Painkiller: Hell & Damnation Review

Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is a slick first-person shooter remake soaked in gore.

Harking back to a simpler era of first-person shooters, Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is far more concerned with body counts and blood spray than depth in the gameplay department. The return to the genre's primal roots is a welcome one, even if it feels like indulging in the gaming equivalent of a junk food binge. Unflinchingly old-school, this remake of the gory original is fast-paced, campy as hell, and full of action. It gives you a toolbox of twisted weapons and throws massive swarms of unholy minions at you at every turn. The absurd bloodbath of flying appendages that ensues jams a ton of craziness into a short-lived but pleasantly gruesome romp.

Juice your foes, or your money back!

Daniel Garner is once again back to his demon-slaying shenanigans. Though Hell & Damnation tells a tweaked story that's only loosely based on both the original game and the Battle Out of Hell expansion, it's a familiar theme to anyone who has delved into the Painkiller series. Trapped in a hellish purgatory after dying in a car accident, Garner is desperate to escape his nightmarish prison. This time around, Death himself recruits the troubled protagonist with promises of reuniting him with his wife, Catherine. Of course, he must collect 7,000 souls first. Your mission is the same as it has always been: blast and eviscerate your way through a freaky batch of fantasy environments annihilating everything that moves while scarfing down souls like they're Halloween candy.

Compared to its modern-day brethren, Hell & Damnation is a dramatically streamlined run-and-gun affair that nods heavily toward early FPS classics like Doom, Blood, and Duke Nukem 3D. Charging through beastie-filled levels grinding up skeletal warriors, spectral abominations, and crazier creatures is far from groundbreaking, but the brisk pace is satisfying in short bursts. Responsive controls also add to the punchiness of gameplay. There's not a lot to do beyond clearing an area of demonic hordes before moving on to the next checkpoint, but the catharsis of dismembering large crowds of foes with a cornucopia of deadly implements hits a satisfying crescendo multiple times through each stage.

Anyone who played the earlier Painkiller games will appreciate how much nicer everything looks with the Unreal Engine 3. The stages aren't completely redesigned, but the fresh layers and crisp details really pop onscreen. It's great to see these old familiar locales, like the Cathedral, Loony Park, and the Orphanage, fancied up with a fresh coat of paint. Massive boss battles also provide some epic set-piece encounters capping each chapter.

Boss encounters are jaw-dropping.

With the emphasis placed squarely on killing everything in sight, arsenal diversity is a crucial ingredient. A well-rounded mix of goodies at your disposal opens up a lot of flexibility in battle, and each weapon's creative alternate-fire modes make it feel like several completely different gadgets in one. In fact, experimenting with how each weapon rips enemies apart is a big draw--morbid though it may be. Classics like the wooden stake gun that skewers opponents to walls, the titular handheld Painkiller blender that purees victims at point-blank range, and the shuriken-launching electro shocker return in dramatic fashion.

While the guns are inventive and fun to wield, they're almost entirely rehashed from previous games. Only one new gun gets added to the pile in Hell & Damnation, which is disappointing for a series known for its wild weaponry. The upside is that this new gizmo is pretty darn cool: it shoots out illuminated buzzsaw blades that are handy for limb and head removal, zaps baddies to steal their souls, and turns your foes against their unholy comrades.

Hell & Damnation wastes little time getting to the action, but it's perhaps too focused at times. The campaign is laughably short; it takes about four hours to blast through the 14 stages that span four chapters. And meeting the conditions needed in each level to unlock black tarot cards used to apply perks in combat adds only minimal replay incentive. The option to play through the entire campaign cooperatively with another player does change things up for the better, since certain enemies come back to life if you don't consume their souls after killing them. It's not enough though. By the end of the meager campaign, the bliss of wanton ultraviolence fades into a repetitious groove.

Say hello to my little glowing, bladed, skull-festooned friend.

Classic deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture-the-flag modes are worth diving into for a quick retro fix of bare-bones fragging free of any modern nuance. These offerings are as pared down as it gets: a bunch of players running around on crazy murder sprees to see who can rack up the highest kill count. If you're not squeamish about getting back to basics, the frenetic tempo does sweep you into its flow. Survival is a more energetic multiplayer option, since the endless influx of hellish hordes makes it impossible to stop moving and shooting if you want to stay alive.

As a horror-tinged slaughterfest that vomits blood and bile on the face of modern first-person shooter convention, Hell & Damnation distills the essence of the Painkiller series into a tight, finely honed package. This installment looks and plays beautifully for what it is, yet it suffers from too much recycled content and a very limited scope. It's an appealing taste of old-school shooter charm soaked in over-the-top gore. However, the Painkiller series has been spinning its wheels for some time now. Hell & Damnation classes it up presentation-wise, but it's not the next step forward that those who find it a guilty pleasure have been waiting for.

The Good
Great visual makeover freshens up old locales
Weapons are sadistic and satisfying
Co-op campaign option is a nice added touch
The Bad
Despite the new look, very little has changed over the years
Short campaign lacks content
7
Good
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lipskid
lipskid

I have this for xbox not interested in playing it again on the 360

maxpatne1940
maxpatne1940

painkiller is a nice game to play when you donot have any good games to play with and it stops the borden so i say not a bad game

drgribb
drgribb

Still waiting for an actual sequel...

Red_Jester
Red_Jester

I knew they would never be able to deliver on even the simplest of projects. "REMAKE PAINKILLER"Instead, it's "Remake some parts of Painkiller and its expansion." What the hell? Why not the entire first game? They STILL couldn't even help themselves in altering level design here and there and changing the atmosphere of some levels by changing the lighting.

Powerwalk
Powerwalk

I love this game.

can't wait for the remake of rise of the triad that game was amazing

adnanshaikh
adnanshaikh

a total wastage of time and money, this game is should be name as "time killer" instead of painkiller , one of the most  bad game award wining title  ....

Necromeat
Necromeat

Shame its so short with missing levels and they took out the quick saves which makes this remake another fail oh and steam only what were they thinking

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

This is what HD Remake should do,,

reworking old games with new tech from ground-up,,

 

Not straight port like other remake games,,

yes, I'm pointing at MGS remake, Resident Evil remake, Devil May Cry remake, Doom BFG remake, and other shit lazy remake

Sardinar
Sardinar

Four hours? I don't remember it being four hours at all. 10-14 hours in the least. 

 

You must've rushed through the whole game at the easiest difficulty or something.

d-olsvik
d-olsvik

I'd like to see a visual upgrade (and AI upgrade) of the original Quake. The NIN score made it deeply atmospheric, and I have never seen better level design - non-linear and convoluted, you could get lost on a level the size of a shoe-box.

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

the only thing i want is another unreal tournament!

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

Wish someone would remake the 'System Shock' games.

bahamut_au
bahamut_au

Why is Painkiller's 4-hour campaign "laughably short" when COD, MOH, BF3, Homefront and every other shitty FPS NEVER gets marked down for having the exact same length?

Socijalisticka
Socijalisticka

"There's not a lot to do beyond clearing an area of demonic hordes before moving on to the next checkpoint"

Agreed, the devs should of incorporated character interaction, weapon loadouts, an exp system (weapon upgrade by grinding like in any complex FPS!), quick-time events, cooperative zombie modes and so on.  These shallow "old-school" FPSes need to get with the times.

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

 @ShadowRun02 holy chit i was just posting the same thing myself.  i'd trade all the trash fps franchises in for a refresh of the original UT all the levels and everything.  i used to play that till 4am 

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

 @bahamut_au because they are AAA titles and the assumption is that folks are buying for multiplayer....which i hate.  can't stand shooting the same damn asian kid for 5000 hours

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

 @bahamut_au because the main thing about all those games is the multiplayer that has a bigger replay value, when here the multi is only a late addition to the game, and not it's primary game mode. 

CrysisFPS
CrysisFPS

 @bahamut_au And as far as I can recall, the original Painkiller wasn't even that short (and that's excluding the BOH addition) even on 'insomnia' difficulty (at least for me).

mr_azim
mr_azim

 @bahamut_au And it's only "short" because the GS plays the same on easiest difficulty to blast through it so they can hash out the review ASAP.

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

 @Socijalisticka man totally agree.  why can't every single game including Rayman have all that stuff.  i mean i wish real life had all that stuff it would be better.  so uhh how come we all agree on what sucks in todays FPS but they keep selling 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 cpies???  who is ruining gaming dammit!!!

pyosisified
pyosisified

 @Socijalisticka This is everything that is wrong with modern FPS games, your insight on what would make this a better game gave me brain cancer.

bahamut_au
bahamut_au

Don't forget explosions, lots and lots and lots of explosions! Also, lots and lots of unskippable cutscenes to make the game more immersive. And definitely include perks and weapon attachments to make the game more accessible to casu...I mean, new players!

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

 @elgordofreeman that is one game i would love to play again.  why in the phuck can't get get good fps games anymore.  not one good phucking game in so long its killing me.  i hope every cod player losers their hands in a farm equipment accident so they can't keep buying and playing that crap

RAVENSRAGE123
RAVENSRAGE123

 @elgordofreeman I love Blood. Blood 2 was not as good as the first one.  So they should remake Blood 1. All the one liners, the environments, the enemies, the weapons, etc etc. in Blood one was excellent. Plus the super secrets which I only found one. When  I played Painkiller 1 and Battle Out Of Hell I will admit It  I thought about Blood. I seen some similarities for example; the weapons had two fire modes, lots of different enemies, and the environments were always different and fun. Great games.

0Charb
0Charb

 @elgordofreeman

 Agree! Been waiting and wishing for a Blood remake for years! I can't imagine how wicked Blood would be with revolutionary cgi! Let's get Kaleb back!

mr_azim
mr_azim

 @koospetoors  @Winchester01 Combines the first and the BOH expansion...... looks like they got lazy and mixed the levels together rather than re-hash both games.

Voice_of_Wisdom
Voice_of_Wisdom

 @pyosisified  @Socijalisticka what's wrong with modern FPS's:

- excessive ease

- excessive handholding

- excessive linearity

- excessive use of set pieces

- excessive desire to mimic an action film

- excessive emphasis on plot

- too much cutscenes

- QTE's

- NPC's that do ALL the work for you

- idiot cover systems, which disrupt the flow of gameplay

jhonel83
jhonel83

 @RAVENSRAGE123  @elgordofreeman

 I agree, Blood marked my childhood. I still remember shooting gargoyle statues repeatedly, just for the fun of making a bloody mess

elgordofreeman
elgordofreeman

 @RAVENSRAGE123 My  vote for a blood remake with the cellshading style of borderlands! Keeping the original comic style over nice 3d models

slayer1090
slayer1090

 @pyosisified  @Voice_of_Wisdom This X 1000, I remember the good old days where if you were being hit, you ran for your life, nowadays you just run and duck behind the nearest immovable object. I was happy to hear they were remaking Goldeneye on the Wii, my brother got it and the two things that steered me away from it were Check Points and Regen health, the two very things that weren't in the original that made it enjoyable and challenging.

pyosisified
pyosisified

 @kingnothing47  Well said, same can be said about modern flicks, they are way too serious and lack the tongue in cheek charm old films had

Painkiller: Hell & Damnation More Info

  • Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • Unix/Linux
    • Xbox 360
    Painkiller Hell & Damnation has players take the role of Daniel Garner who is the unenviable position of being the Curse of Darkness and the Toy of Light as he must fight his way past hordes of demons and fiends.
    6.5
    Average User RatingOut of 120 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Painkiller: Hell & Damnation
    Developed by:
    The Farm 51
    Published by:
    Nordic Games Publishing, Intergrow
    Genres:
    Team-Based, First-Person, 3D, Shooter, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language