Saints Row IV: Gat Out Of Hell Review
Since releasing Saints Row IV in 2013, Volition have released a plethora of expansion packs that, while containing little more than additional weapons, clothing and even a couple containing additional quests, were still very enjoyable and gave us reason to keep coming back to the game. Now, a year and a half later, they have released their first stand-alone DLC for Saints Row IV. Titled Gat Out of Hell, does it manage to keep Saints Row IV fresh for a little longer?
Saints Row IV: Gat Out of Hell takes place after the events of the base game. The Saints are celebrating Kinzie Kenzington’s birthday, when suddenly a portal to Hell opens and sucks in the President, who thankfully does look like you if you have a Saints Row IV save file. The portal was opened by Satan, who wishes the President to marry his daughter Jezebel, so it is up to Johnny Gat and Kinzie to leap through the portal and save the President. Once in Hell, you run into many familiar faces, such as Dane Vogel, the antagonist from Saints Row 2, the DeWynter Sisters from Saints Row: The Third, and even some characters based on real people, such as Blackbeard and Shakespeare.
One complaint I have with the plot of Gat Out of Hell is how they choose to tell it. The story is told through a mixture of regular cutscenes and still images with voice-over narration by the narrator from Saints Row IV. Not by the characters we are controlling, but by some unseen, faceless third party.
Gat Out of Hell’s mission system is a little different from Saints Row IV, and is more akin to Just Cause 2. There is a gauge in your HUB called “Satan’s Wrath”, since you are trying to draw out Satan and fight him. You fill this gauge by doing the side activities, and each time the gauge is filled up to a certain point, the next part of the plot will be unlocked. The closest things to actual missions are the Loyalty Missions, which are just strings of side missions given context by one of your allies. Factoring in the time spent completing challenges and collecting soul clusters, the story can be completed in about 3-4 hours.
The first thing think you’ll notice upon arriving in Hell is that the city, known as New Hades, looks almost exactly like Steelport, except on fire and being struck by lightning at regular intervals. This is obviously meant a joke, “our hometown is Hell haha”, and the characters even draw attention to it, but it fails to cover up the fact that the developers either couldn’t or didn’t bother to design another city for Gat Out of Hell. Once in Hell, you receive demonic powers to aid you in your battle against Satan. These powers are essentially the same as their counterparts in Saints Row IV, only tweaked slightly with more hellish themes. For example, instead of an ice blast, you have a stone blast that encases enemies in stone, inspired by the gorgons of Greek myth.
The one unique power is the flight power. While in Saints Row IV you could only temporarily glide until you eventually lost momentum, in Gat Out of Hell you are able to remain airborne for as long as you please. However, this is not as easy it sounds, as you can still lose and gain momentum by diving and climbing, similar to the Batman: Arkham games, so some skill is required. But it is still fairly easy to master, and once you get the hang of it you will be zipping around New Hades collecting Soul Clusters (Hell’s equivalent of the Data Clusters from Saints Row IV) to upgrade your powers.
Like in Saints Row IV, you receive these powers almost immediately, rendering vehicles completely useless. However, there is little to no focus on vehicles this time around, as they all look the same (busted and on fire), with only the enemy vehicles having cool-looking designs. But even with that, there is no garage for you to customise or save any vehicles, so there is no reason to hijack vehicles outside of certain side activities. As such, flying and sprinting are really your only real means for traversing the city. Aside from that, the basic shooting mechanics remain unchanged, as do the upgrade and level up systems (although this time, the level caps at 20 instead of 50).
As mentioned earlier, the side activities are integral to advancing the plot, so most of your time in Saints Row IV: Gat Out of Hell will be spent completing those. Thankfully there are some new ones, such as Salvation, in which you must fly around the city catching and freeing the falling souls of the damned within a time limit. And some of the old side missions have been tweaked to fit the theme of Hell, such as in Fraud, where this time you control a damned soul (who is given an actual backstory by the narrator) attempting to take years off their sentence. Many of the glitches from Saints Row IV have been addressed, including (unfortunately) the hilarious broken ragdoll physics from the Fraud minigame. The only glitch I ever came across in Gat Out of Hell was that I became stuck on the world geometry, but that only happened once.
Graphically, there isn’t much to say – Gat Out of Hell is on par with Saints Row IV. And while I wish they had designed a brand new city instead of just recolouring the old one, the Hellish version of Steelport still looks amazing. And the new weapon designs, while being fewer than in previous games, just look badass – much more so than the alien weapons from Saints Row IV. One of the weapons you can unlock is an armchair with Gatling guns and missiles. Just let that sink in. Something I will praise that annoyed me greatly in Saints Row IV is that they removed the glowing effect that your character gets whenever they use their powers. Since you spent most of your time sprinting and gliding around Steelport in Saints Row 4, this effect would reduce your character to a silhouette with a glowing outline, making it so you could barely even see your unique character that you had spent so much time customising. Thankfully, this is not present in Gat Out of Hell.
There is no in-game radio this time around which, while disappointing, does make sense. Why would Satan give us the luxury of music? However, this is more than made up for by one particular scene, which was the highlight of the game for me, that breaks into a five-minute musical number for absolutely no reason. The stellar voice acting is also present in Saints Row IV: Gat Out of Hell, especially Eden Riegel as Jane Austen the narrator (who has more of a presence here than in Saints Row IV), and Travis Willingham as Satan.