We all knew it was going to happen eventually - a video game has finally been created around the gore-tastic Saw series, which has just seen the release of its newest iteration, Saw VI. The Saw films have been an incredible hit at the box office, but will the game be able to hold up to the near-legendary status that the series is getting?
Thankfully the creator, Zombie Studios, has taken a different approach to the story, avoiding remaking one of the films as a game. Instead they've brought in the script writers of the original Saw and had them write a new plot which will refer back to certain points in the first film. The game takes place somewhere between the first and second films.
Throughout the game you play as David Tapp, a former detective who was discharged from the police force for "mental instability", a condition he's suffered since his partner was killed, which inevitably led to an obsession with hunting down Jigsaw. After a rather unfortunate sequence of events, Tapp wakes in the middle of Jigsaw's Insane Asylum, with the challenge of escaping. Sadly the key is stitched into Tapp's chest, so everyone else is after the detective too.
The minions aren't the only thing to worry about. The lovely contraptions Jigsaw has set-up which you need to complete to progress through the game are a constant threat and provide plenty of in-game puzzles. Each trap is a certain type of puzzle, ranging from rotating tiles to finish the sequence to placing the right size gears in the right place to get the end cog to rotate. Sounds simple, right? You're about to get your ass kicked by the 10 x 10 tile set where you have to light up set buttons within 2 minutes or it's Game Over - it can be one of the most frustrating game-playing experiences out there and for some will be overly tedious. Watch out for the shotgun traps too, as they are incredibly hard to spot and once you walk into them you're instantly dead.
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If the atmosphere for a horror game is wrong, it will practically ruin the game - this rule applies to any horror game. Fortunately, Zombie Studios have done a pretty damn good job at it. The environments that have been created will simply terrify you. As you progress through the story, the areas which you explore range from hospital wings to courtyards with grave stones dotted around, the in-game time also seeming stuck at midnight means it is always pitch-black in almost every place you go to. When you only have a lighter (or a torch) to see with, it can get a little tense at times, especially when you know there are both minions and a guy wearing a pig mask stalking you.
You can fight Jigsaw's minions off with hand-to-hand combat or with weapons. It's a shame that they even put this in the game, as it is so poorly devised. Yes, you don't do it that often but when you do it's about as much fun as chewing broken glass. The oddest part is, even though things like revolvers and lead-pipes are available around every corner, your fists are still the most effective part of your arsenal.
There are some questionable graphics too. There's nothing worse than seeing a blood soaked body with the majority of the guy's internals sprayed over the wall due to one of Jigsaws traps. But, too often they look like wax drowned in grease due to the sheen they have. This may be because of either poor character models, or to clearly show the models aren't real and are part of a game to appease the censors.
The things that Saw does well, like the atmosphere and the environment, are done incredibly well. But those things that have been badly done, like everything else, really let the game down. The game's lack of polish stands out - something which had the potential to add some creditability to film-to-game titles, fails to raise itself above mediocrity, once again.