Shattered Memories may be based on the original Silent Hill game but as Climax's Mark Simmons (Game Director) and Sam Barlow (Lead Designer) told us, it completely reinvents the original. Over the course of an in-depth interview, we asked them what possessed them to make a horror game without weapons, whether there is an audience for this type of mature game and if it is difficult to scare modern audiences. This is what they had to say...
ONM: Why did you decide to remake the first Silent Hill rather than create an original horror game?
Sam Barlow: After Origins we'd been talking about making another horror game so we talked about what we liked about that and ways we could make a better horror game.
We had lots of ideas and at the same time the Wii had just come out and that seemed like a really good time to speak to a broader audience. There's lots of evidence of more casual gamers watching their gamer friends playing Silent Hill but not actually playing it because it was always too hard. So we knew there was an audience who would be really receptive to something that told a really strong emotional story.
At the same time, there was a strong feeling within Konami that it would be time to revisit the 10th anniversary of the original game. We had lots of discussion about that and obviously we had done Origins which was a prequel to the original game but shared a lot of the gameplay, the characters and the setting.
So we felt that there was limited room for doing something really exciting if we were to revisit that title again. So we looked at a lot of the ideas we had about horror games with this idea of remaking Silent Hill.
The more we thought about it, the more crazy ideas we had and the more excited we got about those ideas and we started talking about using that game as a kernel of those ideas and taking that in a very different direction.
If it had just been Silent Hill 7 or 8 with a new story I think people would have just seen it as a long line of iterations but by saying 'let's rewind and go back to the beginning,' we're saying 'What was Silent Hill really about?' Silent Hill was the game that blew everyone's minds at the time, that was really fresh and exciting at the time so we wanted to really recapture some of that excitement by coming up with these new ideas and treatments.
ONM: Did Silent Hill need reinventing?
Mark Simmons: Yeah, because we felt that survival horror had got a bit stagnated and was reproducing the same formula. Certainly we thought people were starting to get a little bored with the clunky combat, the lumbering zombies.
With Resident Evil, their (Capcom's) take on it was to move it towards being a pure action experience and away from the pure horror experience that it previously was.
ONM: Do you think that made Resident Evil better or worse?
Mark Simmons: I don't know. That was their take on it. For me, it made it less of a horror game so people looking for a tense, thrilling experience were going to get less of that in the future with Resident Evil.
Sam Barlow: It's about being true to the franchise. Resident Evil had always been a bit schlocky and B movie - they really built on that and Resident Evil 4 was the ultimate action adventure with gory B-movie overtones. It was big budget, it ripped things from Indiana Jones and threw it all together into one package.