Review – Splatterhouse

Splatterhouse
Developer: Namco Bandai Games
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Beat ’em Up
Release Date: Out Now

Splatterhouse was quite the series back in the day, making a name for itself with its pixelated gore and gruesome creature designs. We haven’t seen anything from the franchise since the 1993 title Splatterhouse 3. It’s been 17 long years later but the series is back and as good as ever! Hit the jump for our full review of Splatterhouse!

Rather than a direct sequel, Splatterhouse is actually a reboot of the franchise. Rick and Jennifer remain the main characters, with the Terror Mask carrying on its role of a plot device. Upon being mortally wounded and left to die as he watches Jennifer being taken from him, Rick makes a pact with the Terror Mask. With his newfound strength and a desire for revenge, Rick will be crushing heads and ripping limbs to reach Dr.West and rescue Jennifer.

Splatterhouse has had a rough time getting its way onto our screens. Way back in 2009, it was revealed that Splatterhouse was to be cancelled due to funds and performance issues. It wasn’t until a little while later that we found out the game was still being  released. The shock of it being cancelled had disappointed many Splatterhouse fans, myself included, but that just makes this game even more special. Don’t you agree?

If you’ve played one of the previous Splatterhouse titles, then you’ll feel right at home. Staying faithful to its predecessors, you’ll be splattering creatures against walls with makeshift weapons, pummeling faces to a pulp with your bare fists and carving open bosses with a chainsaw. There’s quite a variety in the weapons Rick can equip himself with, allowing you to enjoy the splatter-fest more. They don’t call it Splatterhouse for nothing!

Instead of following the tradition of side scrolling gameplay, Splatterhouse opts for a 3D style. It’s your job to maneuver Rick through several different locations as you solve puzzles and fight for your life. 2D side scrolling sections are present throughout the game, and they stay true to the original games in every way. Even the cheap deaths from being knocked down a hole.

When you successfully kill an enemy, you are awarded blood which is collected in your blood bank. Here, you can spend your accumulated blood on upgrades for Rick. These include the basic health and weapon upgrades, as well as some new moves vital to your survival. One being the dodge roll. After you reach a certain part of the game, you gain the ability to use Berserk mode. By activating this mode, Rick becomes more powerful as his bones grow out and become his weapons. There are quite a few berserk moves for you to unlock with blood, each proving very useful throughout the game.

One thing I simply love about this game is the splatter kill system. When you’ve hit an enemy enough, they’ll start to glow red. If you grab them, you’ll initiate a cinematic QTE, complete with a nice blue/purple gradient overlay. You are required to move both control sticks in the prompted direction, simple really. Sometimes you have to push a few buttons but it’s never too bad. Successfully finishing the QTE leaves you with a small cinematic of Rick crushing whatever poor creature he has in his grasp. Heads are minced, spines are torn off and hands are shoved up a creatures arse to rip out their intestines. Now you see why this game is an 18.

Just as a beat ’em up should be, Splatterhouse is brutal when it comes to difficulty. Deaths against most foes aren’t cheap, but rather a case of not dealing with them properly. You’ll know when an enemy hurts you, and it certainly shows. A single attack from an enemy is enough to take off nearly 1/4th of your health. Now apply that to a full 3-4 hit combo and you’ll see why it’s dangerous. It hurts so much that Rick even loses his arm. Fear not, it grows back quickly. You can even use the old one as a weapon. Handy!

Splatterhouse sadly features no multiplayer modes, but it does include a survival mode! You have 6 different arenas to choose from, each one increasingly difficult. The goal is to survive all the waves of enemies and finish as fast as you can. There are secret missions for you to clear, which does motivate you to go back and play some more. Scattered throughout the arenas and in the story mode are torn photo pieces to collect. When pieced together, they form pictures of Rick’s girlfriend Jennifer. Finishing everything unlocks entries in Dr.West’s journal, which gives you an insight into the events prior to Splatterhouse.

While Splatterhouse is a gruesome game, it’s actually quite light-hearted in its scripting. Throughout the course of the game, Rick and the Terror Mask will have conversations with  each other. Surprisingly, it’s hilarious. Nearly everything the Terror Mask says will have you laughing. I believe there has been a few complaints about the voice acting, but personally I really like what Namco have put together. The only thing I don’t really like in terms of audio is the cheesy heavy metal soundtrack. It didn’t distract me, but it just isn’t my type of music.

The best thing about Splatterhouse isn’t the gameplay. Nor is it the soundtrack or the voice acting. Included on the disc is the original Splatterhouse trilogy, completely unchanged. This gives newcomers  a  chance to experience the old games and allows long time fans to have a good old nostalgia rush. Splatterhouse 3 was actually never released in Europe, so it’s nice to finally see the game reach over here.

Unfortunately, there’s one major problem stopping Splatterhouse from performing flawlessly. Loading times. Being a painfully difficult game is great, but when it takes almost a full minute to reload, it becomes a bother rather than a challenge. It doesn’t help that the loading screens consist of some pretty annoying frame animations of the different enemies you can fight. I’ve had an animation loop 4 times before I got to play again. Even installing the game to your HDD doesn’t do it much justice. It’s not quite as bad as the infamous Sonic 06 but it’s still a pain in the ass.

It’s weird how something as simple as loading times can knock a game down isn’t it? Regardless, if you look past the flaws, you have a great beat ’em up and a fantastic reboot to a long forgotten franchise. The Splatterhouse fanbase will enjoy this game more than newcomers, but that doesn’t mean the newcomers won’t have a good time. Do you love a good old button mashing beat ’em up with blood spurting everywhere? Splatterhouse may very well be your next purchase.

As a fan of the franchise, I thoroughly enjoyed the game, despite of the loading times. Console wise, Splatterhouse has been the only game this year to keep a grin on my face throughout the whole experience. Even during the second playthrough I enjoyed myself. There really isn’t a better feeling than having one of your favourite franchises rebooted successfully.

Final Score – 8/10

It’s not the best beat ’em up this year, but it’s certainly enjoyable. Loading times are a pain, but beyond that lies blood, addictive gameplay and some pretty gruesome cutscenes. Although Namco were a month too late in releasing it …

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One Response to “Review – Splatterhouse”

  1. Voice Acting…

    […]Review – Splatterhouse « Angry Bee Gaming[…]…

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