Monday, December 6, 2010

In the Mind of the Player - Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

So, I spend a decent amount of time chilling on the couch watching my roommate play whatever video game she happens to have in. I started doing a lot more of it when this course started, but she reminded me of a game I sat through last year and I recalled how intriguing it was.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a re-imagining of the original Silent Hill game. As the name suggests, the story is largely told via flashbacks to old memories. In the meanwhile though, your character is hanging around in a psychiatrist's office as he tries to help you figure things out.

This should raise a flag right away that this game is going to start playing with your head. The interesting thing is that it changes aspects of the story based on what it gleans from your poor, little mind. Shattered Memories is for the Wii, meaning the motion sensitivity of the wiimote is involved. It controls your camera angle so that wherever you point it, your character looks.

The game utilizes this in some interesting ways. When you're sitting in the psychiatrist's office, you often have free reign to look around while he speaks to you. Maybe you notice some bottles of alcohol on a shelf and you eye them for a little bit.

+1 to alcoholism.

Wait, what?

You don't actually see it happen, but the game notices you eying that alcohol and makes a note of it. Since your character clearly has some issues and you apparently like the drink, the game starts portraying your character with drinking issues. When out in the larger world, your character will see more advertisements for booze and comment on them when you pass by.

This is just one of a number of extrapolations the game will make. When you were following that cop as she escorted you back home, did you happen to linger on her well-shaped posterior? +1 to sexualism. Expect that the next time she shows up, you'll remember her wearing something a bit more revealing. Did you tell the psychiatrist that you had a terrible time in school? When you eventually visit the local high school, you'll remember it in shambles.

The locales, the other characters, and even the player's character will change as the game maps the player's trends and make a profile of them. Playthroughs from person to person will be different. Some people will get the cop who's strict on the rules, some will only find family friendly signs hanging around town, some will get a good ending and some won't.

The extent to which Shattered Memories changes based on your personality profile isn't terribly massive. The core story itself still remains the same. You still go from point A to point B, whether the cop is wearing fatigues or daisy dukes. The interesting possibility here is obviously expanding this to change the story in a game. Playthroughs by different people would actually result in completely different paths and outcomes. A player might be none the wiser that they unconsciously made it happen this way until they see that someone else's experience was completely different. That would generate a lot of replay value to find all the unique stories you could have possibly made.

No comments: