Splatterhouse Review

Splatterhouse is the kind of game that gives video games a bad name. It’s absurdly violent, for seemingly no other reason than to just be violent. The main goal of the protagonist is to save his girlfriend, but along the way you are collecting nude photos of her that she has presumably been carrying around and accidentally dropping. It sort of ruins the whole romantic damsel-in-distress motif. Worst of all is that it has moments of fleeting fun. It’s not quite enjoyable enough to merit a strong recommendation, but it’s not without its moments of gory, over-the-top, passive entertainment.

The strongest selling point of Splatterhouse, rather surprisingly, is the story. You start as a goateed college student with questionable fashion sense, curiously bleeding to death in the foyer of a rather imposing mansion. Your girlfriend, who could have possibly been been your fiance if you had only been given a little more time, is getting dragged away, clearly against her will, by a mad scientist. It’s the quintessential videogame plot, but it is heavily influenced by the same somewhat believable reality present in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. These characters had a life before entering this ridiculously violent world, and the game takes at least a few moments to establish it. What follows is a sequence where you pretty much sell your soul to the devil for magical powers of super-violence.

Once you delve into the mansion, you find that this scientist has been around for much longer than the average human body should allow, and your fellow classmates are falling victim to some sort of mysterious experiment. Whatever he is doing, it is bad, it is violent, and it is just compelling enough to push you forward through the incredibly repetitive, seemingly unending adventure of unnecessary gore.

That’s really the big problem with Splatterhouse — it’s repetition. You leave the mansion pretty quickly, but the formula and style stays consistent throughout the entire game. Every room looks the same, every enemy looks the same, and when literally wave after tidal wave of blood is filling the screen, covering everything to the point where all you see is red, it ends up all being the same color, too.

The combat relies heavily on one attack button. You can pick up weapons and grab enemies, but the majority of the time, you will just find yourself jamming away on the square button. Quick time kills, which are frequent, involve pointing the two control sticks in specified directions. For example, squishing a head between your palms involves pushing the two control sticks towards one another. It offers an illusion of actual control over your kills. It’s an illusion that is lost on the traditional, “hit this button at this moment” sort of quicktime events we have all grown accustomed to.

There are times when the game changes things up a bit by offering simple puzzles or changing the perspective of the game to a sort of 2D platformer. The puzzles are all pretty simple, usually involving blood, and getting more of it. You will find that blood is a recurring theme in this game. The 2D sequences are a welcome throwback to the game’s original inspiration, the Splatterhouse arcade game, and work just fine, until you have to start jumping. Clearing pits and jumping over obstacles from the side perspective are unnecessarily difficult, and usually result in instant death, which is not good because it makes the game reload.

The biggest incentive for not dying isn’t saving lives (there are no numbered lives) or having to avoid replaying difficult scenarios (the game isn’t too hard), it’s making sure you don’t have to sit through the load times. For the most part, getting the game up and running doesn’t take too long. Moving from brown, dungeon-esque, blood-soaked room to the next brown, dungeon-esque, blood-soaked room is subject to some bearable load times, but nothing crazy. Dying, though, when the game reloads your most recent save, inexplicably takes forever. It does give you a few minutes to get up, look at yourself in the bathroom mirror, and question the morality of your favorite hobby, but who wants to take the time to do that?! These loads do offer a greater incentive to avoid dying than most modern games, which offer almost no repercussions for death at all, but on the other hand, here it is an unintentional penalty, and an incredibly annoying one at that.

The music is appropriately dreary, with some recognizable metal bands making up the soundtrack. It fits in the game well for better or worse (mostly worse… maybe worst), and that’s about the most positive thing that can be said about it. Blood drips from, well, everything, in a fairly realistic manner, and it is clearly on that red liquid that the developers spent the majority of their time. The rest of the game — the non-blood-related parts — don’t necessarily do anything to impress, but they don’t do anything to hurt your eyes, either. The animation, however, can be rough and spastic at times.

Splatterhouse really is a despicable game, but there are players out there who will adore the chain-wallet-wearing protagonist and his super-violent escapades. The game wants to generate controversy, and its greatest defenders won’t have a whole lot of ground to stand on when arguing in its favor. It’s got blood, sexy ladies, blood, monsters, blood, and blood, and gamers who think that the quality of a game is directly proportional to the quantity of those things will likely have just found their game of the year. The inclusion of the original Splatterhouse games are a welcome addition, but for newcomers to the series they offer little more than the opportunity to ask out loud, “why did anybody think this series needed an update?”

The hope for Splatterhouse was that it might be a decent God of War knockoff, but ultimately, it’s just one of those sadistic “violence simulators” that Fox news talks about all the time. In fact, while we’re on the topic, can we all agree to not let any national news networks see this game in action? It can be our little secret.


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Author: Kyle Hilliard View all posts by

One Comment on "Splatterhouse Review"

  1. RyuGoomba June 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm -

    This review sucks. Completely bias in every possible way. Never had a problem in platforming, control is good, the set-pieces bring variety to the game, the soundtrack is perferctly complementary, voice work is some of the absolute best I’ve heard, Jim Cummings and Josh Keaton do excellent voice overs in the game. Story is great because it has a lot of depth to offer and doesn’t shove it in your face, art design is solid and combat is just a deep as God of War, BUT OH WAIT, THAT’S A BUTTON MASHER, BUT IT SCORES 4 AND 5. I like the fact when you say that this game is “ununnecessarily violent” when if it wasn’t for this that paved the way for gore in games, we wouldn’t have games like Mortal Kombat here, now would we? The game does have its quirks, long load times, animation isn’t all that great, glitches everywhere and it can get repetitive with enemies repeating by the 8th level. The 3 games are emulated perfected on the new Splatterhouse, but they’ve aged pretty damn well. This game gets more right than it does wrong. I know reviews have opinions, but sadly, some reviewers don’t realize they need to give out RELIABLE information about games.

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