Saw: The Videogame positions itself much like Saw: The Movie – an annual dose of interactive gruesomeness. And as with the films we find ourselves begrudgingly returning, not out of enthusiasm, but bleak curiosity. Zombie Studios follows up spine snapping and chest scything with explosive vests, acid baths and drowning tanks, preceded by a literally eye-opening kick-off. ‘Accidentally’ mess up the puzzles and you get to watch Jigsaw’s cruel machinations play out in ropey HD.
But where the films are quite happy reheating last year’s gore, Flesh and Blood actually manages to improve upon its predecessor. Gone is the sub-Silent Hill combat, replaced with occasional skull-cracking QTEs. Nail bats to the face bring to mind Manhunt. And the tired labyrinthine level designs are greatly improved. Now, each stage is constructed around saving a victim from a building-sized trap, forcing our hero (the son of the last game’s protagonist) to find escape routes in hotel lobbies and acid factories.
How on earth the allegedly cancer-ridden Jigsaw has modified several street blocks into trap gauntlets is never explained. Just be glad he’s moved beyond the original’s dull corridor-puzzle-corridor. Here you’ll have to ease trolleys past arsonists, dodge dirty cops with cover-to-cover dashes and decipher visual clues to open doors. Zombie Studios has taken a well-chosen leaf out of Arkham Asylum’s book with some Riddler-style perspective challenges too.
Many of the survival horror trappings are a tired leftover from the original. The game loves a good sudden death QTE. One in three doors is rigged with a shotgun or scythe. Must suck to be the postman in this neighborhood. Certainly sucks to fumble a button press and get whisked back to horribly placed checkpoints. We get it: Jigsaw is an unforgiving bastard. But he’s holding the game back. There are some brains here; why waste them by splattering them all against the wall?
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Oct 19, 2010