The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a game created by James Silva originally using the XNA tools for the Xbox 360. The Dishwasher ended up winning Microsoft’s Dream Build Play contest a year and a half ago and the demo on Xbox Live had the internet going nuts. The game was so nice that Microsoft ended up throwing some money at James and even gave him an Xbox Live publishing deal to make this a full title Xbox Live arcade game. Now the Dishwasher is complete and ready show off all its glory (I probably should say gory) for Xbox owners to go out and purchase.
By reading the name of the game you know all you need to know about the story. You control an unnamed character that is assumed to be dead. Not only that, but he was a dishwasher when he was alive. He isn’t just some plain old minimum wage dishwasher though. He is a one man killing machine. The antagonist of the game is some kind cyborg syndicate and you go around inflicting massive damage on them and their lackeys throughout the game. To be perfectly honest the story sucks, but this isn’t a game you should expect to have a Mass Effect like story anyway. The gameplay and action is where the value resides.
The graphics are nice for what it’s worth. Its 2d presentation has a nice feel to it. The game has this dark and gritty vibe like the movie Sin City. The real eye catcher here is the blood. It’s all about the blood. Every slash that makes contact with one of your enemies has blood gushing out of them. The screen will start to show blood stains if you kill enemies in rapid succession. Painting the town red is an understatement once you get your sword skill down.
The sound is the worst part of the game. The sound isn’t bad at all, but the repetition of it is sure to cause you to take notice. There seems to be only two background tracks in the game. One plays when you are fighting and the other plays when you are not. The sound effects are so so as well, nothing spectacular. If you are like me, this might the time to give that in game soundtrack feature some play time. Turn on Lupe Fiasco’s Little Weapon and let the bloodbath continue.
This is where the game shines. The Dishwasher is a representation of the 2d hack and slash genre at its finest. This game even has that old school difficulty feeling, so expect to do a lot of dying as well as killing. The controls are very simple. You have your X button for weak attacks, the Y button for strong attacks, B button for jumps, and right analog stick for dodging. You might want to familiarize yourself with dodging real quick unless you really want end up as a dead samurai.
You are able to get up to five weapons in the game ranging from the standard weapon of choice the meat cleavers, to my personal favorite the shift blade. The shift blade give the Dishwasher a teleportation ability just like Nightcrawler from X-Men, black puff of smoke included. I don’t want to spoil all the weapons, but know that each weapon has its own bloody way to cause destruction. It almost reminds me of Devil May Cry 4 with the way combo’s string together from the ground into the air. The action gets hectic really fast, so your reflexes will be tested a lot in the later stages. Once thing I am sure that everyone will enjoy is the executioner moves. After laying the smackdown on your enemies you are given a time window to perform an executioner move to finish them off. And it does get bloody, very bloody. Something else unique about the game is that it allows you to hook up your guitar controller and play notes to deal damage to enemies. This feature is unlocked after finding a amulet in the game. There are also guitar stations placed throughout the game so you can rock out to some tunes. The songs on the stations are pretty good.
The game has a few game modes. The story mode has 14 stages of nonstop action. The arcade mode has 50 stages that can be played solo or on Xbox live so you can co-op with a buddy. There is also a Gears of War 2 Horde like mode called the Dish Challenge where you fight until you give up or decide to throw your controller at the TV. Beating it is an option as well. There is also a way to play co-op through the story mode with up three other players, but you have to unlock it by finding a special amulet in the solo campaign.
Overall, the Dishwasher: Dead Samurai does not disappoint at all. The Dishwasher is a great addition to the Xbox Live arcade. I might even go as far as to say that it is the best game on XBLA. There is enough content and gameplay value in this game to make to some of these $60 feel like garbage. From the first time that you take someone’s head off with the meat cleavers you are going to be hooked. My only complaint about it is that it does not come with a 1 month trial of Xbox live. My subscription just expired and I don’t want to use my ramen noodle money to re-up.
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the Xbox 360 provided by Microsoft.