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Saints Row promotes in-your-face jokes, larger-than-life personalities, and wildly illogical premises as if they're going out of style, but it also lends the series its undeniable charm. Each subsequent release begs the question “what will they do next?” As the name implies, Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell takes the action to the underworld and allows players to explore Satan's stomping grounds in another sandbox adventure. Though the game touts the freedom often associated with this genre, it also limits the size and scope of the experience due to its distinction as a standalone expansion. This allows it to fit in well with the rest of the series, but feels somewhat hollow as a singular experience.
Gat Out of Hell immediately cranks up the insanity in the opening moments of the game as the leader of the Saints is sent to hell so Satan can set up a marriage with his daughter Jezebel. It's up to Johnny Gat and Kinzie to find the boss and save him from Satan's grasp. Players meet a few cultural icons along the way to help in their efforts to take down Satan, such as Blackbeard and Shakespeare. Just think of how ridiculous this all sounds and then multiply it by ten. Now you're operating on the same level as Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell.
Though Gat Out of Hell shines in its premise, the game features few key narrative moments. Instead, players are left to their own devices in order to get Satan's attention. The more the player wreaks havoc, the more Satan notices. In turn, Gat Out of Hell utilizes a loose structure. There aren't a lot of clearly defined story missions, so players just have to complete a series of side activities and missions as the Satan Wrath meter continues to rise. I love destroying stuff in Saints Row as much as the next guy or gal, but the lack of purpose and structure behind the experience works against it.
The size and scope of the game also hinders the experience. Gat Out of Hell truncates the Saints Row formula and the most obvious example is Hell itself. The red tint of fire and brimstone makes a strong first impression, but after an hour or two in the new environment, it feels largely like Steelport. A smaller version of Steelport. There are still roads and cars and buildings… it's as if Satan has a business to run! It adds to some of the humor, but the smaller size contrasts the sandbox design. Getting around Hell's five islands takes very little time and most of the side missions found along the way grow old after a while. There were a couple that stood out to me though, and they both involve flying.
Super powers return from Saints Row IV in Gat Out of Hell and they're still a ton of fun to use. The ease in which I can zip around town with super sprint makes cars obsolete… until I fly for the first time. Now I never want to touch the ground. Johnny and Kinzie gain access to angel wings at the beginning of the game, and all it takes is a large jump and a flap of those wings to take to the skies. The stamina meter prevents endless flight, but there are plenty of upgrade orbs around Hell to pick up and use to upgrade flight and other super powers. Simply flying around Hell and picking up orbs was some of the most fun I had with Gat Out of Hell because of how well the game controls in the air.
Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell also introduces a few new weapons—the Seven Deadly Weapons to be more specific—but beyond that there's not a whole lot of new content in the standalone expansion. The drastic change of scenery allows Gat Out of Hell to showcase the series' trademark humor, but eventually the line between Hell and Steelport blurs and the player is left with a limited sandbox experience. The entire story can be completed in about three hours, with a few more hours for 100% completion. The return of super powers and introduction of flight makes it a mostly enjoyable three hours, but as a standalone experience it falls just short of typical Saints Row success.
Code provided by publisher. Review based on PlayStation 4 version. Also available for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PC.