Splatterhouse Final Hands-On
We maimed, slaughtered, and generally hurt things in the final version of Namco Bandai's gruesome brawler Splatterhouse.
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Following on from our first go at Splatterhouse back in June, we had a chance to play through the game’s final edit, conquering the first two levels of its single-player mode, as well as trying our hand at Survival mode.
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Like the original 1988 game, Splatterhouse follows Rick, a young university student on a quest to save his girlfriend Jenny from the insane Doctor Henry West. The game opens with Rick in the lobby of Dr West’s home, lying broken and dying in a pool of his own blood with girlfriend Jenny kidnapped by his would-be killer Dr West. Out of nowhere, the strange mask lying next to him offers a simple deal; the power to save her, in exchange for “a little faith,” which as it turns out, means blood. After donning the mask, Rick goes through a brutal transformation that changes him from the petite, fragile college student into a hulking, skull-cracking beast.
Blood acts as the currency of the game, so you have to collect it to upgrade Rick’s abilities and shed enough of it to open certain doors. The two levels we played through saw us following Dr West as he dragged Jenny; first, through the top floors of his Mansion and then through the dungeon underneath, all while wave upon wave of monsters, zombies, and hideous tentacle horrors impeded our progress. It’s from these monsters that blood is farmed, with Rick’s repertoire of brutal punches, kicks, and throws offering a wide range of harvesting options. From our time with the game, we found the combat reminiscent of the Wii-exclusive Madworld, with the game taking us on a linear path and set numbers of enemies to be dismembered in each section. Like Madworld, the game encouraged us to make use of our surroundings, picking up random pipes, two-by-fours and dismembered limbs to be used as weapons, as well as impaling our foes on the numerous pointy spikes that decorated the walls.
In addition to the 3D brawling levels, Splatterhouse contains classic side-scrolling sections. These add a platforming element to the game, with Rick acrobatically avoiding spike traps and leaping huge chasms with a single bound. These sections gave pleasant nods to the original game, incorporating a more retro soundtrack and gameplay style that acted as a welcome change of pace from the game's main 3D style. The Survival mode also provided some solid entertainment, dropping Rick in a gladiatorial-style rumble against increasing numbers of enemies, with the simple objective of staying alive for as long as possible.
From what we played of the game, we found that it offers a diverse set of environments and enemies despite the closed setting. In the aptly named Satan’s Masque and The Doll That Bled levels, we took Rick on a rampage through a haunted house, a mad scientist’s lab, and a dungeon, battling everything from strange demonlike creatures to mutated humans that had been unlucky enough to be caught and experimented on by Dr West. Each monster we fought had its own behavior, with small demons attacking with slashing and biting attacks, while Rick’s ex-classmates tried to grab and pummel us. As a result, we were forced to adapt our approach to combat depending on the type of opponent we faced.
The game’s graphics, like its gameplay, are rough and uncompromising. The lighting is strong and partisan, giving an almost comic-book feel to the game. The animations, which in our earlier plays could be marred by frame rate issues, are now fast and brutal, with Rick’s charge attacks feeling suitably weighty compared to his quicker combo moves. The high energy of the game is also reflected in the constant stream of blood and gore that dominates the screen. Every kill results in a fountain of blood that covers pretty much everything (including the screen). In addition, any damage that Rick takes is shown on the character model, with each enemy attack removing a part of Rick’s body. At points, we were running around minus an arm and with only half of our rib cage intact.
With its unashamed gore and profanity, Splatterhouse is not a game that will be to everyone’s taste. If games reminiscent of classic slasher films and horror comics combined with brutal brawler gameplay are your forte, this could be the game for you. It is due for release on November 26, 2010, so keep your eyes on GameSpot for the full review soon.