Saw II: Flesh & Blood Review

By Leah Jackson - Posted Oct 25, 2010

Overall, Saw 2 brings together some of the most clever and graphic puzzle ideas from the movies while incorporating ideas from other survival horror titles. While not everything in Saw 2 is exciting all the time, and a lot of the puzzles are repetitive, it still offers a fair amount of enjoyment for anyone wanting a quick horror fix.

The Pros
  • Creepy Atmosphere
  • Some puzzles offer a mental workout
  • You never know what danger lurks around the corner
The Cons
  • More simplistic puzzles can get repetitive
  • Weapons are worthless
  • Taking damage makes the screen murky and it's impossible to see

Saw 2: Flesh and Blood is a happy game filled with rainbows and sunshine...and the occasional falling axe to the chest or shotgun to the face. Sweet! The gory sequel to 2009’s Saw, headed by developer Zombie Studios, is set to release alongside the seventh film in the Saw series but doesn’t follow the plot from any of the movies. To put it simply, Saw 2: Flesh and Blood is a gruesome, yet entertaining, third person puzzle game, where the penalty of failure is death.

Seeing Bone

If you aren’t familiar with the numerous Saw movies, never fear, because Saw 2: Flesh and Blood throws you right into the gore-filled world as soon as you load a new game. The very first test of skill has you prying your eyeball out with a scalpel in order to acquire a key that the strategic puzzle master himself, Jigsaw, placed in the socket. This is just the first of hundreds of disgusting tasks you must accomplish in order to progress throughout the game.

The game itself is fairly simple, offering a variety of fun puzzles and interesting timed events. The best timed events happen when you open unsecured doors. When you open a door in Saw 2 there’s a very good chance something is on the other side waiting to kill you. It’s usually a shotgun or a giant axe, and if you don’t press the correct two buttons on your controller, whatever it is will instantly kill you; however, as the game treads on and these once fun timed events and puzzles begin to repeat themselves over and over in more difficult fashions, it gets tiring. Seriously, I have to dodge a gigantic swinging axe again?!

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Puzzles? I Like Puzzles.

Once in a while though, there are some very difficult puzzles that take a lot of thought and the use of strategically placed clues in order to clear. Sometimes, these bring into play a new addition to Saw 2: the use of blacklight clues. These clues only appear when you turn off your trusty flashlight and usually come in the form of numbers on the wall to use in lock combinations. Other interesting puzzles had me turning the camera a very specific direction in order to line numbers up out of paint on mannequin heads, and another had me guessing which switches of dynamite to deactivate in order to save another character based on numbers on the wall. These intricate puzzles are few and far between though. Most of the puzzles and minigames are very easy and consist of simply remembering the order of things, picking locks, fixing fuseboxes, and matching.

In between solving puzzles you travel from room to room, occasionally finding new information in the way of Case Files and Audio Tapes which supply insight as to why you are in this nightmarish place to begin with. These items add another layer to the nightmarish story. And for completists, the game offers puzzle pieces in random locations that are pretty hard to find. But if you manage to find them all, they unlocks various surprises. There are other collectibles too, called Jigsaw Puppets. In order to attain these devious dolls you have to solve extra difficult puzzles. There are only seven Jigsaw Puppets in the whole game, whereas there are fifty case files, twenty audio tapes, and twenty-five puzzle pieces to be found while traversing Jigsaw’s warehouse.

Use It Like A Crutch

There are also different types of weapons that you can find in Saw 2, but unfortunately they are worthless. The only point of them is to help keep the very simple timed-event melee combat that rarely occurs in the game down to only one to two button presses instead of three to four. The weapons don’t help with puzzles, they don’t smash or help break anything, and ultimately they are just pointless props. In an instance where you’d think a weapon, such as a crutch, would be useful to knock down a key down that’s hung over blazing a hot steam bath, instead of using, say, your bare hands to grab it, you can’t. Alternatively, you’re forced to take a lot of damage, and the crutch doesn’t even help you then, either.

When you take damage in Saw 2, which happens very frequently due to all the broken glass and stray wires everywhere; your screen gets dark red and bloody, making it extremely difficult to see your surroundings. This is an incredibly frustrating mechanic since oftentimes you’re looking for a very small item, like a nail, in order to solve a puzzle. With a darkened screen these items can be tremendously difficult to find. Also, since there is no HUD in the game, the only way to tell how much health your character has left is in the form of a heart rate monitor that pops up when you start taking a lot of damage. The faster the monitor beeps, the closer you are to death. So being unable to see, accompanied by a constant annoying beeping makes the game increasingly annoying whenever your life begins to deteriorate. Luckily, in order to pep yourself back up again, there are needles filled with health hypodermic you can inject yourself with, but there aren’t many of them. So oftentimes it will take a while to find a health injection and you must endure the beeping and darkened screen until you do.

It’s a shame that the screen is dark for much of the game too, since the overall aesthetic of Saw 2 is actually really cool and creepy. Using the Unreal 3 engine, the game captures the essence of a dilapidated warehouse perfectly, making for some extremely scary moments when things pop out at you, which happens a lot. The soundtrack in Saw 2: Flesh and Blood is also fantastic, stemming from tunes heard in the movies. The music is utterly eerie during moments of pitch black puzzle solving, yet fast and intense during other life and death situations.

The Final Blow

Overall, Saw 2: Flesh and Blood brings together some of the most clever and graphic puzzle ideas from the movies, while successfuly incorporating ideas from other survival horror titles. While not everything in Saw 2: Flesh and Blood is exciting all the time, and a lot of the puzzles are repetitive, it still offers a fair amount of enjoyment for anyone wanting a quick horror fix.

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