Video Game: Silent Hill: Homecoming
Welcome home, Alex.
"So difficult to remember.
"The warm sunlight dancing on the water, the smell of cotton candy in the air, and the sound of wind blowing through the trees."Silent Hill: Homecoming
is the fifth main title in the Silent Hill
series, which swung back and forth between Silent Hill V
and Silent Hill: Homecoming
before settling on the latter. It is the second Silent Hill
game to be produced by an American company.
The main character this time around is Alex Shepherd, a Special Forces soldier
who has been discharged from the hospital and sent home after being wounded in battle. Arriving in his hometown of Shepherd's Glen, he finds that all is not right with the world: the town is covered in fog, people (including his younger brother Josh) are disappearing, his father has left to look for his brother, and his mother is catatonic. The dark forces of Silent Hill soon infect the town proper, transforming it into a nightmarish otherworld where Alex must struggle to survive against hordes of monsters and waves of increasingly obtuse symbolism... as well as a group of mysterious cultists who seem to bear a grudge against him.
Joining Alex on his quest is Elle (a childhood friend who is trying to survive) and Wheeler (the sheriff's deputy who just wants to get to the bottom of things). Along the way, Alex encounters several more characters — including an Expy
of everyone's favorite monster, Pyramid Head.
This installment is tied in several ways to the series's roots: it does away with inventory limitations (except for a cap on ammunition), it has breakable weapons, and it also features other characteristics of the more recent games
. It has a similar atmosphere to Silent Hills 1
(straight up horror without the lingering melancholy of the second game
), and it continues the series tradition of multiple endings (at least one of which is as absurd as you would expect). Alex's military past makes the combat more complex, with melee combos and dodging attacks being a major element of the gameplay. Unlike previous series protagonists, Alex can also actually aim firearms, which comes in handy.
This game has a Shout Out
Tropes specific to this game:
- Abandoned Playground: There's one near the Shepherd's home.
- Abandoned Hospital:
- Alchemilla Hospital, which first appears in Alex's nightmare as an asylum and then in the real world as a more conventional medical facility.
- Dr. Fitch's office is just a tiny medical clinic, and when you transition to the Otherworld within it, you find yourself descending a series of rusty staircases that look nothing like a hospital even in general layout. However, you find many signs and instructions on the walls that you'd see in a hospital, including things like "You may be required to provide a urine sample" or visiting hours times.
- Abusive Parents: It's blatantly obvious that Alex's parents loved Joshua more and constantly treated Alex like dirt. This is because Alex was to be sacrificed and they didn't want to become attached to a doomed child. It is also revealed that they both did genuinely love Alex, in spite of their attempts not to. Many of the other parents could also qualify, although they don't really have a choice about killing their kids. Judge Holloway, however, is perfectly happy to hurt both her children.
- Also, Alex ends up (accidentally) drowning Josh over a family ring, and after that the peace of the town is ruined. Another reason why Alex's dad hates him.
- Accidental Murder: Alex's argument/fight with Josh over their family's signet ring indirectly led to the latter's death.
- Adaptation Distillation: More accurately, a distillation of what worked in a previous adaptation. The "flaking off" effect used in the Silent Hill film adaption to depict the transition to the Otherworld was lifted to be used in this game, as were a few Gas Mask Mooks and the Nurses. The Bogeyman also resembles the film's version of Pyramid Head.
- All Just a Dream: The "Hospital" ending.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Shepherd's Glen police station being invaded by Schisms, and the Order attacking and abducting the townspeople.
- And I Must Scream: The "Bogeyman" and "Hospital" endings.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Of the "parental love" variety: Lillian finally tells Alex she really does love him before she dies.
- Apocalyptic Log: Certain areas are littered with creepy notes left behind by doomed patients and inmates. Unlike most other Silent Hill games, you can't actually collect these. You do get to collect mysterious photographs and disturbing children's drawings.
- Arc Number: 206.
- Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Everyone but Wheeler and Alex knows something about whats going on in Silent Hill, but refuse to give any helpful advise to Alex. Justified with Judge Holloway, as she has already defected to The Order.
- Body Horror: All of the monsters, in true Silent Hill fashion. Lurkers, Siams, and Asphyxia come to mind.
- Bowdlerise: The Australian release of the game (after initially being banned) had several scenes altered in an attempt to make them seem less violent. During the torture scene, a hospital bed is placed in front of the camera, obscuring the drill penetrating Alex's leg. Shortly after, when Alex shoves the drill through Judge Holloway's jaw, the screen is changed to black with only the sound left intact. In addition, when Holloway falls to the floor, the drill is missing entirely. Also, when Adam is killed by the Bogeyman, the gory remains vanish altogether.
- Bloodier and Gorier: This is the goriest of all the Silent Hill games.
- Boring but Practical: For all the numerous weapons and techniques Alex has access to, the easiest way to take down most enemies is equipping the knife and spamming light attacks at them until they drop.
- Buried Alive: Mayor Bartlett's son, amateur botanist Joey.
- Call Back: This game has some references to Silent Hill 2, not counting Pyramid Head. For killing a Siam, you get a trophy called "Shade of James". Siam looks like two people having sex, and James had major issues with his suppressed sexuality. For killing a feral, a dog-like monster, you get a trophy called "Eddie's Legacy". Likely a reference to Eddie Dombrowski, who killed a dog. Also, the woman you meet in the hotel may be a reference to Mary, James' wife. If you ask who would leave her there, she says not to blame whoever left her. She continues to say it's hard to watch someone die; Mary from Silent Hill 2 was dying and her husband suffered watching her die. And finally, if you choose not to forgive Alex's father you get the trophy "Angela's Choice". Angela murdered her father for all the abuse he heaped on her, thus she didn't forgive him.
- Also, the boss Scarlet, who is a doll, is likely a reference to Alessa's doll Scarlet that you find in Alessa's room from Silent Hill 3.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Alex to Adam when they meet in the Church.
- Cassandra Truth: Thankfully averted. Wheeler believes Alex when he tells him that a monster killed Mayor Bartlett, as Wheeler has run into monsters himself.
Wheeler: "...So, you've seen the creatures too?"
- Chekhov's Gun: The ceremonial dagger. Alex uses it to open Adam's hunting room and other places, as well as to cut Amnion open to get Joshua's body.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Not to a ridiculous extent, but Alex is definitely the most foul-mouthed Silent Hill protagonist so far — not that anyone can blame him.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Deputy Wheeler is one of these.
- Controllable Helplessness: The initial cutscene of the Nightmare Hospital, getting arrested, and the struggle against Judge Holloway.
- Creepy Basement: Averted with the Shepherds' basement, which is flooded and inhabited by a nasty creature or two but positively well-lit compared to other areas of the game.
- Creepy Child: Josh, Alex's missing brother who's always running away whenever he sees him and acts rather hostile to him during the few times he speaks. Of course, this being a Silent Hill game, we can't always trust what we see to be real; by most accounts, every time we see Josh in a flashback or some such, he's a pretty nice kid. The Josh we see in-game is a manifestation.
- Creepy Doll:
- Cruel and Unusual Death:
- Alex's mother will suffer a particularly nasty death if the player doesn't select the option to shoot her and put her out of her misery.
- Adam is slowly sliced in half by the Bogeyman.
- Judge Holloway ends up with her own drill shoved through the bottom of her jaw.
- All of the deaths of the children are downright nasty, but poor Scarlet was dismembered alive.
- Dark World: The Otherworld, a recurring element of SH.
- Death by Falling Over: The entire game is kicked off because this happens to Josh. Though, watching the cutscene closely shows that he seemed to have hit his head on the way down.
- Distressed Damsel: Elle Holloway.
- Downer Ending: The "Drowning", "Bogeyman", and "Hospital" endings do not end well for Alex.
- Easily Forgiven: This can happen in the Church if Alex chooses to forgive his father for all the things he has done. Silent Hill, on the other hand, isn't as forgiving.
- Elevator Action Sequence: In the Grand Hotel. There's a reason someone just happened to drop a box of ammunition in there.
- Escort Mission:
- Alex escorts Elle through the sewers of Shepherd's Glen and the bunker of the Church of the Holy Way.
- Inverted for the Shepherd's Glen Police Station and the Otherworld version of the Overlook Penitentiary with Deputy Wheeler, where he blows away any monsters that get near you.
- Expy: The Bogeyman is an expy of Pyramid Head. Hell, he looks so similar that most players assume he is Pyramid Head.
- The newspaper article of Paul Russell Douglas, child serial killer, is an expy of the newspaper article about Walter Sullivan in Silent Hill 2.
- Eldritch Abomination: Sepulcher, Scarlet, Asphyxia and Amnion.
- Eye Scream: Just lose the second struggle with Judge Holloway and see what happens.
- Fan Disservice: Pretty much a staple of the series. The Nurses obviously qualify, but then there's the female half of the Siams...
- Fifteen Puzzle: Shows up a couple of times. Unfortunately it's randomized, so walkthroughs won't be of any help.
- Foreshadowing: Joshua collected spiders. If you remember back to the photo you pick up in the playground, you might recall that it showed... a giant spider fighting a toy soldier.
- Shine a light on the nurses, look at their stomachs. They're pregnant, foreshadowing the final boss, which is pregnant with Josh's corpse.
- Look at a certain picture in City Hall early on, and Alex states that Elle and Margaret wrote him letters while he was in the army. If you pay attention to the things Elle says when you meet her, it's heavily implied that she has no idea where he's been since he left town, giving an early clue that Alex is an Unreliable Narrator.
- Game-Breaking Bug: So, so many glitches and bugs are found in this game, especially the PS3 version. These range from amusing to making the game Unwinnable, and aren't fixed upon resetting the game, forcing you to either reload an earlier save, or start the whole game over. Here's just a few found in the game:
- Gas Mask Mooks: The Order Soldiers.
- Giant Spider:
- The final boss of the game, Amnion, is a horribly twisted version of this trope, most likely symbolising Josh's love of spiders. See Foreshadowing above.
- Scarlet becomes vaguely spider-like in her movements during the second half of the fight against her.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Near the end of the game, if you don't save Elle in time, you get one of these and a Non-Standard Game Over.
- Groin Attack: The heads of Needlers are between their legs. A headshot kills one instantly, so...
- Half the Man He Used to Be:
- If a Schism manages to grapple and overpower Alex, it will slice him in two with a cruel swing of its bladed head.
- Right after Alex's gurney ride in the intro, you can see through the windowed door the gurney-pusher being impaled and sliced in half by a gigantic blade. Even though you don't see the one using it, it's clearly the Bogeyman's blade, and later in the level, you see the halved man's body in two different locations. The Bogeyman also graphically cuts a more important character in half later in the game.
- Heart Container: Serums. They not only fully heal Alex; they also give him a permanent boost to his maximum health, so it's always best once you find one to use it the next time your health is almost empty.
- Hell Hotel: The Grand Hotel in Silent Hill.
- Hiding Behind Religion: Judge Holloway cares very little for her faith, and more about the power it brings her, and how it allows her to exercise her sociopathic desires. For example through the order, she rules Shepherd's Glen like a despot and murders, or has murdered, anyone who crosses her. She even attempts to have Elle killed, because she won't obey her.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Judge Holloway is killed with her own electric drill.
- Human Sacrifice: When Shepherd's Glen was founded, these had to be performed every 50 years to appease the Order's god. The major monsters in the game are the vengeful spirits of several children who were murdered by their parents for this reason, and the entire game happens because Alex's parents reneged on their part and refused to do the same to him.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Alex's mother is strapped to a torture contraption set up by the Order. Before it activates, she begs Alex to kill her so she won't have to feel being ripped apart. The choice is in the player's hands, and affects the ending.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Judge Holloway's death by drill.
- Infant Immortality: Averted.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: The first time you enter the playground behind Alex's house, some unseen Creepy Child can be heard singing in the distance. The actual words are a random phrase from "Ring Around the Rosie".
- There's also the Bogeyman Nursery Rhyme, an original written by Tomm Hulett.
- Kill the Ones You Love: In order to have a chance at getting the good ending, you have to kill Alex's mother in order to stop her suffering.
- Also, Mayor Bartlett and Doctor Fitch were forced to sacrifice their own children as part of the pact. Judge Holloway did the same; however, unlike the former two, she didn't seem to feel any guilt about killing Nora.
- Karma Houdini:
- Narrowly avoided. It soon becomes apparent that the bosses are the vengeful spirits of the children murdered by their parents; each appears in the Otherworld, and each appears moments after the parent in question touches an object that was precious to their child.
- Judge Holloway is the only one who manages to get away before being killed by the monster summoned by her daughter's locket. However, she later gets killed by Alex in an extremely brutal fashion.
- Magic Feather: The game features a much more robust combat system, such as incorporating rolls and a dodge move, supposedly because the main character is an ex-military veteran rather than a normal Joe. However, late in the game, it's revealed your character was never in the military, but is rather a delusional mental patient who's been locked up in an asylum since he was a teenager. Maybe. So, apparently, he was only a Badass Normal because he believed he was a Badass Normal.
- It was eventually revealed that Adam had actually trained Alex in combat.
- Medal of Dishonor: A rather bizarre twist on this. A document notes that Alex's father received a Good Conduct medal, a Purple Heart, and a Silver Star during his time in the Army. A puzzle shortly thereafter requires Alex to pin the medals on a uniform. However, the actual puzzle exists in the nightmarish "Otherworld", and the awards are turned is dark spin on normal American military honors. They contrast Adam's excellent military service record with the lousy way he treated his family (particularly Alex) as well as Alex and his actions:
- The Heart of Darkness (Purple Heart) is for "permitting others to suffer" for allowing the townspeople of Shepherd's Glen to be kidnapped, killed, and brainwashed by the Order and Alex allowing others to suffer because of his actions.
- The Vile Acts (Good Conduct) award is for "atrocities committed", is for treating Alex poorly and Alex killing Joshua. It even looks like Pyramid Head's helmet.
- Fallen Star (Silver Star) is for "dereliction in the line of duty" is for failing to sacrifice Alex and Alex not fulfilling his role as the sacrifice.
- Mook Chivalry: For whatever reason, an enemy at your back will rarely attack if you're wailing on an enemy to your front.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Lurkers, as well as Scarlet's monstrous form.
- Multiple Endings: As per Silent Hill tradition...
- Good Ending: Alex defeats Amnion, is reunited with Elle, and leaves Silent Hill.
- Drowning: Alex awakens in the bathtub in his house. His father walks in and pushes him under, reassuring him that with his death, Joshua can carry on the family legacy.
- Bogeyman: Alex awakens strapped to a chair and is transformed by two Bogeymen into one of them.
- Hospital: Alex awakens in the mental hospital, where he is told he must accept reality and responsibility for his actions, then he is administered electroshock therapy. It is revealed that he is the patient in room 206.
- UFO: Alex defeats Amnion, is reunited with Elle, and they are abducted by aliens.
- Mythology Gag: Just as you get into the Shepherds' backyard, you see a little abandoned doghouse, and Alex will wonder where the dog is. Guess what the next enemy type is.
- Alex has to reach into a sinister-looking hole in the wall to get an important key item, just like James in Silent Hill 2.
- Neutral Female: Due to the particulars of gameplay, the only thing Elle will help with is lifting gates. Alex can be swarmed by cultists, and she will just stand by.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: The "Child's Drawing" items scattered throughout the game are full of Joshua's messy crayon depictions of injury, torture, sickness, and death. On each is scrawled a different verse of a nursery rhyme about the "Bogeyman", who punishes naughty children.
And while good children live, bad ones cannot escape their fate. For once you hear his screeching wail, it's already too late. So do not cry aloud at night, stay hidden in your bed... or the Bogeyman from Silent Hill will come chop off your head.
- Nothing Is Scarier: As always with the Silent Hill franchise, some of the most unnerving moments are where you're just exploring the desolate areas rather than fighting monsters. In fact, many of the Otherworld areas in Homecoming are surprisingly monster-free.
- In regards to the soundtrack, "Shores of Silent Hill" is just the sound of wind blowing, while "Whispers" is, of course, a bunch of whispering. Both are ridiculously unnerving, in the game and out of it.
- Ominous Fog: Another Silent Hill staple, as well as the ominously static-filled screen in darker areas and the Otherworld.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Alex has no problem walking and running as normal after Judge Holloway shoves a drill through his leg. Strangely, he's clearly having trouble supporting his own weight in the good ending, after fighting several elite mooks, a crazy guy with a power saw, and the final boss.
- Our Monsters Are Different: Homecoming is rife with monstrosities that crawl, drag, run, slither, and scurry for a chance to rip our protagonist limb from limb. A few examples:
- Lurker - Monster with scythe-like claws, fused torso, and a Vagina Dentata mouth. Emerges from water only for an agile strike.
- Needler - Fleshy, insectile creature with legs and arms replaced with sharp blades to walk around. A shark-mawed head rears between its double-jointed limbs.
- Siam - A hulking beast that appears as a man and woman fused back-to-back with bondage gear. Her bound arms jut over his head like a fleshy horn. Symbolic?
- Peek-A-Boo Corpse: One smashes through the ceiling in the prologue and swings wetly to and fro, suspended by cables wrapped around its legs. While the typical Scare Chord is absent, it's more shocking given that it happens in a hallway you navigated in peace just a minute before.
- Luckily, this scene becomes hilarious if the graphics glitch.
- Previous Player-Character Cameo: That trucker who gives Alex a lift in the intro? That's Travis from Silent Hill Origins, older and wiser.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "WHERE?! IS?! MY?! BROTHER?!"
- Rain of Blood: Either type 2 or 3, depending on your interpretation. Upon entering the Otherworld side of the penitentiary, you'll notice that the ceiling in the solitary confinement wing drips blood. You'll know why.
- Religion of Evil: Notable in that this is the first and so far only game where the Order actively sends Mooks to fight the protagonist rather than watching from the shadows.
- Ret Canon: See "Adaptation Distillation".
- Room Full of Crazy: Several places, most notably in the prison where almost every single cell is covered with graffiti ranging from the cautionary to the unhinged. Sometimes comes in the form of a Madness Mantra:
she's not here she's not here she's not here she's not here
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: It's implied that Alex is one. No, he's crazy for a different reason. The soldier delusion was actually a cover for his mental illness.
- Stepford Suburbia/Subverted Innocence: Turned Up to Eleven and made a lot Bloodier and Gorier; Shepherd's Glen is a town where family comes first... and then, as you begin learning more about the lives of the families of Shepherd's Glen... you make discoveries which can be considered unpleasant.
- Strapped to an Operating Table: How Alex starts off the game.
- Stopped Clock: All the clocks in the town are stopped at 2:06.
- Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Shortly before the final boss fight, the game provides Alex with three health drinks in the same room. Nope, not suspicious at all.
- Third Person Flashback: Averted, as all flashbacks is in the first person.
- This Is a Drill: Judge Holloway's torture implement of choice.
- Token Minority/Uncle Tom Foolery: Deputy Wheeler.
- Too Awesome to Use: Averted thanks to the inventory limitations. Because you can only carry a loaded clip and two clips in reserve for each of your guns, you'll end up passing up ammo if you don't actively use your firearms. Ammo is still scarce, though, so it make sense to use melee weapons when you can.
- The Unfavorite: Alex, had a horrible childhood. By fathers own admission "He reduced fatherhood to a chore: fed him, clothed him, and put him to bed on routine. Then when God blessed me with a second son, he might as well have been a stranger sleeping in our house...I treated the dog with more respect." The reality was far worse, as Adam was both physically and mentally abusive in a variety of ways. He is shown in flashbacks to explode at Alex for the slightest of reasons, and made up rules on the spot just to lash out. Adam had such little respect for him, he never even gave him a full name, just dubbing him Alex for convenience. Finally he forbade Josh and Alex from becoming friends, deliberately driving a wedge between them. His mother wasn't much better as she silently tolerated everything. This was because Alex, was chosen as the sacrifice for the Shepard Family, and they didn't want to get attached. Still they never even told him why, or what he was. Meaning one day they were just going to drown him and call it good.
- Unreliable Narrator: Alex, as it turns out.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: Alex is unable to pick up the weapons wielded by the Order's soldiers.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Alex, overlaps with Spanner in the Works. When the founders left Silent Hill to found Shepard's Glenn, The Order made them swear to perform a human sacrifice every 50 years to appease their God. In the case of the Shepard Family, Alex. However, when Alex accidentally kills his brother Josh, his parents cannot bear to lose him too, and refuse to sacrifice him. This breaks the pact, and causes Silent Hill to invade Shepard's Glenn; triggering the events of the game.
- Alex giving Judge Holloway her necklace back allows her to figure out that Elle stole it from her. This is the final straw between Elle and her, and promptly orders Elle's death.
- The Voice: Carol Doyle, the mysterious woman in the Grand Hotel who asks Alex to return her "memories", is heard but never seen, hidden inside a locked room.
- Violation of Common Sense: Special mention must go to a guy who comes home to an empty house, finds his mother in a BSOD state, goes down to see what she was after in the basement, is soon in knee-high water and getting attacked by a corpse-like monster with teeth for a face, and then decides his most pressing mission at the moment is... figuring out how to pump out the basement. He even keeps his eye on this goal after getting attacked by two more similar monsters outside.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In the good ending, you don't find out what happened to Wheeler if you chose to save him near the end of the game.
- And, seriously, what happened to all the townspeople? The Order kidnapped them, and then what? Are they dead? Locked up? Will Alex save them? Whoops, there's the credits.
- Judging by the look of, and notes in, the penultimate area, it is safe to assume they were all killed by the Order in a desperate attempt to appease their god.
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Alex's reaction to encountering a Needler for the first time.