I just put another solid four hours into Silent Hill Homecoming, and man, the game is weird. Not the story or the game content itself–that part is sort of run-of-the-mill Silent Hill fare. It’s the pacing that’s all weird. I only found one serum in the first six hours, for example, and this evening in the space of an hour I picked up four more. Characters are introduced and then quickly vanish, and are subsequently gone for hours at a time. I keep getting the feeling that I’m not playing the game the way that the designers intended (although, to be fair, the game is also sometimes gives misleading objectives). The placement of health items and ammo is also weird–I made it through two bosses with only one or two health drinks the entire time. It’s really annoying to limp around for hours at a time. Even the Otherworld transitions seem to be irregularly organized on the game’s timeline.
But it’s the save spot placement that throws me for a loop more than anything else. Four hours of play this evening and I only saved three times–and I didn’t once continue. That means each play session requires at least an hour to get to the next save spot, which is stupid! I suspect that the designers expected continues to compensate for distantly-placed saves, but in my case, I rarely have this much time to play. I have no beef with save spots but damn, they could be just a tad more frequent.
The result is that I am never sure how close I am to the wire. Maybe that’s the goal–to keep me off balance and guessing. It sort of sucks, though; I’m having trouble deciding how to ration my health and ammo because the narrative beats are so irregular.
Otherwise, the game is pretty good. This evening I made it through the Doctor Fitch section, which was absolutely phenomenal–the best Silent Hill descent / otherworld / boss sequence I’ve played since Silent Hill 2, I think (although Silent Hill 3 is a strong contender).
It’s just that, I played this fantastic section, beat the boss at the end of it, got deposited back in the town, B-lined for the next objective, and then… walked around for 30 minutes trying to find a save point. I fortunately found one before it was too late, but man, if I had been killed by some stray zombie dog (of which there seem to be an infinite supply), I would have lost close to two hours of play.
In for a penny, in for a pound. I’ll finish it, hopefully soon. But playing it is a trade-off, like a cool-looking jacket that has a label in the collar that occasionally scratches the hell out of your neck.