Trigger Warning: Discussion of domestic abuse in two of the game’s endings
SH: SM doesn’t have graphics as good as Team Silent’s PS2 SH games, which is kind of sad, especially since the game has some decently creative art.
I don’t remember having any problems with the audio. The voice acting was decent.
The music was pretty good, though not as iconic as the earlier games in the series, probably because the game is not as iconic as the earlier games, and has a different feel overall.
Classic SH theme songs rear their head in “Always on My Mind”, “When You’re Gone”, “Acceptance”, and “Hell Frozen Rain”, despite some tryhard lyrics and titles. Some of the ambient songs stand out, such as the creepy “Devil’s Laughter” and “Ice”.
The game had fun puzzles, just like Climax’s earlier Silent Hill 0rigins, even though I neglected to mention them much. They must not have been as good as the ones in 0rigins.
The phone was a cool but underutilized feature.
I have very mixed feelings about the lack of combat and the sole monsters in the game (the Raw Shocks). On one hand, it is innovative, different, and makes it easier to enjoy the story, but on the other, it’s definitely less scary than earlier games in the series. Which brings me to my next point…
The game lacked the more visceral fear of the previous games, although their scariness varied form game to game (SH3 has always been the scariest to me). SH: SM tried to tap into some different ways of scaring the player, but they may have made the horror too low-key. I can’t recall the game really making my heart pump at any point. It’s a matter of taste, but the Ice World is not as scary to me as the Otherworlds of previous games, and Downpour. SH: SM is one of the least scary SH games.
This game seemed to aim for surreal creepiness and storyline more than outright fear. Speaking of which…
The story is kind of brilliant in hindsight, and I was surprised at how much fun I had recapping it. There are details that you don’t realize until you look the game over again.
However, I find the game’s status as an SH game and, specifically, a reimagining of the first game – to be questionable. If you had told me that I’d agree in a way with a review I read saying that SH: SM “fails” as an SH game, I’d have called you a fandom heathen.
But did it really fail? I don’t think it did, because it still lived up to the promise of an SH game having an emotionally engaging story.
It’s really not the same story, however, in terms of feel. SH1 borders on a cosmic horror story with the demon Samael and the cult’s attempt to bring it back; SH: SM is really about the shattered psyche of a person who, depending on how you play the game, was abused in some way or was witness to abuse.
Did it need to be a reimagining of SH1 (or advertised as such), or could it have been its own unique story within the SH series?
To be blunt, the character of Lisa in this game and her death scene is vastly inferior to that of SH1. They could have made her a similar character with a similar fate for all the difference it made, but because this game is a “reimagining” of SH1, it forces a comparison between the two.
The Psyche Profile System
The Psyche Profile is incredibly brilliant, but I didn’t quite appreciate it at the time because I didn’t understand how my in-game actions affected the story. Perhaps its crime is that it’s too subtle? 😛
There are basically three variations: neutral, alcoholic, and lothario. They’re all determined by things like how you respond to Dr. K’s psychological tests, how you respond to texts, and even how much attention you pay to certain in-game objects. These seemingly simple acts affect how characters look, behave, and respond to Harry, as well as how the Raw Shocks look, and more minor details in the game.
Harry depending on your psyche profile. If your psyche profile is sexual, then Cybil, Dahlia, and Michelle will wear overtly sexy or attractive clothes.
Raw Shocks can look disturbingly sexualized if your psyche profile leans towards lothario. If it leans towards alcoholic, then they may appear diseased.
Whether or not Michelle or John initializes the breakup with the other depends on your psyche profile.
The biggest deal is how your psyche profile affects the endings as well as Harry and Cheryl’s final words to each other, so to speak.
Love Lost is the ending that I received. I actually wasn’t that happy about it, but some interpret it as the happiest ending in the game, inasmuch as it has one.
Drunk Dad is self-explanatory. Harry is shown to be filmed by Cheryl while he is drunk. He yells at Cheryl to get him another beer.
Sleaze and Sirens shows Harry in a sex tape with Lisa and Michelle.
Wicked and Weak shows Dahlia physically and verbally abusing Harry. She rails against him for being poor, writing “shit” novels, and calls him a pathetic and “dickless waste of space”. Cheryl catches it all on tape.
The UFO Ending is a silly and surreal tradition of SH games. This one is actually done in a cartoony illustrated style instead of the in-game engine. I think it’s best if you look this one up yourself if you haven’t seen it already… 😀
Dialog Variations Between Cheryl and Harry
Delusional is the variation that I received.
Unforgiven: Cheryl acts coldly towards Harry, who says that he should forget her.
Acceptance shows Cheryl finally being willing to let her father go.
So you can see how the way I played affected certain variables: I got noncommittal ending dialog between Cheryl and Harry, but I did get the least damaging ending, and I got the “seductive” variant of Dahlia, so I must have gotten some lothario points along the way. Having Michelle break up with John indicates coming down negatively on the idea of marriage.
Lisa’s pill bottles are labeled “Claudia”. This is a reference to White Claudia, a hallucinogenic drug that the Lisa in SH1 was addicted to.
The game has some famous voice actors. Harry is voiced by Kirk Thornton; Michelle is voiced by Kate Higgins; John is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal; Dahlia is voiced by Laura Bailey; and Dr. K is voiced by Michael MccConnohie.
The name of the Raw Shocks is a play on the name of the Rorschach test.
Climax initially pitched a few ideas for SH games to Konami. First, they had Cold Heart, which would have starred a female protagonist. They also had an idea for… an on-rails shooter called Brahams P.D.? It would have featured the therapy sessions that would alter the story and monsters, like in the final game. Finally, Konami themselves wanted to do a remake of SH1. In the end, it was all condensed into SH: SM.
Some locations featured in SH1 are referenced in SH: SM, such as: Levin Street, a school named Midwich, a store called Green Lion, and a very significant lighthouse. Toluca Mall is a reference to the Toluca Lake from Silent Hill 2.
One that I missed in my playthrough is a reference to the lovable and adorable Henry Townshend from Silent Hill 4: The Room: Henry’s on the Lake bait shop.
A poster in one of the classrooms may show Samael depending on your psychological profile.
If you know the number of the Konami Customer Service line, you can actually call them in-game. The representative acknowledges that the player is stuck in Silent Hill and is beyond her help.
Cheryl shows many signs of having an Elektra Complex. This is when a daughter is fixated on her father. It can be easy to see why if you believe that Dahlia was a bad mother to her. Sometimes, children will cling or grow extra attached to the other parent as a response to the lack of love that they receive from another. Speaking of attached, it may be implied that Cheryl is a little too attached to Harry. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
Remember Lisa’s comment about going for guys that remind her of her dad. >.>
SH: SM is decent, but it could have been great. It should have been a triple-A next-gen game, but Konami apparently saw fit to throw more money and resources at Homecoming.
Should I Buy It?
If it intrigues you, sure, but maybe at a slightly discounted price. It’s a pretty short game. If you’re an SH fan, you probably already have it.