Saw Hands-On

Jigsaw has set up shop in an abandoned insane asylum, and you're the one who needs to get out of it.

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Have you ever held a passing interest in survival horror games but always felt they weren't quite twisted enough? Maybe you'd rather replace the zombie dogs of Resident Evil 5 with a puzzle that requires you to fish a key out of a toilet bowl filled with syringes? Don't worry; we won't judge you. Instead, we'll kindly point you in the direction of the upcoming video game adaptation of the Saw movies. Published by Konami and developed by Zombie Studios, Saw seeks to disturb and horrify gamers in the same way the movie franchise has been doing for the past five years.

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Saw takes place in an abandoned insane asylum and uses a mix of puzzle-solving and exploration-based gameplay. As you make your way through the asylum, you'll run into all manner of twisted booby traps, elaborate puzzles, and gruesome imagery that will test your ability to process clues and not lose significant chunks of your body in horrific accidents. It's not an entirely solitary experience, either; you'll run into other characters throughout the course of the story. Some are merely corpses scattered around of those who weren't able to solve Jigsaw's puzzles, but some are survivors who are trying to get out, those who have lost their minds and don't care what happens, and some who have gone so far off the deep end that they've become minions of Jigsaw and are hell-bent on ending your life.

We played through a bit of the Xbox 360 version of the game. The demo began with the main character stuck in a nasty apparatus called the "reverse bear trap." Basically, it's a trap that will separate your jaw from your head if you don't get it off in time. The way you do that is by quickly responding to button prompts on the screen that command you to rotate the analog stick in a certain direction while pressing the B button when a red light flashes on the trap. At first, we didn't associate "red light" with "B button," resulting in the tragic loss of about six or seven jaws.

But no matter; we figured it out and moved on to the next puzzle. This one required us to figure out the combo to a locked bathroom stall door. A nearby wall had random white lines painted on it, but only after looking at the opposite bathroom mirror that also had lines on it did we realize they came together to form "7-5-3" when viewed from the right angle. With that, we opened the door and plunged our arm into the aforementioned toilet bowl filled with syringes to fish out a key to the next room.

You don't want to be caught in this trap.
You don't want to be caught in this trap.

From there, we got to explore some of the dark and dingy environments that make up this insane asylum. There are doors rigged with a shotgun pointed down that will fire if you don't hit a certain button quickly enough, a puzzle that makes you arrange wires in the correct order to open an electrified door, and an area where we had to smash through a weakened wall with a lead pipe. All around you are cryptic clues laid out by Jigsaw and a few dead bodies of those who weren't so good at processing these clues.

As you get deeper into the game, you'll face more of the morally challenging puzzles so often seen in the movies, such as saving one character by killing another. As we chatted with producer John Williamson, we learned that the ending will also be of that didn't-see-it-coming variety that the movies tend to be capped off with. And in terms of story, the game fits into the timeline of the movie series by being situated between the first and second films chronologically.

Saw is currently scheduled for a Halloween 2009 release in order to arrive in time for the sixth movie. You can expect to see the game available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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