“Oh, we’re digging that up again?” asks one of the cast of Saints Row IV in the middle of an interview with Jane. The Enter the Dominatrix DLC pack might share the name of what was expanded upon during the development of SR4, but this is almost certainly nothing like what it would have been.
Instead, this is more like a behind the scenes look at some outtakes and ideas which didn’t make the grade, though I’ve no doubt that there are some additional crazy notions thrown in for good measure. I’ve not played through Saints Row IV – I haven’t had a chance to do much co-op play this past few months – but I do have the feeling that this takes what was already an amped up version of Saints Row The Third’s humour and silliness, and turns it up further… to 12, I guess.
The idea is actually quite simple, with a fairly short – I nipped through in around 100 minutes – and quite linear set of missions, each introduced and explored by the cast of the Saints Row IV pseudo-reality TV show. The snappily cut interview sees some of the main cast explaining what was going on in this canned DLC, why it was altered for SR4, and it all just spirals a little from there.
Zinyak, for example, explains to the camera early on, in his Shakespearean actor style, how he came into the role and almost immediately demanded changes to the plot and structure. Rather than a minor boss on the path to confronting the Dominatrix, he did turn out to be Saints Row IV’s main antagonist. Almost certainly this did actually happen during development, as the plot and game evolved, and this just turns it into a more amusing in-game anecdote.
The gaps between missions, introductions and various wall-breaking interruptions give the perfect excuse and method for joining up what are a handful of really very different levels. Without context, the jumps between them barely make any sense, even with the characters outlining what’s going on and humorously explaining how boring grind missions were skipped, and this style presentation allows them to live together and give plenty of laughs during the couple hours of game time.
My favourite comedic beat throughout was that what would theoretically have been lavishly produced cutscenes are instead shown off as simple test storyboards. To produce something that’s deliberately meant to look a bit rubbish and cheap, and do so in such a quintessential fashion for such supposedly key moments of plot was a perfect move.
The only real failing is seeing some of the Saints Row gameplay formula start to creak under the weight of what Volition are trying to make it do. For me, the game is about messing around and enjoying the ridiculous plot and characters, but there’s only so much variety in the core gunplay, even with the addition of super powers.
There’s really not much more to say about Enter the Dominatrix. It’s a short and sharp dose of the outlandish and self-knowing humour which the series is now known for, so if you liked Saints Row 3 and 4 then this will be a perfect follow on, and certainly something for your digital wishlist.
Enter the Dominatrix is out today on PSN, XBL and Steam for the princely sum of £5.99, or via the Season Pass. A second DLC pack, How the Saints Saved Christmas, is set for release later this year.