The synopsis is simple enough. Your main character from Saints Row IV is abducted by Satan because he wants his daughter to marry the perfect sinner. As Johnny Gat (and/or Kinzie Kensington), you travel to hell itself to take back the leader of the Saints, your only plan being to “shoot Satan in the face.” As far as the Saints Row series goes, this seems about exactly what a standalone expansion should be, but does it hold up to the standards set by the series mainstays before it?
If you’ve played either of the last 2 Saints Row games prior to Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, you’ll feel right at home here. The same running and gunning are kept intact, you still take over the city by doing activities and diversions therein, and the superpowers from IV return, though with nowhere near as much emphasis on them. This installment has placed the bulk of its gameplay focus on 2 things: Flying and Guns
Very early on in the game, you are given the upgradeable ability to fly. Not glide like in Saints Row IV, you literally grow a pair of flaming angel wings and you fly in a style very reminiscent of Super Mario 64. Very early on in the game, it feels like trying to make Batman from the Arkham series soar, but after a few upgrades and a better understanding of the game’s momentum, you’ll find yourself flying everywhere you go (once again, making us question the purpose of cars in Saints Row).
Secondly, you’ll notice that guns are a big deal this time around. Superpowers no longer make them defunct and they can be really run to use. Why the big focus on guns this time around? In a clever move by Volition, they decided to use guns as a vessel to represent the Seven Deadly Sins. While the quality of these weapons vary, the Devs hearts were in the right place. A golden SMG (representing greed) that shoots diamonds and causes enemies to drop extra money sounds cool, but in practice, it’s just a fancy SMG. On the other side of the spectrum, we have something like the heavily advertised Armchair-a-Geddon. Representing sloth, this recliner shoots miniguns and fires off rockets when you recline, which you can upgrade to become a barrage of flaming death. All of the seven weapons are interesting and most are fun to play with, which is a nice change of pace from IV’s half-minded power spamming gameplay.
Of all the things Gat Out of Hell changed from Saints Row IV, the biggest one is the super-powers. None of the superpower elements (aside from stomp) made their way into Gat Out of Hell. They’ve all been replaced with a mixed bag of fun and useless attacks, like stomping down an entire city block with holy light, which is awesome. To shooting a soul out of your hand to devour an enemy that moves faster than said soul, which is annoying and doesn’t work. This was a smart move to put more emphasis on gunplay but in the bigger picture, it made having powers seem dull and in most cases pointless.
Gat Out of Hell is an expansion to Saints Row IV. Therefore, it looks like Saints Row IV. The cartoony sub-realistic art style that the series started with Saints Row The Third is on in full force and Hell shows it well. The lava sea that surrounds the decidedly small island of eternal damnation glows with a large vibrancy, making it obvious that it’s flaming hot. The lighting is impressive on that front, though when it comes to textures Hell is very simplistic in design at most places, sometimes looking like re-filtered textures of areas from Saints Row IV, but decidedly aren’t. If you’ve liked the art style and graphical composure of Saints Row to this point, you’ll like the way this game looks.
Perhaps the most disappointing, though interesting part of this expansion is its story. There are no “story missions” and there’s no overarching sense of drama or necessity in Gat Out of Hell. The story progresses through a meter, representing the rage of Satan as you complete side-quests and the standard activities/diversions. There are 3 points on the meter where when you reach them, despite what you’re doing, you are taken to a cutscene and then thrown back out into the open world of Hell to reach the next point. Not to say that the cutscenes, or even overall story is a bad one, but it’s done in a way that makes the entire game feel like an endgame. You’re just cleaning up Hell until the game decides you’re ready to get some progression. To add some woes for completionsts, the game gives you 7 multiple endings to choose from, some being hilarious in true Saints fashion, others being just boring and dull. Since the game is fun enough to play, some people might be able to look past this, though for others this experimental story structure could be a deal breaker.
There is no music playing as you complete the missions throughout Gat Out of Hell. There is a dark melodious overworld theme that is always playing and that’s about it. There’s of course the musical number, but if you’ve seen the trailer for that, you’ve seen the entire musical. Thankfully, the sound design isn’t entirely a waste. Both Johnny Gat and Kenzie Kensington have something to say while killing demons, whether it be a quip about their current environment, or an unintentional “Go to Hell” pun. The jokes are very on point for the series in both gameplay and the few cutscenes, so you can rest assured that Saints Row is still a comedy game, though in its most recent installment, severely lacking music.
The game DOES have a co-op multiplayer mode, but it the barest of barebone. The co-op partner plays as Kenzie and you fly around Hell completing activities. That’s really it. Playing with a friend is always a good thing in Saints Row games, but nothing is really changed here.
+ Flying is Amazingly Fun
+ Value Price ($20 USD)
– No Music
– Poor Experimental Mission Structure
Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell is a fun game. The addicting open world gameplay will keep you glued to your controller as you swoop around the beautifully lit city of Hell for 6-8 hours, but that is all. It’s an extremely short experience, and although it’s sweet, it just doesn’t seem sweet enough. There’s not enough new content in Gat Out of Hell to warrant praise, but it’s not a bad game either. The low price makes up for a lot of these shortcomings, but if you’re one of the many who want more for your twenty dollar bill, look elsewhere. Gat Out of Hell is a guilty pleasure game for fans of the series that will end sooner than you’d think but not as soon as you’d hoped.