Developer: Volition, High Voltage Software
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: January 20th, 2015
Available On: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
I guess this one had to happen eventually. Saints Row has been steadily getting more and more insane, and Saints Row IV really went crazy with space and simulations and superpowers. Gat Out of Hell (which is best seen as a stand-alone expansion pack to IV) tries to one up it by taking the series to the afterlife. On one hand it does totally one-up the last few games in insanity. On the other, Gat Out of Hell feels like a much lesser experience in, well… everything else.
After Saints Row IV we see the crew celebrating Kinzie’s birthday. Things go wrong when they use an Ouija board that sends The President to Hell, with Satan planning to marry them off to his daughter Jezebel. Not happy with this, Johnny and Kinzie load up and jump into a new portal with the intentions of shooting Satan in the face and rescuing The President. While the concept is funny, the game doesn’t take as much advantage of it as I would like. The game has a few historical figures in hell, but they’re limited to a few lines and concept art cutscenes each. Former Saints Row characters like Saints Row 2 antagonist Dane Vogel and Saints Row: The Third twins Kiki and Viola return which is pretty neat. That said, the most interesting story element doesn’t even take place until after the credits, featuring a new gang of all of Saints row’s old rivals teaming up, and just a few lines later we’re already told that The Saints win that fight. Well jeeze, way to instantly kill the most interesting plot arc Gat Out of Hell had to offer before even starting it.
The game itself plays very similar to Saints Row IV. You’ll once again get super powers with Blast, Stomp, and Buff (now renamed Aura) returning. Telekentics has been ditched but replaced with a new summoning power that allows you to call forth demons to fight for you. Each of the four powers has three different elements that changes how it’s used. For example: Blast can either be used to turn enemies to stone, create a cloud that damages enemies standing in it, or trap and drain the health of a single demon. The big new addition is flight: Johnny has the ability to spread his wings and use a very fun flying mechanic to get around the city of New Hades. Using this you’ll be able to collect “soul clusters” that work just the same as data clusters from Saints Row IV. There’s almost 1000 in all, so you’ll be collecting them basically the entire game.
Yet despite the crazy setting, Gat Out of Hell doesn’t really do much interesting with it. The majority of the demons you encounter are basically just regular enemies with a different skin. A new imp enemy latches onto you, another new enemy doesn’t fight but rather just summons more enemies, and one enemy teleports around while using a sniper rifle, but none of these make any major differences in how you’ll approach fights. One of the few unique things to come out of Gat Out of Hell is the Seven Deadly Weapons. Each of them require a bit of work to get, but the payoff is worth it. Lust is represented as a shotgun that charms enemies, Gluttony has you smothering them in cake, and Greed is a pair of coin-shooting sub-machine guns. My favorite, though, has to be Sloth. Sloth is a reclining chair that moves around, with a pair of chain guns and a missile launcher loaded into it. It’s just as hilarious as it sounds.
Yet while the Seven Deadly Weapons are creative, the mission structure (or, rather, lack thereof) is a total mess. The past few Saints Row games had some fantastic story missions that were constantly throwing creative and fun situations at the player. Gat Out of Hell, on the other hand, has none. Instead of doing story missions you’ll just complete activities until you fill up the “Satan’s Wraith” bar, and once that’s full you can go fight Satan and finish the game. The activities themselves range from copy-pasted, yay more Insurance Fraud and Mayham, to “completely new but not much fun.” Salvation, the big new activity, is basically just flying around grabbing people as they slowly fall from heaven. Sometimes they’ll be ascending to heaven and you have to grab them on the way up. Overall it’s not interesting. Worse, in a about two and a half hours after starting I had completed enough activities to finish the game. Finishing the rest of them and finding all the collectables only brought the game to a little over six hours. Gat Out of Hell is woefully short for its asking price.
I was pretty disappointed with Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell. The funny story and interesting setting drew me in, but the lack of missions, short length, uninteresting combat, and waste of potential really hurt. I’m hoping this is just a misstep in the otherwise fantastic series and that the next proper game will bring it back up to its heavenly heights.