Have you ever wanted to go to Hell? Well, no, we can't say the thought's ever crossed our mind, either - but you don't really have much of a choice in the Saint's Row stand alone spin off, Gat out of Hell. Set as an epilogue to the epic (and decidedly batty) open world criminal adventure, Saint's Row IV, Gat out of Hell sees the infamous (yet tongue in cheek) gang, the Third Street Saints engaging in a lovely birthday party for their lieutenant Kinzie. How nice!
But, of course, in the Saint's Row normal-is-madness-and-madness-is-insanity style, this is no ordinary birthday party. Instead of pinning the tail on a donkey or dancing under the disco ball, protagonists Johnny Gat, Kinzie and the crew decide to play with a mysterious ouija board, and in doing so, accidentally end up contacting Satan. You know, as you do.
As you can imagine, Satan is not the party-type. He declares that the boss of the Third Street Saints must marry his daughter, Jezebel, and drags him unwillingly down into Hell to meet his future bride. What a party-killer! Ever the heroes, the sunglasses clad Johnny Gat and fiery red-head Kinzie decide to follow him into the realms of horror in order to save their leader, and delve into the fiery pits of doom.
Once in their new-found underworld, Gat and Kinzie find Hell to be an expansive, flame-ridden plain of demons, monsters, and mass business corporations. One turns out to be the Ultor Corporation, led by old enemy Dane Vogul. Gat suspects that Vogul has something to do with their leader's kidnapping, and he and Kenzie begin their great adventure through the epic world of fire and brimstone.
Gat out of Hell is near identical to every other Saint's Row game in terms of gameplay, if you've ever played one before. A third-person shooter/action adventure game, set in a world that simply does not give a care about "making sense", you play as either Johnny Gat or Kenzie Kesington, as you explore the expansive, open world underworld for yourself, in search of your missing boss. And, of course, deal with any demons and monsters that try to stand in your way.
What's strange about Gat out of Hell is that there are no real missions, not in the way you would expect from any other game. What the game requires you to do is attract enough attention in Hell to draw Satan to you (along with his prisoner - your boss), and you do this through numerous mini games, mindless violence, and generally causing chaos. Once you've riled enough interest, Satan will take note of you and bam, it's final boss time, without any quest that led there. While it's an interesting format, you'll often find yourself at a loss of what to do, or even slightly bored by the endless amounts of repetition in just mindless chaos. You could easily complete the game in under 5 hours, with enough dedication.
But, by far what is most enjoyable about the game is the flight format. Making the most of being in Hell, Gat comes complete with some phenomenal cosmic powers - the most eye-catching of which are a pair of very awesome angelic wings, which allow him the power of flight. In any game, that's be cool enough, but Saint's Row, as always, takes things to another level. Gat can fly freely throughout Hell, zooming about the flaming buildings and demonic structures, and looking rather cool as he does so. Like, well, a Gat out of Hell. Which probably explains the subtitle.
Speaking of looking cool, Gat out of Hell is a bizarrely pretty game. The characters are all just stylised enough to be interesting while looking human enough, and while their facial features aren't great, Hell is a surprisingly colourful place, with enough warm reds, and soul destroying oranges to warm even the darkest of homes. Just what we need in this weather.
In terms of accessibility, the combat is simple enough to pick up and play, too - while dual analogue stick skills are a must (sorry Sarah), and it's not anything especially new, it's still a lot of fun - especially with the usual Saint's Row array of weird and wonderful weapons. From an armchair with gatling guns strapped to the arms, and a frog launcher (yes, it launches exploding frogs), this is a sandbox it's fun to mess around in, and just cause trouble.
Overall, Saint's Row: Gat out of Hell is a lot of fun. With some great features, such as the free flight system, an expansive weaponry arsenal, and hilarious and well written cut scenes, it's a game bursting with character. However, its no mission format leaves the game feeling empty with little content, and often leads to you feeling deflated. As a stand alone expansion, it was bound to feel smaller than the average game, but, at least it'll only set you back expansion pack price, so it won't drain your funds should you wish to give Hell a go.