07-14-2011 08:15 PM - edited 07-19-2012 02:50 PM
Game Title: Silent Hill: Homecoming
Genre: Psychological/Survival Horror
Platform: XBOX 360® || PlayStation®3
ESRB Rating: Mature
Developer: Double Helix Games
Release Date: September 30th, 2008
Overall Score: 7.7/10
Review Author: SweetPoison13
If you are looking for a true survival horror video game rather than an action-horror video game then there are only a few video games out on the market that you can choose from (unfortunately). One of those video games is Silent Hill: Homecoming. With Silent Hill 4: The Room changing up the traditional Silent Hill formula and Silent Hill: Origins trying to return to the basics you might be wondering if Silent Hill: Homecoming presents the traditional Silent Hill experience to its players. The good news is that the atmosphere that all of you survival horror video gamers have grown accustomed to over the years is back in Silent Hill: Homecoming. The bad news is that some unnecessary sacrifices seem to have been made in order to bring this experience forth.
Graphics - 6.5/10
Silent Hill: Homecoming was released in 2008 so don't expect groundbreaking graphics. There have been a few complaints about the graphics in this video game in the past but to judge a video game solely on its graphics seems a bit silly given the fact that this is only one aspect of a video game. With that being said, Silent Hill: Homecoming doesn't have the best graphics that you will see from a 7th generation video game. Sometimes they can seem quite poor while other times they can seem up to snuff with the video games that were out on the market in around the time this video game was released.The protagonist, Alex, looks fine but every other character could use some work. Interestingly enough, the enemies and the environments in this video game look gorgeous in a Silent Hill sort of way. Although some of the creatures are not terribly detailed, the lighting in this video game will make that hard to discern unless you get up right close and personal. If you are the type of video gamer who likes to really pick apart a video game then you might find the physics in Silent Hill: Homecoming to be a little bit unacceptable at times. With that being said, nothing that I have mentioned in this category really makes or breaks Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Storyline - 6.5/10
The storyline in Silent Hill: Homecoming is a little bit lackluster when compared to other video games within the Silent Hill series but I wouldn't say that this video game has a terrible storyline. Compared to a lot of other video games out on the market, Silent Hill: Homecoming has a fairly decent storyline. You play through this video game as Alex Shepherd looking for your little brother, Josh, who keeps running away from you every time you try to talk to him. The reasons for this become clear as you learn about the history of Shepherd's Glen (Alex's hometown) and its connection with Silent Hill. Not everything is as it seems with most Silent Hill video games and this installment is no exception.There are a few things that I didn't particularly like about Silent Hill: Homecoming but none of these things really hurt the overall experience. Film-inspired elements annoy me every now and then but it wasn't a big deal here and probably something that you wouldn't notice unless you watched the particular films that Silent Hill: Homecoming took inspiration from. Something that will always bug me is the inclusion of a Pyramid Head rendition in Silent Hill: Homecoming. Including Pyramid Head in any other Silent Hill video games besides Silent Hill 2 is sort of a slap in the face to those who are accustomed to his role in this video game.
Overall, Silent Hill: Homecoming has enough of a storyline to keep you interested in this video game. You might not care about a few of the characters but in the end this is Alex's story so you are free to care about whoever you want to care about. If you want to get attached to anyone in particular then get attached to Josh because Alex seems to care about his little brother.
Gameplay - 7.5/10
The gameplay in Silent Hill: Homecoming is vastly different from anything else that you might have encountered in the Silent Hill series. Fixed camera angles are gone but that doesn't mean you won't be frustrated while controlling Alex's movements. The camera is now controlled with the right analog stick, which also controls Alex's directional movements. If you want Alex to turn right then you move the right analog stick right and the camera will follow suit. This isn't necessarily a problem but it might be hard to adjust to depending on the kinds of video games you have played over the years. What can be a problem is the fact that you cannot invert your Y-axis in this video game. You can invert your Y-axis while aiming a firearm but you will not be able to invert it while manipulating Alex's directional movements. Hopefully this isn't a big deal for you.Something that I really miss is the 180-degree turn. In some of the past Silent Hill video games you were given the freedom to turn around quickly and run in the opposite direction (away from an enemy for example). There is none of this in Silent Hill: Homecoming. If you turn around in this video game then it is bound to take you a couple of seconds to do so. It is almost as if this video game encourages you to confront your demons instead of run away from them. Some individuals have expressed concern over the suspicion that Alex is more equipped to deal with his problems (the enemies) than most of the other Silent Hill protagonists but that doesn't seem to make Silent Hill: Homecoming any less enjoyable. If all you want to do is run around and hide from enemies than Silent Hill: Homecoming is not a video game for you. You will be forced to confront some enemies in this video game whether you want to or not.
With that being said, Silent Hill: Homecoming has an interesting melee combat system. Enemies can be targeted but now combinations of attacks can be performed with weapons. When you aim a firearm the camera will be placed over Alex's shoulder like it would be in a third-person shooter video game. These changes make Silent Hill: Homecoming an enjoyable video game but only if you are willing to accept these changes. Alex is also capable of dodging attacks. If you see an attack coming then you can jump out of the way and initiate a counter-attack. More often than not individuals are quick to bash the new gameplay in this video game because they don't take the time to learn how to properly time their dodges and combos. Playing on the hardest difficulty setting in Silent Hill: Homecoming can be a very rewarding experience if you have a good understanding of how the melee combat system works and what to expect from the enemies in this video game.
On another note, item and weapon inventories are separate now. Holding down the L1 and R1 buttons (for example) can access these inventories. In addition, you will now be able to increase your resistance to attacks by consuming experimental drugs that can be picked up throughout the video game. The health drinks and first aid kits that you locate will allow you to replenish your health (the experimental drugs serve this purpose as well). Also, you will be able to save your progress at save points throughout Silent Hill: Homecoming although this video game does provide you with checkpoints. In other words, if you die then you will be given the opportunity to quit or continue from the last checkpoint. Load times in Silent Hill: Homecoming can be a huge concern if you are really impatient but they don't seem to disrupt the flow of the video game too much.
There are a few puzzles in Silent Hill: Homecoming but none of them are terribly difficult if you think them through.
One last thing that I'll mention in this category is that you will be able to collect many different weapons in Silent Hill: Homecoming. If you come across a stronger weapon of the same type (an axe for example) then you will automatically replace your weaker weapon with the stronger one. This isn't really "upgrading your weapons" in the traditional sense.
Replay Value - 7.5/10
Silent Hill: Homecoming has replay value for those who want it. Only if you like this video game will you find yourself replaying it again. The atmosphere, soundtrack and storyline in Silent Hill: Homecoming are enough to encourage most Silent Hill fans who appreciate this video game to play through it multiple times but if you are not a survival horror video gamer who gets a kick out of these kinds of video game then you will probably only play through it once.
Alex has a couple of weapons that can be unlocked and a handful of costumes that you may or may not want him to sport throughout this video game. With that being said, Alex will not change his outfit in the middle of his "adventure" so you will be stuck with a costume of your choosing for the entire video game. Once a weapon has been unlocked all you need to do is find the location that it is in and you will have it at your disposal for the remainder of the video game.
Something that I should probably mention is the ability for you to make decisions in Silent Hill: Homecoming that will impact the ending that you receive in this video game. There are three choices that you will need to make during the course of this video game. What you choose to do could result in a "good" ending, a "bad" ending or anything in between. None of the endings in this video game are anything special but I'm sure wanting to see the consequences of your actions will be a driving force in the replay value department for some individuals. On top of that, Alex frequently engages the residents of Shepherd's Glen in conversation so there will be plenty of opportunities for you to ask the same characters different questions in different saved files.
Atmosphere - 7.5/10
The atmosphere in Silent Hill: Homecoming is top-notch. Very few video games in this day and age capture the survival horror atmosphere like Silent Hill: Homecoming. If you want to know what it's like to run through the foggy streets of an abandoned town or walk through a dark corridor with only your flashlight guiding your path then you are in for a treat with Silent Hill: Homecoming. This video game is able to establish an unsettling atmosphere in much the same manner as its predecessors. Sooner or later you will find Alex to be in a very grim situation and that is part of the whole experience. What a lot of the Silent Hill video games have in common is the ability to put you in a completely hopeless situation where death seems like the only way out for the main character. Silent Hill: Homecoming lives up to its lineage when it comes to placing Alex in an incredibly hopeless situation but unlike Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 4: The Room there seems to be a glimmer of hope for the protagonist just so long as he keeps trying to get to the bottom of things.
With that being said, you will come across your fair share of depressing endings if you play through this video game the right way (or the wrong way - depending on your perspective). The endings in this video game are far from spectacular but some of them are a bit memorable. Silent Hill: Homecoming is one of those video games that you play not so that you can get to the ending as soon as possible in order to see what happens but to live through the experience. If you go into this video game expecting a phenomenal storyline then you will probably be disappointed but if you go into this video game with the intention of admiring its atmosphere (among other things) then it could very well be worth the price of admission.
The lighting in this video game is something that I simply need to address (it establishes a phenomenal atmosphere). With the return of the flashlight and the radio comes the return of ominous looking shadows and static that will make your blood curdle. I have come across individuals who have told me that Silent Hill: Homecoming is a really dark video game (in that you cannot see what the heck you are doing) but that is part of its charm. The flashlight will illuminate your path just enough for you to complete your tasks and see what is directly in front of you. A fair bit of detail went into this video game. If you are not reading messages written in blood on the walls of a hotel room then you are reading messages scratched into the walls of a prison cell.
In addition, there are plenty of things for you to collect in Silent Hill: Homecoming. There are memos for you to read, photos for you to look at and drawings for you to admire (most of these items help build the atmosphere that only an abandoned town could establish). While a lot of these items have nothing to do with Alex in particular they often provide information about other individuals and shed light on the history of Shepherd's Glen.
Sound Design - 10/10
The sound design in Silent Hill: Homecoming is top-notch. Akira Yamaoka has given this video game a soundtrack that Silent Hill fans are bound to embrace. One More Soul to the Call and The Sacred Line are two of the best songs that I have heard in a Silent Hill video game (they truly enhance the overall presentation of this video game). Throughout Silent Hill: Homecoming you will hear various tracks as you explore Shepherd's Glen and Silent Hill. Most of these tracks are very appropriate and enhance the overall atmosphere of this video game.In addition, the creatures that you encounter in Shepherd's Glen and Silent Hill sound fantastic (especially when they are letting out blood-curdling cries) and the individuals that you come across are believable products of their environment. In other words, the voice acting in Silent Hill: Homecoming is very well done.
Enemy Design - 8.5/10
The enemy design in Silent Hill: Homecoming is phenomenal. There are several enemies in this video game that will give you a run for your money. Each type of enemy has a handful of relatively unique attacks and some of these enemies can even grab Alex. More often than not Alex is screwed if he cannot break an enemy's grip so this video game can certainly keep you on your toes.
On another note, some of the enemies in this video game are quick and some of them can guard against your attacks so you will definitely need to be careful how you approach certain enemies. With that being said, some weapons are more effective against certain enemies than others. You can experiment with different weapons to see what works well or you can read the hints that are provided during the loading screens (it's ultimately your choice).
Conclusion - 7.7/10
Silent Hill: Homecoming is more enjoyable than a lot of individuals might lead you to believe. It isn't Silent Hill 2 and it doesn't necessarily offer the traditional Silent Hill experience but it has its own charm. I was a little bit disappointed with Silent Hill: Homecomingwhen I first played through it but after playing through it multiple times and analyzing it I have come to the conclusion that it is a decent survival horror video game. If you are a graphics-driven video gamer who is wondering why I have atmosphere and sound design categories in this video game review then you should probably look for a different video game.
Please Note: The views expressed in this message are the views of the review author, who is in no way affiliated with SCEA or PlayStation.com.