Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
|Silent Hill: Shattered Memories|
European box art depicting the main protagonist's daughter, Cheryl Mason, encrusted in ice
|Publisher(s)||Konami Digital Entertainment|
|Designer(s)||Sam Barlow, Robert McLachlan, Mark Diggles, Sam Gage|
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (サイレントヒル シャッタードメモリーズ Sairento Hiru: Shattādo Memorīzu?) is a survival horror video game developed by Climax Studios and published by Konami Digital Entertainment for the Wii in December 2009. It was ported to the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation Portable platforms, and these versions were released in January 2010. The game is the seventh installment in the Silent Hill video game series, serving as both a reboot of the franchise and a remake/reimagining of the first installment.
Shattered Memories retains the premise of the original game—Harry Mason's quest to find his missing daughter in the fictitious American town of Silent Hill—but is set in a different fictional universe, has a different plot, and altered characters, alongside new ones. Five endings are available. Gameplay takes place in two parts: a framing, first-person psychotherapy session, and an over-the-shoulder perspective of Harry's journey through Silent Hill, which is periodically interrupted by the occurrence of a shift to an alternate dimension. Answers given to the psychological tests in the therapy session affect various gameplay elements in Harry's journey.
After designing the Silent Hill prequel (2007), which intentionally replicated elements of the first installment, Climax Studios wanted to try a different approach to creating a title in the series. Among the changes made was the removal of combat and the constant presence of monsters, which they thought unnecessary to the storyline. Akira Yamaoka composed the soundtrack of the game, which was the first in the series to prominently feature dynamic music. The game received generally positive reviews, and its graphics, storyline, voice acting, soundtrack, and use of the Wii Remote were praised by reviewers. Some reviewers criticized Shattered Memories' chase sequences and duration, which they deemed potentially frustrating and short.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a reimagining of the first installment of the series, Silent Hill. It keeps the premise of writer Harry Mason's quest for his missing daughter after a car crash, although it leads into a different plot. The personalities and roles of characters from the first game have also been changed, and Shattered Memories introduces new characters as well.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories divides its gameplay between two different settings. The first section is set in a psychotherapist's office and the second in a town called Silent Hill. In the first section, the player interacts with Dr. Michael Kaufmann, a therapist who is a non-player character, from a first-person perspective. The player responds to Kaufmann's questions and completes a psychological test, fills in a questionnaire or colors pictures. The player's responses to these tests alters aspects of gameplay in the second setting, including the available areas, the physical appearance and behavior of characters encountered, and the physical appearance of the monsters. Shattered Memories returns to Kaufmann's office periodically throughout the game.
In the second setting, the player guides Harry Mason in an over-the-shoulder view as he searches for his missing daughter Cheryl in the snowy town of Silent Hill. Harry carries a cell phone and flashlight. Harry can use the cell phone to check his location on a Global Positioning System map, take photographs, and make telephone calls. Moving to certain spots with high interference, represented by a lot of radio noise, or by taking pictures of spots where shadowy figures can be seen, unlock various text and voicemail messages that expand the story and occasionally provide clues. To view the details of various documents, the player can zoom in on objects. The game also alters details of gameplay based on what the player views. Throughout his journey, Harry encounters puzzles such as mechanisms, which reward either a key required to progress or a bonus memento. In the Wii version, the Wii Remote is used for puzzle solving and to control the flashlight and cell phone. The game occasionally shifts to an icy alternate dimension called "Nightmare", where hostile monsters exist. To escape from this dimension, Harry must find a predetermined exit while avoiding the wandering creatures which chase him upon detection. Harry is weaponless for the entire duration of the game, and can only run, hide, slow down the monsters by knocking down objects to block their path, and throw off the creatures if they latch onto him, although he can temporarily ward them off by picking up and using flares found lying on the ground. He loses "health" (the amount of damage that he can endure before dying) every time the monsters grab him, and his running speed decreases. The physical appearance of the monsters changes in response to the player's actions outside the Nightmare realm, in contrast to the previous installments where they remained the same each time the player encountered them.
The game begins with a psychotherapy session conducted by Dr. Kaufmann, which acts as a frame story for Harry's quest. Suffering from issues with his memory, Harry travels home to search for his seven-year-old daughter Cheryl, hoping that she is already there. His consciousness moves between the in-game real world and Nightmare—a frozen version of the town in which monsters chase him—but finds that another family lives in his house. Police officer Cybil Bennett arrives and decides to take him to the police station, but Harry leaves the vehicle. Eventually, Harry finds his way to the local high school, where he learns from a woman named Michelle Valdez that a Cheryl Mason attended school there previously. She offers to drive Harry to Cheryl's address, but after briefly stepping away, he returns to find Valdez has been replaced by Dahlia Mason, who claims to be Harry's lover and acts as if she has been with him the whole time. He accepts the ride, although during another shift to the Nightmare, the car falls into a river. Harry escapes but loses consciousness.
He awakens in a wheelchair pushed by Cybil in the town's hospital. Before Cybil can tell him about his file at the station, the town transitions to the Nightmare. Harry escapes and meets Lisa Garland, a nurse injured in a crash, and escorts her to her home. At her request, Harry gives Lisa pills for her headache, and returns to find her either dead or dying, depending on in-game actions taken by the player. Finding him next to Lisa's corpse, Cybil attempts to arrest him, but he re-enters the Nightmare. Harry escapes to Cheryl's home, where he finds an older Dahlia who claims to be his wife and tells him that Cheryl is at the lighthouse. Harry enters the Nightmare, escapes it, and eventually gets a ride from Michelle, whose boyfriend ends their relationship. Harry finds a young Dahlia, who sets the course for the lighthouse and seduces him. Harry wakes, finds Dahlia and the environment covered in ice, and crosses a frozen lake but falls into the water and passes out. Harry is dragged ashore near the lighthouse by Cybil, who confronts him with the news that Harry Mason died eighteen years ago in an accident. As Harry proceeds, he finds "the lighthouse" is actually the name of Dr. Kaufmann's counseling clinic. The patient in the therapy session is an adult Cheryl, who is in denial over her father's death. Harry enters the office and Cheryl either reconciles herself to his death or continues to cling to her fantasy father.
At the end of the game, an old video clip from Cheryl's camcorder is played. Five variations of this clip are available depending upon the player's actions as Harry. In "Love Lost", Harry packs his luggage in a car and tells Cheryl not to blame herself for her parents' separation. In "Drunk Dad", a drunken Harry yells at Cheryl, demands a beer and blames his drinking on his family. In "Sleaze and Sirens", Harry flirts on his bed with Lisa and Michelle. In "Wicked and Weak", Dahlia verbally abuses Harry and slaps him. In the 'UFO' ending, Cheryl tells Dr. Kaufmann that she believes Harry was kidnapped by extraterrestrials and that Silent Hill is a spaceship. After James Sunderland interrupts, the therapy session continues, revealing Cheryl to be a dog and Dr. Kaufmann to be an extraterrestrial.
Plans for a Silent Hill remake, and speculation about a possible remake based on the Silent Hill film, were circulating as early as 2006. The idea of a remake was also considered early in the development of the prequel game Silent Hill: Origins (2007). Rumours persisted into 2009, and were seemingly confirmed in February when the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) re-rated the original game. The game was officially announced in the May 2009 issue of Nintendo Power.
Climax Studios, the developer of Silent Hill: Origins, developed Shattered Memories with a development team made up of more than 55 members and a supporting network of more than 90 artists. With the completion of Origins—for which they had attempted to closely replicate the atmosphere and gameplay elements of the first Silent Hill game (1999)—Climax Studios wanted to create a different horror game. Because of the tenth anniversary of the first Silent Hill installment, Konami thought the time was ideal "to revisit" the game. Climax Studios saw the then-newly introduced Wii platform as a way to reach a wider range of gamers, especially as outside Japan, no Silent Hill title had been exclusively released on a Nintendo platform. Development costs for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and their gamers' "mindset" factored into the decision for the gaming platform. Additionally, the developers wanted to use the Wii Remote to incorporate the gameplay elements of the flashlight and radio static. Climax felt that the first game would be a good starting point, instead of continuing any existing storylines or adding onto the mythology of the town. To please fans of the series and bring in new ones, they decided to reimagine the setting and characters, such as Dahlia, who was changed from "a haggard old woman" who led the town's cult into a physically attractive young woman.
Climax Studios began with the game's plot, which the development team considered the main appeal of the series. Early in the game's development, some team members visited a psychiatrist for research. The use of ice as a visual theme originated partly because the developers wanted to create an Otherworld for the game, as previous games in the series had featured the same theme as Silent Hill, and because snowfall is common in the northeastern or midwestern United States, where the fictional town is located. Falling snow was added to limit the player's visibility and build an atmosphere of dread. The developers included a system of psychological profiling that adjusted gameplay elements based on the player's interaction with the game. Writer Sam Barlow explained the system: "ultimately every little thing you do in the game or piece of content you can interact with can be assigned a little personality score. This is all added into a very classical psychometric profile of your personality that can then be mapped onto research." The opening questionnaire has little significance in the player's profile. Capturing the multiple variations of gameplay elements for submission to the Entertainment Software Rating Board proved to be difficult, according to the game's producer, Tomm Hulett. Loading times were eliminated from the game to maintain a sense of immersion for the player.
The developers felt that creating another game in the series with the same style of gameplay had limited potential. In an attempt to imbue the game with the feel of a horror film where the protagonist is a regular person and the antagonist is powerful, they avoided the common survival horror gameplay feature of a player character who is skilled in the use of weapons. Instead they generated an unarmed player character; and examined the survival horror gameplay staple of difficult combat and sluggish opponents, inspired by zombie films and modelled after the video games Alone in the Dark (1992) and Resident Evil (1996). They also analyzed around 50 chase sequences from various films, including horror films, and the structure of slasher films, in which a powerful and intelligent antagonist pursues the protagonists. The developers drew inspiration from common childhood nightmares about running away from an unknown threat, and decided to incorporate an intelligent enemy capable of trailing and outrunning the protagonist. The chase sequences were designed to evoke a brief sense of tension and fright for the player, although the developers did not want to prolong the tension with the constant presence of monsters, and were concerned that this would become overwhelming and spoil the player's immersion in the game and interest in the story. The constant presence of monsters was also thought to be irrelevant to Shattered Memories; director Mark Simmons said, "this Harry Mason is not a guy who is constantly under attack from monsters. It's not a story of surviving a zombie apocalypse." Additionally, to make information-gathering in the game realistic and corresponding to modern life standards, the developers substituted text in scattered documents, a common element in survival horror games, for the player's interaction with the in-game environment and use of the cell phone.
Video game composer Akira Yamaoka scored the soundtrack of Shattered Memories. It was his final contribution to the Silent Hill series before he resigned from Konami after 16 years with the company. Voice actress Mary Elizabeth McGlynn provided vocals for four musical pieces included in the game and co-directed Shattered Memories' voice acting, and musician Joe Romersa wrote lyrics for three of the pieces. The game is the first in the series to make prominent use of dynamic music; a composition is introduced and subsequently retracted, based on the player's actions, in every major area of the game. Widely varying compositions, ranging from undertones to rock music, were produced for the game.
A playable demo of Shattered Memories was made available in June 2009 at the annual trade fair Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009 (E3) and received favorable reviews from video game journalists. A group of editors of the IGN website gave the game three "Best of E3" awards in the Wii category for best overall game, best adventure game, and best video game graphics technology. The game was also given a "Best Wii Game" award by editors of the GameSpot website in an article on their preferred games featured at the E3 show.
Shattered Memories was published by Konami for the Wii in North America on December 8, 2009; in Europe on February 26, 2010; and in Japan on March 25, 2010. The Australian release was delayed until June 22, 2010, due to European supply problems caused by the economic effects of the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull. Major Australian retailers struggled to confirm available copies of the game for several months after the delayed release, potentially damaging initial sales of the game. The PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable versions were published in North America on January 19, 2010; in Europe on February 26, 2010; in Japan on March 25, 2010; and in Australia on April 22, 2010.
According to producer Tomm Hulett, the number of pre-ordered copies of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories "looked very good". In March 2010, the game placed fifth on the list of the top forty bestselling PS2 videogames in the United Kingdom and eleventh on the corresponding list for Wii games. However, NintendoWorldReport stated that sales of the game were low. The game eventually broke even with the help of the PS2 port, selling an estimated 440,000 copies.
Review aggregator website Metacritic displays an averaged score for Silent Hill: Shattered Memories of 79/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Wesley Yin-Poole of VideoGamer.com ranked Shattered Memories in seventh place on his list of "top ten nerve-shredding video games", and wrote: "Dark, dank and dangerous, Silent Hill grabs you by the scruff of the neck, shakes you till you throw up, then headbutts you right between the eyes." Gamasutra's Brandon Sheffield, ranked the game in fifth place on his top ten list of overlooked games of 2009, and wrote that despite the absence of horror elements, the game was a nice experience. Matt Wales of IGN also included the game in a list of overlooked Wii games, and wrote that the combination of various elements which he regarded as positive delivered "a meticulously-constructed, expertly-paced experience quite unlike anything the series has seen before."
Chris Schilling of The Daily Telegraph described it as "one of the most innovative and enjoyable survival horrors for many a year." Eurogamer's Kristan Reed wrote, "Packed with inventive ideas and one engaging sequence after another, it's a spirited, poignant and unsettling game that not only delivers a long-overdue return to form, but reinvigorates horror adventures in the process." According to Lark Anderson of GameSpot, "Shattered Memories is a fantastic return to the core concept of personal fear, and though its developers made some unorthodox decisions—such as removing combat entirely—those decisions have paid off handsomely." Nintendo Power called it audacious and compelling. In a retrospective feature, Nintendo World Report's Jonathan Metts generally agreed with Gamespot, stating that the installment "is a noble and arguably successful attempt to revive and reform the survival horror genre. While perhaps not actually scary, it is genuinely disturbing, shocking, and always interesting." According to Leigh Alexander of The A.V. Club, the innovation and uniqueness of the installment made it capable of standing alone from the Silent Hill series, without having to use the series' reputation or name to attract players. Conversely, Game Informer's Tim Turi considered the frustrating controls and dull pacing to be major flaws, and wrote, "If you’re a Silent Hill fan interested in a fresh take on the stale formula, this Wii entry may be the Cheryl you’ve been searching for—but it comes at a cost."
The division of gameplay into puzzle-based exploration, weaponless chase sequences, and therapy scenes drew mixed comments from reviewers. About.com's Charles Herold wrote that the fast-paced action of the nightmare sequences and the therapy scenes undercut the "trapped in a nightmare" feeling of previous Silent Hill games. Matt Casamassina of IGN wrote that "the separation between safe exploration and puzzling and run-for-your-life monster scenarios is too transparent and as a result you will inevitably come to fear the ice and few things else." PALGN's Michael Kontoudis said that the chase sequences severely detracted from the rest of the game. Eurogamer wrote that they created a welcome mix with no gameplay element overemphasized. Reviewers were also divided on whether the chase sequences were potentially frustrating, or quickly grew repetitive. GamesRadar's Henry Gilbert expressed frustration over the similar enemies and repetitive use of a stock scream. Neon Kelly of VideoGamer.com was concerned by the absence of a possible death of the player character which would result in a "game over", because he esteemed the fear potentially caused to the player by player character death as a major element of the survival horror genre. The use of the Wii Remote was praised by reviewers as natural-seeming, and well-suited to the movement-based puzzles and scenes.
Shattered Memories' reimagined plot received praise from reviewers, some of whom found it easier to follow than the plot of the first game. Game Informer drew comparisons with film director M. Night Shyamalan's style. GamesRadar wrote that the storyline and characterizations were mature, its puzzles clear yet challenging and that the atmospheric scares contributed to the game's appeal. Justin Haywald of 1UP.com said that the text messages about minor characters not introduced in the game detracted from the overall narrative. The game's duration, considered relatively short by reviewers, was seen as a drawback, although some reviewers said that the psychological elements and multiple endings increased the replay value of the game. The psychological elements were also criticized. About.com wrote that they were far less subtle than those in Silent Hill 2, and GamePro's Will Herring said that while the player-profiling element was ambitious, he did not think it went far enough, as it changed only cosmetic details and character dialogue. Reviewers praised the graphics, and called them detailed and well-done. Chris McMahon of Play placed the game tenth on his list of the "ten best-looking PSP games". GameTrailers praised the variety of objects, many of which can be manipulated by the player, and the detailed textures which lent the game's environments authenticity. The soundtrack was favorably received, and reviewers described it as moody, atmospheric, and helping to create tension. The voice acting was similarly well-received as believable. Additionally, the soundtrack won an award for its audio design at the Milthon European Games Awards, an event held in Paris, France, at the Paris Game Festival; the awards were handed out by an eight-person jury and the French Minister of Culture and Communication.
Metacritic shows an averaged score of 77/100 for the PlayStation 2 port, indicating generally favorable reviews. Casamassina gave the PS2 port a score of 8.0/10, and wrote that while the graphics and control system in the Wii version were better, the port held up well. For the PlayStation Portable port, Metacritic displays an averaged score of 73/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Casamassina gave it a score of 7.0, and commented upon the "obvious visual downgrades", "sluggish controls", and "the inability to directly control and point his flashlight". In his review of both ports, Haywald said that the control systems of both ports worked well, and described them as "a technical triumph".
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- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: And I can remember most things. Just sometimes, some details... I try to focus, but then they slip away."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Cybil: Harry Mason. Levin Street. Your ID says here you live on Levin Street. That's a few blocks from here. / Harry: Yeah. Yeah! That's where I live. [...] Maybe she went home. That makes sense..."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: What are you doing in my house? / Man: I think you have the wrong address. / Harry: No. This is my house."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Cybil: I can't raise the station on my radio. Lets go over there together and sort this mess out."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Cybil: Damn. Can't even see the road. I'm going to see exactly where we are.... Stay put."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Michelle: There was a Cheryl Mason when I was here. She was above me at school."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Michelle: There's my boss's SUV. I'm looking after it while she's on vacation. [...] I could give you a lift."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: We're sleeping together!? / Dahlia: This is a joke, right? A really lame joke."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: Where's Michelle? / Dahlia: Funny. Come on, let's get going. [....] Oh come on, you're not THAT wasted. That's why we're in this lousy club. To get the SUV so we can drive up to Simmons Street..."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Cybil: Who's Dahlia? / Harry: A girl. The car went into the river... she drowned. / Cybil: Another crash? This is a different girl? / Harry: You must have seen the bridge... we went right off the side."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Cybil: We need to talk. When I was at the station, I pulled the file for Harry Mason. / Harry: So? (Hospital transitions to the frozen Nightmare.) No...! No!"
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Lisa: I had an accident. [...] / Harry: It's okay. Let's get you inside. You need help. / Lisa: I want to go home. I have medicine and gauze there. I'm a nurse."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Lisa: Headache. Be a hero and fetch me some pills from the bathroom. Check the cabinet."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: Oh God. / Cybil: Don't move. / Harry: No, this isn't what-- / Cybil: I said don't move. Stand up and step away from the girl. [...] I know you're not Harry Mason."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: Where's Cheryl? / Dahlia: Still at the lighthouse, maybe. [...] / Harry: You're my wife?"
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Michelle: If I still love you, it can't be over. / John: It is. You don't love me, You love the John in your head."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Dahlia: We'll be at the 'lighthouse' in about twenty minutes. It's a slow boat."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Cybil: I think you think that you are Harry Mason. Hell, I believe that you ARE Harry Mason. But... Harry Mason was killed in a car crash eighteen years ago."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Dr. K: The term is 'complicated grief'. But it's simple, isn't it? A young girl... Her parents don't get along. She blames herself, as all children do. Then Daddy dies. What's a girl to do? Deny that Daddy died. Deny who Daddy was. [...] So she obsesses and obsesses over this fantasy dad, propping up her make-believe with scraps..."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Cheryl: You've been with me for so long. / Harry: I always will be. (Cheryl shakes her head, and Harry freezes over)"
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Cheryl: Dad? You are a hero. The man who died? That wasn't my father."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: You know this has nothing to do with you, right? Even though mom and dad don't love each other anymore, we both love you."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: The hell are you filming for? Am I supposed to dance for you? Be a good girl for Daddy. Get him another drink, will you? Now! Get me a damn beer! No wonder I drink with a family like this."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Harry: Action. Come on in, girls. Introduce yourselves. / Michelle: I'm Michelle. And I'm Midwich High's prom queen. / Harry: And our next star. / Lisa: I'm Lisa. I'm a nurse. / Harry: And I'm Harry Mason, famous author and seducer of prom queens and nurses."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Dahlia: You piece of shit. When are you going to bring in some real money? You think your crap is Shakespeare? Your piece of shit novels? No one even reads them! Be a man. Come on, fight back. Pathetic. To think I used to hang off your every word. Dickless waste of space."
- Climax Studios (December 8, 2009). Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Wii. Konami Digital Entertainment. "Dr. K: You honestly believe that... your father was abducted by aliens? It made more sense when you were talking about cults and demons! / Cheryl: This whole town... it's really just a giant spaceship. / Dr. K: James? / James Sunderland: Wrong day again? / Dr. K: See you tomorrow, James. One of my couples therapy patients. ...Haven't seen his wife in a while. Where were we? / Cheryl: (now a dog) My mother was a bitch. / Dr. K: (now an alien) Go on. I'm listening."
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- Official website (Japanese)
- Climax Studios official website
- Konami Digital Entertainment official website
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories at MobyGames