Rick passes out in a pool of his own blood from what appears to be a life-ending injury. Before losing consciousness, he hears what sounds like a demonic voice coming from a mask lying down a few inches from him. The mask promises to help him, in exchange for him helping it. Rick dons the mask and he takes a new muscular form bursting with strength and power. -summary
I still don't know what attracted me to Splatterhouse. The need for me to play this game is still a mystery. I was never a fan of the original series, because I felt they were very poorly made games and that's all there is to it . Also, I was quite aware of this title being stuck in limbo as far as development was concerned, and there was even crew members fired while the game was in production. This is almost never a good thing. Still, for reasons I don't know, this game made it into my system, and I feel it's sad to think about what this game could have been. Beneath all of the missteps found in the flawed game play and sluggish controls, lies a solid action game that uses H.P. Lovecraft's literature and various horror films as its pool source to develop its horror theme and weird humor. Splatterhouse may have become a cult classic to some, but with a lot more work it could have been more than that.
Splatterhouse follows Rick through 12 stages, as he fights the undead and various monsters to save his girlfriend Jen, who has been kidnapped by Dr. Henry West. He gains what is called the Terror Mask, which seems to have a mind of its own. The story becomes much deeper as Rick explores West's mansion and soon learns what his real plan is. After the second stage or so, West's motive becomes quite obvious in a sense, yet I still cared enough to find out what was going to happen.
Splatterhouse lives up to its namesake, and with a name like that it would be insane to come into this not expecting a gory gaming experience. The game provides more than enough visceral action to satisfy any gorehounds craving. Rick will gain access to various melee weapons consisting of nail-laced 2x4's, lead pipes, chainsaws, and shot guns to deliver some savage, ruthlessly beat to death a** beatings. The monsters and undead will be earning their combat pay, unfortunately for them they're going to have a hard time spending it, because if Rick isn't blowing them away or knocking them around into bloody pieces, he's literally tearing them apart through Quick-Time Events (QTE's). Rick can tear the arms off his enemies, and use those same arms to deliver beatdowns. He can hurl heads like baseballs, and he can grab some enemies from behind, shove his hands into their a**hole and yank out intestines. There are segments where you grab enemies and impale them against spikes in the sickest of ways. The game is completely tasteless and there is no shame at all; the sick and sinister such as myself will have a fun time dishing out bloody mayhem for awhile.
All the dismemberment and chaos rewards you in the form of blood as currency, and at any time you can select the upgrade shop and unlock various moves; quick punches, slow yet powerful punches, tackles, bum rushes leading to ground and pound, and just many other cool things to rack up the body count. Rick can also enter a Berserker mode, where the Terror Mask transforms him into a bladed looking beast that slowly drains the "Necro Meter", which is used to pull off other vicious attacks as well as heal Rick.
I mentioned that the enemies will have a hard time taking you out, but I'm actually a bit off on that one. The monsters really are vicious and they can kill Rick very quickly if you don't get accustomed to blocking, evading, and learning the more powerful combos. Some of the monsters can hack off an arm with a single slash, and you will have to wait a few seconds for Rick to regenerate a new arm, or heal yourself with the Necro meter if you have enough juice for it. Several of the sub bosses and even end stage bosses soon join the cannon-fodder, and these battles actually work into the difficulty spike later on.
The game uses two different play styles; the main portion follows a third person free roaming view. This part is completely linear and it's impossible to get lost, the so-called puzzles aren't Captain America: Super Soldier simple, but they shouldn't take anyone more than a minute to figure out. The second is a supposed homage to the 2D feel of the original game; for fans of the original series I'm sure this will take them back. Personally, I hated this part since it felt so out of place and forced, plus the controls make it harder to be enjoyable. I'll cover that later.
Even though Splatterhouse appealed to me in its game play. There's quite a bit, no, a whole lot in the game play to hate. One thing I always look forward to are boss battles, and except for two these pretty much sucked. There was no real strategy to them, and they can all be beaten the same way.
Now I have nothing against a difficulty spike itself, as long as its done in a creative manner. Some of the problem is that you can tell this game is about 3 hours longer than what it should be, because they just start throwing out former sub bosses and end bosses, in what seems to be everywhere coupled with silly obstacles. There's just not much variety in the line up, even though some of the designs may change, many of them still fight the same. The enemies benefit from the spike too, due to at least one glitch and it's in the hit detection. I mainly noticed this in the later stages. For example, the gruesome kill where you tear enemies apart is called the Splatterkill, to trigger the QTE for it you must grab the enemy. I had up to three sub bosses glowing red in which this is the time to grab them, and the grab would never connect. It was like, it just wasn't programmed to work in that area or something. This lead to some frustrating a**-kickings and even deaths. The game had frozen on me in a couple of areas too, which lead to me having to get up and reset the system because I couldn't do it with the controller.
The load times, wow, believe everything you hear about the load times. They are very long, and are quite frustrating to sit through if you're dying cheap deaths and unfortunately those are plenty. Some of them are complete trial and error. For example, there's one stage that requires Rick to make it across a collapsing bridge. If you try to make it to the next side quickly, a piece of debris from the ceiling with no warning whatsoever will fall and knock you down into the abyss. This isn't challenging and fun, this is cheap and annoying. Thankfully, there are checkpoints that automatically save in like every section of the stage. The platformer portions can be almost as irritating, and this has just as much to do with Rick's programming as the controls. He's a bit too sluggish for precise jumps and dashes in regards to platforming. You will take unnecessary damage at times, and again, die frustrating deaths due to this.
Despite the issues, most serious gamers will stick this one out, but I can't knock someone for quitting either. There are times the game can be that annoying.
Thinking about it, the controls would almost be just fine if not for the platforming portions. Rick just wasn't made for it. It's easy to continue dashing and stopping right into a sharp object and taking damage, or stopping underneath a crushing device. Plus jumps that look so easy can feel pretty tough to make. The platforming is forced and it shows in the controls. As for the moves, I never saw myself struggling to pull off any combos in any way, shape, or form. I can pull off Rick's entire moves list whenever I need to. Picking up weapons with the D-Pad and moving with the sticks performed just right. If I had any beef with this part, it's the targeting system. There are points in the game where you have to impale creatures against sections of the wall to access new areas. Most of the time I would knock or throw them against spikes in what felt like pure luck, while I could rarely pull this off intentionally. Thankfully there aren't too many segments like these.
The environments are by far the best looking to me. West's mansion looks creepy in several areas, plus there's a blue-moon light shining down on a sadistic looking carnival you visit in the middle of the game. The lighting, various shadows, and animation for moving furniture trying to kill you works very well developing the atmosphere. Most horror fans are going to love the backgrounds. Some of the best character designs are the ones you don't see often, like a giant eyeball you have to beat senseless, and then rip out of the socket, or a giant mouth you have to toss enemies in to feed it. The kill animations are gruesome; I never thought tearing dead people apart would look so cool, and when Rick takes damage, he wears the wounds of savage warfare. His rib cage will be exposed and broken bones will be seen when his arm is torn off. Most of this stuff is hilarious to see; some of my favorite moments is swatting enemies against the screen or walls, and watching them slide down leaving a blood streak, or throwing them to the ground and blowing their heads off with the shotgun. I have only too real complaints; the visuals do seem on par with most launch games for the system, and that camera, it can be downright troublesome on some occasions. You can lose where you're at in the middle of a big fight. It doesn't always properly follow Rick.
The soundtrack is made up of licensed songs, by heavy metal acts such as Lamb of God, Mastodon, and Five Finger Death Punch. I get what the developers were shooting for, and it does work with the games style, but I'm not a fan of this type of music at the moment; give me some time and maybe I'll feel different later. The voice effects are the show for me; I love the voice acting for the Terror Mask delivered by Jim Cummings. Yes, you have Darkwing Duck and Winnie the Pooh dishing out these profanity-filled psychotic lines that had me cracking up and rarely got old; hilarious lines breaking the fourth wall too with, "Now this is the kind of sh*t that got us a "M" rating." , for me it was just too much but in the right way. Plus there are sound effects that stand out, like the painful screams when Rick grabs creatures and swings them around, or the sound of metal when bashing them with a lead pipe.
If the masochist inside of you is craving more pain then there is a harder setting, and believe me, you're going to notice the difference, but the extremely cool thing is that you can keep your moves you already earned. So if you didn't buy everything, then you don't have to start over from scratch; in other words, you can kick off the game slaughtering creatures in Berserker mode, instead of waiting to learn the ability later in the game.
There are unlockable stages for the Survival Mode and you unlock these as you play. There are several stages you can choose, and the mission is to kill about 20 waves of enemies. You don't earn anything worthwhile here except some trophies, and I don't play games for those so this was pretty much wasted on me, to include I got my mutilation fix in the main game. If this section of the game does anything, it shows you just how limited Splatterhouse is when it comes down to character types.
The original three games can be unlocked, and this only happens during different segments of the game; chapters one through eight I believe. There is no way to unlock them without playing the game, so don't buy this thinking that. The first game is the arcade version, while the other two are the console versions for Sega Genesis. They look like exact ports also, but a die hard fan will be able to know much better than I would.
Splatterhouse is over the top fun and it knew what it wanted to be. The game isn't the least bit shameful in its presentation. It's over the top violent, and I really didn't get tired of ripping up bodies during my initial play through. Unfortunately, there's no possible way to over look the games flaws. They're right in your face, and due to this, Splatterhouse may be more frustrating than fun for some. If you have not played through the complete God of War series, Ninja Gaiden Sigma series, Bayonetta, or Dante's Inferno, and you're craving some action, I recommend those well done titles before this.
Pros: -Loads and loads of barbaric action, funny dialog
Cons: -Load times, out of place platform elements, camera, glitches
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