It’s that time again, when us reviewers must steel ourselves and delve into a remake of a classic game from our childhoods, hoping that it will do our memories justice. In this case, it’s a reboot of a classic horror series from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s: Splatterhouse.
Actually, I’m not sure the term “classic” truly applies to this one. Most gamers I know had never heard of the series until now, and to be honest, the series was only average on the whole. The first two games were ridiculously hard and very limited in terms of gameplay – relying more on their blood and gore to generate sales. Some of us bought them, and we’ve probably still got tooth marks in our controllers to prove it. The third game was a more straightforward beat ‘em up and probably the best in the series, but I still wouldn’t go so far as to call it a classic.
This reboot of the series contains elements from all three of the originals. Straight off the bat, it’s clear that the story is going to be very entertaining, especially if you’re a fan of cult films. The cutscenes and art direction are done in a “Sam Raimi style,” with lots of cheesy horror cinematography, shrieking shock-horror scores and a whole bunch of other stuff you just can’t take seriously. It’s great. It’s also gory as hell, with buckets of blood spraying out of enemies – more than their bodies are capable of holding in fact – and body parts flying off left and right, which you can pick up and use as weapons, of course.
The premise is simple: Rick, a nerdy college student, was all set to propose to his girlfriend when a mad scientist guts him like a fish and kidnaps his girl. Lying in a pool of his own blood, he is contacted by an artifact known as the Terror Mask, which offers him the power to save her. He agrees and the mask turns him into an angry giant that seems to be a mix of the Incredible Hulk and Jason Voorhees.
The obvious resulting carnage is a pretty straightforward action game. Rick has a whole arsenal of moves and special “Terror Mask” abilities which can be learned and upgraded by spending blood collected from enemies. Sometimes he can grab enemies and finish them off in a outrageous ways, where players are prompted to perform actions on the analogue sticks which mimic the nastiness Rick is perpetrating on screen – things like snapping their torsos in half or ripping their lungs out. There are a few weapons for Rick to use, a few platforming sections thrown in, and the mandatory collectibles – nude pictures of Ricks girlfriend in this case (seriously).
If you’re down with this kind of brutality and cheesy horror, you’ll probably be happy fairly happy with Splatterhouse. The graphics are appealing and cartoony, the dialogue hard to believe, and there are a few nifty unlockables to add some interest, including the original Splatterhouse games. Cool.