I know that on paper (well, screen) this all sounds a bit dull, but when you're actually playing for yourself, the atmosphere is incredibly unnerving. Climax clearly has a good sense for the way that normal locations can feel very sinister when emptied of people, and the team has been subtle in their use of strange sounds and scare effects. This isn't a game that will have you shrieking out in terror, but it'll certainly get under your skin - particularly if you find yourself walking somewhere alone at night after a lengthy play session.
Well, it certainly got to me at any rate. Fear is a very personal thing, but Climax knows this. Perhaps the most impressive thing of all about this game is the fact that it psychologically profiles you as you play. I'll admit to being quite sceptical of this aspect, but it certainly seems to be true. At the start of the adventure, and periodically throughout the story, the action will cut to mysterious first-person sequences in which the player is interviewed by a psychotherapist. You'll be asked questions, some of them quite personal, and forced to carry out a number of simple tests. This feedback then affects much of how way Harry's journey appears and plays out.
But it doesn't end there. The game also tracks how you play, from the time you take in certain areas to the kind of in-game objects you like to look at. All of these factors have a significant effect on everything from the look of the environment to the paths you can take to the appearance and behaviour of NPCs. Spend too much time staring at the prom queen's chest, and the game will tag you as a bit of a perv. Gawp at the drinks cabinet in the therapist's office, and he'll have you pegged as a chronic boozer. There's a lot more I could say here, but I won't because it would spoil a lot of the game's best surprises. Suffice to say that all this monitoring and dynamic shifting isn't just flashy window dressing; it all ties in the wider plot, building up to a spectacular conclusion that ranks as one of the best game endings I've seen in ages.
Unfortunately, there's another side to this project that I've not yet mentioned. Somewhat appropriately for a game about a man who may be losing his mind, Shattered Memories is a rather schizophrenic affair. On the one hand we have the exploration: thoughtful, thickly atmospheric and slow-burn in feel; on the other we have the aptly-named Nightmare sequences - frantic action sequences that occasionally pop up to create a change of pace.
Here and only here does the game present you with monsters: the world freezes over (using a natty-looking transformative effect) and suddenly Harry is forced to dash though a confusing labyrinth of paths and doorways in a bid to find the exit. There are obstacles that can be knocked over to slow down the horrible creatures that follow you, and you can sometimes find a cupboard to hide in, but neither of these devices protect you for long. Your only true "weapons", such as they are, are rare, single-use flares that drive the beasts away, and Harry's ability to throw off enemies who grab him.
These latter moves require sharp synchronised movements with both the Remote and Nunchuck; it's supposed to be a rough simulation of tossing someone off (no, not like that), but unfortunately they can often result in you whipping yourself in the face with the connector cable. The movements aren't actually that bad as far as Wii-waggle goes, but they can be hard to pull off if you're stressed. And as luck would have it, the Nightmare Sequences are roughly as relaxing as a hostage situation in which the kidnapper insists you build him a house of cards using only your tongue. Whilst on fire.