Splatterhouse Review

By Jason D'Aprile - Posted Dec 02, 2010

Old-school slasher violence hits the current gen thanks to Namco Bandai's resurrection of the old TurboGrfx hit, Splatterhouse. Don the mask of terror to hack, slash, punch, and dismember the forces of evil across time and space in an adventure so over the top, you'll have to black out the windows and make sure the neighbors aren't home before you load it up.

The Pros
  • Story, voice acting, and dialogue are surprisingly amusing in parts
  • Gore, gore and more gore
The Cons
  • Some severe issues with controls and animations
  • Very repetitive combat with long load times
  • Purely centered around being over-the-top

If you’re old enough to remember the original 1988 TurboGrfx Splatterhouse, then it might bring a gleam to your eye to see the name—along with the characters, themes, and setting—return. It’s clear that the developers have a lot of affinity for the original franchise, and the things that fans fondly remember about the old games have all been revamped, refitted, and updated. Granted, that’s a pretty short laundry list.

It’s about a House… With Splatter!

The gameplay is simple enough. Splatterhouse is a third-person brawler set against the backdrop of the twisted mansion, and other locations including a creepy amusement park, a burned out city, an old New England town, and other mainstays of the horror genre. As Rick, you knock the crap out of anything in the path between him and his love, Jenny. Rick usually uses his bare hands, but there are plenty of weapons to pick up—ranging from 2x4s, baseball bats, pipes, a shotgun, cleaver, and chainsaw.

The main character, Rick, is largely forgettable, but the mask’s insane need for blood and violence and verbose tendency to expound on such needs makes Splatterhouse surprisingly fun…for some. With over-the-top violence and mature dialogue, this is not a game for everyone.

Rick increases his abilities by using the blood he earns from kills to upgrade his stats.  Through the course of the roughly ten hours of gameplay, Rick’s move set will increase dramatically and powerfully. Starting with the usual light/strong/grab/dodge controls, you’ll soon be mixing in button combos with the shoulder buttons, pulling off supernatural ramming, slashing, and grabbing techniques within combos to become the ultimate crazed, slasher superhero.

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God of Gore...Minion of Frustration

At heart, Splatterhouse is the gaming equivalent to a Grade-B (or Z) slasher movie, a sort of trashed-up God of War. Everything about the game is laughably overdone. The QTE finishers involve pulling limbs off monsters, pulling their torsos off their hips, crushing their heads, and in one inspired bit of tastelessness, ripping the, shall we say, sphincter out of the back end of a large quadruped. Add Jenny’s incredible talent for leaving frequently nude pics of herself everywhere (in pieces) and it’s pretty clear that the game’s demographic isn’t aiming higher than fans of Saw and Friday the 13th.

The list of cheap flaws in the game doesn’t help either. Splatterhouse has some of the worst animation and environmental effects we’ve seen in a while. Cheesy blood fountains that mark monsters spawning in just crudely appear and disappear. Rick gets stuck in spots, and suddenly jerks around when there are no obstacles at all. Regular character animations lose frames at random, and during levels that require precise movements… well, precise and Splatterhouse just don’t go together. Making matters worse are the absurdly long load times and a stingy auto-save system.

And Yet…

Yet, for all that, there’s simply an indecent level of glee to be found here if you want to find it. When Rick’s move set grows (and despite the otherwise repetitive gameplay), it can be fun to indulge in the brutal, profanity-ridden carnage. The level design isn’t amazing, but the locations are like slices of horror movie sets, filled with dumb fodder waiting to be dismembered. The way all the action and the levels are propelled forward by the hilarious terror mask dialogue is also an excellent touch.

There are side-scrolling segments that harken back to the 16-bit versions, often requiring the player to carefully avoid massive deathtraps. These segments add some nice variety, but the spotty controls will likely leave many players cold, or simply frustrated. There are also ten survival arenas that unlock more hidden goodies (usually more pics of Jenny’s breasts) through massive bouts of carnage. Rounding everything out is the inclusion of the original three Splatterhouse games, which, frankly, haven’t aged well.

It’s Splatter Time

At its best, Splatterhouse is a fun guilty pleasure for horror fans, at its worst, it doesn’t work and can be offensive to some. The game feels too cheaply done at times, and there’s no doubt that issues with the controls, camera, and animation really drag it down. Yet, for a cheese-filled, violent action fix, there’s definitely something to be said for the unapologetically trashy, overdone gameplay.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?