- Things die when you shoot them
- The stake gun’s kinda satisfying
- Horribly dated
- Plot’s a bit rubbish
- Enemy AI is ropey
Remakes are all well and good if they’re done right but Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is a remake that falls short mainly due to how badly it has aged. Chances are you played the original Painkiller when it launched back in 2004 for the original Xbox and PC and if you did, perhaps you enjoyed it. If this is the case, you’re faced with two options here: Buy Hell & Damnation and experience a classic but dated game, or leave it alone and keep your fond memories intact. We’d recommend the latter.
It’s hard to imagine a time when Painkiller would have been something we’d happily play but with games coming leaps and bounds in the last decade, Hell and Damnation feels archaic. It controls like an old arcade shooter, weapons are dull and enemies frequently hop between being a massive pain the ass to cannon fodder.
It also doesn’t help that the game’s plot is pretty sub-par. As the game begins, Death offers leading man Daniel Garner one last chance to see his wife again after the two died in a car accident and ended up in hell. The catch? Daniel has to plow through hell, pulverising anything he comes across with his variety of weapons. As mentioned briefly above however, most of the weapons at your disposal have limited ammo and you start the game with a retractable Scorpion-styled claw that can make mince-meat out of most foes without even moving. Simply backing into a corner and waiting for the kamikaze infused enemies to come at you often works out best as running around like a headless chicken can lead to you winding up with enemies surrounding you.
Whilst enemies die fairly quickly, the game can actually be quite challenging but not in the way that makes it enjoyable. You start with 100 points of health and you’ll soon discover that even the lowliest of skeletons can rip chunks out of you in seconds. Couple this with meagre health offerings of 1 point per enemy killed and things can be frustrating. The game also has a nasty knack of throwing explosive barrels your way when you’re firing wildly at enemies, also taking large portions of your value hit points to the grave.
Hell & Damnation does try to offer a fair few things for you to do and collect but meticulously searching environments for things to destroy just so you can grab a few coins grows boring fast. You can also attempt to complete bonus objectives to unlock tarot cards that grant you additional skills like slow-motion but they’re often tedious and not worth it.
Unfortunately, Hell & Damnation also looks incredibly dated. It’s far from ugly but when you’re exploring fairly large environments and they’re all pretty samey and empty, it gets repetitive. Identical enemies also come at you in droves and props are re-used more times than you can count. Like said, the game doesn’t look awful by any means and as a remake it’s a good improvement, but it could easily have been so much more. It’s also worth mentioning that the music is also incredibly repetitive. At first, you’ll agree that the tunes are fitting as metal riffs accompany your undead slaughter but once you’ve noticed that the same track loops over and over and over again, you suddenly begin to loath it and consider reaching for the mute button.
Painkiller: Hell & Damnation isn’t terrible but as a remake trying to make a stand in today’s shooter dominated market, it may as well be sat in the corner feebly waving its peashooter, whilst the big boys fire AKs in the air and loudly compare the sizes of their tanks. It’s not much as a horror game either as enemies aren’t scary and the plot’s a bit pants. The biggest jump (followed by a curse) I had was when an explosive barrel leapt out of a door and blew up in my face, killing me. That’s not scary, it’s frustrating.
Worth a buy? Probably not, even if you did like the original game. It’s definitely not awful but there are so many better games you could be playing.