What would you do if Death himself could reunite you with your wife or husband? The recently deceased Daniel Garner has found himself once again back in the exact situation. The cost of returning to the land of the living? 7,000 souls collected from all sorts of demonic hellspawns, skeletons and devilish fiends trapped in Purgatory. Armed with your trusty shotgun and other demonic weaponry, you set out across 15 stages of fast-paced run-and-gun action.
Working your way through the different stages won’t take very long – lasting roughly 5 hours. Stages are broken up into different arena-style rooms packed with hordes of enemies. Once all of the demons have been defeated, you must move on to the next checkpoint where a new set of enemies will spawn. Enemies will occasionally get stuck trying to run around pillars and other objects in the environment – forcing you to explore the entire stages for that one last “hidden” enemy. Barrels are conveniently placed throughout the stages, allowing you to take out groups of enemies at the same time by shooting them. Just as it did back in the day, prolonged sessions begin to feel stale and repetitive. Painkiller is best experienced in short bursts playing through a couple stages at a time. Tarot cards can be unlocked and equipped providing different offensive and defensive abilities. Don’t forget about the epic massive boss battles at the end of the four chapters. Think you have seen bigger bosses in a FPS before, think again.
Thanks to the Unreal 3 Engine, the presentation for Hell & Damnation has been greatly improved. While not featuring completely redesigned stages, the new coat of paint and additional touches will delight those who are familiar with the original. Stages are full of sword-wielding skeletons, demonic monks and other sorts of unthinkable creatures ready to mowed down across a varied set of stages including wide-open graveyards and medieval castles with bottlenecking tight corridors. The hard-rock music blends perfectly with the fast paced action propelling you forward at a brisk pace. Enemy AI hasn’t been improved with most of them making a direct beeline for you giving you the chance to blast each one in the face flinging them backwards like ragdolls. Only one new weapon has been added to your arsenal, firing buzzsaw blades that dismember multiple enemies – not to mention an alternate fire mode that will suck the souls out of your enemies.
Completed stages can be replayed in the new cooperative mode allowing you to hunt demons with a friend. The extra player adds to the chaotic action and you may even get more enjoyment out of the campaign this way – only problem is you have to complete the game first to be able to play through each of the stages with a friend.
On the competitive multiplayer front, Painkiller: Hell & Damnation includes the standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes. The twitch-based action will pit you against other players where skill will determine the victor. The lost art of bunny-hopping must be perfected in order to survive. Go ahead, try and steal the a flag without using it and see how far you will get before you get a stake right through your eyes. Survival mode pits up to eight players against waves of enemies in a very chaotic horde-style mode. And yes,the Opera map has been included.
Hell & Damnation only includes about half of the original Painkiller stages, but the silky smooth new engine breathes some new life into the Painkiller franchise. The core gameplay hasn’t progressed much since the original so a new coat of paint and HD graphics will not change your mind if you didn’t enjoy the game eight years ago. If you did enjoy the original however, for $19.99 you will be able to play a better looking remake with a decent cooperative mode.Note: Painkiller Hell & Damnation was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.