Silent Hill: Homecoming
Silent Hill: Homecoming is the sixth installment in the Silent Hill series. The game was released on September 30, 2008 for the PS3 and Xbox 360 and on November 6, 2008 for the PC in North America. All versions were simultaneously released in Europe on February 27, 2009. Initially, the game was banned in Australia, but was later released with the MA15+ rating and censored graphics. The Japanese release of the game was canceled entirely.
The story follows Alex Shepherd, a young man in his early twenties, who returns to his hometown of Shepherd’s Glen following a supposed military discharge and time spent in a hospital for combat related injuries. Alex returns home only to find that his father and younger brother, Joshua, have vanished without a trace, as have many others throughout the town. He finds his mother in a depressive, near catatonic state. Alex searches through the town for his missing brother while uncovering the causes behind the strange events and the dark secrets of the neighboring town of Silent Hill.
As the game begins, the echoes of heavy artillery and explosions can be heard. The game’s protagonist, Alex Shepherd, is bound to a gurney and being wheeled through a dilapidated hospital; a silent doctor pushes him down a dimly lit hallway, and they pass by rooms in which doctors are committing strange and horrifying acts upon patients (including dismemberment, strangulation and live burial). Once wheeled into a room and left alone, Alex struggles with his restraints as the doctor leaves the room and through the blurred glass of the double doors, Alex watches in horror as a mysterious assailant impales the doctor with a giant blade. After breaking free from his restraints, Alex ventures further through the hospital and encounters his brother, Joshua Shepherd, drawing with crayons. Upon request, Alex retrieves a rabbit doll for his brother.
However, Joshua runs away and continues doing so whenever Alex gets close to him. Further progressing through the hospital, Alex follows Joshua’s trail into an elevator. During its descent, Alex hears the screeching of metal, and the elevator car shakes violently before a huge blade (similar to the one that impaled the doctor earlier on) is thrust through the door towards him.
Awakening from a nightmare, a startled Alex realizes that it was only a dream as he sits in the passenger seat of an 18-wheeler driven by Travis Grady (the protagonist of Silent Hill: Origins). Arriving at Shepherd’s Glen, Travis says “Good luck, soldier.” This, along with Alex’s military jacket and the sounds of warfare heard in the beginning of the game, imply that Alex is a soldier returning home from war. Having been dropped off in his hometown of Shepherd’s Glen, Alex discovers that the town is not the same as he left it — thick fog covers the town, all the streets are in a state of heavy disrepair, and almost no people can be found. Alex encounters Margaret Holloway, a judge and the mother of his childhood friend, Elle Holloway. Both Alex and Judge Holloway are descendants of the four families that founded Shepherd’s Glen hundreds of years ago (Shepherd, Holloway, Fitch, and Bartlett). Shepherd’s Glen is, in fact, named after Alex Shepherd’s own ancestor. Judge Holloway seems surprised to see Alex and tells him to go see his mother.
Arriving at his childhood home, Alex notices many pictures of his parents with Joshua which, oddly, do not feature himself. Alex comments to himself about his parents’ behavior, feeling that his parents had always favored his brother over him. Alex finds his mother, Lillian, in a near catatonic state. After telling Alex that she misses Joshua and that his father has gone to look for him, Lillian refuses to speak to Alex any further. Alex notices his father’s revolver on his mother’s lap, and he takes it from her before leaving. Alex suddenly hears a noise from the basement and heads toward the sound. While investigating the basement, Alex comes across a room that his father, Adam, uses to butcher the animals that he hunts, prompting him to have a flashback. In the flashback, young Alex opens the door to his father’s hunting room, causing his father to turn around and scold him fiercely. After leaving the house, Alex eventually finds himself traveling through a graveyard near his house, and while there, he sees two tombs belonging to two of the town’s founding families.
Alex eventually encounters his childhood friend, Elle Holloway, outside of the Police Department putting up missing persons fliers. She is preoccupied and upset, and she seems cross with Alex for leaving for the military without ever saying goodbye to her. After talking with him, she gives Alex a walkie talkie, and Alex continues his search for Joshua. Alex then finds his way to a junkyard belonging to Curtis Ackers, the town mechanic, whom he asks for information. Alex gives Curtis his father’s revolver as thanks for his help and Curtis gives Alex a handgun, claiming that he likes a fair trade. Alex then leaves and heads to the tomb of the Bartlett family, one of the four founding families, where he finds a watch. A siren sounds, causing him to blackout. When he comes to, he finds that he has been mysteriously moved to the neighboring town of Silent Hill. There, he sees his brother run into an abandoned hotel. Following Joshua into the building, Alex is stalked by numerous monsters before encountering a humanoid creature with a large, metal, pyramid shaped mask locked over its head: the Bogeyman. The Bogeyman notices Alex, who is hiding behind a shoddy barricade of broken furniture and turns to stare at him briefly before moving on. After this encounter, Alex encounters Sam Bartlett, the mayor of Shepherd’s Glen, in a large, circular greenhouse elsewhere in the hotel. Mayor Bartlett, like Alex, is also a descendant of one of the founding families of Shepherd’s Glen. Alex learns that Bartlet’s son, Joey, has also disappeared mysteriously. After questioning Bartlett, Alex is horrified to see a monster, Sepulcher, rise from a hole in the ground and kill the Mayor. Alex manages to kill it, only to fall into Sepulcher’s hole and black out again.
Alex awakes to find himself locked behind bars in a holding cell. The town deputy, James Wheeler, questions him for a while before being convinced of Alex’s good intentions and letting him out of the cell. The two make their way through the Shepherd’s Glen Police Department building, only to be separated. Alex then encounters Elle and they both escape into the sewers where they also eventually become separated. Arriving back on the street, Wheeler radios Alex and tells him to meet up with him so they can find a man named Dr. Fitch, who is also a descendant of one of the four founding families of Shepherd’s Glen. Along the street, Alex finds Fitch and follows him into his clinic, where Alex finds a slightly disturbing collection of dolls before being attacked by a group of Nurses. Alex finds a key which unlocks a small box containing another doll and as he touches it, the floors and walls peel away to reveal a rusted, bloody, metal world: the Otherworld or Nightmare World.
Traveling through the Otherworld version of the clinic, Alex finds Dr. Fitch in a large room where he is seen cutting himself to “repent for his sins”. Alex questions him and learns that Fitch’s daughter, Scarlet, has disappeared as well. Fitch, now going into a state of depression, says that he forgot to bring Scarlet her present. Once Alex hands him his present, Scarlet’s doll, Dr. Fitch’s cuts proceed to multiply. His blood and the doll then transform into a large monster, Scarlet. The monster kills Fitch by biting his head off, and then attempts to do the same to Alex. After defeating the monstrosity, Alex awakens in the clinic, finding a key that leads him to the town hall.
Arriving at City Hall, Alex proceeds to use the key to unlock an underground passage where he finds a Ceremonial Dagger. He also finds portraits of the town’s founders, the heads of four families who left Silent Hill to found Shepherd’s Glen many years ago. Oddly, the portrait of the Shepherd family’s head, Alex’s own ancestor, has been taken down from the wall. Heading back home, Alex discovers that the dagger, aside from being a weapon, is the key that unlocks his father’s hunting room door as well as the other doors featuring the same type of lock. In the hunting room, Alex finds a key that unlocks the attic and there, another flashback scene commences. The scene shows Adam Shepherd, Alex’s father, giving Joshua the family ring; he tells Joshua that the ring has been passed down through generations, is incredibly important and special, and is not to be shown to anyone, even Alex. After the flashback, Alex finds a note written by his father stating that he was told he had to “choose just one of his sons”. Judging by the preferential treatment that Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd have always shown Joshua, the family ring that was secretly given to him, and this mysterious note, it would seem that Joshua has been chosen for some special purpose by his parents and the Order, which is an organized cult that is present in Silent Hill. Alex, with the new-found information from his father’s note, attempts to question his mother about Joshua once again, only to be interrupted by members of the Order who beat Alex and kidnap Lillian. The house then transforms into an Otherworld version of itself, which Alex escapes by solving puzzles involving the past and guilty consciences of each of his family members.
Escaping the house, Alex meets back up with Elle and Wheeler, stating that they must go to Silent Hill to save everyone. While traveling via boat, the Order assaults them and kidnaps Elle and Wheeler, leaving Alex to wash ashore in Silent Hill. Receiving radio calls from Wheeler, Alex is led to the penitentiary where he fights multitudes of monsters and Order members before rescuing Wheeler. Alex asks if he knows where Elle is and Wheeler says that he doesn’t know for sure, but he heard members of the Order talking about taking a woman to the Solitary Confinement block. Traveling deeper into the prison, Alex reaches solitary confinement and instead, finds his mother. Lillian is chained to a crucifix shaped torture device, which is slowly stretching her body beyond its limits. Lillian begs Alex to end her suffering, and the player is given a choice of whether or not to do so. If the player decides not to help her, Lillian is alive and conscious while the torture device tears her body in half. If the player decides to help, Alex mercifully puts a bullet in her brain, killing her right before the machine tears her body apart.
Alex meets back up with Wheeler, and they proceed to travel through the Otherworld version of the penitentiary, finding Elle’s mother, Judge Holloway, strapped to a chair. Alex releases her, but a terrible monster grabs Wheeler through a hole in the wall and pulls him in, prompting the Judge to run. As she leaves, the Judge’s face changes from a feigned expression of fright to reveal a more sinister intent. Alex defeats the monster, Asphyxia, and sees his brother, whom he follows outside and into a church. Inside, the player encounters a shadowy man in a confession booth. The conversation between Alex and the mysterious figure implies that it is Alex’s father, or his conscience, asking for forgiveness for the way that he and his wife have always treated Alex. The figure also speaks more of having been given a choice between his two sons, echoing what was said in the note that Alex found in his attic earlier. He also says that he and his wife have always loved their son, but that they couldn’t show him. They couldn’t let him see the wonderful things in life, like love and laughter. While the reasoning behind this has been strongly hinted at this point in the game, it is still not explicitly stated. The player is then given a choice of whether to forgive this person or not. After solving a puzzle to reveal a door behind an enormous pipe organ, Alex finds his father, Adam, tied up, similar to how he found his mother in the prison.
Alex begins questioning his father as to whether or not he knows where Joshua is and it is revealed that Alex was never a soldier. While he thought, and the player has been lead to believe, that he was in the hospital due to wounds sustained during the war, Alex has actually been in a mental institution. Adam shows Alex the family ring necklace, but does not explain why he has apparently taken it back from Joshua. The Bogeyman appears and slices Adam’s body in half before retreating down a staircase. Following after the Bogeyman, Alex is soon captured by the Order.
Alex awakens to find himself tied to a chair in a large, blood-stained room. Sitting in the room is Judge Holloway, who reveals that the disappearances of all the children were all part of a ritualistic sacrifice system. She reveals that Shepherd’s Glen was founded by four families from Silent Hill, who no longer wanted to take part in the doings of the Order and their demon worship. They were allowed to leave Silent Hill under one condition: every fifty years each of the four families must sacrifice one of their children. This sacrifice has since provided protection to Shepherd’s Glen from the troubles that have been felt in Silent Hill, until now. Holloway reveals that the protection is no longer there because, while three of the families made the sacrifice recently, one family, the Shepherds, failed to do so. Mayor Bartlett sacrificed his son, Joey, Dr. Fitch sacrificed his daughter, Scarlet, and Judge Holloway sacrificed her daughter, Nora. Adam Shepherd was supposed to sacrifice one of his boys, but he didn’t do so. Because of this, the protection from the Order’s god is no more. Holloway goes on to say that there is no longer any choice for the town but to return to the old ways of the Order and Silent Hill. Therefore, she and her fellow faithful have been kidnapping, torturing, and murdering everyone in Shepherd’s Glen that refuse to go along with them. Holloway then begins to torture Alex by running a drill into his thigh and fortunately, he breaks free from his restraints, and turns the drill to Judge Holloway’s eye, killing her.
After running through the Order’s compound for a while, Alex finally finds Elle, who is being tortured. He manages to kill her assailant and frees her. They then find Wheeler tied to a chair with several knives protruding from his abdomen. The player is given a choice of whether or not to save him with a medical kit or to let him die. Regardless of the choice made, Alex then goes on without Elle to face the end alone. Alex pushes further through, finding the tombs of the four families who’s children have been sacrificed throughout the years. On each of the tombs are four names: those of the children who have been sacrificed by each family over the years since the town’s founding. On the Shepherd family tomb, Alex finds his own name, confirming that his parents chose to sacrifice him and let Joshua live, which explains why his parents were so distant and cold toward him, and favored Joshua; they couldn’t bear to love Alex knowing that they would have to kill him one day.
Alex has a flashback: on the night after Adam gave Joshua the family ring, Alex took Joshua out on a boat on Toluca Lake. While there, Alex teased him, whom he felt jealous of due to his parents’ preferential treatment. To counter Alex’s taunts, Joshua showed him the family ring, prompting Alex to grab it in anger. Joshua stood up in the boat, attempting to take the ring back, however, he fell backwards while struggling with Alex and had a concussion on the boat before falling into the lake and drowning. Adam then retrieved Joshua’s body and scolded Alex fiercely, telling him that he doesn’t know what he’s done. He says that they (Adam and Lillian) chose Alex, but now Alex has ruined everything, and that everyone else will suffer for Alex’s mistake. Alex then goes into mental shock right after Adam’s scolding, repeating over in his mind that there was a way he could save Joshua, despite that he was dead. It is implied that many people in the town were told that Alex went off to war rather than that he was institutionalized, as Elle scolds him earlier in the game for not saying goodbye.
The world once again shifts to the Otherworld where Alex fights the final boss, Amnion. After defeating the creature, Alex cuts the monster open, and Joshua’s corpse slides out. Finally finding closure with his brother, Alex laments and apologizes to Joshua and leaves.
Depending on the player’s actions throughout the game, five different endings can be unlocked.
All of the endings.
It appears that the endings will reveal what happened in Silent Hill, but because of the multiple endings there is no directly revealing answer, leaving Silent Hill’s mystery something for the player to find for themselves.
There are a total of five endings and a bonus scene:
Smile! (ending 1) (Kill Lillian, forgive Adam, save Wheeler): Alex defeats Amnion and apologizes to Joshua before reuniting with Elle. As they leave Shepherd’s Glen, Elle asks Alex what he saw down there, prompting him to respond “What I needed to.”
In Water (ending 2) (Kill Lillian, don’t forgive Adam, don’t save Wheeler): Alex awakens in the bathtub in his house. His father approaches him and claims that with his death, Joshua can carry on the family legacy, before drowning him.
Judgement (ending 3) (Don’t kill Lillian, don’t forgive Adam, don’t save Wheeler): Alex awakens to find himself strapped to a chair. Two Bogeymen come out of the darkness, holding two halves of the helmet they wear. They stand over Alex and place the two halves on his head, transforming him into one of them. This could possibly symbolize the “evil” choices made by Alex throughout the game, showing that he has potential to be an apathetic punisher, such as Pyramid Head.
Intensive Care (ending 4) (Don’t kill Lillian, forgive Adam, save Wheeler): Alex awakens in the mental hospital, strapped down on a table. He is told by the man standing over him, who sounds suspiciously like Wheeler, that he needs to take responsibility for his actions and accept the present (the one who stands behind him does suspiciously look like his father). He is then administered an electric shock. This reveals that throughout the game, the patient in Room 206 was in fact Alex.
No Dogs Allowed! (ending 5) (Don’t kill Lillian, don’t forgive Adam, save Wheeler): Similar to the Smile! Ending, only that right as Alex and Elle are about to embrace each other, a UFO appears and abducts them. As they are both floating up, Wheeler comes out and shouts about how he knew that this is why people had been disappearing.
Bonus Scene (Collect all 11 photos, or beat the game on HARD): After the credits, a special scene will play. In first-person view, Alex enters his house and sees wet footprints leading up the stairs. He follows these into his and his brother’s bedroom. Inside, he finds a wet Joshua sitting on his bed with a camera who snaps a picture of him and laughs. The picture that emerges from the camera is the one of Alex found earlier in the game.
“Silent Hill V”
Chief designer of Silent Hill V, Masashi Tsuboyama announced the game’s development in a 2004 interview with Eurogamer. Tsuboyama first clarified rumors that it wasn’t going to be called Shadows of the Past, as previously reported from one website. In the same interview, he stated that Konami wasn’t sure which next-generation console it would be released on. Although dodging the question, composer/producer Akira Yamaoka shed some light upon the question with, “We cannot say yet, but we are hoping to carry on the plans of the earlier Silent Hill platforms.”
During an episode of The Electric Playground, Tommy Tallarico asked a developer about Silent Hill V who responded with, “It’s a good time to be a Silent Hill fan”, and the interview ended. There was a segment about the franchise shortly after, and it was stated that the title would be released on both current and next-gen consoles, yet it was unspecified which consoles they were. The mention of current consoles contradicts the statement made by Masashi Tsuboyama who reported that the fifth installment wouldn’t be available on them.
In several interviews, Akira Yamaoka hinted at a return to the psychological roots that were present in Silent Hill 2 and that the team was interested in setting the game’s atmosphere in a sunny environment gone wrong. Yamaoka commented that the game may not be called Silent Hill V.
The title was later confirmed to be Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Due to censorship laws, the game was banned in Australia until February 2009, at which time only the PlayStation 3 version was released. Noticeable modifications were made to certain scenes to supposedly make them less explicitly violent. For example, in the scene where Judge Holloway drills into Alex’s leg, a hospital bed is conveniently placed in front of the camera, obscuring the actual drilling. When the drill is pushed into the Judge’s face, the screen is merely black with the sound still heard in the background. When the judge falls to the floor, the drill is no longer lodged in her jaw, and completely missing from the scene. Also, when Alex’s father is later cut in half by the Bogeyman, as the camera pulls back to reveal the scene, his remains have in fact vanished altogether. The player can still examine the scene, and Alex will still say “The remains of my father”, despite there being none.
Homecoming received at Metacritic 71 out of 100 for the PS3 version, and 70 out of 100 for the Xbox 360 version. Aggregate site Game Rankings gave a 71.82% aggregate score for the Xbox 360 version, and a 71.28% for the PS3 version. As the second external developer working on a Silent Hill entry, and the first for a home console iteration, Double Helix were under scrutiny from reviewers and Silent Hill fans to see how a Western developer would handle the franchise; many reviewers found the change in developer to be a positive move overall, while some, acknowledging faults in the final product, expressed interest in seeing further Silent Hill games from the same developer. In contrast, Zero Punctuation commented that the game was as an example of Japanese franchises being downgraded by Westernization, particularly in the different approaches taken to induce fear in the player.
Positive reviews were given to the graphics and the environments in the game, described as “fantastic,” with Shepherd’s Glen in particular being “rendered brilliantly,” and “the upgraded visuals bestow a filmic quality to everything and the world’s eerie transformations look better than ever.” Some surprise was expressed at the darkness of the game, with the flashlight seemingly having less effect than in previous games, and making some markers, such as doors, hard to spot.
Also adding to the atmosphere is the audio, with music written by series regular Akira Yamaoka. Yamaoka’s music and ambient audio was received well, being “atmospheric, moody and beautifully presented” combined with “an amazing score” the audio goes “a long way toward establishing the expected Silent Hill mood,” though some concern was expressed that the music was “somewhat misplaced” with the game and did not fit in so well. Voice acting, which has traditionally been seen as one of the series’ weaker points, was reviewed as better than the series’ usual attempts, but occasionally “flat” when more emotion was needed.
The game’s plot received a largely mixed reception. While some reviewers graded it positively, describing it as “intriguing and disturbing,” it was also noted that it “isn’t particularly original, and there are no great surprises,” even though it “still makes for a very involving journey into the macabre.” Several reviewers likened the story to a subplot of the main Silent Hill mythos which, while able to “stand on its own,” “barely mentions certain characters which fairly dominate the backstory of previous SH games.” Further to the mixed reception of the plot, some critics expressed disappointment at the predictability of the main twist in the story regarding Alex’s predicament, while others found it “genuinely shocking.” Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation review was generally negative, stating that while the level design, story and combat were all competent the game had little to do with what he liked about the Silent Hill series and would have been better served as a completely different franchise.