Silent Hill: Homecoming Hands-On

Awkwardly hot zombie nurses? Foggy, poorly lit streets? Pyramid Head? Yup, we're definitely back in Silent Hill.

The titular homecoming of the upcoming Silent Hill game holds a number of meanings. It first and foremost refers to the return of protagonist Alex Shepherd to his hometown of Shepherd's Glen, but it also in many ways signifies a return to the roots of what Silent Hill itself is meant to be--a really, really creepy place. We recently had the chance to play through the first few hours of Silent Hill: Homecoming, and we've gathered our impressions together in one place about this, the most atmospheric Silent Hill yet.

The game begins quite literally inside of a nightmare. Alex finds himself strapped down onto a gurney inside of the Alchemilla Hospital (a location that fans of the series will no doubt recognize). He is pushed, struggling the entire way, through the sinister hospital, and along the way bears witness to a number of horrifying sights. Finally left alone in an operating room, Alex is able to break free of his bonds just as an unseen foe runs a nurse through with a massive and unwieldy blade in the hallway.

After wandering the halls, you find Alex's little brother, Joshua, drawing just out of reach behind a locked door. Alex is determined to save his brother, but with a locked door between the two the only thing you can do is try to find the security code. Luckily, the six-digit number can be conveniently found written across an x-ray, and after tracking down the errant half the door is opened, and Josh takes off down the hall.

You chase Josh into a bathroom, but instead of a younger brother you find a knife oddly embedded into the shattered mirror. Upon securing the weapon, Alex begins to feel lightheaded, and an air-raid siren can be heard in the distance. While in past Silent Hill games the transition to the even more hellish Otherworld took place off camera, usually when you were incapacitated in some way, Homecoming makes it an entirely real-time shift that borrows heavily from the 2006 Silent Hill film. The world begins to change as rust and rot creeps in and paint peels off and flies upward. Once it's done, you find yourself in a very different version of the hospital, and you're immediately thrown into battle with one of the series' trademark nurses.

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Though combat in Silent Hill was in the past very stilted and basic, Homecoming has made vast improvements to this experience--Alex was a soldier, and his familiarity with battle definitely gives him an edge over previous series' protagonists. Attacks come in weak and strong varieties that can be strung together in combos to stun or incapacitate aggressors, who can then be taken out with a powerful coup de grace. You can even perform evasive ducks and rolls and follow these up with counterattacks. Don't let it get to your head, though; enemy AI has been significantly improved to compensate for your higher degree of combat prowess, and it's also not uncommon to fight multiple monsters at once.

Once clear of the bathroom, you continue to chase Alex's brother through the Otherworld while fending off overly sexualized zombie nurses and giant insects known as Swarm. You finally catch up to Josh, but after some dialogue it's obvious that he isn't as interested in his brother as he is in finding his lost stuffed Robbie the Rabbit (the creepy mascot of the Lake Side Amusement Park). However, reuniting him with his toy only makes him run some more, and when you chase him into an elevator you're jolted back to reality courtesy of the gigantic sword you caught glimpses of earlier.

Alex, it turns out, really was just dreaming. He awakes in the cab of a semi driven by Travis Grady (who some will remember as the protagonist of Silent Hill: Origins) and is subsequently dropped off in his hometown of Shepherd's Glen, which seems to share a number of similarities to the titular town of Silent Hill. Both cities have eerie "Welcome to..." signs, are covered in an all-encompassing fog, are located off the shores of Toluca Lake, have streets named after people (horror film directors, in the case of Shepherd's Glen), and are suspiciously short on citizens.

Upon returning home, it becomes clear that things aren't too well off for the Shepherds. Alex's near-catatonic mother informs him that Josh has gone missing, and a search through the house reveals nothing but a flooded basement puzzle; a heavy steel pipe to smash things with; and a new monster, the clawed Lurker. With a promise to his mother that he'll find Josh, Alex heads out through the backyard, and into the Shepherd's Glen Graveyard.

The cemetery is every bit as spooky as you would expect it to be and then some, thanks to the presence of yet another new monster, the Feral--an enormous, skinless hell hound that's just asking for your steel pipe to be put through its head. It also doesn't help that there's some creepy guy hanging out at the mausoleum digging graves. Or is he digging up bodies? It's really unclear. One simple puzzle and a dozen piped-in-the-head Ferals or so later, you manage to find your way back on the streets again near the SGPD.

Sepulchur is not pleased when you smash his meat sacs.

Eventually, you find yourself in the town of Silent Hill itself, which is of course in ruins and full of monsters. At the end of the street near an overturned emergency vehicle, you find a fire axe, which you use to hack through the wooden planks obscuring the entrance to the Grand Hotel. Josh is seen briefly inside the building, and Alex takes off after him again. Inside a dilapidated elevator, the sinister Needler is revealed. These disturbing monsters resemble spiders and sport a collection of scythelike arms and an elongated human head.

About halfway through the hotel, you begin to hear heavy footprints and the sound of metal being dragged. Alex takes cover behind some debris, and you finally get to see who that massive sword from his nightmare belongs to: It's everyone's favorite mannequin-molesting monster, Pyramid Head! He gives Alex a dirty look and then heads down the hall, and of course the only logical thing to do is follow him.

Eventually you're reunited with Josh, who like the jerk he seems to be lets Alex fall back down to the first floor, where everything shifts to the Otherworld and you finally catch up to Mayor Bartlett. The mayor talks about how powerless he was to save anyone, and it's clear that he's on the sauce.

You don't have long with him though before you're interrupted by the first major boss, the enormous Sepulchur. This twisted, treelike demon seems to be propped up by large, fleshy sacs. Once these sacs are pulverized, Sepulchur lifts itself up on long, bony arms and continues its assault. Defeating the sinister beast makes it collapse through a hole in the floor, which Alex, completely exhausted from the ordeal, falls through as well.

Silent Hill: Homecoming features some excellent atmospheric effects such as dynamic lighting and shadows, and we can't wait to get our hands on the full game to see what kind of psychological problems Alex has buried in his past. Homecoming is currently scheduled for release near the end of the month--be sure to check back then for our final opinion.

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Discussion

307 comments
NOARA
NOARA

This game simply explaines the fact that...AMERICANS NO SHIIT about horror. Their Basic Idea is just running and a monster pops ou, Loud scream, the monster thrushes its hands into another persons guts {No joking here} But the japanese on the other hands made SH, SH2, SH3 and silent hill 4 the room whom all were good except the last which was oddly weak. My point is, although i'm american and proud, DON"T LEAVE HORRO (specially ssilent hill typr of horror) to Americans because their mercilessly killing it.

p0rkp1e74
p0rkp1e74

gamespot must have moved on to the Fall lineup and decided this game doesn't deserve a review......although i have yet to see them take this long to review a game before that is released for the next gen consoles....maybe they never got a copy of the game or maybe they are running from Pyramid Head down some foggy poorly lit streets with very little health and ammo!!!! This game is decent so i gave it an 8.....if you can survive the early parts without dying and lots of running then it is truly an enjoyable addition to the Silent Hill franchise....nothing can top the original on the PS1 though as far as demented and freak factor!!!

dg3215
dg3215

Gamespot is turning into an epic fail.. Reviews are not what the use to be and they are taking a lot longer to review a game.. Finally they are not having as many video reviews as they use to.. Hence EPIC FAIL..

hi-buzz
hi-buzz

YEAH !!!! STILL WAITIN' MAYBE IT SUCKS THAT'S WHY THEY R NOT REVIEWING IT...HOLLOWEEN IS ALMOST HERE AND WE NEED AAA+ SCARY GAMES AND WANT IT NOW !!!! KEEP YOUR EYES ON "DEAD SPACE"...IT MIGHT BE SOMETHING NEW AND REFRESHING....HOPEFULLY..

seanbrandowen
seanbrandowen

Hope the controls r jacked up pre sucked big time.

UAEARSENAL
UAEARSENAL

Im Sure that this game will be AWSOMELY i liked all silent hill games this is the 1 am Waitin for !

Warshock
Warshock

THE STUPID INVERT DOESN'T WORK!!! AT ALL!!! it says it's on.. but when i'm playing the game.. IT DOESN'T!!!.. F THIS GAME... Super lame beginning and horrible controls...

gazzad
gazzad

Gonna have to be something to beat Silent Hill 2, hope it does but!!

gazzad
gazzad

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

NonyoBizness
NonyoBizness

I am definitely buying this one! w000000000000t

never-named
never-named

I just got off from finishing Silent Hill 3...the most disturbing and uneasiest six hours I've ever spent in front of my TV I must say.

maximaxi4eva2
maximaxi4eva2

Yay pyramid head...again :( laaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeee

Ranma_X_basic
Ranma_X_basic

Ok. it's official that i want this game more now that pyramid head is in the game.

necronaux
necronaux

What? No DS version planned?

WarblazerTM
WarblazerTM

if its anything like silent hill 2 im gonna enjoy this.

Bonkie101
Bonkie101

Actually, The Room was the only Silent Hill game I enjoyed. I'm not sure why though, probably because it was so different and more familiar. But this one definitely looks sweet.

JohnnyC25
JohnnyC25

new technology in visuals will make this game scarier then ever!!

DarkSnack
DarkSnack

from the biginning of silent hill it was so nice and scary and the most important thing you have a long hours to play not 3 or 4 hours as some of new games. silent hill was so nice when it was in bad graphics so how about new graphics on XBOX360 and PS3. waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw

Baramos6
Baramos6

I hope this game is as good as the others, and better than "The Room." Looking forward to it. To the SH, RE, topic, both are different in there own way, and enjoyable in there own way. Resident Evil has certainly changed since it began in the late 90's, originally it pitted gamers against zombies and stuff in a modern environment. I'm glad they changed from zombies, to the newer enemies. While Silent hill doesn't really need to change from it's violent macabre style game. Both have their amazing factors which make them intriguing. If the reviews are good, I will buy this one. Hopefully it won't be short, i hate short games :(

biokrysty
biokrysty

Scary but we'll see about it when we'll play it

georgie-girl
georgie-girl

i have played all the sh and enjoyed them all except 'the room' i just love 'weirdness and nightmarish and surrealism' and sh is all that too me, it is also soo atmospheric and pyramid head is just brilliant! i have played re, most of them and i didnt enjoy them as much! i liked re nemesis the best, the storylines though are always the same..... they get stuck together cos of that genre 'survival horror' yeah sh is horror for sure but re is an action thriller, hey the films are action yeah and not horror! i will be buying sh homecoming for sure and i am sure i will really enjoy it and just love the graphics and the whole weirdness of it all!

latinqueen221
latinqueen221

I played SH4 but I never finished it because it creeped me out so much. I will be picking up Homecoming when it's released, and hopefully I'll get to finish this one even with the creepiness factor

nezardm
nezardm

I really dont know why people always compare silent hill and resident evil when they are really two totally different games,RE is zombies,mutated animals,experimental freaks happening in normal place while SH is about one the same place in eternal silence cut out from the rest of the world with weird creatures,nightmare dimension,cult etc. totally two different games... SH is a horror game while RE i really cant call a horror game just coz of mutated zombies its more as a action adventure...

fifty_dollars
fifty_dollars

halokiller, how do you even know that resident evil is a million times bettr than silent hill if you've never played a silent hill game ever? these types of comments are just plain ignorant and stupid.

monkey23KING
monkey23KING

Both RE & SH are one of the best / top in their own category. RE rest on more action, that brings the players to the edge of your seat. SH is a brand new breed, mixing reality with the fantasy hell world. Which in most of the time you're required to run away instead of fighting hellish monsters head on. To Halokiller: Can you possibility compare RE5 with MGS4?

ten-7
ten-7

dang Back to pyrimid head

Darth_Xavier
Darth_Xavier

Well in the end it doesnt really matter what everyone says. Im still buying it, I know a lot of people are going to buy it. Ive even started looking around the net so I can regain my old SH collection (sold almost all my ps2 games so I can get a 360) Im planning to play them all starting from part 1 all over again.

Salt_The_Fries
Salt_The_Fries

I thought Resident Evil started to suck when RE 4 came out.

Malow-x
Malow-x

honesty halokiller and Aurey must not have played all the resident evil games because honestly minus 1 & 2, Resident Evil sucked until 4 came out. Silent hill was still good through and through.

Paul2005
Paul2005

dead space looks way better .

mattlom03
mattlom03

this game looks cool and it will probably be alot of fun. And to the people bashing it: dont make a judgment till you have played it, it makes you sound like a moron.

Darth_Xavier
Darth_Xavier

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Darth_Xavier
Darth_Xavier

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Darth_Xavier
Darth_Xavier

When it comes to story telling and the overall creepiness, Silent Hill takes the cake. But Halokiller and Aurey how can you really compare when you havent played a single Silent Hill as you yourself said. I mean yes Resident Evil is a good series and its fun to play, but I personally prefer Silent Hill because it really feels like theres deeper meanings in the stories and that you can connect with the characters (except Henry in my case). And yes I agree that maybe they shouldnt have put Pyramid Head in this, it really does feel like theyre just milking as much as they can out of the movie when it wasnt that great.

thelazzer
thelazzer

How can you say Resident evil is better than Silent Hill. Silent hill SCARED THE #$%@^ OUT ME and Resident Evil is the same story for the first few games

Salt_The_Fries
Salt_The_Fries

I'm not really looking forward nor to new Silent Hill nor to Resident Evil 5. I wish someone would break the crappiness in this genre.

halokillerps205
halokillerps205

I have to agree with Aurey. I've never played a Slient Hill, because Resident Evil was just hands down million times better in every way. But Homecoming definitely looks pretty good. Still looking forward to Resident Evil 5 more though

AphexSpawn
AphexSpawn

the people complaining about Ph are foolish trolls, any brand is able to have a call card like him and i dont see any one complaining about the same nurses as the other games. what about REs Tyrants or hunters. Its looks great an i love the fact their bringing ph back, alot looks like a more SH movie esq look i like it.

ecs33
ecs33

@radiationboyy: People like PH long before the movie came out. I do agree with you though on the part about the originality. PH was SH2 and should probably be just SH2. When I first noticed that PH was in this one I was shocked and excited. Then 5 minutes later I remembered how symbolic PH was to SH2 and how it doesn't make alot of sense that he is in this one (unless there is some connection to the SH2 protagonist in this game...maybe!!) Who knows what is in store for us. I won't judge until I play through the game myself.

Aurey
Aurey

Never played a Silent Hill before, I prefered Resident Evil. This one looks interesting, though.

n3ck
n3ck

nothing new, i'll pass

radiationboyy
radiationboyy

Oh wow - Pyramid Head :/ Epic originality...this game doesn't have it. Pyramid Head fantards should bugger off and leave the series alone. It was great when it was just Silent Hill 1,2,3 and even 4...but the movie really reeled in the worst kind of emo-teen fans.

meowww
meowww

baahhhh, same Ideas

MG_GEKKO
MG_GEKKO

Maybe because this was the link from the front page? P.s I am getting this for the PS3 lol.