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Last year I started a new tradition where around Halloween, I would break out my collection of Wii games and play what I consider to be the greatest horror game in my collection. While I wouldn't say I'm the biggest horror fan -- and maybe that's why my favorite game in the genre is considered by most to be the least scary in the series -- I do have a few horror titles tucked away in storage. There's a couple of the Resident Evils, Eternal Darkness, ZombiU and a handful of others. They're all great games, all scary in their own way, but none of them have stuck with me, have festered into the very fabric of my being, like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has.
Released for the Wii back in 2009, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the second Silent Hill game from Climax Studios. The game went through a few different iterations before writer/director Sam Barlow landed on the concept found in the final package. Instead of trying to further expand the mythos of Silent Hill, Barlow would offer gamers an alternate take on the first game in the title, re-imagining how it plays, how it looks, and who the characters are. The story would still feature Harry Mason looking for his daughter Cheryl, but now his journey would be intercut with personality quizzes that give shape to the path at hand. Answers here, as well as interactions in the world, alter Mason's search. Sometimes in little ways, like when you color a house in the therapy session and the next scene features a house painted in the colors you chose; other times in bigger ways, like when you jump through the necessary hoops to get access to the Good Ol' Days Bar near the beginning of the game, instead of the Diner 52 restaurant.
All of this is well-known by now, as is the twist ending. I've played through Shattered Memories four times, and despite the Ice World segments and Raw Shocks never offering up the scares they should, I still find my body crawling with goosebumps every time I pop it in. How is it that a game where I know everything that's going to happen and when it happens is able to still spook me out after nearly ten years? During this most recent trip to Silent Hill, I found the secret to its scares lies in its sound.