The first game in the Dishwasher series, Dead Samurai, was a fast-paced action game with an only slightly insane premise. It was absurdly violent, and had an art style closely resembling the notebook sketches of your average 8th grade social outcast. While it did have co-op, it was restricted to a survival mode, and left us wanting to see it in the story mode. Luckily, Ska Studios was kind enough to develop a sequel called The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, and not only does it include two-player co-op in the story, it also allows for some good old-fashioned BYOB co-op.
While the game itself on the surface might not look much different to players, the game's sole developer James Silva told us that its almost been completely rewritten from scratch. One of his goals with the sequel was to really tighten up the game so it wasn't just a button masher, people that knew what they were doing would excel at the game instead. Above and beyond tha Silva simply wanted to add a lot of features to the game's formula - and a lot of times - he did it simply because "he figured what the hell."
The co-op story mode differs slightly from the single-player mode. Level layouts are slightly different and there are fewer cutscenes, but the action plays out just as smoothly, albeit with a slightly higher difficulty level. It didn't feel like the players were able to combine their moves, but since the action moves so fast, it would probably be difficult to plan anything like that out. In any case, it's nice to finally have the option to bring a friend along. Players choose from either the original Dishwasher character or his sister.
If you have a friend who just wants to hop in on the action (or can't keep up with the difficulty), Vampire Smile has one of the more entertaining BYOB co-op modes I've seen in a while. Each character has a familiar following them, either a flying cat or a crow. At any point, a second player can take over these familiars, and shoot laser beams from their eyes at enemies, lightly damaging them or keeping them at bay just long enough for the first player to finish them off. Once an enemy has fallen, you can then eat their corpse, and after a number of meals, you'll regurgitate a healing item for your partner. Controlling the familiars plays about like a twin-stick shooter, and should feel natural for just about anyone.
While the core game didn't feel drastically different, it was just as fun as what came before, and the added benefit of co-op is a welcome one. As a sort of bonus, the game is also playable in 3D, though I'm sure it might simply cause migraines and seizures in infants and the elderly. I'm sure we'll find out if I'm right about that last bit when it releases this April.