[Overdue Review]: Painkiller
Developer team People Can Fly has a notorious reputation of creating some over-the-top violent games which just about anybody can tell from 2011’s Bulletstorm. Long before People Can Fly created the absurdly violent, Bulletstorm, the Polish development team created the equally violent Painkiller.
First released on April 12, 2004, Painkiller allows you take the role of Daniel, a human soul trapped in Purgatory after he and his wife were killed in a car accident. In order to reach Heaven (where his wife went) Daniel must stop the armies of Hell before Lucifer can start an all-out war with the Netherworld.
Given the game’s violent action, the story isn’t exactly the focal point and it doesn’t need to be. While it certainly has the possibility of being a blockbuster storyline with a touch of emotion, it simply hangs in the background reminding you that your demon-slaying isn’t mere wanton destruction.
But that aimless action provides every ounce of fun for the game. The weapons you use follow the typical FPS structure, but with slight variations that fit the games setting and plot. You have a shotgun (which is always necessary in demon slaying) that throws back enemies, but can also fire a blast of ice to freeze your enemies, allowing you to blow them to pieces with another shotgun blast. A crossbow type weapon acts as your sniper weapon, in which you can launch deadly wooden stakes into your enemies for one shot kills.
The graphics are actually very polished. They’re not gorgeous by todays standards, but seeing a bright yellow full-moon splashing light on a cemetery and being filled with chills, this games visuals still have an effect on your emotions.
Fighting is still incredibly smooth. The games extensive use of the Havock 2.0 engine makes killing baddies so incredibly satisfying. Enemies careen across the map from your heavy duty shotgun or explode in a shower of parts. The stake launcher pulls your enemies to the ground as it impales itself into their demon bodies.
While early stages give you the sense you can cut a swath through the hordes of monsters, but the game slowly ramps up the enemy difficulty as you play through each level. Enemies begin to become more varied and tougher as well as you advance. This forces you to change your tactics at times, but not very far beyond blasting rounds at your enemy and running circles around them.
Though it’s been eight years since its release Painkiller is still a stand-up shooter. You’ll still find yourself enthralled by the fast-paced action and immersed into its still surprisingly beautiful environments. While it may lack depth it was entertaining to play through a shooter that wasn’t so obsessed with story. If you’re looking for a simple shoot ‘em up without the story in the way then Painkiller will make you more than content.