Review: Silent Hill Homecoming

This is my favourite series, I love all things Silent Hill (although I haven’t played Origins…. yet!) and once every couple of years I get to go through the ritual of sitting on the couch with the lights off and the sound cranked up in the middle of the night for maximum effect. Now perhaps that isn’t how you like to enjoy the game and perhaps it’s ritualistic enough to get one locked up but it’s what I do and I’m sticking to it.

Now, this entry into the Silent Hill world is also the first on the latest generation of consoles. It features and boast better visuals, graphics, sound and all the usual bells and whistles associated with the latest gear. However there are new effects put into play here. For example the switch from ‘normal’ world to the other world occurs in real time. Here’s my thing, while I did like it, I thought that they could have done more with it or at least let the transformation last a bit longer. Let’s say a minute or so, the change is so quick that you don’t get to fully appreciate it and it doesn’t happen on the fly either. It’s usually going to happen in a room as part of a real time cut scene. I am saying I appreciate the step (like in the movie) but if it’s possible, let us appreciate it for a bit longer. Also I wasn’t crazy about the siren used in this game. It wasn’t the sound, it was the duration. It needed to run for a lot longer to be quite honest, in previous games that baby would go for a good while and you knew you’d be in for ….. something.
Gameplay: It was ok. There were several parts in the game where I did feel like they are giving me the run-around to simply extend the gameplay timer however. The feel of the game via controller was about as good as any of the others. I do miss the quick turn around however and it made the movement a tad more clunky then usual, but really nothing new in terms of movement. Combat was different to anything i’ve experienced in the first four.
You now have the ability to dodge enemy attacks and counter, sometimes with devastating effect. It has been argued that this has made enemy encounters less difficult and nothing special as they can be dealt with easy enough. I found that in the beginning I had many problems tackling them without a scratch and actually tried to avoid encounters (as per previous games) to save on using health packs or ammunition. I guess to each their own, but I didn’t mind the combat system. It made for more interesting ‘boss’ encounters as well. By no way was it a perfect system but it has potential and the character you play is meant to be a war veteran anyway so there is justification with this system.

Sound: The soundtrack by the Akira Yamaoka is good, as expected and one of the key designs of the Silent Hill franchise. It blends in so well that you don’t really notice it too much you just know that it’s there and making what you see on screen that much better. The game sounds were satisfactory. I think I found myself testing whether the foley on footsteps were any different on several surfaces at one point but quickly forgot this as some dog came racing after me. The more subtle noises were great. Walking down a dark corridor and hearing a baby crying, or, what I am guessing was Pyramid Head lurking about scraping his sword along the ground.
Visuals: Good and bad. From a distance they all look fine. Up close bad. That is not to say all visuals were like this but being able to go into first person view, I don’t want to be confronted by muddy textures and some bad pixelation. It seemed to apply to some textures and others looked quite alright. Might have been they had to go back and tone down some textures in order to maintain a somewhat consistent frame rate.
Monsters by design looked great. Boss encounters and normal enemies all looked so fantastically well created in both style and movement that they became the highlight of the game for me. The Schism and nurses were my favourites. Switching the light on and off was never so much fun!
Final Word: Overall, I enjoyed my time in Silent Hill this round and I do look forward to the next romp. If they could have sorted out issues with frame rate dips, muddy-bad textures and the fact that it could be pitch black darkness and your light is on yet you still can’t see a thing, then the next one can only be better. Solid effort by the creators.
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.