4.0 Overall Score

Written by on December 20, 2010 in

After a long awaited production, Namco has finally released an all-new Splatterhouse. Splatterhouse is based off of the same-named arcade classic from 1988.  In the game you play as Rick Taylor, whose girlfriend is kidnapped by the nefarious Dr. West, leaving you to die on his mansion floor. Luckily for you though, a mysterious mask appears and offers you a deal. It will help you retrieve your girlfriend back in return for you destroying West and all his demonic creations. Seeing as how it is either death or accepting the mask’s deal, Rick accepts and is transformed into a behemoth of a man. Think of Bane from the Batman series and you will understand.

Upon starting the game I noticed something very quickly. Splatterhouse is beyond bloody. At the title screen blood spews onto the screen in dark red shades of gross. As you load up the game you have to sit through a loading screen. Not since my playthroughs of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion have I had to sit through such long loading screens. It takes 30 seconds for the game to load, multiplied by the load screens you have to sit through each time you die, and you end up having to wait for the game to load for what seems like an eternity.

By killing opponents you gain experience points, but instead of experience orbs you soak up the blood of your opponents. To harvest the most amount of blood from your opponents you have to utilize “Splatterkills” which are cinematic kills prompting you to press certain buttons to either decapitate, disembowel, or disarm your foes. These kills are not butterflies and rainbows either. No, these kills are bloody, messy, and downright revolting. I about lost it when I ripped a creature’s spleen out of its rear end. This game is the goriest game I have ever played. The game does a great job of indicating when you should use a Splatterkill by highlighting the enemies in red when they are weak. Splatterkills are unlimited and there is no limit to how many you can execute throughout the game, although they often become repetitive and bland after the tenth decapitation. The fun part though is being able to take that enemies head and use it as a weapon. Heads, arms, pipes, cleavers, enemies’ bodies, everything is a weapon. I really enjoyed beating enemies to a bloody pulp using my own severed arm.

Your health comes from absorbing blood from other creatures. To absorb health you have to perform a “Splatter Siphon” in which you suck the life out of your opponents in order to leech off of their life force. Sadly, this does not decrease their life points, but instead just temporarily stuns them. Unfortunately for you cheaters out there, you can’t perform this move every 5 seconds. You have to build up enough blood absorption from combos and kills to do a Splatter Siphon, making it difficult to choose between refueling your health or saving up to go into Berserk mode.

Berserk mode is the ultimate weapon when you are drowning in enemies. When activated, Berserk mode transforms your body into a spiky, grotesque killing machine (as if your body wasn’t lethal enough to begin with). The transformation lasts between 10-15 seconds and is perfect for when you need to take down a group of enemies, or a boss quickly.

I was really surprised by how well the story was told, despite being so simple. I was expecting the game to be very linear, taking me from Point A to Point B, but the game surprised me by filling in only small snippets of the story along the way. It took me almost the entire game to figure out why I was at the mansion, how I had been left to die, and why West was after my girlfriend. The story takes you outside the mansion as well, giving you portals to jump through into alternate time periods and locations. My favorite was Dandyland where I had to fight the evil flamethrower clowns and test my strength with some carnival games. Overall the story wasn’t the equivalent of a blockbuster film, but it still held together and told an epic tale of revenge and love.

Another major plus in the game is how it pays homage to the original classic. Side-scrolling sections are implemented into the game, striking a near-identical feel to the game just like the original. The sad part though, is that the enemies in these sections are all too easy, requiring very little strategy or skill to beat. The traps in these sections on the other hand are difficult thanks to the awkward controls and Rick’s inability to stay out of harms way. I died so many times trying to jump across gaps, failing because Rick wasn’t jumping at the same time I pushed “A”.

The thing that was the last nail on the coffin for Splatterhouse was the camera. The game’s camera suffers from an inconsistent frame rate, horrific standard camera angles, and an awkward player controlled camera.    I felt like Rick was lagging a little between when I would tell him to punch and he would actually punch on screen. This made it very frustrating against some of the quicker enemies where I needed to have lightning fast reflexes.

The game’s repetitiveness also drove me insane. It felt very wash, rinse, and repeat as I traveled from room to room disposing of enemies and traversing traps. The developers tried to make several varieties of each monster, but they showed little effort by merely changing the coloration of the creatures. I would have enjoyed more than just 4 main enemy types. This made the beginning of the game difficult as I was leveling up and figuring out what each enemy’s weakness was, but by the end of the game I was so overpowered that the enemies hardly stood a chance. I rejoiced at every boss battle because I finally had a challenge and because I didn’t have to fight the same minions over and over again.

Included along with Splatterhouse’s story mode is a Survival Arena in which you must battle increasingly difficult wave after wave of enemies in over 5 different arenas. My favorite is the Hall of Mirrors, which comes directly from the campaign.  If you have extra Microsoft points and want to buy more arenas, Namco has released “The Killing Floor” and “Hall of Mirrors” available for purchase through the Xbox Live Marketplace. You can also download the original Splatterhouse game from 1988, as well as the Splatterhouse 2, and Splatterhouse 3.

Splatterhouse isn’t a game I would purchase of my free will. While it was a good experience for me to play through the game, I would hardly consider this a decent game. If you are looking for a beat-em up game and don’t care about story or graphic images, then by all means go out and buy this game.

A copy of Splatterhouse was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.


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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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