Painkiller: Hell & Damnation Review: nothing can numb the pain of playing this game

"If you are going through hell keep going," as Winston Churchill once said. However, I imagine that if he had the misfortune to have played Painkiller: Hell and Damnation he might well have said the opposite.

Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is the new FPS from Nordic games and is described as a remake of the games Painkiller and Painkiller: Battle out of Hell. Now I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t use the term remake to describe a game that is badly dated and tedious to play; rather, let me tell you why you should avoid this clunker.

The simplistic plot sees you cast as Daniel Garner who is trapped in hell and finds himself a pawn in the machinations of its diabolical residents. Daniel just wants to be reunited with his love Catherine but to do so he must slaughter 7000 demons and harvest their souls.

So begins a tedious orgy of demonic violence as Daniel fights his way through the many levels of hell, blowing away demon spawn with a variety of weapons in order to collect their souls. Along the way he can complete tasks to arm himself with tarot cards that allow temporary power boosting or collect 66 demon souls to morph into a powerful demon for a limited time.

And sadly that’s all there is to the game; you run, you shoot, you run some more then shoot some more until you complete a level or get bored — and believe me boredom always arrives first. Every now and again a boss might appear but they offer no difference in gameplay terms except that they are bigger than the usual demons you have been fighting.

The game also boasts a survivor and co-op mode but I couldn’t think of anyone I hated enough to try these out with and to be honest I wouldn’t wish any aspect of this game on anyone, enemy or not.

Graphically Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is nothing to write home about and the levels mostly look a lot like an empty graveyard, or the inside of an old building decked out in a fine variety of colors all based on the theme of bland. The monsters look so much like escapees from a seventies Hanna-Barbera cartoon that I would not have been surprised to see Scooby-Doo join the fight, and to be honest it might have raised the game’s excitement factor by 100% if he had. As for Painkiller’s soundtrack, considering how many musicians have ended up in Satan’s clutches you think he might have got them together to write a good tune for the game. Sadly this isn’t the case, and instead we get a short turgid rock riff that passes for a tune and repeats endlessly, making me feel like I was trapped in an elevator with rock muzak making my ears bleed.

Painkiller: Hell and Damnation doesn’t just bring poor graphics and sound to the table; everything else about it is very mediocre as well. The level design in particular is extremely monotonous, with a simple ‘run from point A to B’ being all you need to do; that is if you can work out where you need to go as the compass you use always points the wrong way anyway. Due to the compass issues I often found myself desperately searching to find a level’s exit, and feeling like a rat in trapped in some insidious laboratory maze hoping your repetitive action will cause your captors to reward you with just a brief break.

Even for a shoot-’em-up, blasting the demons who attack you isn’t even fun as they have no tactics but to run straight at you. Meanwhile your guns, while promising much with exotic names, are merely re-skinned shotguns or grenade launchers and it makes no difference which you use as they all seem to have the same power level.

Painkiller: Hell and Damnation has no features that allow me to recommend it to you. It is by no means unplayable but doing so will test the boredom threshold of even the most seasoned Trophy hunter. After playing the game for 10 minutes I was bored, after a full session for this review I felt like I too was trapped in gaming hell and Painkiller: Hell and Damnation was a particularly nasty punishment thought up to torment me for eternity.



The Final Word

Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is an old-school FPS that is sadly dated, boring and tedious to play.