Splatterhouse. The name alone makes me grin as I remember my childhood, playing the original games, even though I wasn't very good at them. So when the 2010 update to the franchise was announced and the release date finalized, you had better believe I was on board, even grabbing the little pre-order mask that came with the game.
It's pretty much as cool as it looks right there. Which is, a lot.
For those unaware of the storyline, here's a rough guideline, going off of my memory of my playthrough of the game. Rick, the main character, is nearly killed when visiting a mansion of a mad scientist named Dr. Henry West with his girlfriend, Jennifer. The mask comes before Rick, claiming it can save his life, for the mere price of "put me on yo face". Having nothing better to do at the moment besides bathe in his own blood, Rick puts on the mask and is transformed into a muscle-bound mass-murderer in order to save his girlfriend from being sacrificed by Dr. West for reasons I won't go into because there actually is a plot, no seriously, there's a plot, even if it's a small one. For the next 7 hours, or at least the length of my own playthrough, Rick and the mask have touching moments that they'll remember forever, like ripping the intestines of a tentacle beast out of its rear using only your bare hands, or crushing the skull and brain of a rabid creature using, well, only your bare hands. And don't forget, ripping the arms off of a creature and beating another to death with its bare hands.
I didn't say my entertainment comes from the most intellectual of sources all the time.
While mindless, the game is fun. And features a "power-up" system. The mask runs on blood. The mask promises to use the blood to give Rick power to kill creatures faster to find his girlfriend faster. In return for more blood. You see a pattern forming. During this talk of blood and power, hints are also dropped that "blood" is the key to everything. It unlocks doors, heals you, grows back your limbs, and, as far as I can tell, can open portals to other dimensions.
Now, this also means that there's this feeling of you and the mask taking on something bigger than you. That the creatures and what Dr. West is attempting to do absolutely needs to be stopped. It's near the ending where I come across my problem with the game. We all know how a good story works. Good characters, setting, but also, pacing.
There's no problem with the pacing in Splatterhouse during a majority of the game. Story is given to you in tiny chunks, and you can take it as you will. There are audio files to give you a bit of inside into Dr. West's mind and history, and journal entries unlock as you progress that you can read. I mean, if you want. You can also just ignore it and keep murdering. You won't miss much.
To be fair, it doesn't get old. The killing, that is. Standing triumphantly over the people whose legs you probably just ripped off is also acceptable as "fun" to Splatterhouse.
But as you jump through portals to other dimensions, and learn about why Dr. West is doing what he's doing, you will inevitably reach the climax of the game. To save yourself a spoiler, let me be vague, though what you read in the rest of this paragraph can still be taken as a bit of a spoiler. You do some stuff, mask yells about something, large enemy crab golem thing appears, you get a cliffhanger ending. This is in the span of about 5 to 10 minutes, when just before, you had no idea the end of the game was this close.
What the hell? Did I miss something? I was just settling into my groove, as shallow as it is when it mostly involves ripping out intestines and smashing heads and using heads as weapons to get to intestines of other enemies. If the game had been at least an hour longer, perhaps of Rick trying to get out of the mansion or at least somewhere a bit more safe and sound, the ending would have been more complete. As it stands, Splatterhouse 2010 ends with a sickening feeling of, "Haha! Potential sequel! That is, if we can find the funding! . . . Haha!"
I hate cliffhanger endings, let me get that bias out of the way. I don't care if you're BioWare and you set up giant story-archs, you don't set up stories (or even full games) as "filler" or "cliffhanger" to set up a sequel. You build the story in a way that gives as much closure as you can to the player or reader, yet leaves some sort of vague zone of uneasiness, if you think you might have a sequel. Is the evil truly gone? Did the villain drop a line about his "boss" that the hero forgot about after the battle? Splatterhouse takes the route of, "You killed a bunch of guys! Yay!"
At least an hour. That's all I'm asking. The pacing was perfect through all of Splatterhouse 2010, and yet the ending is so rushed and the epilogue so frustratingly vague and empty that it feels like everything you just did amounted to nothing. Don't get me wrong -- I, personally, feel Splatterhouse 2010 is one of the most undervalued games I've ever played, and didn't deserve as much hatred as it got. But for what I feel it does right, I feel just as strongly that the ending ruins.
At least an hour. That's all this game needed. Just give me closure. Give me an ending that makes me feel like the tail-end of my $60 wasn't floating off into the wind.