Following the highly successful Saints Row IV, Gat out of Hell takes the series in a different direction by putting the player into either Johnny Gat or Kinzie Kensington’s shoes rather than the player creating their own character. There’s mayhem, carnage and plenty of off-color comedy that’s sure to satisfy Saints Row fans, but in the end, the game comes off as shallow. It’s a trap that many stand-alone expansions fall in to, but despite it’s lacking of substance, it’s still one hell of a time.
Aesthetics (Story, Graphics, Sound)
With the president kidnapped and arranged to marry Jezabel, the Devil’s daughter, it’s up to Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington to brave the fires of Hell and save their saintly leader! That’s the kind of zeal that’ll greet you in Gat out of Hell’s story and it boy, does it staty true to the franchise’s style. Portrayed as an old, fairy tale book (narrator included), Gat out of Hell is full of the zany humor that the series is known for — witty, quick one-liners, fourth wall breaks, a Disney princess-esque musical number, self-reflexivity, bizarre weapons, crude comments, comical violence — and it’s all charmingly chuckle worthy. Like its parent title, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the characters banter back and forth while making light of the situation thrust upon them. Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington are perfect as the expansion’s main characters as their erratic, reckless behavior mixed with the chaotic cast of Hell provides most of the laughs.
Gameplay (Combat, Systems, Mechanics)
The objective of Gat out of Hell’s batty, hellish excursion is to cause enough chaos and damage until Satan is forced to confront you. It’s a simple enough task, but therein lies the problem: it is too simple. From the genre standard race missions to the mind-numbing “kill x amount of bad guys in waves” missions, everything in the game seems like generic filler, even the supposed “main missions”. I put main missions in quotes because nothing in this game is necessary (minus the first and last mission) and, honestly, it got me in a pickle of how to critique this game. In the three and half hours it took to complete the expansion, I was able to skip helping the game’s supporting characters, ignore capturing most of the enemies’ territory, and mostly do side quests until the game told me I could fight Satan in the final showdown. Hell, by the end, I had even amassed most of the expansion’s final weapons and almost reached the level cap. I couldn’t decide if this was brilliant game design, in allowing so much freedom in how I chose to progress through the story, or lazy game design, in that it was so mind-numbingly easy to beat the game that I rolled the credits with a “meh”. As of writing this review, I’m starting to lean towards brilliant, but that’s just in respect to the design — the actual missions and collectibles within the game are basic and worn.
There are, however, some new additions to the expansion, but like most stand-alone expansions, they’re like a bright, garish wrapping paper hiding a toy you’ve already played with. The biggest new mechanic is the power of flight granted to the main characters. Flying around hell is well-done and for the most part enjoyable, jack-knifing through smoke stacks or twisting through aqueducts filled with lava. But when you get down to the basic element of it being a travel mechanic, it’s not much different from Saints Row IV’s running and jumping mechanic. The same goes for the multitude of collectibles and missions sprinkled throughout the landscape of Hell. The new special weapons, the Seven Deadly Sins, are entertaining to look at and wield, especially the Chair-mageddon above or the Bow-chicka-bow-wow gun, which causes extreme infatuation in the enemy. But the lack of divergence from the parent title, coupled with the removal of character customization, puts Gat out of Hell short of being an acceptable stand-alone expansion gameplay-wise.
The mark of whether a stand-alone expansion is exceptional or not is if it provides enough new material for the player to justify shelling out a bit more cash for a game they already love. Not only that, but the new material must also be fresh and deliver a new take on an already established design. Gat Out of Hell is split down in the middle in this regard; the game’s story is a great continuation of the franchise’s humor as well as an interesting new take on the Saint’s Row universe, but the gameplay does little to separate itself from Saints Row IV. If you’re not a fan of the Saints Row series, then Gat out of Hell isn’t the place to start. I would recommend this to people who want to get a little more out of their Saints Row IV experience, especially on the story end of the spectrum. Just be prepared to tackle some familiar gameplay.
Final Score: 7 / 10
Written and Edited by Tim Atwood