A new generation of consoles with no backwards compatibility has led some enterprising publishers into re-releasing the same games with all the DLC packs. Saint’s Row IV: Re-elected is no exception (check out our review of the original here), but the developers at Voilition have also created a stand-alone package in which their favourite character goes to the underworld, literally. Okay, so it’s not as crazy a departure as the superhero president fighting aliens is to the gangster heavy original; but is this venture into the depths of Hades a hell of a good time?
This stand-alone DLC begins with the President getting kidnapped after the Saints mess around with a Ouija Board. It’s up to Johnny Gat and tag-along Kinsie to rescue him from a forced marriage to Satan’s daughter Jezebel. Ironically, while Voilition have an obsession with Johnny Gat that even he would have a problem with, he sinks into the background easily as other characters that support his adventures overshadow him. Historical figures and even characters who have been in Saint’s Row before get more lines than our so-called “hero”.
Devil’s in the details
Granted, it’s much better this way as you have the likes of William Shakespeare and Blackbeard, as well as the horned beast himself express a lot of the world building via book logs. In fact, that’s just the tip of the iceberg as this rendition of hell is a lot of fun to explore. You are given angelic powers very quickly, meaning flight and super speed come naturally.
Running on next-generation hardware, the frame-rate more often than not sticks to a higher value, though dips are frequent when things get hectic, crashing when it becomes very busy on screen. It’s not a fantastic looking game though, reminiscent of the assets used in Saint’s Row IV. Sound design is also off in places, especially when it comes to the Archdukes slashing their swords around, yet the swings sound like whips cracking. Sound effects cutting out also happen all too often. But despite its lack of polish, it’s hard not to crack a smile at the little details within the game. I highly recommend stopping to look at a billboard or two.
But if you were expecting something resembling a proper campaign with unique missions, you’re out of luck. What Gat Out Of Hell boils down to is an initially intimidating quantity of side-missions that you must complete in order to annoy Satan. Each mission allows your partners to take over part of the island they wish to rule, with side-missions ranging from flying time trials, blowing things up with a selected weapon, and surviving waves of enemies.
There’s also Salvation missions which task you with flying around and saving lost souls before they hit the ground, while at the same time stripping the shields of those rising for multipliers. Rounding off the offerings are a single player variant of point capture modes found in multiplayer shooters, disabling Spires which attack if you’re airborne, and taking over teleportation hubs. Think of this more as almost a mini-game collection in Saint’s Row attire, though frankly a lack of traditional missions was probably the wrong design choice.
Fire and Brimstone
Gat Out Of Hell will most likely be compared to FarCry Blood Dragon, but given how off the rails Saint’s Row IV went it’s difficult to see how this is crazier. It’s certainly not in the weapons as there’s nothing that can top the Dub-Step gun, but they are at least thematic. You have variants on classic weapons, but also weapons based on the Seven Deadly Sins such as Greed – SMGs that shoot diamonds at enemies, spewing money upon killing demons; or Sloth – an armchair that has mini-guns on each arm and reclines to fire rockets. Powers help supplement your attacks by summoning imps or stomping the ground, with altars enabling different variants to be unlocked.
Upon reflection, I realised that the only time I died in the entire duration of this expansion was to collect a trophy. It’s all too easy to ramp up cash to unlock new perks, becoming a killing machine. Not even the intimidating enemy variety was enough to stand in my way. As such, this is a sandbox in every sense of the word: All the fun with little consequence. At just over a few hours total, this was over before it began. I would have preferred more in the way of unique missions rather than the side-quest focused campaign with cut-scenes, but then again that’s what the recently repackaged Saint’s Row IV: Re-elected edition is for.
At first, I had a blast with Saint’s Row: Gat Out Of Hell, but the appeal wore off the more I looked at the details. Part of the problems are technical, but the sticking points are that it is essentially a side-mission collection on a new map and that it’s over far too quickly. Blowing things up is a great amount of fun as it always has been, but it’s difficult to get crazier than “President with super-powers”. Hell just isn’t as bonkers as the world above it seems.