by Chris Priestman
reviewed on X360
Shaken, Not Stirred
James Silva has gained a reputation for creating some of the most unique indie gaming experiences out there today. In 2007 he even won an Xbox Live publishing contract at the Dream-Build-Play competition. The game he entered into the contest was The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai – a blood-filled rampage that acquired quite a cult following. Returning with a brand new engine, Silva's sequel to Dead Samurai delivers on everything we have come to expect from one of his games. Picture this; take zombies, slaughter, gore and retro gaming, put them all into a blender and crank the settings to maximum. Then overload the circuits. The resulting product erupting from our metaphorical blender is an outstanding beat 'em up, aka The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile.
Chew On This
Vampire Smile is a frenzied gore-fest, and the plot is as dismembered as the enemies left in your wake. The disjointed post-modern narrative is difficult to follow, let alone outline in a coherent way. Newcomers to The Dishwasher will be confused beyond belief; consulting the internet may be necessary to gain some understanding of this erratic narrative, even for fans of Dead Samurai. The story is told through a dual narrative; one follows the unnamed Dishwasher, the other, his stepsister Yuki. The pair walk the same violent path but are fueled by different motives. Accused of being the terrorist who destroyed the planet, Yuki breaks out of prison and sets course for the moon, bent on seeking revenge against the authority figures that framed her. Close on her heels, the Dishwasher continues his mission to find and destroy the source of the Synthesis AI and the Cyborgs who threaten any chance of a life of freedom under their oppressive rule on the moon.
Yuki's story is unquestionably the main focus in this sequel, and is by far the most interesting. For much of the game, Yuki is battling an internal enemy in addition to the many ninja cyborgs that are attacking her. An entity known as the 'Creeper' haunts her thoughts and dreams, and often invades them in a manner reminiscent of Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Her slips into insanity are what really elevates the game's narrative; the rest is actually disposable due to its lack of clarity. Yuki's inner nightmare world would sit quite fittingly alongside the disturbing library of David Firth's shorts; in fact the whole game itself would not be out of place. It's tempting to criticize the game for its visceral presentation and confusing plot, but in reality, the result is a potent, if toxic, mix that puts the player on edge just enough pull them in deeper – closer to the characters and their insane perception of reality.
Incredibly fun gameplay, slick and stylish, precise mechanics