by Chris Priestman
reviewed on X360
A Splat From The Past
The Splatterhouse series has been absent from the gaming world for a long time, but its impact on me has always lasted. Since I played the original game in an arcade at a very young age, I have been mesmerised by the gory graphics and haunting sounds that it delivered at the time. It has been over twenty years since the series started and seventeen since the last instalment, but Namco Bandai have released a reboot of the franchise that hopes to capture the heart of today’s gamers and squeeze it until it has bled dry.
Ultimately an exercise in nostalgia; can Namco deliver the same raw aggression that will appeal to veterans and newcomers of the series? Either way you are going to need more than a raincoat and umbrella to remain dry in this blood-soaked, torso-ripping experience.
The Mask Of The Killer
As is always the case with a Splatterhouse game, Rick and his girlfriend Jennifer have been separated. It is up to Rick to enter the mansion of Dr. West to save her from the clutches of evil and the world from a demon invasion. As you progress through the story though it becomes clear that this is not the usual substandard narrative that the series is associated with – some thought has gone into it. Rick is a lot younger and almost unrecognisable to fans this time around. But after having his torso fatally ripped open by a demon, his only means of survival is to wear the magical Terror Mask that promises him an escape from death. Cue the Rick that we recognise – except he seems to have been working out with the Hulk. Now with the power of the mask at his disposal, Rick is able to pursue the doctor and overpower the demons that attempt to stand in his way. And boy, does he do it with style!
Like the other titles in the series, this reboot follows the same general layout fans will be used to. It is a level based brawler that is more than likely the goriest game ever made. Fortunately the developers did not simply rely on the brand name and an abundance of gore to sell the game. It is actually quite a good brawler. As you would hope, Rick has a variety of moves at his disposal and each one is accompanied by a good meaty slap on contact. The combat is generally very smooth and easy to master and you can string some impressive combos together with ease. One of the coolest additions to the game is the damage Rick can take in the game. The more your health is drained the more battered Rick becomes in his appearance. His ribs and internal organs will be exposed, and some enemies can take his arm clean off. In retaliation, Rick can pick up his severed arm and beat them with it. Luckily the mask will use its regenerative powers to replace his lost arm. You can also use the heads and arms of the demons as weapons, meaning there is always a reason to send limbs flying in every direction.
One Thing At A Time
Despite the fact that the game often repeats the same processes, there is enough variation to hold it together quite well. Each level is broken up into sections that are often blocked off on entry and a number of demons released into the arena. The different types of demon are assigned a certain method of attack, so you have to effectively deal with each type in a certain way. You will have to prioritise the more lethal ones; such as the distinctly blue glowing demons with huge claws. At the end of each chapter there is usually a boss to defeat, as is the typical procedure. I was not so impressed with them though as they were quite easy to defeat; with easily recognisable attack patterns and by the time you reach the end of the game you actually start repeating the boss fights.
Lots of gore, lots of fun, hardcore attitude, unlock the retro games!
A few technical errors, initially frustrating, slow load times, bad platforming sections.