by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
See you in Hell
Saints Row IV left fans wondering where the series could possibly go next. The Third was ridiculous in many aspects, but somehow the following game blew it out of the water by straight up giving your character super powers. It also saw the leader of a notorious gang become president of the United States, followed by the complete destruction of Earth. So what could happen next in the open world third person shooter franchise? Well, you could visit Hell, if you like.
Gat out of Hell is a standalone expansion to Saints Row IV, meaning you don’t need the base game to play. Then again, if you don’t have the base game you will probably be left confused as to what’s going on. The Saints are on their spaceship after watching Earth be destroyed when suddenly a portal to Hell materialises and sucks the Boss - the main character of games up until this point - into the realm of darkness.
It’s up to Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington to go in and get him back. As it turns out, Satan has stolen the Boss from his mortal coil in order to marry him with his daughter Jezebel. You can play as either character, which is nice, though it makes more sense to play as Gat since the story mainly focuses on him. The video tutorials that introduce new abilities show Gat, even while you’re playing as Kinzie. It’s refreshing to be playing a new character but I have to admit that I did end up missing playing as the Boss. Having spent years seeing the Boss develop as a character, I’m simply not too fussed about either Johnny Gat or Kinzie. If you have a Saints Row IV save on your system it will import the Boss’ likeness that you chose, but he only shows up very briefly in a couple of cutscenes, and his dialogue is minimal, so there doesn’t seem to be much point.
For those wondering how superpowers could be brought into a new instalment of Saints Row, here’s your answer: Hell, being an other-worldly realm, means your character can unlock special abilities just like in the previous game, because why not? You quickly gain access to super sprint and the ability to fly with angel wings (they are a little singed, Gat is a psycho, after all). Most of the abilities from the main game carry over too. A ground pound, a ranged blast and an aura, each of which can be imbued with different elements and extras. Telekinesis has been dropped in favour of slinging grabby imps at your foes that scratch and claw away at them.
Seven deadly weapons
Beyond the powers, a wide array of evil themed weaponry is on display, as you would imagine. A launcher which fires explosive frogs, a giant horned hammer and a shotgun reminiscent of Chewbacca’s bowcaster are just some of the many options available to you. However the main event in terms of weaponry are the “Seven Deadly Weapons” which can be unlocked by doing side quests. Ever fancied attaching some wheels and miniguns to an armchair and rolling it round a Hell version of Steelport? Well now you can.
It’s a shame that with all the Saints Row core, more wasn’t done in terms of story and cutscenes. There aren’t really any story missions, most of the game is just a loop of doing side activity after side activity, under the guise of filling a “Satan’s Wrath” meter and gaining “Loyalty” with the various characters you encounter. You’ll come across various dead people - both fictional and real world - and you’ll even come across some familiar faces from previous games in the franchise. Blackbeard hangs out in a massive pirate ship (there’s no water in Hell, it’s all lava, obviously). Vlad the Impaler sits atop a giant gothic castle. And of course, Hell wouldn’t be complete without Shakespeare chilling in a nightclub.
Missions end up becoming tedious and repetitive, especially since they’re mostly just reworks of side activities that we’re all used to by now. Causing as much mayhem as possible, flying through rings to complete races, and surviving waves of enemies has been done to death. There are a couple of new ones, such as flying around catching falling souls before they hit the ground, and attending a sort of demon frat party and bashing them around with a spiked paddle, but none of these are enough to freshen things up.
That said, it’s still Saints Row, and there’s still a ton of fun to be had up front before the activities start repeating themselves. Even flying around the city is just as cool as it ever was, and you can get some serious speed once you’ve upgraded your powers. It’s lacking proper story missions, the occasional cutscene reward is usually worth it. There’s much to do in the city, but you can complete the main quest in around three hours if you set your mind to it. It’s a shame that the game doesn’t guide you to the more interesting side quests such as accessing the seven deadly weapons as well as it should. For a completionist, there’s a hell (get it? (Gat it?)) of a lot of content here for a reasonable price.
More Saints Row is always a good thing
Actually, more Saints Row can get repetitive after a while