Silent Hill Homecoming is a Weird Game

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.

15 thoughts on “Silent Hill Homecoming is a Weird Game

  1. I also had difficulty with health and save points. I ended up having to run past a lot of enemies (whereas I prefer to usually clear them out), and I found that they would close off save points so I couldn’t backtrack to ensure I didn’t lose progress if I died-really frustrating. Overall I found this game resolved a lot of problems I had with other Silent Hills (like having item placement be more obvious, and greatly improved combat); I think if they had ironed out the health and save issues it would have been almost perfect.

  2. “I ended up having to run past a lot of enemies (whereas I prefer to usually clear them out)”

    And this is exactly the problem with Homecoming: the problem isn’t the game, it’s the way people play it. You’re not supposed to stop and kill every monster.

    I always found it ridiculous how you were always carying literaly hundreds of bullets and dozens of health items all the time in other Silent Hill games.
    It was fixed here for the better.

  3. Not being able to kill all the monsters in an area (and the one I’m specifically referring to is the police station with all the Schisms) is that now I can’t explore and find all the items. I missed out on these things *because* I wasn’t able to kill the enemies. I’m not a very good gamer, and prefer to play games on a easy difficulty setting-since there was none for Homecoming, I had to read up on tips to defeat enemies and check faqs to make sure I wasn’t missing important items like serums. If the point is not to kill every monster, then I should be able to evade them enough to still explore-this was not the case.

    I purchase Silent Hill games because I enjoy the atmosphere and storyline-not because I want to play something difficult. Just because I’m not as good a gamer as others doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t get as much a benefit out of the game with the money I spend on them as those who are hard-core gamers.

  4. Part of the atmosphere of a survival horror game is the fright factor. If you’re mowing things down like a lawn mower, there’s not much to be afraid of.

  5. Sorry about the triple post. I refreshed the page and the 2nd one appeared. Thinking it was an odd glitch, I refreshed again thinking the 2nd one would go away, but the 3rd one appeared instead. 🙁

  6. For me, the atmosphere (sights, sounds, and feedback on controller) are what scare me, not the fact that there are still enemies around. I’m playing Silent Hill: Shattered Memories right now, and I still find the parts in between “nightmares” to still be very scary, even though I know there are no enemies.

  7. I’m so glad you felt the same way about the Hell Descent, Chris! I loved the entire section, and even though it chunks you back in to exploring after that, I felt the boss fight gave that niche in the game a nice close.

    I have agree with Ness… if you’re having problems searching the town for items because of the monsters you are problem going about it wrong. You don’t have to kill all the monsters you come across, all you have to do is learn to DODGE. The first time I played I tried to kill everything and struggled most of the game, only to realize that most of the creatures are easy enough to weave around and still explore. The only place where I have trouble using this tactic is in the Police Station, where the Schisms always seem to overwhelm me.

  8. The part with the Schisms in the Police Station is specifically where I was running into problems. 😉

  9. The police station was the difficulty spike area that I alluded to in the previous post. Seems like I wasn’t the only person who struggled there.

  10. The police station has it’s moments but I always felt the sewers were much harder.

    Like some above have said dodging is a big part of getting through the overworld. The other half is knowing which enemy is weak to which weapon and positioning yourself for an instant kill.

    I didn’t find the save points such a chore playing as realising (like many of you have said) that a lot of the enemies need to be avoided as opposed to killing, once you get used to this and run through certain sections (sewers especially) then the game is easier to digest.

    I also found that learning to dodge attacks is essential, again something I don’t normally bother with in games.

    And yes, that bit in the police station almost made me take the game out and never play it again, a brutal difficulty spike that I got through by the skin of my teeth, that section almost completely ruined the game for me.

    Once I got used to how the developer intended me to play it however, I found it a great experience.

  12. I thought the sewers were a breather compared to the Police Station. The sewers are more open and the monsters there are scattered so that they don’t overwhelm you, and there weren’t any schisms to grab me and deal instant death… Also, Elle was always smart enough to stay back while I was walking so I never had to worry about her.

    And I pretty much agree with everything you said, Shane. The save points weren’t a problem for me, but I’m also not crunched for time like some of you are, so I can see the concern there.

  13. I have every Silent Hill game to date, and I started to grow bored with the series after The Room. Shattered Memories is on its way to me, so I cannot comment on that, although I heard it is rather good. I really have to agree with the pacing of Homecoming. It is awful. Also, it is so dark in parts that you struggle to see what you are doing much of the time. I know that being in the dark is supposed to make it more authentic and creepy. But the lighting is so poor, you end up just running in circles. And I didn’t find Origins or Homecoming as great as the first trilogy. Although Shattered Memories is more of a remake than a sequel of sorts.

  14. It’s just not a good game, it’s the only Silent Hill I can’t get motivated to finish. I even replayed Silent Hill 4! The PSN store needs to get the rest of the original Silent Hill games (they only have the first one up for sale) for purchase and then it’s time to relive some memories!

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