Saw [Available on Xbox 360. PS3]
ESRB Rating: M
Genre: Survival Horror
Release Date: October 6th, 2009.
I honestly didn’t know Saw existed until last week. I first took notice reading a review last Friday. Don’t you love it when things like that happen? Then after watching a couple videos, I decided to pick it up. I’m a huge fan of the movies, so this was a no-brainer, and I’m happy to have been pleasantly surprised. Saw won’t win any awards, but it’s a solid game that might just be worth your attention.
This adaptation plays like any other survival horror title. You have to find keys and unlock puzzles to advance in an isolated location. Instead pf conserving ammo, you have to be on constant lookout for traps, and always ready for a challenging brain teaser. Almost every setup that Jigsaw engineered in the first movie is featured in the game. At the onset, you’re faced with the famous bear trap. Die and you’re treated to a gory cut scene, which is exactly what Saw fans expect. These are some of the most stressful scenarios I’ve ever encountered. One forces you to solve three puzzles with limited time. You really feel like a part of the film because of the seemingly impossible odds. In fact, the whole game fits Saw like a glove. Jigsaw steals the show. Every time you activate one of his tapes, or see him on a TV somewhere, you’re glued. The plot is most entertaining because of the quality voice work done by Tobin Bell as Jigsaw. There are no monsters or zombies to be found, yet I was terrified during most of the campaign because of the horrific ambiance. Like the movies, prepare to witness some truly disturbing sights. Saw isn’t for the faint of heart.
Unfortunately the puzzles are repetitive. Your hand is often in a toilet of syringes, poking for a key or fuse. There is close to a dozen or so Pipe Dream-like puzzles scattered about, and by chapter five, unique teasers are a thing of the past. Still, the stress factor is always present, which makes the movies and game entertaining. They really nailed the feel of Saw here.
The combat is flawed, but necessary for the game. Without the fighting, gameplay would be limited to puzzle-solving. I’ve heard lots of complaints about this, but honestly, it’s just there for fun. There’s nothing overly challenging, and the weapon number is perfectly fine. Scalpels and guns usually land one-hit kills, but simply using your fists is effective. Exploiting the environment and setting up traps is another creative way to dispose of your enemies. Traps aren’t introduced until you progress a fair bit, but they change the whole experience once available. They’re always instant kills. Run your way through the asylum (or whatever it is), and you’ll die more often than not. Checkpoints can seem far-reaching because of this, but it’s really your own freaking fault.
Saw also runs on the Unreal Engine 3 (what doesn’t these days?!) and is for the most part a pleasant looker. This is, after all, a gore fest. Those scenes in particular look disturbingly good. I found most of the environments to be well detailed. Play this in the dark and you will feel scared. Areas tend to be repeated however, which is likely to bore some. The music is ripped straight from the movies though, so expect top-notch tracks, atmospheric effects and more. Everything works well to make Saw as scary and stressful as possible, right down to that crazy puppet laugh that plays every time you die.
Saw isn’t very long; it should run between seven and nine hours depending on your skill, and there isn’t much to come back for after the fact. Thus, a rental might be the best option here. If you’re a huge fan of the movies (or survival horror in general) don’t hesitate to purchase Saw. It’s not Silent Hill, but this is the closest you’ll currently get to braving Jigsaw’s traps. Saw is a rare movie-licensed game that manages to perfectly capture the essence of its source material.
Overall (Not an average): 7.6/10
Senior Staff Writer