The only thing the Saw franchise excels at more than any other right now is successfully cashing in on the same film, at the same time, each year. So it’s fitting that the videogame iteration is equally uninspiring.
It doesn’t work; it has its share of semi-thoughtful ideas and fleeting frights but the transition between mediums has resulted in a total disrespect of both. This is a game that would prefer to be a film, but if it were would be as tedious as watching morons die for two hours if it were. Oh.
As Detective Tapp you awaken in one of Jigsaw’s familiar labyrinths. You’re snared in a reverse bear trap but the Jigsaw killer is not a killer, as he so frequently observes. Like a midnight hit and run driver shouting “MOVE!” at the climatic moment, his self-defenses don’t stand up and his ramblings reek of a writer aimlessly flirting with pop-psychology and every trick in the John Doe Book of Innocent Murdering.
You’re trapped in an asylum with a selection of characters that like you about as much as the prospect of their imminent gory expiration. The wife of your dead police partner, a journalist, a drug-addict and so on. You wander through the asylum seeking each of them individually and solving puzzles to prevent their death. Punctuating these moments are a helping of similar puzzles, recurring quick-time events, instant-death traps, futile item collecting, borrowed puzzles and fragmented combat; a clumsy rock, paper, scissors where each of your fists is a precision missile. Few of the throwaway weapons match the speed of pummeling your opponents into oblivion and so combat is little more than a distracting exercise in the pressing of two buttons. Telling when the games only boss can be defeated with a dozen punches.
90 minutes is tough enough, but six hours is as torturous as ramming your head into a toilet overflowing with used needles. The lengthy Half-Life style cut scenes only demonstrate the difficulty in converting the franchise into an interactive format and throwaway enemies and instant death traps add no depth to an otherwise superfluous six hours.
And at the end there’s little redemption. Tapp, the wife, the drug-addict, the suicidal; who gives a shit.
But that’s probably expecting a little too much from the film that has captured a place in pop-culture by frittering its annual budget on faux blood, B-movie actors and grisly murdering contraptions. The only thing to be feared here is the prospect of a sequel.