The first attempt to bring the Saw franchise to the world of videogames, Saw the videogame, gives you the opportunity to escape from Jigsaw, creepy puppet master and serial killer. The game starts out with you taking control of David Tapp, the detective from the first Saw movie, although the developers must have failed to secure the likeness because you look nothing like the character. Jigsaw has trapped Tapp in a deserted insane asylum (it’s amazing how many insane asylums just shut down) for wasting his life and the lives of the people close to him because of his obsession with Jigsaw.
The very start of the game is one of the best realised moments, you start off with your head in a trap with a minute to get out whilst Jigsaw shouts at you via his puppet alter ego. Most of the more successful parts of the game are the puzzles, these are dotted throughout and don’t feel too contrived. There is plenty of variation in them as well; the simpler puzzles will see you just opening a box using gears or turning off poisonous gas in a room using pipes. There are also more complex and elaborate puzzles, usually attached to plot points, getting through these will take some quick thinking and reactions.
The combat in the game is extremely clunky. There is very little strategy and the animation is slow and jerky and often you take so long to respond to being hit by an enemy that they are ready to hit you again. You will pretty much always come out on top just by hitting the quick attack button and waiting until you get a couple of good blows in. There is a lot more combat in the game than is needed, it would have been truer to the films if there were fewer encounters and they involved people who you got to know before the Jigsaw drove them to attack you.
A good job has been done capturing the same filthy dilapidated look that is on show in the films, but when the game tires to shock you with explicit violence the graphics just don’t hold up. Close up the models are blocky and the textures are quite low res. This breaks any tension that has been built up before the gory act takes place. The developers should have used a few tricks from films and tried sometimes to just suggest the violence letting the player’s imagination do the work that the graphics can’t.
The Xbox 360 has the nice bonus of some extremely easy achievement points, you get points for dying, standing around, killing your first enemy with each weapon in the game, getting through the check points in the game and using the health hypodermics.
Saw is a game that so nearly gets it right; it has tense moments and good puzzles that fit in with the style of the movie but it needed a bit more time to get the combat right and to make the more gruesome set pieces have a greater impact. It’s not a bad game and will keep you entertained throughout but for a license that seems such an obvious one for a computer game it’s hard not to be disappointed with the result.