Silent Hill: Homecoming Xbox 360 Review

June 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Konami – Developer – Double Helix Games – Genre – Horror – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 18+ – Other formats – PS3

Admittedly, Silent Hill isn’t about green pastures, blue skies and chirping birds, although, ever since playing the original game back in 1999, the titular town has become one of my favourite places. I’m always happy to go back to see what horror awaits the latest poor soul at the centre of the story. As opposed to buckets of gore, Silent Hill attempts its scares in psychological torture and nightmarish creatures.

Silent Hill: Homecoming has the typical weird story premise of a Silent Hill game. Things open up with ex soldier Alex Shepherd being wheeled into a hospital room, in which you then find yourself tapping a button furiously to break free from the shackles. When Alex returns to his hometown of Shepherd’s Glen, things aren’t too normal: his brother has gone missing, the streets are empty and no one is too quick in filling him in with all the details. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in Silent Hill and, well, all this craziness is just twisted and torturous for the mind. It’s Silent Hill, what would you expect?

Staying with the story, this time you are given dialogue options to respond to other characters with, and you’ll even get a few tough decisions that require you to think hard before you move ahead with an action. These decisions determine the type of ending that you’ll receive, and, as there’s five of them, it does extend the longevity for those who want to see them all.

Enemies are varied and have their own strengths and weaknesses, but none are very easy on the eye.

Double Helix has taken over the development duties from Team Silent and was obviously tasked by Konami to reinvent certain aspects of the series – those elements that some consider as flaws and that others feel give the game a real feeling of being an average everyman. As an ex-soldier, Alex is no everyman, though, and his soldiering skills factor into the much improved combat.

What would a Silent Hill game be without its disgusting lumps of flesh? These enemies must truly come from some weird minds, and Homecoming isn’t without these fleshy, misshapen and twisted designs, but killing them isn’t as awkward as it has been in previous games. Combat still feels clunkier in comparison to some games, but you can now lock on to enemies and block their attacks, it’s actually possible to dodge out of the way of sharp incoming claws, and, when swinging the melee weapons, there are weak and strong attacks which can be combined to build combos, and finally, when you’re wielding a gun, your shots won’t go wide of the mark because of dodgy aiming. With all the previous said, at least this much improved combat actually makes it feel like Alex has been through intensive boot camp training, something which the previous characters had apparently not.

The scarcity of ammo means that the blunt melee weapons are still the instruments of death that you’ll be using most regularly. Alex may be superior to past Silent Hill leads, although this emphasis on close quarter’s combat still makes him feel vulnerable during the moments when he’s facing some of the ugliest enemies ever seen in a game.

The game does have more of a focus on combat than usual (something which isn’t going to please everyone), although there’s still a fair few puzzles in there too. Typically, said puzzles vary in their difficulty – some are vague whilst other solutions are as clear as drinkable spring water. They’re all the same problems that we have come across before in our games, meaning there are puzzles that must be solved to unlock doors and whatnot. Original it is not.

I hope none of these screens have scarred you for life.

The atmosphere and visuals are once again top notch, with heavy fog limiting your vision and the environment once again turning horribly rusty each time the air siren blares. The clank of Alex’s boots as he runs across metal walkways also adds so much to the overall atmosphere. True, there are few reasons to jump, but Silent Hill isn’t that kind of horror.

The problem is that the game offers a challenge that is too steep at times. Certain portions of the game have loads of health to find, whilst others have long stretches of playtime with not a single bottle or health pack in sight. It does bring about a rising level of panic, although, for some, it’ll be a little too much to bear at times.

Silent Hill: Homecoming isn’t a reinvention of Resident Evil 4 proportions, it’s rather a more refined entry on top of Team Silent’s original framework. Certain fans may scoff at the amount of monster encounters, although others will be delighted with the enhancements to the usually far clunkier combat. I’m a huge fan of the series, and for me Double Helix have created a strong, horrific and enjoyable game. It’s different, but it’s still very much a Silent Hill game.