Typically, when we embark on a preview concerning a game based on a movie, we do so with skepticism and heavy hearts. For so many years, we’ve been disappointed time and time again (even when the project appeared promising at the start), and we’re reluctant to get our hopes up again. But this time, we can’t help it. While we aren’t the biggest fans of the Saw films, we can clearly spot the potential in a survival/horror title that focuses on intense puzzle-solving rather than action-oriented thrills and chills. In this case, success will rely on your steadiness and the speed of your analytical ability; i.e., how fast can you find the solution before your life ends? How difficult must it be to allow your brain to work quickly and efficiently when you’re moments away from death? This is the premise of the movies, and one that might actually be better presented in a video game. Just think about sitting down and trying to free yourself from one of Jigsaw’s demonic puzzles…freaky, isn’t it?
IGN and other journalists got a sneak peek at Saw, and we’ve also dug up early details from Konami and developer Zombie Studios. First up, we should clarify that the game isn’t technically based on any one “Saw” film; it’s actually a separate storyline that takes place somewhere between the first and second movies. The player will hear and view the plot through the voice and eyes of Detective David Tapp, and we’ll also receive elongated stories regarding characters from the first film. This may sound like we’d be starting off plot-heavy, but in actuality, the opening scene will place your life in immediate peril. According to what Zombie Studios showed off to IGN, the very first scenario will have you facing the infamous bear trap conundrum. You’ve got a limited amount of time to free your head from imminent destruction, and it requires you to keep a cool head and a close eye on the screen. You need to follow a few button prompts and in some cases, you might have to twist about to see certain parts of your surroundings. The variety and diversity of the puzzles is what interests us most.
It may feel as if every step might be your last, and that’s intriguing enough. Don’t just walk through any door; it could be a shotgun trap. Some doors will remain shut forever until you can solve the fuse box puzzle outside, and other times, your body will be free (unlike in the bear trap), but in order to escape, you’ll have to locate the solution by carefully scanning the environment. Doesn’t this remind everyone of the old-school puzzle and/or adventure games that used to be popular? In effect, Saw probably won’t feature much of anything in the way of traditional action, and we haven’t seen a significant title like this in quite some time. In this way, it may not appeal to the mainstream crowd – the same crowd that feels more comfortable with Resident Evil 5, for instance – and that could affect the sales potential. However, we’re certain there are many fans of the movies out there, and they would likely understand what the game is all about; if they find it interesting, it could be a hit. Success may rely entirely on the developer’s ability to create compelling and challenging puzzles without pissing people off…
You won’t be alone in your quest to overcome Jigsaw’s devilish intentions; others will be in the asylum with you, and while some won’t get in the way, others might have orders to stop you. This may present us with something resembling action, but really, the focus is clear and Zombie Studios is going to need a huge amount of ingenuity and creativity. Puzzles are nice additions to certain games, but when the entire experience revolves around them, the designers are really pushed. As an added twist for the player, though, they’re going to implement the concept of morality; how you approach the story may impact the result, and we know there will be multiple endings available. Evidently, every choice you make could and often will have a direct impact on future proceedings, and that adds a definite dash of flavor to this puzzle-centric recipe. For those who are willing to keep your brain muscles pumping, all the while enjoying a scare-a-minute production that will keep you on your toes, this game should deliver. Fear is a driving force of the movies so of course, it should also play a huge role in the game, which is why we’re correctly labeling it, “survival/horror.”
Saw is scheduled to come out in October, and we sincerely hope our high expectations are realized. Yes, it really does have potential.
4/13/2009 Ben Dutka