It's actually surprising it's taken this long for a Saw video game. Take away the blood and gore and each Saw movie is essentially about a victim having to solving a series of puzzles or face an untimely death. That's the basic premise of almost every video game, so it's only natural someone would eventually put the two together. Saw is not a cheap cash-in, either; this was supposed to be one of the now-defunct Brash Entertainment's signature video game tie-ins and it's clear serious money was thrown at the project.
I've been tracking this game since Brash originally announced it. As an unabashed horror buff, I tend to play even bottom-of-the-barrel horror games. So, walking into Konami's lengthy presentation on Saw, it wasn't so much a matter of seeing if Konami could convince me I should play this, insomuch as it was defining my personal expectations of "how much will this totally suck?" Unfortunately, the demo didn't really answer that.
Like the movies, the game is about solving puzzles. The demo opened with detective David Tapp, played by Danny Glover in the movie but absent here, with the iconic face deathtrap strapped to his head. Players have to spin the analog stick around to begin removing the potentially-fatal mask, while paying close attention to other indicators. Hidden throughout the mask will be flashes of what button you need to press in order to get the rest of the mask off. Miss the flash (don't blink!) and you're finished. In this instance, the button indicators were fairly subtle. That wasn't the case later.
A number of traps, especially those meant to surprise you while walking through new doors, have gigantic indicators slapped on them. Hit "B" or get hit by a shotgun blast! Plus, there isn't much sense of danger in Saw. You'll constantly see other people ripped apart by traps when they make a mistake, but in Saw, you have a health bar. Run through a door, miss hitting "B" in time and you don't die -- you just lose some health. Removing the imminent threat of death did an admirable job of ruining any tension the game had. This aspect could certainly be tweaked before release, but currently, it's a buzz kill.
Saw might actually be falling into the same issues the Silent Hill franchise has wrestled with, too. Konami is smartly ditching traditional combat in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, instead making running and hiding from enemies the focus, but Saw, unfortunately, appears to have included combat for the sake of combat. There were only a few chance encounters in the demo I was watching, but a producer alluded to combat being a constant throughout the game. Groan.
I have to admit the premise is pretty interesting, especially if you're a fan of the series. You awake in a broken-down building wired with endless amounts of violent traps. You're not alone, though -- there are many other people trying to find a way out, too. Each person has been given a different task, often purposely designed to conflict with someone else (i.e. in order to escape, a key has been locked in someone's stomach).
Most people will end up passing on Saw simply because it's a movie game. That's fine, but for gamers like me who end up irrationally playing every horror game, Saw is worth keeping an eye on. Whether it'll be any good, however, I can't tell you yet.