Jeffrey Markiewicz On October 28, 2008 at 8:45 am

Silent Hill Homecoming is the franchise’s first foray into the next generation and is helmed by American developer Double Helix. This traditionally Japanese developed series took a wrong turn down a dark alley and got mugged in its last outing so the belief is that Double Helix will give it a fresh perspective. Now I personally have not played the previous games, this is what I have gleamed from friends and forums, so this review is Homecoming on its own merits outside of the context of the bigger picture.

You play as Alex Shepherd who returns to his hometown of Shepherd’s Glenn looking for his kid brother Joshua. This is the first one of the series that takes place outside of the city but its connection will eventually be apparent. Once you arrive in the city you realize it has fallen into ruin actually hasn’t changed since the last time you were there, years before the cities anniversary. Signs for it still plaster the street. The city for the most part seems nearly abandoned sans for a few people and you soon find out that everyone has been disappearing, not just your little brother. Along the way you’ll traverse through several locales, none of which are that surprising. For example you’ll pass through through a cemetery, police station, hospital, sewer and a couple others. The story is quite good and is presented in layers so there is considerable interpretation to do at the end, as well as several endings. You might even want to replay it to get the full story. Three major choices near the end of the game dictate which ending you will get, so you won’t have to replay the game every time to see them but each one does unlock something, typically a costume. Overall the story is great but in typical Silent Hill fashion is presented in layers and takes considerable interpretation to see the big picture. It might even be advisable to hit the message boards afterwards to see what everyone else is thinking.

You can’t always run, sometimes you have to fight. Guns operate just like any third person game while the melee combat system consists of light and heavy attacks which can be mixed up for combos. In addition to this you can dodge. It seems simple enough but it’s inadequate and unbalanced. In the beginning you will mash and fight with the dodge, especially with a certain enemy you need to attack from the rear. Another element of combat and some other things are quick time events. For the most these parts are tolerable, and its addition is almost redeemed for a particular one near the end of the game. In the last two-thirds you’ll finally get a handle on the combat system to a point where the game is almost a cakewalk since most enemies won’t have a chance to hit you back. And this is with a weapon you get right off the bat. It unfortunately sucks some of the horror out of the game but that’s not to say the game isn’t a cakewalk. In the early sections you’ll be trotting around accumulating tons of health items and then all of a sudden, the middle third you’re fighting tooth and nail for a chance to survive, and at the end you’re swimming in health and ammo again. But the game does help you out, if you die and continue, if it thinks your health is too low, it’ll give you a small boost. This is great because you’re never completely screwed, that you can always make it through to the next spot in a few tries. Save points are placed adequately around with continue spots picking up some of the slack so you won’t have to play for 15 minutes to get back to where you died. Most of the progression is pretty generic though. It’s mostly, find a way through a locked door and you have to run off and find a key but it’s not bad. The puzzles are relatively straightforward and should pose no problem but are not memorable. The bosses are all pattern-based and are fun to fight. Overall the combat could break the game for you but if you persevere through it, the experience pays off.

The graphics are well done but won’t win any accolades. The character models look good as do the monsters. During fights even the enemies show damage, for example cuts from your knife. The world looks awesome and really sucks you into the experience, everything looks so desolate and creepy you won’t want to push forward sometimes. They even incorporated the paint peeling effect from the movie for the transition to hell which is well done. The biggest issue is there are certain places where it is so dark, you’ll try to turn on your flashlight only to see it’s already on, while this is probably a design choice and does enhance the fear a little bit, it can become annoying. Overall it does a good job of immersing you into the world and creeping you out but won’t amaze anyone from a technological standpoint.

This game will really give your surround system a workout. It’s simply fantastic and whereas most of the enemies won’t elicit much fear, this will. As you creep from area to area you’ll always be posing the question, what the hell am I hearing? Voice acting compliments the already great sound design. The weapon sounds on the other hand are only decent, exactly what you expect from them. The biggest fault though the static from your walkie-talkie when an enemy is around, a staple of the Silent Hill series, starts to desensitize you to awesome sound design. Overall though, this is a game to test your surround sound system, simply great.

This game oozes atmosphere everywhere from the story to the graphics and the outstanding sound design. There are some missteps, yes. The twist is predictable. The combat system is just mediocre. The game is unbalanced in respect to weapon design and health placement. But it’s a great ride from start to finish. The sound makes you question what is around the corner. The graphics pull you into the game. And while the twist is predictable, the story is pretty good and when you see the end, it makes you think. You may even want to replay the game to fully understand everything. Overall the game has its flaws but it’s a great ride. For a Silent Hill fan, it’s probably worth the full price of admission. For everyone else, it’s surely worth at least a rental, if only to push your sound system to its limits. So take a seat, turn off the lights, and crank up the sound system, you won’t regret it.


The combat system is inadequate and unbalanced but if you persevere through it, the richly layered story and atmosphere will be well worth it.


The graphics are well done but won’t win any accolades. The models are great and the enemies will show damage. The world is even better done. The only issue is that some areas are so dark that you’ll try to turn on your flashlight only to realize it’s already on.


This game is meant to test your sound system but you might not want to because it’ll creep you out. The atmospheric sounds are just amazing and the voice acting is great too. The okay weapon sounds and the static from the radio diminish the experience slightly but it’s still awesome.


There are some missteps in pacing and the combat system but the atmosphere and story make the experience.

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