Silent Hill is coming home to roost on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this fall. We sat down with Konami at the E3 Media & Business Summit to check in on the long-running survival horror franchise and see how the latest addition is shaping up.
For those who need a quick recap, you'll assume the role of World War II vet Alex Shepherd, who's come back to his hometown, Shepherd's Glen. But--as is always the case--the town, and himself, aren't quite the same as they were when he left. For a start, he's suffering for a bout of amnesia. If that weren't bad enough, the town is covered in a mysteriously thick, dark fog--and, oh yeah, there are ungodly monsters roaming the streets at will.
While Homecoming features a completely new story, the game is still a part of the existing Silent Hill universe and we're told by Konami that there might even be a few overlapping plot twists between Homecoming and the previous installments in the series. Shepherd's greater goal in the game (besides surviving a range of creatures hell-bent on killing him) is to find his lost brother. To aid you on the quest, you'll have access to a range of weapons including knife, axe, crowbar, pistol, shotgun, and more.
Our hands-on began with Shepherd waking up in the middle of what looked to be the main street of Shepherd's Glen. The town was notably, eerily devoid of people, blanketed in a thick fog during the still of night, and littered with a few abandoned vehicles. We carelessly stumbled down an alley in our quest for answers and quickly encountered an unusual beast with glowing, throbbing sacs around its neck and abdomen, and a grotesque exposed ribcage. While it was able to strike us by lunging, it also sprayed a repugnant black gas from its mouth, quickly reducing our health bar in the process.
Using the knife, we quickly attacked the creature with a few stabs. You can string together multiple attacks using a combination of strong or fast attacks, although rolling out of the way to avoid attacks is an equally wise strategy. After a brief encounter we moved on through the alley to its end at the edge of what looked to be a quarry. Jumping down a ledge and under a stranded truck, we acquired a new weapon--a fire axe--which we were told could be used to break through one of the doors back on the high street to continue the mission.
Despite an all-too-brief time with Homecoming, we got a good feel for the game's controls, which feel solid and sensibly laid out. Hitting the B button will put you on the defensive, allowing you to block attacks. Other face buttons allow you to jump out of the way entirely to avoid damage altogether, perform strong or fast attacks, or access your map; you won't have one to begin with, though--you'll need to find one in your travels. Shoulder buttons pull up your inventory and weapon menus, while the triggers allow you to take a combat stance or fire a weapon.
Homecoming is being developed by Double Helix Games (which was formed through the merging of the game's original developer, The Collective, and Shiny Entertainment) and the game already looks promising. The detail in characters and environments appear quite detailed, and the lighting effects, together with smoke and fog, work well to create a dark, uncertain landscape--always important in horror titles.
Despite a new developer at the helm, Silent Hill: Homecoming looks true to the franchise's roots, and we look forward to seeing it in greater detail as the game nears its fall 2008 release date. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage on Homecoming as it emerges.