Silent Hill Homecoming:
Final Thoughts

By Shamus
on Dec 22, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

I got less than a third of the way through this game before I shelved it. The quicktime event-based fighting was much too flashy for what is supposedly a horror game. As with Origins, the game is far more about combat than atmosphere, far more about killing monsters than being afraid of them.

The plot hooked me. Alex is a much more compelling antagonist protagonist than Travis Grady, and I would have been glad to find out what he had stuck in his mental craw. But the game itself wasn’t any fun to play.

I made it as far as the hotel before I died in a fight with three nurses….

  1. What the crap are nurses doing in the hotel?
  2. Three nurses at once? Why not fifty? Why not give me a roomful of them and a minigun and I can mow them down in waves?
  3. This fight took place a good forty minutes away from the last save point, beyond many puzzles and fights and cutscenes. Fanboys will claim that this makes the game scarier, but they are wrong.
  4. The fight was in a not-particularly-wide corridor. Fighting in this game is very, very touchy. You have to strike at just the right moment, or the multiple foes will “juggle” you, fighting-game style, knocking you around without giving you the chance to recover.
  5. The game repeatedly tells you to turn off your flashlight if you want to sneak by enemies, but I never had that work once, ever. The corridors are too narrow and the enemies see too well in the dark for it to work. Trying just got me stabbed. This is the first game in recent memory where the in-game tips were dangerous and self-defeating for the player.
  6. I played that forty-minute section and died at the hands of three nurses twice.
  7. I wanted to get on with things for the sake of the review, but as usual, you can’t turn the difficulty down (although you can turn it up) and there aren’t any cheats. Do I have forty minutes to gamble on that three-nurse fight again? I do not.

But in the end, it was the sabotaged camera system that drove me away. I’d been playing for hours with their non-invertible camera, and my thumb was now completely confused as to which way I should move to look up. I started playing Prince of Persia, and realized that even though I could set the controls to work the way I wanted, Silent Hill had scrambled my muscle memory so that it was more or less random which way I would move the stick vertically. That is, Silent Hill Homecome wasn’t just a game I didn’t like, it was so bad it diminished my enjoyment of all other games. That’s quite an accomplishment.

A few hours with the Prince straightened me back out, and I don’t dare go back to Silent Hill Homecoming now.

Imagine if they wanted to make a sequel to The Sixth Sense, and they gave the movie to Michael Bay. That is Silent Hill Homecoming.

This series is lost to me. Alas, we had a good run.

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201939 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. GeneralBob says:

    You’re saying there’s no way to save at will?

    Far Cry had this problem but had a manual save in the console

  2. Aergoth says:

    R.I.P
    Survival Horror
    We actually didn’t mind you, you gave quite a scare.
    It’s too bad people are bastards. They made us tear out our hair.

  3. Casper says:

    “Three nurses at once? Why not fifty? Why not give me a roomful of them and a minigun and I can mow them down in waves? ”

    Yea! I want a minigun. And a bazooka. And a tank! And lets add a multiplayer deathmach mode as well. I mean thats what the fans want, right?

  4. Retlor says:

    The link about the camera is slightly broken, I think it just needs an “=”

    I haven’t played Origins or Homecoming, and from what you say they sound like they might ruin my experience with the original games, all of which I loved. So thank you for the warnning.

  5. illiterate says:

    the “sabotaged camera system” link threw my back onto the home page. missing an =

    [edit] Retlor! You beat me this time, but i’ll be back[/edit]

  6. Shamus says:

    Broken link repaired. Thanks.

  7. Dev Null says:

    The plot hooked me. Alex is a much more compelling antagonist than Travis Grady, and I would have been glad to find out what he had stuck in his mental craw.

    Still trying to decide if thats a typo or just cutting satire. I’m guessing the latter, but I suppose it could be both…

  8. Shamus says:

    DevNull: An emergent Freudian manifestation, I’m sure. I’d come to think of Travis as my nemesis while I was serving time in Origins.

  9. Retlor says:

    Illiterate: It’s the equivalent of “First Post”, and I always win “First Post”!

    What I would like to know is whether any indie games groups are doing any survival horror that might make up for the way that Resident Evil and Silent Hill have gone recently.

    Can anyone answer this?

  10. Gregory Weir says:

    Retlor: I don’t know if this can really be called survival horror, but Tale of Tales is finishing up a horror game called The Path.

  11. lebkin says:

    I always have mixed feelings when people talk about the dying survival horror genre, mostly because I am part of the problem. Resident Evil 4 is the first RE game I enjoyed; I am excited for RE5; I had a blast with Dead Space. Survival Horror plus Action Controls equals win for me. But, as many have pointed out, there is a great possibility to lose the heart of survival horror. On the other hand, these are finally games I am excited to play. Its a strange situation.

  12. DaveH says:

    Shamus… Sorry to hijack a thread, but have you seen this article on Ars Technica? Looks like EA might be coming at least a little to their senses re: DRM. Or maybe I’m just erading too much into this…

  13. You know… back in the 80’s when I was in my early *cough* 20’s, my personal Holy Grail was getting backstage at a rock concert. (The only time I managed to do this was at a Judas Priest concert, and boy – was that boring!)

    Now that I’m in my *cough* 40’s, my personal Holy Grail is to TALK TO A GAME DEVELOPER.

    I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been playing a game and wished that I could sit down with the developer and ask him (sadly, it’s probably a ‘him’), “WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU THINKING???”

    The weird thing is that it was easier to get backstage at a concert than it is to talk to a game developer.

    I wonder why….

    Leslee

  14. Justin says:

    I was never a huge fan of SH, but I also never like to see the depredation of a franchise. RIP, Silent Hill.

    Shamus, if/when you get a 360 (maybe you did and I spaced it…), you might try Deadspace. True, its an EA game, but it is still extremely good. It’s more “Aliens” than “Alien”, but if you try for the One Gun achievement, Isaak Clarke: Engineer Extraordinare is pretty believable.

  15. LafinJack says:

    A few hours with the Prince straightened me back out…

    For varying values of “straight”.

    If you know what I mean.

    And I think you do.

  16. Hirvox says:

    It’s not that mixing action with survival horror genre wouldn’t work, it’s just that it’s been a while since it has been done right and some of the lessons have been forgotten. Aliens vs. Predator was scary, hard and fun. Then they broke it in AvP 2 :P.

    IMHO, the reason why AvP worked was that the enemies were not particularly dangerous when you were in the “flow” and had the peace of mind to properly aim. Short, controlled bursts, just like in the movie. But if you paniced and emptied your clip at the wrong moment, ran like a headless chicken, didn’t pay attention to the sounds, ran out of flares and/or didn’t use the scanner properly.. then death was swift and merciless, especially with the facehuggers. The difficulty came from your state of mind, not loss of control or inability to dodge.

  17. Rick C says:

    The manly way to deal with the non-invertible joystick would be to write some kind of device-driver filter that inverts the vertical for you.

  18. ludov says:

    How much is Prince of Persia now, out of curiosity?

    I’ve been pondering getting it ever since I heard that:

    A-it’s a friggin sweet game, and

    B-It’s totally DRM free.

  19. Namfoodle says:

    Instead of minigun, how about a fire hose?

    Then they would be wet nurses.

    I’m sure the guys in marketing would be all over that idea.

  20. Sam says:

    Now I kind of want to see that Sixth Sense sequel…

  21. JKjoker says:

    i just tried POP and it seems it only works with 360 controllers (because, you know, they have those special “microsoft” buttons the cheap chinesse controllers dont seem to have, damn games for windows with their vista only directx10 “enhancements”, controller monopoly and forced live) and pissed me off (ive been playing persona 4 with the ps2 emu for a week and being forced to go back to mouse+kb for a console port gets on my nerves)

    as for dead space, i think that game was waaaay overrated, i finished it last month :
    the game is extremely sluggish, at first i thought it was my vid settings, but no, its designed that way, to make it easier to aim with the dualshock i guessed but i had to go back to mouse because i was expending waay too much ammo,

    which brings me to the second problem, the ammo is completely unbalanced, you can only find ammo in little ammounts in containers but most of the time youll get them as random monster drops (you can only get ammo for weapons you are carrying), some weapons are useless because of this, for example the line gun, while the secondary mine mode is useful, the primary mode needs between 2 and 3 shots per monster and you can only find only 2 rounds per monster, if you are lucky, this problems forces you to use the hyped Ripper weapon because its the only one that has a decent kill-per-ammo-drop ratio and the first gun which tends to break even, the line gun works as mine thrower only and the assault riffle is ok sometimes only if you spend 12 nodes to upgrade it otherwise its better to avoid it, the rest of the weapons are useless, the flamethrower is specially pathetic : it has no stopping power, takes too long to kill and has a ratio of 0.2 kills per ammo drop and it doesnt even have a decent splash area, weee

    as the, very accurate, zero puntuation review said, the story sucks ass and everyone who says that it rips alien off is because they never watched event horizon (aka the stupidest, senseless space horror movie ever made), the game rips off every single idiotic “oh the horror” scene from the movie, nothing makes sense, your never give a crap about anyone, every npc is wearing (*SMALL SPOILER*) a cliched “will die or turn evil and die” shirt, the games tops it off by not letting you kill your betrayers (*END SPOILER*)

    i love when the game doesnt take away your controls while the npc are talking but just as you are about to enjoy it youll notice you cant open doors/save/interact with anything so they might just as well take them from you, jeez, the game forces you, several times, to watch some dude taunting you behind a door you were able to open 10 seconds ago but suddenly got locked and then gets unlocked just when the dude escapes/gets killed/etc

    and as a final thought, the few boss battles look cool the first 10 seconds until you realize how stupid they are : (*SPOILER*) they have between 4 and 5 obvious weak points which you shoot, you’ll win for sure if you had enough ammo on you, and die if you didnt (you can get some ammo during the fight but you are likely to get whacked that way and in pro youll probably die in 1 hit unless you maxed out your health), they have maybe 2 attack patterns thats it (*END SPOILER*)

  22. Telas says:

    Namfoodle: I’d buy that for a dollar!

  23. Robyrt says:

    Seconded on quitting games when they throw a needless roadblock in your path. Guess what – Prince of Persia only has ONE of these (the sluice gates puzzle) and you can go straight to the Internet for the solution. Maybe games shouldn’t actively hate you, except on Masochistic difficulty. What a concept!

    Dead Space in general: This game is Resident Evil 4 in space. It is not survival horror, it is survival action. I liked it a lot, but Silent Hill it ain’t.

    @jkjoker: For everyone who says “Weapon X in Dead Space is terrible” there is another person who says “Weapon X in Dead Space is the only good one.” I used the Line Gun as my primary weapon, for instance. This is because weapon performance is very dependent on upgrades – so the gun you spend your nodes on is the gun you find the most effective.

  24. MikeSSJ says:

    I’m sad to hear that Silent Hill is becoming more and more of an action-game-series, as well.
    Gone are the good old days of TRUE survival horror-games, I guess, where atmosphere and story were the most important, not flashy minigames and explosions.

    Does anyone know if there’s a new Fatal Frame in production? So far, all three of THOSE have been great…

  25. JKjoker says:

    @Robyrt: you used the line gun the whole game ? you are playing on normal i guess, try it on hard or pro, once it stops killing in 1 or 2 shots it becomes useless (note by useless i dont mean it doesnt kill, the line gun works like a charm for killing but there is no way to avoid running out of ammmo not even perfect aiming works, the mines still rock but you need to time them right), and i fully upgraded the line gun first so i know how upgrades change it, there is also the problem that every 6 rounds of the line gun take 1 inventory slot and thats means a lot of backtracking if you want to have a decent stock on you at all times

    i dunno where you heard anyone praising any other weapon than the ripper tho, every review and commentary ive read talks like the ripper is the only weapon in the game, i wonder if anyone tried a ripper free run though the game, i might be masochistic enough to try pro, but not THAT much

  26. LintMan says:

    I guess it’s too late now, but since you were already in “mixed up” on the y-axis behavior, you could have set PoP to be non-inverted and tried to push past it and gotten yourself re-adjusted to playing that way. Since you were already partway there, it might not have been that painful to get used to it. And once done, you won’t have to worry anymore if a game doesn’t support it.

    Of course, you’re thinking “I shouldn’t have to do that”, and you’re 100% right. You shouldn’t, and the game should have the option, but let me say I found that it’s not that hard to switch, and once I switched, I found it actually improved my gaming a bit. For me now, unless it’s a flight sim or I’m using an actual joystick, the non-inverted way feels much more natural.

  27. Binks says:

    “This is the first game in recent memory where the in-game tips were dangerous and self-defeating for the player.”

    Force Unleashed Xbox 360. If I need to say anymore then you haven’t tried to the scene where you (I guess spoiler alert…has anyone who wants to play the story of that game not done so by now?) pull down an imperial star destroyer and the only way to succeed is to literally ignore the game’s advice and ‘trust your instincts’ (huh…after writing that I wonder if maybe the developers were channeling Obi-Wan and wanted the player to ignore the ‘targeting computer’ of in-game advice.

    Seriously, it is impossible to complete that sequence if you do what the game tells you to do…it’s not just Silent Hill (I can think of a few other examples of recent games but I don’t want this post to be too long)

  28. Alex says:

    “This is the first game in recent memory where the in-game tips were dangerous and self-defeating for the player.”

    This reminds me very much of Midna from Twilight Princess.

    I remember I was having trouble beating one of the last bosses of Twilight Princess, because that emasculating wench Midna gave me “advice” that was counter-productive to what I was actually supposed to do at the time. It killed me a lot faster than I would have been just doing my own confused thang.

    And that was the only time in the game where she gave any “advice” at all! At least Navi threw you a bone now and then. This game re-enforces the need for gamefaqs.com.

    When did developers start to hate the people who provide their livelihood? Instead of acting as a source for friendly assistance, Midna was a means of distributing Nintendo’s contempt for their customers. An avatar of some deep-rooted repugnance, for anyone who had the audacity to give them money for their product, and expected to derive some enjoyment out of it.

    …Wait, QUICKTIME EVENTS in SILENT HILL?! That’s like including a farting competition in Shadow of the Colossus!

  29. SolkaTruesilver says:

    However, people, when you look at it from the Publiciser’s point of view:

    “Well, obviously, Mr. Young voted with his money. What he says afterward is of not consequence, since he bought the game, and will probably buy the next one. We are doing something right here.”

  30. illiterate says:

    Solka, that really isn’t fair. Shamus is a game reviewer. Game reviewers end up buying a lot of crap they wouldn’t have otherwise. His writing is not going to encourage me to buy this game. It has made me very interested in trying the first couple of Silent Hill games when I find time.

    When “Silent Hill: No It’s Actually Noisy” comes out, Shamus will probably buy it just for the train wreck effect, and steal some pixels.

    On an unrelated note, I really really wanted to make some joke about “you shouldn’t google three nurses at once at work” but the results when i tried that (also three naughty nurses at once were distressingly tame.

  31. Kevin says:

    Man, how much of a turd-box does a game need to be when a game reviewer won’t even finish it? Who knows? Maybe they’ll sell the franchise to someone else.

    P.S. I frequently have “nurses” in my hotel room, though I’d have to save up for three at once.

  32. UtopiaV1 says:

    God I hate Micheal Bay, he’s the American Uwe Boll… now to decide who’s worse…

    Ps. If you’re stuck for survival horror, then I’ve heard nothing but good things about Fatal Frame (or Project Zero as it’s known here in the UK)

  33. Martin says:

    3 nurses? What comes after the spanking?

    /Sir Galahad The Pure

  34. Ferrous Buller says:

    Between you and Leigh Alexander having such wildly divergent views, I don’t know what to think about SH5. I’m so confused! Now I’ll have to rent it for myself and *sigh* form my own opinion.

    Thanks a lot. Jerk.

    Your complaints about SH5’s combat reminds me of the changes to melee combat in Condemned 2. One of the common complaints about the original game was that melee was too simplistic and repetitive, so in the sequel they made it more involving and complicated. That in and of itself was fine, but the screen would flash things like “3X Triple Hit Combo,” which would break the tense, gritty atmosphere of the game every time it happened. Why not bring in the Mortal Kombat announcer to yell “FATALITY!” while they were at it?

  35. B.J. says:

    FYI, you can evade the nurses by turning off your light AND walking slowly.

  36. bsq says:

    yes! i agree completely. if only i had read this earlier… sigh

  37. Barachiel says:

    I gave up on this game at the exact same point Shamus did. Now I LIKED Origins (yes burn me alive now) and I liked the story of Homecoming, but they made the combat gameplay ABYSMAL to the point where I returned the game less than a week after buying it.

  38. Spider Borland says:

    I just beat the game last night, and I enjoyed it. Yeah, I got juggled a lot, and became angry with death/save locations. I beat it, however.

    I’m mainly here (almost a year later) to comment on your “3 Nurses” problem. If that’s where you had problems, it’s a good thing you stopped where you did. At one point you fight a gaggle (9 or more) of them at once. Which, like everything else they stole from the movie, is almost directly taken from the movie. Turn your light off and you can snake past them, but it doesnt matter… the last one you kill drops the key you need to progress the game.

    ((Oh, the snaking idea ultimately didnt work… I just jumped into the hall and smoked two of them with the shotgun, which got their attention, to say the least. Then watched them funnel into my room and I took them down one at a time. “Wasting” precious shotgun shell after precious shotgun shell after precious shotgun shell.

  39. Jessica says:

    That is exactly the part I just died at too. I’m not sure I can do it again. I don’t play Silent Hill games for the combat so I’m finding this really frustrating. I am playing on the PC though so I’m having no trouble with the camera.

    Unlike other people though I am finding Homecoming very scary. I think that’s partly because it’s the first time I’m playing a Silent Hill game with a headset (and a pretty nice headset at that!). And I think the story is engaging. I really wish I could handle the combat!

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