So, this is embarrassing. I actually did conclude the initial 10-episode run of Let’s Study Horror Games by the end of April. But I forgot to cross-post the video here once I uploaded it to YouTube. And then I made an 11th episode, and realized I still hadn’t announced the 10th one. And then weeks went by, and I fretted about, wondering how I should announce both videos on the blog. All of this is much more worry than it’s worth, so I finally just decided to announce them both in this post.
Episode 10 is an extension of some themes I delved into in this old blog post. (I had originally wanted to include Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem in that post, but it takes a lot of persistence to get the “save game deletion” sanity effect in that game, and there’s no way to reliably capture it unless you’ve committed yourself to capturing the entire game.) It marks the end of my formal plan for this series: any subsequent videos I release in it will take a more odds-n-ends approach, with no more multi-episode argumentative arcs.
Episode 11 inaugurates the more odds-n-ends phase. It focuses on sound, including musical scores, and includes within it a video version of this short lesson plan segment.
No transcript this time around, as it would be too unwieldy.
It is 2016. Sam Barlow is widely appreciated today for revitalizing the full-motion video adventure game with HER STORY (2015). Why, then, return to Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Climax Studios, 2009), which Barlow served as writer and lead designer of, which released seven years ago today? Am I prepared to claim that it is a lost masterpiece, a testament to Barlow’s skill at expanding the narrative possibilities of the videogame medium? No, I am not. Shattered Memories is certainly interesting. But it’s also flawed in too many ways to be considered a masterpiece.
Why these critical musings, then? Well, a bit of biographical detail: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the reason I bought a Wii. I had no prior interest in the console until word of this title started leaking out in mid-2009. I had played the first three Silent Hill games (all earlier that year, in fact) and loved them, but skipped the most recent iterations due to a seeming consensus that the series had subsequently lagged, especially following the departure of the original Team Silent. But here was something new: a game that actually seemed as if the designers were using the Wii remote in interesting ways, a game that seemed like it had a shot at leveraging the bodily engagement of the Wii platform in the service of horror, a game that was promising to rescue the survival horror genre from its seemingly inexorable slide into the action genre. In 2009, all three of these things seemed like breaths of fresh air.
So I have a personal attachment to this game, even if my feelings on it are complicated. What follows, as the title of this post suggests, are somewhat messy thoughts—although I’m planning to post a more organized follow-up soon.