Konami and Climax's re-imagining of the first Silent Hill is a risky prospect, a wildly different take on the PlayStation horror classic. As a fan of the series, the remixed, retold Silent Hill: Shattered Memories just felt... unnecessary.
That was until I had played through the Tokyo Game Show demo.
The section we were coaxed into playing by the helpful Konami staff involved one of the game's chase sequences, a heart-pounding and smart addition to the game. The series isn't generally known for its action qualities, but the mad dash through the altered streets of Silent Hill added a new kind of fear, helped by some interesting mechanics.
It took a few moments to get accustomed to the new controls—I hadn't yet played the Wii version of Shattered Memories, mind you. Players control Harry Mason with the analog nub, switching to flashlight (read: camera) controls by holding the right shoulder button. More interesting to me was what the left shoulder button does: look over your shoulder. Not particularly innovative, but it helps seal the fear of something quietly lurking behind you.
My first attempt at playing the game met with failure. After hopping over a wall—one of Harry's new moves—I ran into a few of Silent Hill's fleshy, mutated denizens.
They quickly piled on top of me, my only option to elbow them off with a press of one of the face buttons. They're mapped to the location from which you're attacked. If something's grabbing onto you from the left, press the square button at the right time. From behind, tap X. Getting double-teamed? You'll have to hit both buttons when the on-screen indicator pops up. Unfortunately, I didn't figure this all out until my second attempt, attempting to figure out where my bludgeoning implement was.
Eventually I figured out that I was supposed to run like hell, not fiddle with the cell phone and GPS device Harry sports in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. So I ran, guided by walls of nearly clear ice, shouldering my way through blue-tinted doors at full speed. I'd made the mistake earlier in the demo to slowly open of Silent Hill's many closed doors, which one can do by pushing slightly on the analog stick after grabbing the doorknob.
Really, after finding my rhythm and getting an eye for where each door would be, running like a madman was all I did. With enemies difficult to see in the dark and the fear of hordes of Silent Hill's demons bearing down on you, it's the best thing one can do.
Granted, chase sequences, while interesting, do not a quality remake... make. But the smart implementation of these moments helped me get over my own fear of slogging through the streets of Silent HIll again. Another minor thing that won me over were the visuals. While not mind-blowing—it is the PSP after all—it looked sharp and I dug the VHS tape tracking-like visual effect.
We'll know how good the final game will be when it ships this November.