While this review has sounded negative so far, Homecoming
does have some plus points. Even if you're not a veteran of the series, the fact that Homecoming
's story is tangential to that of previous games in the series means that it's easy to follow. Alex is a likeable and reasonably dynamic character too. If you persevere for long enough, his back story is interesting. The controls work well too.
The problems though are twofold; firstly, Homecoming
's design is hopelessly outmoded compared to more ambitious, modern titles. The fact is that it's hopelessly cliched and has no sense of drama or idea of how to tell a story, which kills any sense of supense which might mitigate the pedestrian nature of the gameplay as a whole.
What's more, even though I share a name with the protagonist – meaning that the cut scenes and weird whisperings in the background could actually be directly addressed to me – Homecoming
simply isn’t scary, at all. It’s just as dull and drab as you'd expect a small ash-caked town in nondescript America to be.
There's little that's surprising about the actual plot too, which is unfortunate given that in the past the imaginative narrative is what has made the Silent Hill
games stand out. The story in Homecoming
only manages to make the supernatural seem hopelessly pedestrian.
Good pieces of horror are a blend of the familiar with the strange - it's this combination that makes them fascinating. Homecoming
's environments - the grungy hospital, the house that's straight out of the Amityville Horror, the deserted playground - all seem as humdrum as the vegetable section of your average supermarket. Though they're meant to be the strange part of the formula, the reality is that they are such cliches that they end up as the familiar - leaving the equation unbalanced and the tension ruined.
The puzzles are clearly designed solely to keep you occupied, and the combat grates. The game lacks creative thinking in all the key areas and as a result it’s hard to imagine who’s really going to enjoy playing it. Capcom has spoken about how it plans to reboot
the Resident Evil
series; on the evidence of Homecoming
, Konami needs to do the same for the Silent Hill