Over the past few years the Saw movies haven’t been getting any better. In fact they’ve probably been getting worse losing the storyline completely. Instead we’re now treated with an annual gore fest each trying to outdo the previous in a more gory way. It seems it’s now turn for the videogame world to indulge in such gore as the second Saw game is released.
For the main part the story plays you as the protagonist Michael Tapp who is the son of Detective Tapp, a character that played a crucial part in the original Saw game. It’s unexplained how such an old man, Jigsaw, has managed to booby trap entire street blocks without anyone noticing, but somehow he has. As a result of that you are now under the test of Jigsaw and will have to make many choices throughout the game as the story unfolds. There are many characters that you must save but there are also plenty of people dotted around the game who will jump out at you from time to time swinging a lead pipe in your face. Live or die, you decide.
Straight away you get a taste of the action as you find yourself conveniently placed inside one of Jigsaw’s most famous traps, the reverse bear trap. To unlock the bear trap there is a key stuck behind your eyelid. You really get a feeling of excitement and pressure although a series of QTEs (Quick Time Events) and the job is done. At this stage you’re free to walk around and see what this game is all about. You won’t be walking for long before you approach another puzzle. No QTEs here though as you have to solve the puzzle yourself using various mirrors and mini puzzle games. This approach is adopted throughout the game on a vast scale. Thankfully it’s a nice mixture and keeps you staring at the screen concentrating rather than wishing you were doing something else.
The puzzles laid on for you provide a varying level of difficulty with some puzzles providing you with a headache as there just doesn’t seem to be any clues around, even though the majority of the time the answer is staring you right in the face. Jigsaw isn’t the forgiving type either so frustration yet excitement is added when there’s a timer clocking down to your eventual death. To give you an example this is a description of my favourite puzzle. There’s a gentlemen in a sealed room who has unfortunately found himself in one of Jigsaws traps. He requires a series of five numbers in specific order to release himself and it’s your job to provide him with those numbers. To make it harder there are dummies placed around the name with a number on their back. When you think you have the right combination simple activate the dummy with the correct number on the back and the poor gentleman will, fingers crossed, be able to release himself. Sound easy? Well it isn’t. Scrawled across the walls are thousands of combinations. I’ll not reveal how it’s done but as much as I’m ashamed to say it, YouTube is a great friend at times.
While the puzzles are frantic and tense, the in between sections are dramatically slowed down. There are plenty of circuit boards for you to unlock in order to move on, as well as a billion doors ready to blow your head off when they swing open. That also means plenty of QTEs which are pretty easy as long as you don’t panic. After a while you expect to have one behind each door but in the beginning you’ll regularly find yourself mis-clicking forcing you to load back at the most recent checkpoint.
Combat is one thing that annoyed many people in the original Saw game and you’ll be glad to hear that it has been completely changed. Unfortunately it hasn’t been changed to make you feel like you are fighting; instead the QTEs are back again. This is a bit of a cop-out by the developers as they should have just improved the combat system rather than going QTE happy. It now no longer feels like combat which defeats the purpose.
One thing that has remained the same from last year is the game’s visuals. There doesn’t seem to be much improvement, if any, which is a shame as last year’s graphics could have done with an overhaul. Rough edges aside, the game does still feel dark and scary and note to self, never play the game alone in the dark. That was the worst idea ever as when I tried to get to sleep all I could hear was the chuckling of Jigsaw’s creepy puppet.
The basis to making a horror game scary is without a doubt the music and background noise that is ever present. A lone man standing in a room in the dark isn’t that frightening, but when you add in a scary background noise you’re immediately cacking yourself. Maybe it’s just me being a wimp, but Saw certainly meets the shock requirements.
Terrifying nights aside, Saw II: Flesh & Blood is perfect for any Saw fan as a week’s rental. While the game does challenge you, you’ll be able to complete it within that time due to the lack of multiplayer both online and off. It is an improvement on last year’s effort however; I just hope the games don’t follow the never-ending movie route.