I’ve finally done it. A month and a couple days after the release date, I’ve finally shot the devil in the face and nothing has been more glorious.
I’m still riding high off the thrill of Voltage’s Gat Out of Hell DLC for the Saint’s Row series, and now that I’ve finished I’m glad to say that all the worries that I had back in November did not come to fruition. Story, gameplay, characters; everything in this DLC was so well done that I’m honestly distraught that this is more than likely Saint’s Row’s last hurrah. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Spoilers for the entire DLC under the cut. (Seriously, if you haven’t played this yet, don’t ruin the experience for yourself by reading this.)
Much like the trailer promised, Gat Out of Hell takes the player into the depths of Hell to battle Satan himself. Due to an unfortunate accident during Kinzie Kensington’s (ex-FBI agent) first celebrated birthday party, the boss of the Third Street Saints is dragged into Hell to marry the devil’s daughter, Jezebel. Upon seeing his best friend vanishing, Gat leaps into action and interrogates the Ouija board for a way to get into Hell. After shooting the Ouija board in the “face”, Gat and Kinzie, who demands to come along since she’s the birthday girl, jump through a demonic portal and wind up in the unholy realm. However, they’re not alone for long—a familiar face comes to help them in their time of need. That face? Why, none other than opportunistic asshole mogul Dane Vogel from Saints Row 2. Seems that after getting murdered in the real world, he restarted his business in Hell, and is looking to take Satan’s ego down a notch all in the name of better business.
With Vogel’s help, Gat and Kinzie scour Hell for four allies also looking for their own little part of the underworld: the DeWynter sisters (from Saints Row: The Third), Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler, and Shakespeare. In the meantime, Jezebel tries to make it clear to her father that she doesn’t want to marry the Boss, eventually running away from Satan’s castle and seeking out Gat for help. Despite their best efforts, Satan puts a stop to their scheme and offers Gat a deal: he will release his best friend’s body and soul under the condition that Gat marry Jezebel instead. Gat appears at his wedding with his answer: a bullet in Satan’s head.
Understandably, Satan isn’t exactly pleased with this situation. And so, Satan attempts to fight Gat into submission, only to lose miserably. With Satan shamed, Kinzie, the Boss, and Jezebel return to the Saints’ spaceship unharmed. However, Gat is called upon by another world-shaping figure: God himself. And what comes of this conversation? Well, dear player, that’s up to you. ….No, really, the player gets to pick the ending to the DLC, and ostensibly the entire series.
My biggest fear going into this DLC was that I would have to deal with saving a Boss character that wasn’t my own—the male default Boss. I’m pleased to report that this wasn’t the case: Voltage was smart enough to allow a quick and easy import of the player-created Boss character, though the DLC does automatically use the Boss you used last in Saints Row IV. Even though the Boss shows up only for a minute max, it was still a nice touch.
My second greatest fear going into the game, which I didn’t mention in my previous article, was the flying mechanics. I loathe flying mechanics—something about inverted controls makes me struggle like no one’s business. Honestly, I was all but prepared to resign myself to taking a nose dive into a fiery death. But surprisingly the flight controls for Gat’s and Kinzie’s wings are incredibly tight and feel really good to play with. Despite my fear of going too slow and stalling out mid-air, the developers did a great job of showing the player when they need to add more speed to avoid plummeting.
Speaking of game mechanics, I kind of love how Gat and Kinzie have the exact same abilities. It hearkens back to the era of old Mario games where Luigi was just a different colored Mario with no different playstyle. Although it would have been interesting to have sections where each character showed off their expertise—Gat with, uh, mass murder and Kinzie with hacking—ultimately I’m glad they didn’t. Being forced to switch characters would have thrown off the pacing of this DLC, which was really good all on its own.
Also, I mentioned having some trepidation over the wedding plot, and here too I’m glad to say that my fears ended up just being fears. There’s no uncomfortable, trope-y “twist” where Jezebel falls in love with Gat and forces the wedding. No weird “we took Kinzie hostage, come save her” deal. Everyone bands together because Satan is a dick, and the game does well in showing Satan as the enemy here (which you kind of want in your tyrannical rulers of Hell). He’s controlling and unwilling to listen to even his daughter, going so far as to smack her when she says she doesn’t want to marry anyone and tries to defend herself. Oh, and Jezebel herself? In the words of a popular Tumblr meme: she is a sweet cinnamon roll who is too pure, too good for this underworld. All Jezebel wants to do is find love and experience the nice things she’s been kept from. Like ice cream. And kittens. She’s a joy, and I like her much more than I anticipated I would.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find the inclusion of the DeWynter sisters. Although I haven’t finished playing Saints Row: The Third yet, I do know that they’re enemies and partially responsible for Gat’s first brush with being dead-dead. I really appreciate Voltage’s decision to give them a redemption arc, of sorts, especially after giving the big bad of Saints Row 2, Vogel, a redemption arc. Though I’m using redemption arc in the loosest sense of the term—no one really apologizes for being an asshole to you, or regrets their actions—too often are female enemies villianized to a harsher degree than their male counterparts. It’s nice to see the developers not buying into that sexist bullshit.
Was there anything I didn’t love about this DLC? Well, if you ask me, it was too short.
Nah, I’m joking. Although my love for the series begs for a longer DLC, Gat Out of Hell was exactly as long as it needed to be. The only problem I really had with the game was the non-linear story progression system. As advertised, as the player finishes various tasks and challenges, a meter fills up which triggers various story scenes. However, I felt that this bar filled up much too quickly. I could have, quite honestly, gotten to the end of the game without unlocking all of the allies and the powers, and while some people might like that in terms of a challenge run, I felt like I had to be too careful on collecting things and finishing challenges. I didn’t want to do too much, or I felt pressured to do other things. At one point, I couldn’t even finish a “plot mission” because I didn’t have all of the characters unlocked—that was weird. Also, there are so, so many collectibles in this game. Clusters make a triumphant return as well as about six versions of character commentary that are scattered around Hell. I don’t really mind collectibles, but holy shit, there are a lot. And though it’s funny the first couple times, hearing a character quip about “more fuckin’ collectibles” does kind of make collecting them feel like a slog.
I know it’s early in the year, but I do honestly feel that Gat Out of Hell will remain one of the best DLCs of 2015. Hell, it can be the best DLC of 2014 too. I loved every moment of this Jane Austen narrated story, and loved playing as Gat and Kinzie. And well, when a DLC can make me cry from nostalgia while not making me cry over shitty controls and AI, what else can it be but a little piece of heaven on earth—or in Hell.