Retro Review: Splatterhouse
Seeing as the Halloween season is nearly upon us, I wanted to write some reviews based on horror games. First up is Splatterhouse which is a lovely gore fest that takes inspiration from The Evil Dead and Friday the 13th.
Not much is explained in the intro except that you see your character and his girlfriend running towards a spooky house. Let me try and set the scene. You can barely see as the rain is driving hard in your face whilst the wind howls through the trees. You reach the house and as you touch the door handle thunder and lightening crashes, showing a glimpse of the horror you are about to enter. You open the door looking for shelter but, there is nothing except darkness and just before you fall unconscious the last thing you hear is your girlfriend screaming.
As you start the game you see your character lying face down on the floor. The infamous hockey mask that made Jason Voorhees a household name is floating above his lifeless body. It slowly descends and as it reaches his face it brings his corpse back to life.
The game itself is a side scrolling beat-em up where you have a limited amount of moves at your disposal. There is the standard punch and jump and pressing them together results in you delivering a flying kick. There have been a million of these type of games but what makes Splatterhouse stand out is the setting and over the top gore.
Although the game takes place in 2D, there are plenty of things happening in the background and foreground of the dungeon in the opening level. Screaming captives shake cell bars, skeletons rattle chains and half-eaten corpses quiver and shake on the ground. All of this really adds to the atmosphere turning an average game into something a little bit more memorable.
It’s not long before you are beset by enemies and in all honesty, they just walk straight at you not posing much of a challenge. It’s hard to tell what they are and the best way I can describe them is that they look like a melted candle with arms and legs. Destroying these enemies only takes one punch but, it’s the inventiveness of how they die that makes this game interesting. As soon as you hit them they explode into a big pile of goo!
There are weapons that you can collect which add to the carnage and make killing a lot of fun. Pick up a machete and you chop bad guys in half, watching their intestines falling to the floor. Pick up a plank of wood and you smash them into the background watching as they slowly slide down the wall.
There are also some interesting boss battles with a haunted room being a particular highlight. The room you are in starts shaking and instead of fighting a traditional monster, you are assaulted by an unseen creature throwing chairs and knives at you. It’s very cool!
As you can imagine with this being an arcade game the difficulty is punishingly hard. Everything is out to hurt you and with only 4 pieces of health, it’s not long before you are restarting the level.
Graphics – The blood and gore effects look suitably bloody and over the top. 6
Sound – Minimal sound and music but, it is quite spooky and helps create a tense atmosphere. 5
Playability – Simple gameplay but the horror element sets it apart from your standard side scrolling beat-em up. 6
Re-Playability – This is one tough game that will have you screaming in frustration and wanting to go on a rampage like Jason Voorhees. 5
Overall – Splatterhouse lives up to its name and is one of the goriest games from the late eighties. Although the gameplay maybe simple, the setting and violence set the game apart from some of its contemporaries. 6