Having already gone to space (in Saints Row: The Third: Gangstas In Space) and The Matrix (Saints Row IV), the Saints Row series is going to Hell, literally, with Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell. Available as a stand-alone game for PlayStation 4 (available digitally), PlayStation 3, Xbox One (also available digitally), Xbox 360, and PC, or in a bundle with Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, a new version of Saints Row IV for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, this new adventure continues the mindless but magnificent mayhem this series has come to typify.
After screwing around with a Ouija board, El Presidente (a.k.a., your character in Saints Row IV) is sucked through a portal to Hell. Which is why you have to screw around Satan’s playground, in hopes of pissing off Old Scratch so much that he’ll fight you so you can get your pal back.
In many ways, Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell isn’t a big departure from Saints Row IV. You’re still shooting up an open world, still have to complete missions of both the story and side variety, still have randomly scattered collectibles to grab, and still get around by running fast or zipping through the air. In fact, while the main story can take you as little as three or four hours to finish, there’s so much to in Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell — and yes, you can do the rest after you finish the story — that it’s almost like getting a regular Saints Row game. Or it would be if open word games weren’t legally required to last a fifty hours or more.
Except that where before you were super-powered, in Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell, you now you have angel wings. You can even fly, which comes in handy since many of the missions are aerial ones, and some of Hell’s outskirts were apparently designed by Roger Dean, and are comprised of many floating platforms.
Everything in Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell also has a hellish flavor to it. Your submachine gun, for example, is called a “Brimstone Belcher,” while the streets are populated with legions of the damned and other demonic types. There are even weapons based on the seven deadly sins, such as the sloth-inspired Armchair-A-Geddon, a motorized easy chair with Gatling guns mounted on its arm rests.
Another way Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell differentiates itself is by having you playing as Kinzie or Johnny, not a character you create. Granted, it’s an aesthetic thing anyway, since both have the same weapons, upgrades, and so on (though this doesn’t explain why all the cutscenes feature Johnny, as does the final showdown with Hell’s big kahuna). But having said that, I much prefer listening to Kinzie (Natalie Lander) spout one-liners than that smug jackass Johnny (Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim), though both pale in comparison to Laura Bailey, who was great as “female voice 1” for the President in Saints Row IV.
Despite all these differences, though, Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell is still a lot like Saints Row IV. Which is why it has some of the same problems. For starters, the special powers you have now make some of the fights as easy as they were in Saints Row IV. Also, because this is fundamentally the same as Saints Row IV, and thus is often the same thing over and over, you might find yourself (as I did) only wanting to play this in small doses. Doubly so if you just played Saints Row IV from start to finish.
That said, Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell also has a rather unique problem that makes it less fun than Saints Row IV: the aforementioned flying. If you play any of the console versions, or use a console controller on your PC, flying is done by holding down the left bumper. But as anyone who’s ever played a game where you have to hold down either bumper will tell you, this is more cramp-inducing than comfortable. For instance, in the “Salvation” mission, in which you have to fly around, catching souls as they rise or fall, having to hold the left bumper in place becomes a real pain in the pointer. Granted, you could just run around Hell like you ran around Steelport in Saints Row IV, but then you won’t get the collectibles you need, won’t be able to reach certain areas, and won’t be able to do many of missions and skill challenges.
Thankfully, this is really just a minor complaint, one that’s mitigated if you play Saints Row Gat Out Of Hell in short bursts (which, as I noted earlier, you’ll probably want to do anyway). Because really, by being fundamentally more of the same, but with a very different flavor, this new adventure is nearly as good as the original game it spun off from. Though it does make me wonder: now that they’ve gone to space, into The Matrix, and to Hell, what will Saints Row go next? And how can I not fly there?
To read my review of Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, click here.