Published on December 9th, 2010 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Release Date: Nov. 23, 2010
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai / Bottlerocket Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
To say that Splatterhouse is a gore-fest is a huge understatement. Splatterhouse is a re-imagining of the ’80s arcade game of the same name where the game’s protagonist, Rick, must save his girlfriend Jennifer from the confines of Dr. West. The game starts with Rick laying in a pool of blood, apologetic for the events that led to his girlfriends capture. A voice is soon heard from a mask that happens to be lying on the floor next to him and makes Rick an offer he can’t refuse. Rick must dawn the mask, and destroy Dr. West and all of his evil creations. In return, it’ll help Rick save his girlfriend. While Splatterhouse has the 80s sort of gory horror film atmosphere together, it falls apart on mechanics and overall gameplay, and in this day and age, it matters.
Splatterhouse is a third-person action brawler. This being said, it gathers all of the traits that other games have done and repeats with no added value. You have light attacks, heavy attacks, aerial attacks, combos, QTE’s, and puzzles to solve before progress can be made. You can upgrade your moves and combos by collecting blood. The game type doesn’t bother me, as I am a fan of third person action games, but Splatterhouse suffers from what a lot of others fail on as well.
The art style is actually not a complete waste. It felt like an Image Comic that was transformed into a video game with a bit cel-shading. The use of colors was a bit dull, but in all honesty, what could you really look to accomplish with a color pallet that featured a lot of black and grays, and a whole lot of red? If you’re a fan of lots of blood this game is right up your alley; it’s the “Fangoria” of video games if you will. You can explode heads, rip off arms, impale eyes, and rip torsos apart; “Splatterhouse” definitely lives up to its name. Aside from the repeating level design and the bad level theme, the game did not look bad. However, frame rate became a big problem, dropping off dramatically during fights with multiple enemies.
I stated before that the camera is also a problem which is something that most third-person action games suffer from. The centered camera is consistently getting in the way when fighting enemies. At times you may never even see the enemy you’re trying to fight. In some rooms Splatterhouse becomes a button masher. Mashing the light attack button seemed to work well, but miss one attack could deem deadly since the game’s timing can sometimes feel off. Animations take forever to react and reset after a collision.
The game does feature an interesting dynamic that I was hoping would transition well. When Rick takes damage from enemies, parts of his flesh become torn and expose bones and organs under the skin. Rick can also regenerate body parts if they fall off—or become ripped off. To regain your health, follow the on screen prompts and Rick will then take blood from surrounding enemies to rebuild his flesh. This does make the game easy to play due to the fact that regaining blood to perform this action over and over is very easy to come by. When you are not in battle, simply punch crates and barrels to reveal worms that you can step on for blood.
The controls were pretty straight forward and the gameplay was fun for the first hour or so. Splatterhouse seemed to repeat itself quite often between level design, enemy types, and puzzles to solve. Some of the QTE’s were fun to perform and featured not just your typical “Press X”, “Press B” mechanic. You used both analog sticks with an occasional button press to finish an enemy off. Switching weapons got a bit annoying; every time I went to switch he would drop the current item and pick back up the weapon I had just dropped. I found myself consistently moving away from the weapon, dropping, and then returning to the new weapon to pick it up.
Splatterhouse showed some promise and a fourteen year old (that shouldn’t own this game) will find it very cool. For the gore-loving Saw generation that we are currently in, Splatterhouse delivers. Sadly, as an all around game, it doesn’t. Game mechanics, repetition, clichéd story line, and over-use of violence bring this game to the brink of just being average. Lack of lasting appeal in this title makes $60 a tough pill to swallow. When Splatterhouse reaches the bargain bins in the very near future it could be very well worth a solid play through, at least once.
+ Lots of Blood and Gore
+ Health Regen and Damage is Unique
+ All 3 original Splatterhouse games are on DISC!
– Weak Story
– Horrible frame rate
– System freezing bugs
– Repetitive combat and level design