During PAX Prime 2014, Deep Silver and Volition revealed an upcoming expansion pack from their wildly popular Saints Row franchise. Gat out of Hell is billed as an open world action-packed adventure game that places series favorites Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington smack dab in the middle of Hell. After having a chance to play through the game in its entirety, I now want to share my candid thoughts on this title and why it may or may not be worth your time and money.
Saints Row: Gat out of Hell is a standalone expansion that takes place directly after Saints Row IV and involves a plot where the president is abducted by Satan and forced to marry his daughter as repayment for his sins against humanity. In an effort to rescue him, Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington travel to the underworld to stop the wedding and put an end to Satan’s reign for good. As with most Saints Row storylines, the writing remains clever and witty from start to finish. This story also marks Steve Jaros’ final contribution to the series, thus giving fans a good idea of what hijinks lie ahead.
In this game, Hell is envisioned as an open world environment called New Hades and spans across five different islands. Once the duo arrives into town, they are tasked with forming unlikely allegiances with some inhabitants who also have a bone to pick with Satan. A few of these notable characters include William Shakespeare, Vlad the Impaler, and the notorious English pirate, Blackbeard. Forming bonds with these characters unlocks new powers and loyalty missions that aid in progressing the story. Additionally, the campaign features four alternative endings and can be completed in 6 hours or more depending solely upon the player’s desire to explore everything.
The gameplay structure behind Gat out of Hell is essentially the same as previous installments in the series but without character customization being at the forefront of the overall experience. Players have the option of either playing cooperatively or switching between both characters at anytime during missions. Superhuman abilities also return and include more arcane powers along with the ability to fly throughout each island using stylized angelic wings.
Seven deadly new weapons are also introduced to enhance combat and play off the Heaven and Hell theme of the game. As expected, most of the enemies are demons of all shapes, sizes, and skillsets. Players who are familiar with the notoriety level in games like GTA V should be forewarned that the same rules apply here and preparation is key before creating anarchy on the streets.
When it comes to the overall look and presentation of the game, Gat out of Hell looks good but dated. This is hardly a surprise given that this started out as a last-gen project that was ported over to current gen consoles after completion. It’s also worth noting that New Hades feels like a reskinned hellish version of Stillwater instead of a new world built from the ground up. All of this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely worth mentioning for those who may have certain expectations about what this title has and how it looks.
While I enjoyed most of my time with this expansion, there are at least two major complaints that I have about the product as a whole. For starters, the loyalty missions I mentioned above have objectives that tend to get highly repetitive after awhile. One objective in particular that I disliked involved me having to fly through of total of 15 checkpoints while being timed. These tasks tend to get easier as you level up because you are then able to unlock perks that add more time to each challenge. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that there is way too much repetition in these missions and Volition could have invested more time into coming up with fresh ideas to keep things fun and memorable.
Another personal gripe that I have with the game lies within the Satan’s Wrath meter that appears on-screen and builds up based upon how much destruction you cause in New Hades. While this is a clever idea that tracks your inevitable showdown with the devil, it comes at the price of pushing the story along regardless of how many other side missions you still have left to complete. You can obviously ignore the main campaign at times and spend your hours exploring each island, but the story centric cutscenes will still be there to persuade you to move forward. Again, this is something that annoyed me and it definitely would be distracting to someone who just wants to complete every side mission before diving into the main story.
As a whole, Saints Row: Gat out of Hell is a solid standalone expansion that will appeal to any and every fan of the series. At the price of $19.99, you’re guaranteed an entertaining story and several hours of gameplay. While this may not necessarily be the best the series has to offer, it does give the developers something to work with and fans a quick fix to hold them over something better comes along.
This review was based on a purchased copy of Saints Row: Gat out of Hell for the Xbox One.