Konami’s flagship scary series has finally returned, making its PS3 debut in suitably terrifying style. Every aspect from the classic creepy game has been given a stunning overhaul, resulting in a spooky and gruesome adventure into the depths of PlayStation’s most haunted town: Silent Hill.
Silent Hill: Homecoming’s central character is Alex Shepherd, a discharged soldier who is haunted by horribly disturbing dreams of his brother, Joshua, that plague him even when he is awake, eventually leading him back to his home town after the game’s terrifying opening that sets in motion Homecoming’s gripping narrative.
Upon arriving back to the Glen, he soon discovers that the town has been engulfed by some sort of strange phenomena. People are missing, including his father and brother and the streets are cloaked in an ominous fog that hides within it strange and monstrous creatures of the night. Once you begin to explore and investigate your surroundings, you soon begin to unravel the dark secrets that the town and its people are hiding including its connection to the dreaded Silent Hill.
For fans of the series there are a few brief cameos to watch out for including a mention of Cybil from the first Silent Hill game on PS one and the giant, man-monster Pyramid Head, who is more famous than ever before thanks to the equally spooky film adaptation of the game released in 2006.
Alex, because of his background, is more equipped for combat than the previous Silent Hill characters, which makes for more visceral moments of combat and action with the game’s many monsters and creatures that stalk the halls and streets of Silent Hill and Shepherd’s Glen. You have the ability to wield heavy and light attacks, or charge each one up to perform devastating hits that inflict a decidedly large amount of damage.
Once you’ve mastered this, you can then chain them together to form even more powerful combos, which become invaluable against the game’s larger enemies. Alex can dodge attacks and switch targets on the fly using the right stick on your Wireless Controller, and once he’s successfully avoided an incoming attack, he has the ability to counter this. And you’re not just going to wield your fists; Alex can pick up an array of weapons including pistols, axes, iron bars, knives and shotguns, all of which can be upgraded as you progress through the deep storyline.
Of course, the game is far more than just action set pieces like this. As you traverse each environment you’ll have to cut through doors using button prompts, perform Quick Time Executions and gather a large number of items such as photographs and drawings that are stored in Alex’s journal to help you piece together the terror tale. There are also plenty of puzzles in keeping with what the series is revered for, each one presenting its own unique and brain-teasing challenge that will try and test your solving skills.
You can also steer your conversations with each character you meet in Silent Hill and Shepherd’s Glen through the newly implemented dialogue branching system. This offers up a novel and refreshing approach to engrossing you in the story, choosing your response as you see fit and ultimately prompting various retorts, be they hostile or friendly, from those you meet along the way.
Taking cues from both the feature film version and past titles, and wrapping it up in a eerie High Definition world populated by stunning visuals, morbid creatures and the series trademark haunting music performed by Akira Yamaoka, Silent Hill: Homecoming is a haunted tour that will have even the most hardened survival horror fans cowering behind the sofa. Just remember, you can always turn on the lights.