Warning: It is impossible to describe this game without swearing so if you are of a sensitive disposition, aged 16 or younger, pregnant or under 160cms in height do not read any further.
Let’s get one thing straight, Splatterhouse is in no way perfect. If you die, there is 10-15 second wait while it reloads, the checkpoints are badly spaced and occasionally you will have no idea what to do. A perfect example of the flawed game play occurs about an hour in to the game in a scene where you have to fight off eight super strong enemies which takes 3-4 minutes, then you have to climb up train carriage and leap off before it tumbles to the ground. There is no indication which way you have to leap so it’s trial and error and if you get it wrong it’s instant death, 15 seconds loading and you start back and the fight and have to plough your way through the enemies again. And again. And again. And again. It is incredibly frustrating and there is no way a £40 game should have this problem, but you’re not going to pay £40 for it – rent it or pick it up from a bargain bin for a couple of quid.
But why should you do that when I’ve just told you how annoying the game is? Well I think that if you can get the game on the cheap it’s worth overlooking a few bad points that sully an otherwise fantastic title. I really enjoyed playing Splatterhouse, in fact it’s one the most enjoyable games I have played in recent memory.
Let me clarify that statement; Killzone 3 is fantastic, great graphics and brilliant multiplayer, Gran Turismo 5 is the simulation to beat, LittleBig Planet 2 is technically excellent but Splatterhouse.. Splatterhouse is over the top, unrelenting, gore soaked fun.[drop]The reason I enjoyed the title – and this may sound odd for what is a simple arcade button masher – is because of the excellent plot and the acting. The story gradually unfolds via a series of flashbacks and although it features quite a few clichés (mad professor, haunted mansions, creepy toy dolls) it’s a love story. Completing certain tasks in-game unlocks pages from a journal belonging to Doctor Henry West M.D., Professor of Necrobiology, before he went completely fruitloop and you can listen to these as an audio book via the main menu. They are genuinely touching and create a wonderful back story.
The game starts with your character, Rick, laying in a pool of blood with most of his intestines spread across the floor. Laying beside you is the Terror Mask, a golden artifact of unkown orgin.
“Aztecs. Heh…Thought they were Mayans. I’m so embarrassed. Fuck ’em; they all taste the sames,” jokes the Mask when quizzed about his past.
The Mask is whispering inside your head, begging you to put it on. Rick does so and transforms from a puny weakling in to an overly muscled powerhouse with the ability to rip enemies arms off (more on that later).
As well as giving Rick muscle the Mask is a brilliant story mechanic, there is no need to stop for expositional cut-scenes when the Mask is talking inside your head. And talk he does, in fact he barely ever shuts up which could be annoying if the dialogue wasn’t so funny. There is ridiculous, there’s over the top and then there’s the Mask. The first time I died I did a double take – did my PS3 just mumble “Fucking pussy!” at me?
Once you start a level (and assuming you don’t die) there are no load sequences and the game uses the tried and tested technique of making the character run through a long-ish tunnel while the next area loads in the background. During this time the Mask is making wisecracks, explaining plot or – if he’s feeling particularly wicked – rooting around in Rick’s brain. Nothing is off limits, whilst nosing about in Rick’s noggin the mask discovers Rick cheated on Jennifer (his girlfriend) a few summers ago. The dialogue is a follows:
Rick: “The thing that happened with that girl…”
Mask: “I never said it was a girl…”
Rick: “Wait; what?”
Mask: “Hey, you think I care? We’re both men of the World. You, you cheated on your girlfriend. Me, I’ve helped exterminate whole civilizations.”
Talking of blood, you thought Mortal Kombat was gory? Splatterhouse takes things to a whole new level, and is the most blood soaked gore filled game I’ve ever played. There is barely a second when your screen is not splashed red and – like the dialogue – nothing is off limits. One section requires you to beat the Corrupted (the main fist-fodder enemies) to a weakened state, pick them up then walk over to a set of four chairs.
Four chairs with a very sharp spike in the centre of the seat.
You can guess what you have to do, “This is why we got an 18 rating!” laughs the Mask, breaking the fourth wall as Rick repeatedly impales the Corrupted on the spikes and fountains of blood spurt in all directions.
Further on in the game, during a quicktime section, you have to punch a large dog type Corrupted in the arse. I mean literally in the arse, if you complete the move successfully you rip the creatures’ rectum out in blood-soaked slow motion.
Splatterhouse is a one of the purest arcade games of this generation, you can upgrade your skills and unlock new moves but for the most part you are mashing buttons as fast and hard as you can. You don’t need to learn multi-move combos, mess about with inventories or worry about anything more complicated than trying to rip off an enemy’s arm and using the bloodied stump to beat them to death.
The title occasionally reverts to a side scrolling beat ’em up as homage to the 1988 original; it’s a wonderfully nostalgic touch and you can also unlock emulations of the three original Splatterhouse arcade games as you play.
This game is not for everyone, I can imagine I’ve put quite a few of you off with the graphic descriptions of rectal trauma. However if, like me, you grew up with the comedy-horror of Nightmare On Elm Street and Critters and long a game where you can disengage your brain for an hour and just have fun I heartily recommend getting hold of a copy.
I shall leave you with an excerpt from the dialogue which occurs if you dont move Rick for a few minutes, a nice little nod to the thrash metal soundtrack:
Mask: “So, who are you listening to at the moment?”
Rick: “Oh, ummm…Let me think…Lamb of God…Mutant Supremacy, Cavalera Conspiracy…High on Fire…The Accused, The Haunted, ASG, Goatwhore.”
Mask:“Oh, goat whore? Fuck me, I love goat whore – oh wait, nevermind…You mean the band, oh sorry, I thought you meant…nevermind.”