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The Flawed Horror of Silent Hill: Homecoming

Posted by Nick Dinicola on June 12, 2009

Silent Hill Homecoming - Cult SymbolSilent Hill: Homecoming was largely seen as a departure from the survival-horror genre when it was released last October. However, this entry in the long running series remained true to its genre roots in many ways. Guns were sparse and ammo even more so, there were plenty of puzzles and dark environments, and while the new combat system bothered many long-time fans because it didn’t actively discourage fighting, since it emphasized dodging over attacking, players still felt weak and disadvantaged in each confrontation. But Silent Hill: Homecoming was a departure from form. It took more inspiration from the Silent Hill movie than from the previous games and ended up with many of the same flaws. It had all the elements of a psychological survival-horror game, but didn’t know how to use them properly, and as a result, it felt like more of a departure than it actually was.

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I’ve also got a review of Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings up on PopMatters as well.

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I recently bought and finished the Epilogue for Prince of Persia, and was surprisingly disappointed by it, but not for the reasons most other gamers were.

It received a lot of criticism for just extending the platforming sequences in order the make the game more difficult. The difficulty didn’t actually change, just the number of “checkpoints,” but I rarely noticed this. I thought the platforming was slightly more difficult but not so much so that it’s a check against the game. I didn’t mind the fact that I essentially fought the same boss four times. It did feel a little lazy, especially since this Shapeshifter boss only shapeshifted into two of the four bosses from the original game. I could forgive this because the combat was markedly harder: The quick-time events demanded a much faster reaction time, and it seemed like enemies were far stronger than in the original.

The Prince of Persia Epilogue was disappointing because of the way it treated the Prince’s and Elika’s relationship. I thought the original ending of the game was so daring because it made the hero into the villain: Elika’s father set Ahriman free to save her life, and so became a slave to the dark god and the Prince’s central antagonist, but at end of the game the Prince makes the same deal. He put his feelings for Elika above the world. It was selfish, but it was human.

The Epilogue removes any and all drama from the action. The Prince defends it by saying “Ahriman would have gotten free again,” completely sidestepping his feelings for Elika. What should have been a grand gesture of love was dismissed as pragmatic. Her death is only ever mentioned once, and only then to espouse the cliched “white light” vision before dying. Her resurrection by his hand is the elephant in the room during their every conversation, and it’s ignored.

I assume that the issue will play a larger role in the sequel, and therefore the writer can’t allow too much character development in this Epilogue since anyone who plays the sequel without playing this wont be up to speed. But it’s disappointing that this Epilogue is reduced to such a level: Just an extension of the gameplay without any of the story.

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