Splatterhouse (Video Game)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Available for Xbox 360 (reviewed here) and PlayStation 3
Distributed by Namco Games
Two words, folks. Holy shit. If ever there were a game that lives up to its name, it is without question Namco's revamping of their old school survival horror hit Splatterhouse. Before we get to the goods, though, let's bring you up-to-speed plot-wise.
Rick Taylor is a nerdy little guy. He's not meek or anything, just horribly average. Like any normal dude who ends up with a staggeringly hot babe on his arm, Rick is madly in love with his girlfriend, Jennifer Willis. After entering a rundown mansion inhabited by an elusive mad scientist, Dr. West, Jennifer is quickly kidnapped by the crazed MD, and Rick is left unconscious in a puddle of his own blood. Fortunately for him by the time that he comes to, he senses an old friend is by his side ... the ever so wicked “Mayan Terror Mask”. The mask, which exhibits a hilarious personality all its own, promises Rick that if he puts it on, he'll have unimaginable power! More than enough to rescue his chick. Desperate and without any reservation Rick dons the mask, and that, my friends, is where the real fun begins.
Average no more, upon putting the mask on, Rick is transformed into a raging hulking behemoth of a man, ready to cause as many unthinkably violent horrors to anyone or anything that dares to get in his way. Sure, the story is something we've seen or heard one hundred times before. It's all in the execution, baby, and believe me when I tell you if there's one thing Splatterhouse excels in, it's execution.
The graphics engine presented here is truly a sight to behold. The mansion, though dark in places, is the perfect setting for this haunted slice of mayhem, and each room and hallway does a good job of giving players a lot of variety in terms of eye candy. Let's face it, though; no matter how cool the setting, this game's main attraction is without a doubt the character models and all the macabre and brutal things you can do to them. Simply put, this is probably the single most violent game I've ever seen. That's a bold statement, yes, but there are enough geysers of grue, broken bones, severed limbs, and various other ways of evisceration to totally back it up.
Aside from punching and tearing with your bare hands, there are weapons galore including cleavers, the limbs of your enemies, shotguns, chainsaws, and yes, the franchise's trademark tried and true 2x4. There are even parts of the game in which you may lose a limb. Don't worry, however; another will grow back and you can use the now extra appendage to beat baddies to death with. Getting bored of shooting, stabbing, slicing, sawing, tearing, pummeling? There are environmental kills, too, which will let you impale your way to a grin that will surely span from ear-to-ear.
But we're not done yet ... let's not forget about the Splatterkills. While inflicting a copious amount of pain on your enemies, they will begin to flash red. This means they're ready to be finished. Once flashing, at the press of a button Rick will grab the soon-to-be pile of lifeless flesh and inflict some devastating Splatterkills up close and cinema style so that you do not miss a single drop of blood. There are dozens of these in the game, and each one will have you both wincing and giggling like a schoolgirl who's just been asked to the prom.
Speaking of girls, as a means to keep you on the right track, Jennifer has left pieces of nudie photos of her for you to assemble at each level. Let's just say that the barrage of funny and foul language and unadulterated violence aren't the only bits of adult content to be found here.
Of course while doling out death, Rick will occasionally take some damage as well. The cool part? This damage occurs in real time, and its regeneration will show the rebuilding of bone, muscle, and skin. Good thing for you that all the gore being splashed about actually serves a purpose, too. You have an in-game blood meter that you can use to speed up your healing process. Or in a pinch you can get all vampy and drain blood from multiple enemies with a quick combination of buttons. Blood can also be used to turn into an even bigger beast with knives on its arms or enable you to purchase additional moves that will make dispatching foes feel fresher and more gruesome.
Every good game deserves a good soundtrack, and aside from the rock and metal riffs that populate the game, you'll also be treated to tracks from Mastodon, Lamb of God, and Five Finger Death Punch. Or, if you're playing the game on the 360, do what I do - create your own playlist of punishment and swap in your custom soundtrack. What music do you like to slay to?
The gameplay is comprised mainly of your traditional beat-em-up style mechanics that some will no doubt find repetitive, but if you hearken back to the original three games, which by the way are all included here, that has always been the core of the gameplay. Namco didn't try to reinvent the wheel here, but they did manage to sneak in a few levels that will have those of us who are old enough to lovingly remember the old school games cheering. Throughout certain points in each level the game will change from a 3D adventure back to its 2D side-scrolling roots complete with all the pitfalls and traps we grew to know so well. Speaking as a gamer in his thirties, it's impossible for me not to adore this.
In fact, the only time Splatterhouse comes up short is when it deviates from the established formula. There will be moments in which you'll be expected to make several platforming like jumps that will serve to do nothing but aggravate you. A dude this big? He's not exactly nimble. He's a force of nature at its most violent, bashing everything around him. Couple that with an at times wonky fixed camera, and there are definitely a few things to complain about here. Thankfully all of these instances are few and far between.
Combining some truly inspired homages to many horror franchises including The Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and of course Re-Animator, and a distinct reverence for the original material, Splatterhouse is a game no fan of the series or horror fan in general should be without.
Is it a technical achievement? No. Does it bring anything new to the table? Barely. There's no multiplayer, and you're going to find yourself spending the majority of the uber-long ten-level campaign beating up creature after creature with huge boss battles strewn about in-between. I'm fine with that, and if you are, too, brother, what you're looking at here is most likely going to be considered the premiere horror game of 2010. Bless you, Namco. Bless your bloody black heart!
4 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Splatterhouse in the Dread Central forums!