E3 2010: New Splatterhouse ImpressionsBy Sterling McGarvey - Posted Jun 03, 2010
What we already know:
This is the first time since Namco Bandai announced the Splatterhouse reboot that anyone has seen it in action. The series revival keeps the same core idea: Psych student Rick is killed trying to rescue girlfriend Jennifer from the horrors inside the West Mansion when he is resurrected by the supernatural Terror Mask. From there, all sorts of gory glee ensue in a sanguine beat-'em-up.
What we’re seeing now:
The Splatterhouse redux is a 3D brawler that takes the elements of the originals and amplifies them. For starters, as the dev team pointed out, they’ve worked to play up the relationship between Rick and the Terror Mask. Now, we learn, the Mask is imbued with the spirit of an Aztec god who thrives on human blood. Namco Bandai promises plenty of back and forth dialogue between Rick and the Mask throughout the game.
And in the same way that the initial 16-bit game had plenty of disgusting creatures that made squishy noises, Splatterhouse promises a lot of gore. And from what I saw, it’ll deliver in droves. The layout of many of the demo’s chambers indicates that you’ll need to make “sacrifices” to pass into the next area. That can come from grooved floors that drive blood puddles into liquid-collecting levers that open doors, or it can come from grabbing demons and impaling them on various spikes, Soul Reaver-style, or throwing them at a giant GWAR-like mouth.
Aside from its use in environmental puzzles, blood also functions as currency for Rick to purchase upgrades. He can also pull off QTE “super kills” to squeeze more blood from them, whether that’s from crushing their heads or ripping off limbs. He’s also capable of unleashing Berzerk Mode, which turns him into a demon and gives him temporary invincibility and a damage boost.
Splatterhouse’s look could be described as “muted cel-shading.” It’s not quite as detailed as what you saw in Namco Bandai’s Afro Samurai, but there’s a faintly hand-drawn air to its style. The camera shifts from time to time as well, as I noticed it move from isometric 3D brawler to classic side-scroller for a section in which Rick traverses platforms while shoving demons into giant deadly rotating blades. Rick’s damage model is notably reminiscent of what you might’ve seen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which ribs and bones are exposed after a particularly brutal battle.
It’s definitely not poised to reinvent the wheel by any stretch, but if you set your expectations right around “late night gorehound flick,” you might find something to dig in Splatterhouse.