The latest installment hits the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 for the first time with dream sequences, antagonistic “Order” and harrowing decisions made by the player, yielding five possible endings. Players follow a deep story involving Alex Shepherd (voiced by actor/voice talent Brian Bloom) who seeks to resolve the disappearance of his brother Joshua. It’s a family affair as Alex’s mom, Lillian, and father, Adam, are also involved. A local deputy named Wheeler, looking a bit like Forest Whitaker, and Alex’s childhood friend Elle Holloway round out the cast.
The strong graphics provide great visuals as developers really ramp up the action with some brutal and gory action sequences. The lighting effects cut through objects to make some unique shadows, giving you a constant feeling of fright, yet the dark settings can make important items easy to miss. And then the monsters come. These aberrations range in quickness and strength, prompting an equally eclectic fighting system.
The fighting system requires rhythm and selective strategies with grappling, evading and fast or strong attacks. The evasive roll works well as a last resort as this fighting system matches our main character, who is a special forces expert, well. The L1 button lets players scroll through the handy inventory wheel for replenishing items while L2 runs through the weapons. The weapon reloading and backing up take some time, but the graphics don’t slow down or freeze even when battling multiple enemies.
Once the danger is gone, players still have to work at progression by taking off boards and other materials that block pathways. Backtracking for specific items can be frustrating, so grab everything you can as you progress through the varied, but eerie settings including the hotel, sewers, power plant, junkyard and lair — yep lair.
The gameplay includes challenging puzzles (don’t look for much help on these ones) and alternate endings (five total), based on player decisions made throughout the game (an effective replay booster), along with the familiar creature confrontations. The soundtrack from Akira Yamaoka enhances this installment, the sixth in the series, with emotional stretches of strings and other haunting arrangements.
This game plays out like a scary movie with player ability to get more involved in the story with expanded interactions, plus key plot choice producing the multiple endings. This survival horror series does not show any signs of slowing down, especially with another Silent Hill movie slated for 2010.
Silent Hill: Homecoming is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, and Sexual Themes. This game can also be found on Xbox 360.