|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Zombie Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Youcef Baouchi
May 18, 2009 - SAW is an action horror title based on the horror movies. It is being developed by Zombie Studios and published by Konami. Originally, the title was being developed by Brash Entertainment, but Konami picked up the publishing rights to the game after the company went under due to financial difficulties. The game will play like an old-school adventure game, where you must look for clues to progress through the adventure without very much help from the game itself.
Superficially, I am a little worried because movie tie-ins tend to be terrible; they usually have small budgets and the transition to a new medium can be rough, especially for movies like Saw. That being said, Konami developed the Silent Hill franchise, so if anyone could do Saw correctly, it would be Konami and Zombie Studios.
The game will take place between the first and second movie, set in an abandoned asylum. Players will have to solve different Jigsaw traps scattered around the place. The plot will center on the kidnapping of Detective David Tapp by his suspect, the Jigsaw Killer. Players will have to work through several different traps, which will focus on people with connections to the Detective. Players will not only solve puzzles, but they will also fight with Jigsaw's minions. Thankfully, you will be able to pickup different weapons with which to defend yourself. Throughout the game, players will have moral choices to make, much like in Bioshock and Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Just like those games, these choices could result in different endings.
The game will be played from a third-person camera angle. The gameplay is puzzle-intensive, so Zombie Studios created the game with a premise that there would be very little help provided to the player from the game. For example, your character could wake up with a reverse bear-trap wrapped around their head (this is just like the trap that was used on Amanda Young in the first film). You would then have to solve different puzzles in attempt to unlock the trap before it rips your character's jaw apart. An example of this might be looking at an object in the mirror at a specific angle, so you can solve the puzzle. After you unlock the bear trap, players will have the opportunity to explore the environment and look for clues to reach the next puzzle. Onscreen prompts will trigger interaction, so approaching a drawer or a corpse would give you a prompt to search the objects. You may find a key that would help you gain access to another room. Cryptic messages can also be found that may help you avoid danger. Players will also encounter other people at the asylum who are trying to solve the puzzles. These people could be helpful by providing you with clues to progress further into the storyline, but others will try to kill you.
The game will be running on the Unreal 3 Engine, so it has potential to look great, but this is not a guarantee. Some of the characters look generic and the color pallet is very grey. The environments seem detailed and they are also very reminiscent of the locations that are portrayed in the films. The developers visited asylums for research and inspiration, but they hope to keep the game as close to the Saw universe as possible. I hope Zombie Studios work hard on the sound effects because that could make or break the game, since bad implementation could ruin the atmosphere. It has also been confirmed that Charlie Clouser who composed the music for all the movies will also compose the soundtrack for the video game.
Konami took a risk by picking up the license to Saw because movie-licensed are usually not very good, although, Konami is familiar with the genre since they've produced similar games in the past like the Silent Hill series. If they are able to maintain the fear factor throughout the entire experience, develop an interesting storyline, and create a great atmosphere, then I'm sure Saw will be a successful game. But, I am worried about how Zombie Studios will implement the moral dilemmas, since survival will be the most important aspect of the game. What other choice is there?
SAW will arrive on X360, PS3, and PC this Halloween. The release will coincide with the sixth movie in the franchise. Stay tuned for more info!
CCC Freelance Writer