Have you ever wondered what a video game would be like if the developer never held back on the gore or violence? Perhaps it could be littered with decapitations, excessive blood spilt all over the environment and countless limbs tore off of unlucky enemies. If that sounds enticing then Splatterhouse should be right up your alley as it doesn’t hold back any punches and goes beyond the normal conventions of being a mature-rated title.
Splatterhouse does itself a favor with the over-the-top violence as the blood being thrown at the screen and numerous bones being broken help hide how shallow the title truly is. As an action game, Splatterhouse does very little to push the genre forward and relies on enclosing the players in a room until they eliminate all the enemies within it to move on. Room after room players will wade through demons and are able to dismember many of them from their torsos, necks, shoulders and many others via Splatter Kills.
Splatter Kills allow the player to take a weakened enemy, enter a darkened cutscene where Rick Taylor, the hero of the story, viciously attacks them to showcase a glorious death. Whether it is yanking their head off or ripping their arms off, the Splatter Kills take anywhere from 3-7 seconds and allows the player to bask in the brutality of Splatterhouse. After the first few hours, I tended to avoid the Splatter Kills to push forward and complete the title as they tended to slow down the action more so than I enjoyed.
Without the blood, Splatterhouse is much less of a game than it is a B movie in the video game form. While Splatterhouse does permit players to perform combinations, there’s very little technical requirement to the combat. Continue to press the face buttons in succession and you’ll be able to tear through waves of enemies in no time. Players are eligible to use Necro Moves that demonstrate even more wicked maneuvers, but players have to build up their Necro Meter by slaughtering the enemies set before them. There’s also Berserker Mode, a mode where the Terror Mask takes over and unleashes carnage that Taylor never could have done without the influence of the diabolical mask.
Another area that Splatterhouse trudges forward and doesn’t relent on is the dialogue and voice acting. Yes, it’s terribly cheesy, but that’s excusable as it never attempts to deliver Shakespearian dialogue. It’s a good ole’ survival-horror action title that wants to bask in the glory of violence, so the writing fits exceptionally well. It also helps that Jim Cummings, a popular voice actor who is known for his works as Tigger and Winnie-the-Pooh, provides hilarious one-liners one after another as the Terror Mask that takes Taylor on a journey he’ll never forget to win back his girlfriend Jennifer Willis from the clutches of the evil Dr. Henry West. The only downside of the voice acting is that the one-liners do tend to become repetitive, but it was easy to overlook them due to the sheer amount of grotesque violence taking place.
Aside from the bloodshed that takes place in hundreds of enclosed rooms, there are boss battles to encounter but they never bordered the limitless potential that a game like Splatterhouse – a title that takes mature themes to the max – has. At least Namco Bandai had the courtesy of including a survival mode, and the three original games – Splatterhouse 1, 2, 3 – as unlockables to raise the longevity. As an eight hour game on the easiest difficulty, the repetition did set in halfway through and hampered the overall effectiveness of the brutality that took place.
As blood splashes on the ground, walls, on Taylor’s body and even on the screen, Splatterhouse shows that not all video games have to take the route of melodramas. It’s simple. It’s fun. Most importantly, it does its job at giving action fans a fantastic romp through a violent backdrop. It also helps that the soundtrack chosen is right out of a metalhead’s dreams.
[Reviewed on PS3]