Any gamer around in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s may remember the Splatterhouse series, you know the Friday the 13th mask wearing protagonist named Rick who has to rescue his girlfriend Jennifer from the evil Dr. Over 20 years have passed in the real world and apparently it was time for a reboot of this franchise which was among the first game to feature a parental warning due to excessive violence and gore, and remember this was 20 years ago when graphics were a lot less detailed than they are now.
Once again the story is the same, Rick and Jennifer are a couple of young kids in love and Jennifer is taken by the evil Dr. West and Rick is killed in the attack. A disembodied voice awakens him from his death sleep, and low and behold the Terror Mask is ready to offer Rick a chance at revenge, at the cost of blood. Gallons of it. Once Rick is fitted with the Terror Mask his previously scrawny frame swells to Hulk proportions, which is required as he makes his way through said Splatterhouse and other locations while fighting wave after wave of abominations that the good Dr (of Necrobiology) has created. Gameplay is very basic, following a classic if not clichéd approach of traversing through empty hallways to rooms where waves of enemies await. The controls during battle is fairly generic, with a lot of button mashing for two styles of attacks – thankfully though a level up system is in place where you spend the Blood Points you earn for bashing and dismembering and unlock new methods to cause carnage.
During the battle segments as you wear down enemies some will start to glow which indicates that you can perform a Splatter Kill which zooms in on the action and makes you performs a quick time event to tear off arms, squash heads and rip out organs. These Splatter Kills award you more blood points to spend in addition to the insane amount of blood they spray all over the room and on the screen, so while they do get tiresome to always watch, they are important. The variety of enemies is decent for a game such as this, and boss battles can turn into some big bloody displays which to some will be overkill, but to others just what the Dr. ordered.
To mix up some of the three dimensional play and also as a nice nod to the roots of the title, there are plenty of segments in the game which revert to a two dimension side scrolling format. These segments sadly utilize the same control scheme as its 3D counterparts, so things become inadvertently difficult because of the clunky translation of move sets. Another major issue that really comes to surface in this 2D sections where dying seems a lot more prevalent is the horribly long load times, think PSP level load times. These load times happen each time you die in the game, and chances are high that will be a lot. The frustration level will likely grow with each subsequent death – especially during the aforementioned 2D segments. Additionally, the usual option of installing the game to your hard drive is somehow disabled with this title, so any chance of shortening times here is not happening.
Perhaps the best thing this game has going for it is the inclusion of the first three Splatterhouse games on the disc. As you progress through the levels you earn access to play the arcade original game, and the two Sega Genesis follow-ups. This is great fan service as a lot of gamers have very fond memories of these titles, and quite honestly I had more fun with the retro Splatterhouse than I did with the reboot.
The game will definitely not be on too many top ten lists this year as a standout title, but then again games with this level of gore and camp factor, complete with fourth wall breaking Terror Mask, tend to find their own market and seem to do quite well. Fans of the earlier games will most likely be ecstatic to get the great emulations of the classic titles, while gamers looking for a new action brawler might walk away slightly disappointed in the premise.
- Even buckets of gore can’t save a pedestrian title from the brink of bargain bins, but the classic Splatterhouse titles included really bump up the value for fans of this series.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360
— Jeff Paramchuk