Hands-on at E3 / Saw

After Konami’s press conference on Wednesday revealed that the company has some very potentially awesome games in the oven that are making no more than a trailer’s presence at this year’s E3, I have to admit that I was a little not excited to visit their booth (by the way, booth is the wrong word for these behemoth play spaces. They should be called “stations” or something). However, obligations are obligations, and you all ought to know what to expect from the company in the coming months. What I gave most of my attention to was the Saw game, and the new Silent Hill for Wii.

I’m going to go ahead and admit to you right now that I have not once seen a Saw movie. The first one seemed like cheap violence thrills thing and had a creepy face for permanent haunting association. Big deal. That the film has seen four sequels, and one more later this year, has only emboldened that thought that these are pretty disposable films. However, you don’t make a film a year and not expect a big videogame publisher to step in and have a game made. “Great,” you and I think in a tenor of sarcasm, “a game based on a huge movie franchise. That’s a winner.” Well, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t completely terrible.

You play Detective Tapp, and Jigsaw has kidnapped you for trying to track him down and ignoring everything else in your life to do so. All the backstory about you is bleated out of Jigsaw’s mouth (played by Tobin Bell) as you have that torture device thing stuck on your head. After he’s done talking is when you can actually solve it, which involves turning some crank via your left stick, and finding flashing quicktime button indicators on the sides of the thing by rotating the camera. Tapp himself could never see these things, so it’s good he has you and your floating camera to save him. Once it’s off, though, there’s a very clever perspective puzzle that involves some writing on a mirror, and on an opposite wall, and getting just the right perspective to reveal the code to unlock the door out of this first room. After that, the demo had a series of different puzzles, one involving sticking my hand in a toilet of syringes to get a power fuse for some switch within a set amount of time. Take too long and Tapp passes out. There is also a low-level combat system. One not-puzzle involves killing some guy for the key he’s holding, and all I had to do was press block when he attacked, and then attack myself. Oh, and yes. There are quicktime traps here and there as well, like creaking a door open and pressing the button that comes up to stop the shotgun from blowing your brains out.

The environments themselves actually do look pretty good. They keep up with anything out there today, and the violence is accurately ridiculous. You’ll also get some scripted cut scenes to move the story along, or scripted in-game events that are meant to disturb you and stuff.

If you’re a fan of the movies, then the tense time-limited puzzles and the environments may actually prove satisfying for you. It doesn’t look like anything you couldn’t get from a Resident Evil game or some other survival horror, but it’s a setting that may be worth exploring in a videogame space.