"Hello Detective Tapp... I want to play a game..."
The blood-curdling voice of Tobin Bell barely seconds into the game sets an instant sense of terror in the pitch-black room I sit in playing Saw for the first time... and let's be honest ? that's exactly the kind of experience we want from any Saw instalment. I'm a big fan of the films and the game definitely ticks all of the 'Saw' boxes. Whether it is the flickering TV sets, disgusting settings, complex and deeply disturbing puzzles or the vile, pig-mask wearing, and silent captor. Barely minutes into the game and you've had a taste of all of the above.
Saw 'the game' takes place in-between the first and second films, before the never-ending plot became too deeply diversified. Playing as Detective Tapp (originally portrayed by Danny Glover in the first Saw film) you regain consciousness in an all too familiar 'trap' situation. Panic and button mashing ensues, and once free you can appreciate the clever puzzle to let you out of the room. It really does start off like something any Saw fan would want.
Let the games begin...
As you progress through Saw, it isn't long before the cracks start appearing and the paper falls off the walls (at times quite literally). The character interactivity is more than a little frustrating. Having to be just the right distance away from doors to be able to open them and getting stuck on unseen objects are just a couple of niggles that start to irritate. On top of that you have a combat system that is about as smooth flowing as giving a tortoise a crowbar and telling it to dismember a cow! It is so clunky and slow. You could make a cup of tea in the time it takes your character to swing his bit of pipe or table leg, or whatever other blunt instrument you find to brutally stop people attacking you.
Which brings me onto my next point: people attack you a bit too often for a Saw game. There is no talking or trying to work out why you have been put into one of Jigsaw's traps, people just come at you. This frustrating and often quite tricky gameplay makes for a more terrifying experience.
Should you end up being bludgeoned too many times, you rather ungracefully fall to the floor and have to endure the harsh cackling noise the Saw doll makes (if you've seen the films, you'll recognise the shivers it sends down your spine) until you press X to continue. This is definitely something that the team at Zombie studios got right. The sound effects are near enough perfect and do an amazing job to add tension and suspense. Their only flaw being that at times when in the films the suspense it built up and climaxes with a burst of motion and sound, Saw 'the game' forgets to put the volume up.
X Marks the Spot...
Saw is set in a mental asylum. A rotting, disgusting and of course booby-trapped mental asylum. Sounds lovely. While not the most original setting for a horror game, it is filled with as much 'Saw' like stuff as possible, making it a hive of creepy-doll/pig-mask terror. The whole environment is very visually strong and extremely eerie. While there isn't always very much to do in each room, it looks good.
The character renders are somewhat different. Clumsy, blocky and unfinished are a better way to describe them. You do start to feel that time was running out for the developers after they had made the traps and environments. Should these inconsistencies be resolved, you would be left with a horror masterpiece. If the game follows the rest of the franchise then I imagine we might get a chance to see this about this time next year.
Saw in a nutshell is a really good first go at an adaptation of the films. While at times it does feel a little 'unfinished'; with particular aspects less impressive than the rest, any Saw junkie will love it. Non-fans might pick at the inconsistencies and neglect to appreciate all the 'Saw' like aspects and moments that have been added so well, but then again - if you've managed to avoid the entire Saw franchise over the last 6 years, you probably aren't in the market for the game.
Saw delivers all the usual thrills and spills of the horror genre while producing some truly awesome puzzles, giving it that serrated edge above other recent additions to the genre. The tension created by the eerie environments and creepy scenarios is on par with the films. Of course having your girlfriend creep in and shout 'boo' at you a couple of times definitely increases the fear factor a bit. Overall I was quite addicted.
Ticking both the horror genre boxes and especially the Saw boxes, for fans of the films Saw 'the game' definitely makes the cut!
- Pushes all the Saw buttons.
- Adequate plot in the peak of the saw timeline.
- Genuinely creepy atmosphere and cracking puzzles
- Truly rubbish combat system.
- A bit clunky and at times can feel unfinished.
- Won't really appeal if you're not already a Saw fan...