Predictable, repetitive and contrivedPublish date: 22 December 2009 by Thomas Mckinnon
Not enjoying life to the full? Well, forget multi-vitamins; forget spending more time with the family or even searching for your Raison d'etre. What you really want is some maniacal, death-trap building serial killer to demonstrate the value of your life to you.
Yes, Saw has finally been made into a game. If the horror puzzle genre is your thing then Saw will certainly gross the pants off you. You’re not the mastermind of the gruesome affair however; instead you find yourself attempting to spring Jigsaw’s cruel traps. The idea of a Saw game is perhaps more disturbing than the movies as it’s interactive and consequently the game has the potential to be far more terrifying than the movies.
The game’s narrative fits between the first and the second movie. You play detective David Tapp, the cop who lost everything (family, career, and partner) to his obsession with catching the game’s psychotic genius.
No surprises, Jigsaw has decided that your death/ resolve to live is his next masterpiece. He has kidnapped you, trapped you in an abandoned loony bin, rigged some people you know up to some elaborate traps that you have to solve to save them and told a bunch of other people to kill you by removing a key from your body which will save them.
For a horror puzzle game the plot really isn’t bad, even if it is predictable. The plot gets a little thin though when it’s stretched over hours of game play. The twists we loved in Silent Hill are non-existent in Saw. As a result you’re never really in a state of suspense as far as the story goes.
The puzzles are interesting to begin with. The trouble with the puzzles is that they’re a little like a greatest hits tour of Saw. We’ve seen them all before, and you’ll see them again and again in the game.
This repetitive game play is just plain old boring. It also kills the fear factor of the game. The hypodermic needles in a toilet bowl setup is probably the most referenced example of this. The first time you have to stick your hand in a toilet bowel full of sharp little hypodermics, to pull out an item you need, you cringe. In fact your hand gets all tingly and you feel the need to comfort it with your other hand. The second time you do it you think… oh… that old chestnut. The third time you just get angry.
The whole game is a little like that. You’ll find the trip wired shotguns bothersome, the loony’s that chase after you dull and the innumerable mini-games gut yawningly tiresome. The fact that the mini-games are timed does heighten the pace a little and help to build up a little anxiety, but detective Tapp dies so often that you don’t really care how often you get your head blow-off.
While the puzzles start off with a bit of a bang, the combat is just poor from the very beginning. Throughout the game you will be accosted by other people Jigsaw is toying with. The biggest issue with fighting these people, who really serve as a filler to the puzzles, is that the controls are unresponsive and inaccurate. It takes an age to swing a table leg or a bat and there is little difference in the amount of damage each does. You are actually better of fighting hand-to-hand.
Only the environmental kills get you really psyched. You are able to turn Jigsaw’s trip wires and other contraptions on attackers. Setting someone up for a shotgun trip wire or electrocution when they stand in a puddle is a real buzz.
The look of the game is decent; it won’t blow your mind but your stomach will turn at some of the more gory kills. The game would look better if it didn’t all look the same though.
Other than moving round some furniture between rooms there is very little variation in the level designs of each chapter. Every environment you enter seems to have a similar formula. The corridors are dark, the bathrooms are grimy and the offices are drab. You never feel like you’re moving into a new environment. While this does make the game a little boring, it’s hardly a major issue as the game is set in a cold, dank asylum.
Beyond looking to be absolutely terrified, there is no good reason to buy Saw. And if that’s what you’re looking for, there are games that are better at it than this one. If you’re a fan of the movies and the horror puzzle gaming genre it is a must for your collection though. There are moments you “love” the game, but it won’t be long before you’re cursing its dearth of fresh content.