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Saints Row: Gat out of Hell Review

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell is fun. Over-the-top, batshit crazy fun. While that statement might not be surprising to those familiar with the series, it’s truer than ever in this hell-raising standalone expansion to Saints Row IV. Although it doesn’t expand on the formula much, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable slice of insanity.

The game opens with the Saints throwing a birthday party for sarcastic former FBI agent, Kinzie Kensington. For a laugh, the gang decide to play with a ouija board, and ask it who, if anyone, the President (AKA the playable character in the previous Saints games) will marry. The board responds by spelling out "Jezebel" (who happens to be Satan’s daughter), and the President is instantly sucked into a portal to Hell. In a gesture fueled in equal parts by loyalty and machismo, the titular Johnny Gat offers to go and save him, followed by Kinzie. A brief transdimensional journey later, and the pair land in New Hades, pretty much a metropolitan version of Hell.

Gat out of Hell

In order to get the President back, you need to defeat Satan, but first, you’ve got to piss him off. This task is measured with the “Satan’s Wrath” meter, which is filled by completing missions around New Hades. Unfortunately, these fall entirely into the “side-mission” category, favouring repeated completion of a few task types over unique, scripted levels. I never became bored of these, but that's mainly because I didn't have time to - all the missions can be completed in around five hours.

Although the expansion is named after Johnny, New Hades is perhaps the biggest character. The lava-drenched, demon-infested city is a big departure for the series, and makes a nice change after Saints Row IV's "Steelport 2.0". The setting is split into five unique islands - such as a slum area, downtown and a barren wasteland - which stops the hellish theme becoming tedious. Each one is packed with things to do, like treasure chests to unlock, sacrificial rituals to stop, souls to save and more.

Superpowers make a return from Saints Row IV, but naturally with a demonic twist. Super sprint is back and the glide is replaced with the ability to fly, thanks to a pair of angelic wings. The combination make getting around a joy, and pretty soon I was able to zip across the city in a matter of minutes. It makes vehicles pretty redundant, though, and you can get through the game’s content pretty quickly by racing between mission markers.

Gat out of Hell

In order to upgrade your demonic powers, you'll need to collect “clusters”, which are scattered around New Hades. Clusters are everywhere, and it’s easy to get distracted from missions trying to collect all these floaty buggers. They invoke my hoarding tendencies in the same way as Crackdown's orbs or Infamous's blast shards, and I can easily spend an entire gaming session chasing them down.

In addition to the traversal abilities, you’re also granted four combat powers: summon, which calls on a group of minions to attack your enemies; blast, which turns your foes into stone; a devastating stomp and an aura that continually damages nearby enemies. Using these abilities in tandem is really satisfying, and adds a layer of strategy - albeit a wafer-thin one - to combat.

Of course, you're not just limited to these powers in a fight; there's also an arsenal of crazy guns and melee weapons. On top of the regular assortment of assault rifles, SMGs, pistols and the like, you’ll also get your hands on the “Seven Deadly Weapons” (coincidentally, one per slot on the weapon wheel). Each inspired by one of the cardinal sins, these instruments of death are a very fun addition to the combat. My personal favourite is the Armchair-A-Geddon. Signifying ‘Sloth’ and mirroring myself playing the game, this mobile recliner allows its user to sit back, relax, and rain fiery death on their enemy without ever lifting a finger.

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell

The story is presented using a mixture of traditional cutscenes and a narrated storybook technique, not unlike the one used in Shrek. It’s a neat gimmick, and fits well with the fantasy setting. Characterisation and dialogue remain the series' strong points, and while the characters are far from deep, they are pretty memorable. The setting of Hell is no doubt a great fit for the series, but it feels slightly one-note compared to the main games. That’s not to say the writers don’t get creative with things - within my first hour with the game I had encountered a DJing William Shakespeare and a five minute-long, Disney-style musical number - it's just missing the variety of the main games.

Gat out of Hell is not perfect; it’s shorter than it should be, and the missions are disappointingly unimaginative. As a full release, it'd be very tough to recommend the title, but taken simply as a slice of Saints Row silliness, it's much easier to endorse. The new abilities, weapons and setting are smart additions to the formula, and in the short time it took me to complete the expansion, I had a hell of a time (I'm so sorry).

7.50/10 7½

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Gat out of Hell is not perfect; it’s shorter than it should be, and the missions are disappointingly unimaginative. As a full release, it'd be very tough to recommend the title, but taken simply as a slice of Saints Row silliness, it's much easier to endorse.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Matt Girdler

Matt Girdler

Staff Writer

When he's not hunched over a computer programming, Matt can be found hunched over a computer playing and writing about video games.

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