Silent Hill: Homecoming (360)

Back in the late 90s, while the Resident Evil series was still scaring you by having zombies jump out of closets and dogs crashing through windows, Silent Hill was released with a more subtle, disturbing approach. Rather than scaring you with cheap horror-movie "pop-out" moments, Silent Hill instilled a feeling of dread and impending doom upon the player as they trekked through the foggy town. It may have been released around the same time as so many other "survival horror" titles, but the Silent Hill series has always separated itself from the pack thanks to its approach to the genre. Silent Hill: Homecoming marks the series' first entry on current-gen systems, and it feels simultaneously new and dated.


One thing you'll notice after a couple hours of play is that the dread is somewhat gone. I remember being 15 years old and playing the first game while my little sisters watched, and they were so terrified they wouldn't go out into the hallway by themselves. It's hard to put a finger on why Homecoming lacks this, but it's a noticeable absence. Whereas previous entries put you in the shoes of normal people with no combat experience, this title puts you in control of a soldier. As such, he's obviously more accustomed to gunplay and close-quarter combat, and it shows in the fighting engine. You can dodge enemies and counterattack, and the control scheme allows for light attacks, heavy attacks, and even combos. It doesn't feel so much like you have to "survive" as much as you have to move from point A to point B, disposing of any slight annoyances along the way (i.e. the previously terrifying creatures).

While the combat system may feel new, the story progression, environments, and puzzles feel like they haven't changed much since 1999. You play as Alex Shepard, a soldier sent home from duty and subsequently hospitalized. Upon his return, he suffers from recurring nightmares involving his younger brother being in imminent (yet unknown) danger. As the story progresses, you'll learn plenty about his relationship with his family as well as the history of Shepard's Glen, his hometown. It's not as abstract as previous entries in the series, but the story still has its share of intriguing developments.

There are many sections of the game that feature standard tile-sliding, riddle-solving puzzles that have been seen in virtually every survival horror title. While some are basic, some of the later ones are fairly unique and require a little more brainpower than usual. One sequence even quizzes you extensively (and creatively) about Alex's relationship with his family. These puzzles are a welcome change from the "put this jewel in the statue" variety, but they're few and far between.

Silent Hill: Homecoming doesn't feel new enough to reinvigorate the series, and it doesn't contain the same psychological fear factor of the older titles to satisfy longtime fans. It's by no means a bad title, it just fails to offer anything significant that hasn't been seen before.

Graphics: 8.5

Sound: 9.0

First Play: 7.5

Replay Value: 6.5

Gameplay: 7.5

Overall: 7.2


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