Review: Silent Hill Homecoming

You’d think someone would nuke Silent Hill off the face of the planet by now. If ever there was a domestic target desperately in need of the glass parking lot solution, Silent Hill would be it. For years it’s been filled with twisted creatures vomited up from the blackest depths of the guilt-ridden victims who are drawn there. This isn’t a town where happy people end up.

Worse yet, its influence is spreading. The neighboring town of Shepherd’s Glen is looking pretty foggy these days, and skinless dogs and other horrors roam the empty streets. This comes as something as a shock to Alex Shepherd, who’s just arrived home after his time in the military. His mother is a gloomy wreck, his brother is lost in Silent Hill, and his father is nowhere to be found. It’s an unpleasant situation made only somewhat better by Alex, unlike previous Silent Hill protagonists, being a badass.


Silent Hill: Homecoming’s big addition to the series is a combat engine more advanced than “hit the attack button to flail at the enemy.” While in the past this has served to emphasize the lead character’s stature as merely human, it’s never been much fun. Alex has had combat experience, however, and can actually handle himself in a fight. He’s got a strong and weak attack and can work a few basic combos with them, not to mention a dodge that segues into a counter attack. The downside is that this gives enemies free reign to be faster and more brutal than ever before. Combat isn’t too difficult overall so long as there’s only one enemy to deal with, but facing multiple creatures at once gets a bit dicey, especially when locked on to one creature while the other attacks from off camera.

Perfectly matching the fairly decent combat engine is a fairly decent story, which is a bit of a letdown, all things considered. While the Silent Hill storylines have generally taken a bit of work to figure out, they’ve also packed an emotional punch that Homecoming just doesn’t manage. The characters never seem to react with more than distasteful curiosity to the horrors that have overtaken their town, and decisions that should be incredibly tough to make in the later part of the game are disappointingly simple. The heart of the game should be Alex’s return to his troubled family, and the hell he has to crawl through to come to terms with his relationship with them, but Homecoming never rises above a good bout of monster-smacking. Silent Hill’s horrors stop being horrific and instead become a just a violent freakshow with a rusty industrial aesthetic once its heart is removed. The story almost always makes sense, but it’s little more than summer popcorn fare.


Closing Comments:

With the horror muted, Silent Hill: Homecoming has to rely on combat to get by, but there are plenty of games out there with a better fighting engine. The monster variety is good but too many are reruns from previous games, which is a letdown when you think of what could arise from the twisted depths of the psyche of a soldier suffering family issues. The adequate story, decent combat, and lost opportunities don’t make this a bad game, but rather a weak entry in a series held to a high standard. It’s decent survival horror, but Silent Hill fans will be disappointed.
Versions Reviewed: Xbox 360, PS3