Synyster Graves

Silent Hill: Homecoming

by on Apr.12, 2011, under Xbox 360

As a self proclaimed survival horror nut, getting this game was inevitable. Having managed to give myself psychological aneursyms from the age of sixteen on the original Silent Hill on the Playstation 1, through to perpetual nightmares and cold sweats throughout the completions of Silent Hills 2-4 on Playstation 2, Silent Hill 5 was eagerly anticipated by myself. I did feel that Silent Hill 4 was slightly off tangent as it wasn’t even set in Silent Hill, but you had rather dubious holes appearing in your flat which took you there. Anyways like SH4, Homecoming is set in neighbouring Shepherd’s Glen.

What’s that coming over the hill…

Akin with all the others in the series, every single location you find yourself in is shrouded in a thick fog, prohibiting any vision beyond a couple of metres. The atmosphere is ever present too, static noises resounding around everything as a whole array of bizarre and contorted monsters populate the actual and alternate realities of the game. For those of you who have never played a Silent Hill title, firstly slap yourself, and secondly you need to know that the game plays on a reality/fantasy style axis. One minute everything is fine and normal, a siren goes off and before you know it you’re in the same place but everything is different. Plastered walls are replaced by chain linked fences and blood stained sheets, doors appear where they weren’t before and aren’t where they weren’t (you follow?). Anyways Homecoming has kept the true sense of the Silent Hill series albeit almost have attempted to tie all the looks in with the crappy film by Christophe Gans, which was pants.

Alex Shepherd: hapless hero

You play as the protagonist Alex Shepherd, a soldier returning back from being wounded in battle to find there’s a hell of a lot of fog in his hometown of Shepherd’s Glen and his little brother is missing. His mother is catatonic and pale and doesn’t really say a lot so you wander off round town to find everyone is missing except obligatory blonde damsel Elle Holloway is handing out pictures on a missing persons board. It’s difficult to review the game without giving away large portions of the immersive storyline, which in Homecoming’s case, is very good if somewhat twisted and intriguing storyline, a nice tangent from the usual “Mother of God” storyline in the original games.

The combat is slightly improved, Alex is slightly more adept with weapons than his predecessors James Sunderland and Harry Mason. As usual there is a severe depletion of ammunition causing you to tactically run past most monsters or fight with some really crap melee weapons. Upon completion of Ending 5, the obligatory UFO ending like the originals, you can unlock a laser pistol, which is infinite ammo and a lot of fun. Yeah true it makes the game very very easy, but also very fun.

Schism monsters: I know the pieces fit…

The monsters are terrifying in this game to say the least. All new creations except the bobblehead nurses, which are as freaky as ever, but they have introduced the Smog (a gas exuding version of Silent Hill 2’s Spitter monster), a Schism (a hammerhead snapping humanoid), a Lurker (a legless clawed fiend who hides in fog and water) and a Siam (a male/female contorted abomination similar to a Closer from Silent Hill 3). There are bosses with bespoke ways of defeating them, and all inducing nightmares once you find out their true origins. And for all the fanboys out there, yes there is a cameo for Pyramid Head. Not so scary mind, but you can see all the die hard SH fans touching themselves with glee and pointing at the screen when SH’s celebrity makes his appearance, except this time he’s depicted as “The Bogeyman”. A bit tacky but does fit in well with some of the side storylines. As usual al lthe monsters have some kind of “meaning” and etymology, but I don’t really have time to go through them all!

Lots of puzzles that make zero sense!

There’s definiately more puzzles in this game as you can tell that it has gone back more it roots with this game as the later editions of 3 and 4 were swaying more towards action and shooting. This has an abundance of brain breaking conundrums which will keep you entertained/frustrated as you aim to progress through the game. There are also more fetch quests involving you to run around graveyards picking up odd shaped pieces which always seem to assemble into a key/seal to get you to progress. There’s also collection missions for fucked up child’s drawings, photographs and health serums, but they’re not compulsory unless you want a 100% complete (I got it!)

Overall, SH:Homecoming is not a bad SH game but in comparison to 2 and 4, perhaps wavered a little in terms of entertainment. There’s way too much homage to the Silent Hill film which was quite frankly cashing in on the game franchise’s success but if you can get over that, it’s freaky, frightening, scary plot and not bad if you can pick it up for a reduced price.

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