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Night10194

Silent Hill Discussion

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The psychologist in Shattered Memories (Dr. Kaufmann, btw) is totally unprofessional because *spoiler!* any time he tries to root out an issue with his client they "freeze up" and spout some bullshit not relevant to anything to keep from admitting the truth.

I disagree with it looking a little "psx" though. This is a PS2 game with PSX-esque graphics:

shadowhearts_1219_790screen001.jpg

And this is Shattered Memories, for comparison.

Shattered-Memories-Cybil.jpg

A little squished, because I guess this is an HD screenshot compressed to CRT proportions, but the difference is quite clear. I'd say Shattered Memories is late-era PS2 at worst, but the animation is done so well that I really don't get any sense of the uncanny valley.

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Shattered memories:

Good-ish. Graphics are a bit PSX-y, which is sad, for this generation. I hear the Wii graphics are better than the PS2 port's which is extra sad. I like the ice motif, and the plot. I also think that the psychologist fellow is extremely unprofessional, but I suspect that has something to do with the plot in the longrun.

I have to agree that Shattered Memories is "good-ish," mostly because it's the most polished and re-playable game of the Tomm Hulett series of games (SH0; SHH; SHSM). However, in all honesty, the reason that that is so, is that it does interactivity better than any of the games in the entire series and probably better than most video games to date. Almost all of the scenes in the game are in some way interactive. If not in the way that the player affects the story, some aspect or another is interactive, whether it be what objects you pick up (or don't), to which places you go (or avoid), or simply to what you look (or not). Even in situations where the dialogue is constrained and/or predetermined, the player is still given the option to follow what line of sight they wish to see. For example, on two different play-throughs, in the scene of the car ride with Dahlia from the Balkin to the drawbridge (probably one of the most uninteresting scenes in the game), I first played it indifferently, looking out the window in order to avoid eye-contact with her and hardly listening to what she had to say, which gave me a very detached look at her throughout that play-through; while the next time, I played the scene very intently, staring at her expressions, watching her actions, and I admit I began to warm up to her and took a greater interest in her well-being.

While I admit that the level of attachment that I formed is purely subjective and not something that everyone is going to experience, it's the fact that the game allows you to choose your level of interaction that helps you to formulate your opinion, which lends itself greatly to subtlety and nuance. In that aspect alone, Shattered Memories excels extraordinarily above the series.

However, that being said, the plot is par for the series, looking deeply at the emotions, motivations and events that drive the main character to be the person they are by game's end. What the plot fails to offer is an adequate reflection on the conclusion to the story. What did it all mean? What did I learn about the character and myself throughout the process? What did I take away from all of it? I think the last scene in the game (regardless of ending) says it best: [minor spoiler]Packing away a box of trinkets that once held significance because they are important to the character, but in retrospect, loses meaning once you walk away from the box.[/minor spoiler]

I did really like the ice motif as well, not merely because it's a metaphor for the main character locking up about their denial, but also because it re-establishes the series' defining feature as the nightmare of one's mind. That nightmare can take whatever form is most descriptive/appropriate to the character's state of mind, be it fire, darkness, flesh, machinery, ice or whatever. The nightmare is what drives the fear, what is hardest to define, and what can frighten all of us. And, by using a motif that is thematically opposed to the previously established motifs, Shattered Memories makes it apparent that fear is the true theme that ties the series together.

Homecoming:

Eh. It's still a silent hill game. It's just too shiny! Why is everything so shiny?! The story's a little too straightforward. Hardly any twists and turns. Nobody dies and then comes back to life and then dies again and then comes back to life wearing your dead wife's clothes... Sigh. Good enemies. Puzzles are pretty simple, too.

Silent Hill: Homecoming is the rocket that never took off, the flower that never bloomed, the fire that couldn't ignite. (I've got more of these: the door that jammed, the hole that's gone now, the seal that did nothing, doll that cursed your inventory storage, etc., etc., etc.) It was just an idea that never came to be.

Whether you might say that it was the frenetic, noisy, overly visceral presentation of the atmosphere; the predictable, clichéd plot line that followed too closely to the mess that the movie tried to pass off as a narrative; the underdeveloped characters who seemed more out-of-place and expendable than items in your inventory; or even the half-hearted and underwhelmed conclusion at games' end, everyone can agree that the game has more than it's fair share of flaws.

But, let me give it some redeeming value. If one is willing to take the time and effort, read through the diary entries on the official widget. They give an account of each of the three main characters story just prior to the beginning of the game. Alex's diary entries give an account of his internal conflict and better characterization of his mental illness. Elle's diary gives you a better account of the slow and disheartening demise of Shepard's Glen and of her impotence to fight against it. Wheeler's diary shows how inept the police department staff is at handling disasters and how dependent they were on the town's sheriff, explaining why the town was able to spiral out of control so easily in his absence.

From these entries, you can get a glimpse of the deeper characterization that didn't make it into the finished product. Still, it doesn't make up for the disappointment it causes. (I still can't tell if the irony is intentional or not, but it definitely is palpable.)

About Yamaoka going byebye:

He's been half-assing it since the rest of team silent left. I do hope that the series evolves without him. I don't mind hearing someone else's music, so long as it fits the mood (my music, maybe? I'm good! I sound like Yamaoka!).

I'm not going to say I take offense at the statement, since I am not Akira Yamaoka and cannot speak on his behalf, but I will say that his works on the soundtracks for 0rigins, Homecoming, and Shattered Memories do not sound "half-assed." In fact, I would go so far as to say that the music for these games are more evolved and nuanced than his previous soundtracks. While I don't think that he's made a Theme of Laura or True lately (songs most fans regard as his most acclaimed), I would go so far as to say that Witchcraft is as passionate and soulful as Please Love Me... Once More, that O.R.T. is as profound as Theme of Laura (Reprise), that Elle Theme is as rich and resonant as Tears Of..., or that Angel's Scream is as dark and foreboding as Flower Crown of Poppy. In fact, I could go on and on about how much more developed Akira Yamaoka has made the Silent Hill sound of late, which I might in some other place at some other time.

It will be interesting to see how the music develops in the next iteration of the series, should there be one. (Actually, it's been confirmed!) While I think that the conservative prediction is that the next music director will try to mimic the Yamaoka format, it will definitely be difficult to capture that subtle form of expression that is distinctly Yamaoka's. Should a more generic "horror game" sound be applied to the series from here out, which is a less conservative prediction, I think it goes without saying that it will sound more out-of-place than no music at all. However, should the least conservative prediction come to pass, which is that a new music director is given the freedom to find his own voice and apply it appropriately to the context of the games, I may find myself with several new soundtracks on my bookshelf.

I would like a return to the complexity of the earlier games. The recent games were pretty lacking in terms of non-story memos (like the mood enhancing ones about murders and drownings and historical sorts of things in SH2) - and they were lacking in subtlety, which is unfortunate.

That said, I'll still follow this series into the dark so long as it continues to emphasize psychological horror and suspense with a little bit of beating formless blobs to death with a bent pipe on the side. Preferably with a bit more subtlety and a bit less "We're gung-ho americans who don't understand that this series is rooted in japanese culture."

I really can't help but notice the contrast of tone in these two statements, which imply more that you want a rehash of Silent Hill 2 than an honest attempt to create something original within the series' context. I understand that Silent Hill 2 is a game that stands without peer in the Silent Hill universe. It's a beautiful and brooding poem that transcends its medium, but holding your expectations for any follow-up to compete with SH2 will always pale in comparison.

Still, Silent Hill 2 is definitely a game that any developer should strive to emulate, but not at the expense of its own development and expression. We'll see what happens over the summer.

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I would go so far as to say that Witchcraft is as passionate and soulful as Please Love Me... Once More, that O.R.T. is as profound as Theme of Laura (Reprise), that Elle Theme is as rich and resonant as Tears Of..., or that Angel's Scream is as dark and foreboding as Flower Crown of Poppy. In fact, I could go on and on about how much more developed Akira Yamaoka has made the Silent Hill sound of late, which I might in some other place at some other time.

Well, I've never felt as though his VOCAL tracks were lacking (except for those awful Joe Romersa tracks, but that's just my opinion). Origins's soundtrack is decent. Lots of good vocal tracks, and some fairly good instrumentals. Homecoming lacked any memorable instrumentals, attributed to the fact that I can't remember any of them. Shattered Memories, while it has some cool musical themes recycles them constantly - the limitations of the wii, I think. Frankly, the lushness and production value that went into Silent Hill 3's soundtrack has never been matched, and while I don't want a rehash of the music and themes in it, I'd like to have seen the same kind of effort and attention in the recent instalments. But you may still disagree on that.

However, should the least conservative prediction come to pass, which is that a new music director is given the freedom to find his own voice and apply it appropriately to the context of the games, I may find myself with several new soundtracks on my bookshelf.

I think part of finding your own voice is failing to find it initially. Which means, under a new composer, we may see some pretty derivative (or out of place) music until things gel in a future instalment (which is a little too far ahead, since the 'failure game' is only now just confirmed. Still, I welcome anyone who can create an appropriate atmosphere. Really, the sound of the music is intrinsically connected with the plot elements in terms of the noises used (clock chimes and ticks, furnace growls, etc), it would be hard to write appropriate score without emulating Yamaoka to some extent.

I really can't help but notice the contrast of tone in these two statements, which imply more that you want a rehash of Silent Hill 2 than an honest attempt to create something original within the series' context. I understand that Silent Hill 2 is a game that stands without peer in the Silent Hill universe. It's a beautiful and brooding poem that transcends its medium, but holding your expectations for any follow-up to compete with SH2 will always pale in comparison.

Oh, good lord, that's not what I meant to suggest at all. Like I mentioned when I said that Silent Hill 3's soundtrack is hard to match, it's not a rehash that I want, it's the same quality/calibre of writing and direction that I want. I don't want to see old plot elements recycled, I want to see A PLOT. An intricate, complex one. Which is to say, I don't want to see a) Silent Hill Homecoming's half-baked Hollywood Blockbuster simplicity, or B) Shattered Memories' taking literally the phrase "psychological horror" and effectively making the supernatural element of Silent Hill a backburner afterthought.

Okay, those were some pretty harsh statements. I enjoyed both games thoroughly, but I recognize their flaws when compared with previous instalments. (I should note that my favourite in the series is actually Silent Hill 4, and not Silent Hill 2).

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Well, I've never felt as though his VOCAL tracks were lacking (except for those awful Joe Romersa tracks, but that's just my opinion). Origins's soundtrack is decent. Lots of good vocal tracks, and some fairly good instrumentals. Homecoming lacked any memorable instrumentals, attributed to the fact that I can't remember any of them. Shattered Memories, while it has some cool musical themes recycles them constantly - the limitations of the wii, I think. Frankly, the lushness and production value that went into Silent Hill 3's soundtrack has never been matched, and while I don't want a rehash of the music and themes in it, I'd like to have seen the same kind of effort and attention in the recent instalments. But you may still disagree on that.

Perhaps I've been playing the role of Devil's Advocate for too long, as I do have my own grievances with the soundtracks of late, particularly when looking at them as a whole.

I don't think the soundtrack for SH0 has problems melodically or structurally as you noted, but there is a definite over-reliance on the preset values of the samples and instrumentation used here. In other words, Akira Yamaoka does very little to alter the individual tracks (which consist of preset samples from various sources) he uses in a congealing way, which of itself, doesn't give the soundtrack as a whole a consistent mood. So, when you listen to it as an album, the shifting mood and atmosphere doesn't give you a sense that the music is made to mesh together. It all feels like selections from a game with highly varying situations, which SH0 was. In fact, Akira Yamaoka's works often reflect the nature of the games they portray, both in mood and execution. So, in essence, his problem with having a consistent mood throughout the SH0 soundtrack is a reflection of the game's own lack of a consistency throughout.

Silent Hill Homecoming's soundtrack suffered from poor track mixing, being that the individual tracks were ordered in an ineffective manner. The first half of the album focuses heavily on melodic and theme-oriented tracks making the ambient tracks of the latter half seem bare and hollow, attributing to its lack of memorability. Had the tracks been ordered in a way that alternated between melodic and ambient tracks in a more synergistic way as they were in the SH3 OST, it might have garnered greater popularity. However, the tracks were ordered in this manner to follow their appearances in the game, which shifted from an atmospheric, melody-oriented, character driven start to an action-horror, high-tension finale with little regard to the unfolding, if underwhelming, character development in the concluding chapters. Particularly speaking, as Alex infiltrates the Silent Hill religion's hive, he faces a number of encounters with the recurring characters as their true intentions are revealed and disseminated. Normally, the music would have been a major part of such character developments; however, there is little opportunity to ruminate upon these emotional encounters because the game ungraciously cuts away from these serendipitous moments in order to blindly press ahead to the next objective. As such, the music itself foregos providing emotion and context in order to move on to the next visceral and undulating piece of ambiance.

My issues with the SHSM soundtrack are in its familiarity, not only because of their repeated use in the game, but in the fact that a number of elements are recycled from previous games. Sound effects, synths, loops and other elements in almost every track come from a previous soundtrack and, while I consider it a farewell love letter to the series, it makes distinguishing one title from the next difficult without looking at the tracklist. More so, Akira Yamaoka even uses the same synths developed primarily for SHSM in multiple tracks, such as the distorted piano in "Creeping Distress" and "Snow Driven" or the twisted laughing synth in "Devil's Laughter" and "Blackest Friday" adding to the confusion. Additionally, since no track exceeds the 3 minute mark (averaging at about 2 minutes in length, the shortest in the series), looping tends to occur regularly, compounding the repetitious feel of the music in-game.

Still, it's a matter of opinion. While I think that the SH3 soundtrack is the best album (being that it works together well as a single collection of music) of the series, it certainly doesn't have the best individual tracks. This is mostly because of a number of elements that hinder their ability to be listened to as individual tracks, such as the ambient music at the beginning and ending of individual tracks ("Sickness Unto Foolish Death," "A Stray Child," "Innocent Moon") the stops where in-game loops occur rather than a developed ending ("Please Love Me... Once More," "End of Small Sanctuary," "Prayer"), the overlay of spoken word sections obscuring musical elements ("Sun," "Walk on Vanity Ruins") and the addition of silence in order to extend song length ("Hometown"). As such, this makes the SH3 OST and its predecessors great to listen to on CD, but is a bad choice for MP3/digital music players, while I think the opposite is true of the newer albums including the SH4 OSTs.

I think part of finding your own voice is failing to find it initially. Which means, under a new composer, we may see some pretty derivative (or out of place) music until things gel in a future instalment (which is a little too far ahead, since the 'failure game' is only now just confirmed. Still, I welcome anyone who can create an appropriate atmosphere. Really, the sound of the music is intrinsically connected with the plot elements in terms of the noises used (clock chimes and ticks, furnace growls, etc), it would be hard to write appropriate score without emulating Yamaoka to some extent.

Considering that today Konami announced the Music Director for the eighth installment of the Silent Hill series: Silent Hill Homecoming 2, Daniel Licht, I'm going to have to agree with you that the music is going to sound very out of place. Daniel Licht's musical focus has been primarily on passive media: movies, television shows and the like. While creating music for cut-scenes may be similar to writing for passive media, I have my concerns that the creation of music for the interactive parts of the game will not be of interest or intensity in the way they have been in earlier installments. However, my concerns are not in his experiences in past media, but in the style and direction of the composer himself, as very little on his website moves to impress.

A big part of Akira Yamaoka's style when composing for ambient or atmospheric parts of the games was his ability to stimulate your imagination for fear by using elements that weren't commonplace. For example, he would use effects and elements that were seemingly detached from the story and/or plot, such as distorted animal noises for the monsters, high pitched squeals in narrow spaces, fog horns in underground places, electronic interference in places without electronics, etc. It's this combination of the commonplace and the unexpected that made his works not only frightful, but interesting. How many games have we played where we've been stopped in our tracks, not because of an enemy or surprising visual element, but because of a particular sound that froze us stiff or had us looking in all directions?

Oh, good lord, that's not what I meant to suggest at all. Like I mentioned when I said that Silent Hill 3's soundtrack is hard to match, it's not a rehash that I want, it's the same quality/calibre of writing and direction that I want. I don't want to see old plot elements recycled, I want to see A PLOT. An intricate, complex one. Which is to say, I don't want to see a) Silent Hill Homecoming's half-baked Hollywood Blockbuster simplicity, or B) Shattered Memories' taking literally the phrase "psychological horror" and effectively making the supernatural element of Silent Hill a backburner afterthought.

Okay, those were some pretty harsh statements. I enjoyed both games thoroughly, but I recognize their flaws when compared with previous instalments. (I should note that my favourite in the series is actually Silent Hill 4, and not Silent Hill 2).

Me, too. (SH4 was my favorite game, too! ;-) )

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... Why are you calling it "Homecoming 2"?

I mean, other than the fact that it doesn't look like it's going to deviate significantly from what Homecoming was doing - which wasn't much.

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I must say I like the trailer for the new game. And about having Daniel Licht as the music director, I can't help but being downright excited about it. He made the great, and eerie, music for Dexter and I'm guessing he did the music in the trailer as well, so that just makes me even more excited.

I thought Homecoming was okay, but I hope this one improves upon the most lacking detail in Homecoming: the locations. They were mostly repetative and boring, no real soul to them. Not like the Prison in SH2, or the asylum in SH: Origins.

Also, isn't it yet another new company developing this game? Or is it the same team as in Homecoming?

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It's being developed by Vatra games. They haven't made any games yet, but they're supposedly involved with some 2K Games retirees. If they retired, I don't know what they're doing starting a new company, but I think the most important part of a Silent Hill game is the writing, so, hopefully that's what gets some focus.

Anyway, I enjoy some of the moody tracks from Dexter, but the music in the trailer was a bit unnecessarily hollywoody. Certainly wouldn't suit actual gameplay. Might be okay in a cutscene.

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... Why are you calling it "Homecoming 2"?

I mean, other than the fact that it doesn't look like it's going to deviate significantly from what Homecoming was doing - which wasn't much.

Bingo.

I must say I like the trailer for the new game. And about having Daniel Licht as the music director, I can't help but being downright excited about it. He made the great, and eerie, music for Dexter and I'm guessing he did the music in the trailer as well, so that just makes me even more excited.

David Licht is not a bad choice for creating the music for Silent Hill. I'm just not all that impressed or excited about his music. Perhaps this game will change that; only time will tell.

Oh, yeah. For those wondering if Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Joe Romersa will be returning for the next game, the answer is a definite "no." In fact, they have joined Akira Yamaoka at Grasshopper Manufacture and are currently working on a new soundtrack for an upcoming title.

I thought Homecoming was okay, but I hope this one improves upon the most lacking detail in Homecoming: the locations. They were mostly repetative and boring, no real soul to them. Not like the Prison in SH2, or the asylum in SH: Origins.

I wouldn't say it was so much the locations as I would say it was the pacing. Too long in certain sections (requiring repetition of features and layout), too short in others (skimping on design and creativity).

Also, isn't it yet another new company developing this game? Or is it the same team as in Homecoming?

Yes, the new development company is VATRA Games: a development studio under Kuju Entertainment Ltd., formed in early 2009 and based in Brno, Czech Republic. They currently staff 40 members who, for the most part, previously worked for Illusion Softworks (now known as 2K Czech, a division of 2K Games), a studio mostly known for creating various WWII and Vietnam FPS's.

The current executive producers listed for Silent Hill are Konami Digital Enterainment, Inc. Executive Vice President Kazuya Takahashi (formly the executive producer of Online Contents for Konami Digital Enterainment, Inc. and producer for Silent Hill: The Escape), Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. Executive Producer Jeremy Airey (who produced over both Silent Hill Homecoming and Shattered Memories), and Matthew Seymour, current Studio Head for VATRA Games (who previously worked on games for 2K Sports and 2K Czech).

The current producers listed for Silent Hill are Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. Producer Devin Shatsky (who presented the trailer at E3 this year), Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. Producer Tomm Hulett (who has produced the last three home console versions of the Silent Hill series), and VATRA Games Studio Development Director Andy Pang (...nothing much else to say about him).

I'm not all that impressed with the development staff (granted they're doing the same visually with the game as Double Helix who had twice the staff), though there is a silver lining among them in Matthew Seymour. I'm intrigued by his philosophy of narrative design in games and their effects on gameplay (if not a little kooky), particularly in his interview about Don King presents: Prizefighter (2008, XBOX360).

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Play Shattered Memories. The story is the most pure form of Silent Hill since 2.

"This whole town, it's really a giant spaceship!"

"I am sober." "That would explain you weirding me out."

"What is this place?" "It's a boat. It's like a car, but goes on water."

In its most tender moments, SHSM can be very sincere, but for the most part, the script is rather catty.

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The film sequel has a confirmed director and will be in 3D.

Silent Hill: Revelations

I gonna have to say that I'm a little put off by the 3D decision. More than likely, it will be more of a gimmick than any sort of enhancement. Time will tell I suppose.

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Oh yeah, figure this is relevant:

76017_458407658953_768938953_5293650_1369738_n.jpg

Hurrah... This and a few more are in the PPOY thread too *_* First time I've dressed up for Halloween... (since childhood)

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"This whole town, it's really a giant spaceship!"

"I am sober." "That would explain you weirding me out."

"What is this place?" "It's a boat. It's like a car, but goes on water."

In its most tender moments, SHSM can be very sincere, but for the most part, the script is rather catty.

I haven't seen a script that well written since the days of Jill Sandwiches.

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The last two lines are a somewhat bitchy Dahlia making fun of Harry's inquiries. To his credit, the times he runs into Dahlia, Harry is exceedingly confused about what's going on.

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New Silent Hill Shattered Memories Remix from Main Finger:

Since we're on the subject of SHSM, here's a rough cut of Jesse Gregory's (aka Main Finger) remix of Akira Yamaoka's version of "Always on My Mind." And it is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

MainFinger.com - News - Stream a New Main Finger Remix / Download (.mp4 file / 6.97 MB / 480 x 360)

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You know, back when shattered memories was first released, people were making jokes about the sequel having to do with rain and being a reimagining of silent hill 2.

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The next installment coming later this year

Silent Hill: Downpour

Lookin like another Homecoming... and without Yamaoka, how could it feel like Silent Hill? :whatevaa:

Actually, according to the escapist, it looks like this is going to be another 0rigins, with breakable weapons, fixed camera angles and QTEs. Color me disappointed.

Incidently, if you haven't checked out Silent Hill: Past Life, read the first two issues; it's surprisingly promising. Particularly because the writer, Tom Waltz (Silent Hill: Sinner's Reward), is also co-writing Downpour. I'm highly impressed with the artwork as well, as it merges the art design of the entire comic series with a monochrome pencil-sketch style and an incomparable, original technique that warrants detailed inspection.

Also, if you happen to use PlayStation Home, check out the highly faithful, recreated Red Pyramid costume from SH2 in the Konami Space.

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More on upcoming Silent Hill: Revelation

We have a Heather!

sh2photo.jpg

She's pweettyy! Looking forward to the 2nd movie.

I didn't understand all the love for Silent Hill: Origins. It did an okay job of mimicking past Silent Hill's but when it was left on it's own it did things like make enemies who were puppets. I gave up when I got to the theater.

It was a game that was wholly unnecessary.

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