax Studios, who developed this edition, wanted to change the focus of the game. They got rid of a lot of the pop-up and scare you monsters and blast-your-way-through-freaks sections that were featured in previous games. Their reasoning was that a stronger storyline and tense atmospheric settings could convey a frightful mood just as well as zombies and blood and guts. Boy, were they right. This is what sets Silent Hill apart from its major rival, Resident Evil. Composer Akira Yamaoka helped set the mood with the first dynamic soundtrack on any of the games, and the mood he set was very tense.
Sitting in the patients chair answering creepy questions for Dr. Kaufmann was bad enough, but knowing that whatever answer you gave was going to affect your interactions with the characters, monsters, and even the town itself was stressful and nerve wracking. Playing this game is like watching the most suspenseful and frightening movie, except that you are the director. With 5 possible endings and many different variations throughout, this is one creeped-out game that will keep you on the edge of your seat late into the night.