Whether you grew tired of the Saw franchise four sequels ago or still look forward to each new entry every year, there is no denying that the puzzles and deathtraps that are the trademarks of the series are pretty darn cool. Saw the videogame makes great use of those puzzles and pairs it with the awesomely horrifying atmosphere of the movies and puts you in complete control. Or, at least as much control as Jigsaw wants you to have. Find out all of the details right here in our full review.
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Zombie Studios
- ESRB Rating: “M” For Mature
- Genre: Horror
- Pros: Great puzzles; definitely has the Saw feel
- Cons: Limited replay value; combat is awful
Saw the game takes place between the events of the first two movies. You know, back when the series was still awesome and unpredictable. But enough of my personal thoughts on the movies. Instead of being killed at the end of the first movie, Detective David Tapp is “saved” by Jigsaw and placed in a booby-trapped asylum. The dilapidated building is filled with other victims of Jigsaw caught in their own traps, and Tapp has to try to save them. One major problem for Tapp, however, is that there is a key hidden in his own body that other people roaming the building need to secure for their own freedom so you have to fight off other people trying to kill Tapp. It is big and twisted and confusing and perfectly suited to Saw.
The atmosphere of the game is just about perfect. It looks and sounds exactly like a Saw movie and the story moves along at a perfect pace. It is bloody and gruesome and the puzzles (and repercussions of not solving them) are absolutely brutal. This is an extremely authentic Saw experience in terms of story and presentation.
The gameplay is a mix of good and bad. It is a third-person action game that is about 80% exploration and puzzle solving and 20% (or even less) combat. The exploration and puzzle solving is great. There are items hidden all over the levels such as audio tapes from Jigsaw or things like health packs, weapons, fuses, and other objects you need to solve puzzles. The puzzles themselves are pretty darn clever, for the most part. They range from simple things like lining up reflections in a mirror, figuring out the combination to a lock by looking around the environment, using fuses to turn lights on or off to help reveal secrets in the environment, or more distinct Saw puzzles where you have to figure out ways to free people from Jigsaw’s traps. There are also lock picking sections or puzzles where you line up wires on a circuit or have to connect gears to open a box. The difficulty of the puzzles isn’t ever terribly high, but they are still very satisfying to solve.
The other part of the gameplay is combat when you have to fight off other people trying to kill Tapp for the key hidden in his body. You have a lot of weapons to choose from (and achievements connected with each weapon), but the actual act of swinging a weapon at an enemy is awful. You swing your weapon incredibly slowly, and if the enemy hits you mid-swing, the swing stops and you have to do it all over again. Your only hope is to back up out of the enemy’s range and start your swing and hope they run into it. The combat is just extremely clunky and the absolute worst part of the game.
Awful combat aside, the gameplay is pretty fun. The puzzles are neat and satisfying to solve and the story is decent. The only problem is that there is going to be virtually zero replay value. The puzzles get kind of repetitive towards the end of the game anyway, but once you figure out the puzzles the first time the fun of the game completely goes away. It is fun when you’re in a life and death situation and have to think on your feet and figure out some clever puzzle. Once the satisfaction and challenge of solving that puzzle is gone, the game is just generic horror with awful combat. You’ll play through it once and then never touch it again.
Graphically, Saw isn’t going to blow anyone away. The environments look okay and suit the Saw franchise just fine, but there isn’t a ton of detail or anything that will make you go “wow”. The character models are similarly competent, but unimpressive. One aspect that is pretty decent is the lighting, and using a lighter or flashlight to light the dark rooms works pretty well.
The sound is a definite high point. It sounds like a Saw movie, to put it simply. The same sound effects and similar music and everything just sounds right. Tobin Bell lends his voice once again as Jigsaw and is as creepy and perfect as always.
All in all, Saw the game is a decent horror game that fans of the movies will enjoy. It won’t wow you with its presentation, but it has that distinct Saw feel and you can’t ask for much more than that. Likewise, the puzzles and atmosphere and tension that make the movies worth watching are perfectly captured here. The gameplay isn’t quite up to snuff, unfortunately, as the combat is completely awful and the puzzles start to get a little old by the end of the game. It is a game you’ll enjoy playing through once and then never touch again. If you’re a fan or the Saw movies or are just looking for a new horror game, Saw the game is a solid rental but I can’t recommend it for a purchase.