Have You Played… Silent Hill: Homecoming?

homecoming

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

You know that feeling when you’ve eaten all of the best chocolates in a selection box and then one night you’re really craving some chocolate, and you’re faced with the possibility of eating a coffee cream or some other monstrosity? It’s OK to admit that you’ve eaten that chocolate, and it’s OK to admit that you kind of enjoyed it.

Silent Hill: Homecoming [Steam page] is the coffee cream of Silent Hill games. The worst thing about that is that it’s the only Silent Hill game that’s available digitally on PC.

At their best, Silent Hill games make me write things like this. At their worst, they make me write things like this: “Silent Hill: Homecoming is not entirely without merit.”

Like the later Downpour, which didn’t make it to PC, Homecoming has some great ideas. In the case of Downpour, it’s a semi-open town with side stories to discover and dynamic weather changes that tie into the scares. With Homecoming, it’s a game divided between two towns, rather than one that takes place entirely in and around Silent Hill itself. That allows for two approaches to creepy abandoned places, with the initial return to Shepherd’s Glen initially feeling more like a traditional haunting scenario rather than the kind of Otherworld culty nonsense that the Silent hill sections inject later on.

It’s all a bit rubbish, with some tedious areas to explore and far too much combat. The main character is a former soldier and his training means that the “improved combat” was actually considered to be a selling point. A combat system has never been a good selling point for a survival horror game.

And yet, if I’m really craving chocolate I will eat a goddamn coffee cream.

Do not play Silent Hill: Homecoming if you haven’t played a game from the series before and want to know what the fuss is about. You will reject the concept of a fuss about these games entirely and think everyone who likes them is a wrong idiot. But if you really really want to play a traditional survival horror game with some of that spooky Silent Hill flavour, you could do worse. Not much worse, granted, but the hotel bit is quite good, if memory serves.

26 Comments

  1. GameCat says:

    A combat system has never been a good selling point for a survival horror game.

    Resident Evil 4-6 want to have a word with you.

    • piesmagicos says:

      I dunno…the combat in 4 was pretty awkward and I dont think 5 and 6 were much “survival horror”. It had elements of both for sure but you were such a super soldier in those it didnt seem really scary. IMO. I also think the crappy combat added to the horror to silent hill/early RE games. Its how i imagine a normal person in that situation would react…they arnt nailing a zombies head from 30 yards out….they would be lucky to have enough sense to turn the safety off when panic and adrenaline set in.

      • GameCat says:

        The biggest problem of these three games were enemies with guns. They eventually turned the game into medicore cover shooter.

        But if Capcom made something like RE: Outbreak where you play as civilians escaping from city full of zombies and mutated creatures (they are always the best part of series for me) with improved combat system from RE6 then oh boy, it would be probably the best survival game ever.

    • golem09 says:

      Why would they? Those are action games, not survival horror.

      • RobinOttens says:

        If I recall correctly, the back of my gamecube box of RE4 even told me to ‘forget survival horror’ calling itself an action horror game instead.

        Anyhoo, yea I played Homecoming. It wasn’t bad. The pyramid head’s appearance was pure fan service and kinda lame. But all the other monsters, locations and story stuff was neat. The worst game in the Silent Hill series, but still very enjoyable.

    • Silent_Thunder says:

      Resident Evil 4 wasn’t survival horror, it was Army of Darkness the video game.

      And I mean that in a good way. God bless that little evil zombie napoleon asshole.

    • Snacko says:

      Combat is definitely the weakest part of 4. 5 and 6 are shooters.

  2. BooleanBob says:

    “A combat system has never been a good selling point for a survival horror game. ”

    And yet even the best entries in the genre have been critically mauled for their poor combat. Bit of a thankless task for developers, as they feel they have to put effort into these systems only to be told they haven’t got their priorities straight.

    • MrBehemoth says:

      I hold to the idea that good survival horror games depend on you having little-to-no agency and making it uncomfortable to try to enact your will upon world. Combat is the best example. Many of the most lauded horror do well at restricting you in this way, and are properly terrifying partly for that reason, but then get criticised for it because they felt uncomfortable to play.

    • golem09 says:

      A heavily restricted combat system that is not easy to use is to me the central point of a good survival horror game. Otherwise what is there to be afraid of?
      Jumpscares?

  3. sjjs says:

    Have not and will not. There are too many good games on my backlist to bother with shite ones.

  4. noiseferatu says:

    “A combat system has never been a good selling point for a survival horror game.”

    Going to hop on this bandwagon and present Dead Space 2 as a counterpoint. But not, I stress, Dead Space 3. DS2 improved on the first one with much sleeker controls which also turned the game’s focus (even more) into combat from the more spooky vibe of DS1. I’d say it was a decision that worked really well for the game until the awful final bit.

  5. DGriff says:

    But…but… Coffee creams are the best chocolate.

  6. zsd says:

    I played Homecoming on the XBox 360, and thought it was an interesting attempt at making a Genuine Silent Hill(TM) Experience on a modern console, jammed doors and all. After I played it, I thought, “Okay, now we’ve gotten that out of our system, but this formula clearly needs to evolve to stay relevant. I wonder how they can solve that problem.”

    Downpour’s answer was a quest log, which was thoroughly disappointing.

  7. grovberg says:

    Do not play Silent Hill: Homecoming if you haven’t played a game from the series before and want to know what the fuss is about.

    So if I can only play one, which one should it be?

    • cpt_freakout says:

      Silent Hill 2 is still the best one, IMO. It gets everything right. Yep, everything.

      • Blad the impaler says:

        For its time, SH2 was unbelievably good. I gave it a whirl a few years back and it’s aged pretty well – if you can forgive the control scheme.

        Homecoming was good – it’s one of those solid 7/10 titles we like to fuss about here. But nothing with the Silent Hill brand has lived up to the standard set by 2 – imo.

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          I played through the PS2 version of Silent Hill 2 less than a year ago and it still holds up amazingly well. I almost cried at the end.

          I think it looks better on the PS2 as well. The HD version looks too clean.

      • dskzero says:

        It largely depends if you are willing to deal with tank controls. If you are, it’s easily the best.

        Homecoming is probably the best for the new generations, though.

    • Esin12 says:

      I will fourth that and say 2 all day. I tried to play SH1 on emulator a year or two ago and while it had the genuine creepy vibes of 2, I just couldn’t get past the graphics. 3 is okay overall, and has some solid moments, but that’s when the absurd cultish stuff starts coming into play that the article references.

  8. draglikepull says:

    I think the early Silent Hill games were less “survival horror” and more like point-and-click adventure games that happen to occasionally involve weapons. The bulk of the games is exploring environments and collecting clues and items to solve puzzles. I think people who like adventure games should really try and track down Silent Hill 2 and 3, which are full of great exploration and challenging (but fair) puzzles. Also some of the best game soundtracks ever.

  9. dethtoll says:

    There is no Silent Hill after the third one, and the trilogy peaked with 2 anyway.

    • Snacko says:

      Shattered Memories is my personal favorite in the series. 4 was also excellent.

  10. PancreaticDefect says:

    My Steam library page says all you need to know about how broken the PC port is.

    You’ve played: 20 minutes
    Game purchased November 7th 2008.