Review: Painkiller: Purgatory (iOS)

PC gamers may be familiar with the name ‘Painkiller’. Released back in 2004, this FPS game garnered many fans and a very healthy ‘81’ on Metacritic. Indeed, it’s this brand recognition that is being banked on when it comes to the iOS game ‘Painkiller: Purgatory’, which has the following tagline on the appstore: “PC Games Magazine BEST SHOOTER OF THE YEAR is now on your iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.”

One expects a rather epic game, then.  Oh dear.

For those of you who have read any of my previous reviews, you may have noticed I always try to maintain a balanced viewpoint, with positives, negatives, and an overall conclusion. However, Painkiller: Purgatory is one of the most poorly put together titles I have played in a long, long time.


The control scheme for this FPS uses virtual twin thumb-sticks to allow for movement and strafing, with the fire button being an icon on the right hand side of the screen. It is extremely sensitive, with the slightest movement being wildly exaggerated on screen. Heading into the control options uncovers that the default is actually on one of the least sensitive settings (yikes!).

Even when adjusted, the issue remains and is coupled with an extremely off-putting floating sensation. I also found it surprisingly difficult to make my character do a quick 180 degree turn; instead the game seemed to want to do it in small steps, which is laughable when a demon dog is feasting on your legs. On the iPad the control scheme is just about manageable, but on the iPod it is much worse due to the smaller screen estate.

[boxout]The whole premise of the game is to explore a single castle, killing demons and making your way to the final boss. This involves entering a room, which then goes into lockdown, killing all the enemies, then heading to the next room. Rinse and repeat. The enemy AI is sporadic at best; sometimes getting caught behind scenery, and other times being able to hit you with projectiles from the other side of a large room, leaving you almost defenceless as they bombard you with what seems to be an unlimited supply of ammo.

This is one of the game’s many problems, as half the time you can plough through enemies like a tank, but then you’ll hit not so much a difficulty spike, rather a difficulty solid brick wall. I’m not daft (mainly), and I know what the developers where trying to do, which is provide an old school FPS experience, however this fails to capture any of the nostalgic spirit required, whilst in turn managing to retain all the problems. The game can also be completed in under half an hour, which surely sets a new benchmark.

Visually the character models are fine, if a little flat. The same can be said of the weapons, which unfortunately lack any sort of ‘oomph’ when firing their payload. The environments range from rather bland identikit box-rooms, to quite nice halls, although it all suffers from minimal detail. As odd as this sounds, playing the game for any length of time also left me feeling incredibly nauseous. I think I tracked down the source of the problem, which was the lead characters secondary weapon (a large spinning blade). Watching this thing rotate just made me feel ill, but unfortunately it has to be used when you run out of ammo. Curse my feeble eyes!

The most disappointing aspect of the game though is the total lack of purpose. It is a hollow experience with nothing driving you forwards, no surprises, no ‘oh wow!’ moments. Then the game finishes with some text that might as well read “sorry Dan, but the princess is in another castle”.


  • Certain rooms look nice


  • The majority of rooms look bland
  • Lasts less than half an hour
  • Awful controls
  • Inconsistant AI
  • 1 castle, 1 boss – that’s it

As much as it pains me to say this, I can’t recommend Painkiller: Purgatory at all. The game feels hollow and incomplete, and for the money there are so many other, superior games on the market

Score: 2/10



  1. Thanks for the review. I have been undecided about this for the last couple of days. Finally made up my mind, I’ll pass.
    I usually like Chillingo released games. Glad I didn’t buy it when it released.

  2. Mate, I feel sorry for you. Sounds absolutely dreadful to play it, let alone finish it.

    • At least it only took half an hour!

      • Yes, but that half an hour could have been put to playing far higher quality titles.

  3. maybe a bit too ambitous

  4. “Certain rooms look nice” – And you really tried to even find that!

    Shame as Painkiller was awesome

  5. Certain rooms looked nice at the Colosseum, but for the average Christian the overall experience also lasted less than half an hour.

  6. Shit a brick lol

  7. love the original Painkiller, but all sequels have been poor. Why they ever thought it would work on a phone is beyond me.

  8. Err… Well I would buy this after all the hard work you’ve put in Chillingo but unfortunately my thumbs fell off yesterday. Oh well, gutted.

  9. as bad as first person games are on the single analog control psp, they’re so much worse on a touch screen, i’ve only played one first person game on a touch screen device, i can’t remember what it was called but the controls were awful.

    i really don’t know why they make stuff like this for touch screen devices.

    just make titles that work with touch screens, they’re just not suited to certain types of games.

    • That’s the reason why I refuse to buy the Gameloft FPSs that everyone keeps telling me about. Hell, it’s the reason why I don’t buy any game with soft buttons… Games with touch-specific controls like Tiny Wings or Cut the Rope are so much better… This is why a Smartphone will never satisfy all of my gaming needs, even if every App Store game dev wishes this would be true…

  10. “This is not the game you’re looking for…”

    • this is not the game i’m looking for o_o

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