Johnny Gat is one of the most cartoonish characters in all of Saints Row, which is saying something considering the franchise also features giant Russian mutants and a pimp who speaks in Auto-Tune. After all, his character traits all revolve around murdering things for enjoyment, except for the one about avenging his long-dead girlfriend. Fans are drawn to him for both the right and wrong reasons, but he is a clear go-to for the first Saints Row spinoff game just on the virtue that he’s been there since the beginning. As the story has gone on, The Boss (the player character in the main games) has gotten a bit attached to their band of misfits, shedding away some brutality in exchange for a mostly redeemable swagger. Gat has never shown any signs of such development, and is now in a way a more fitting character for the type of ruthless chaos you dish out in the game. Think of him as a more marketable version of Trevor from GTAV. Your experience playing as the famed murderer may be short-lived, but it is also well worth your time if you have any investment in the ever expanding Saints Row universe.
Gat out of Hell is a standalone expansion campaign for Saints Row IV where you play as Johnny Gat (or optionally, Kinzie) as he attempts to rescue The Boss from an arranged marriage with the daughter of Satan. Saying anymore about the story would spoil what little there is, but let me assure you that the folks at Volition haven’t skipped a beat when it comes to developing this world and the characters inside it. They’ve also taken advantage of the underworld setting to tie up a few loose ends left dangling from the earlier games in the franchise, although those who picked up the games with The Third shouldn’t worry about missing too much. It is clear that this game was budgeted much lower than previous titles, but every cut scene and story beat shines for a slightly different reason. There is just enough variety to distract from some of the missing pieces for the 5-6 hours you’ll spend running through the game.
Saints Row: Gat out of Hell (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 4)
Developer: Volition, High Voltage Software
Publisher: Deep Silver
Released: January 20, 2015 (NA), January 23, 2015 (EU)
MSRP: $20 Standalone, $60 Bundled with Saints Row IV: Re-Elected on Xbox One and Playstation 4
It’s clear that the style of Saints Row is alive and well in Gat out of Hell, but it loses a step or two when it becomes something that you interact with. The game is structured completely around side activities, many returning from the previous two games. Insurance Fraud and Mayhem are still very enjoyable, but it feels a bit uninspired to just run through the same activities again considering that the game’s setting has changed so drastically. Unique activities mainly involve flying with your newly gained angel wings, which control well once upgraded past the starting levels of speed and maneuverability.
In addition to those wings, Gat and Kinzie also gain slightly different super powers for this outing. Instead of throwing fireballs, you can turn enemies to stone, and there is even a unique power that can allow you to summon explosive imps that I found highly useful. There is also a set of unique weapons based on the seven deadly sins, although the requirements to get some of them are very out of the way of the main story. It does give you a reason to explore the new open world, which most of the game fails to do, but I still had fun collecting orbs and bits of commentary that were scattered absolutely everywhere.
Gat out of Hell will certainly be a disappointment to those expecting big things. It’s a stripped down Saints Row experience, but the crazy story beats and moments of wanton insanity are still here if you want them. It is curious just how much new content was made for a game that can easily be beaten in one sitting, but Volition has never been great with expanding their games with DLC. The game is short enough that it’s certainly worth playing through if you get a chance, but all but the most diehard of Saints Row fans can safely pass it up.