For many developers, releasing a new expansion for a game that’s more than a year old might seem a little crazy. Then again, most developers aren’t Volition. And with no Saints Row presence on current-gen systems (Xbox One and PS4), Volition thought it the perfect time to release Gat out of Hell, a full, standalone expansion for Saints Row 4.
The key word here is “expansion.” This isn’t a full blown new game by any means. And it’s certainly not a sequel, though it does bring some closure to the Saints Row 4 story arc. As an expansion, it borrows heavily from Saints Row 4. Gameplay mechanics and mission designs are practically identical to what you’ve played in Saints Row 4, but with reskinned to thematically fit with the whole Hell premise.
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And that premise is quite simple actually. During a party, you — the boss of the Saints — get sucked into the depths of hell where you’re to marry Jezebel, the daughter of Satan. Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington, being the badasses that they are, decide to take matters into their own hands and jump through the portal into hell to save their boss. While you can choose to play as either during your time in Hell, the dynamic between the two characters, especially their dialogue, is quite entertaining. Gat is a brash, sarcastic, hot-headed, self-righteous, trigger-happy man — the guy you’d expect to find in Hell. Kinzie is a bit more sarcastic, also very cocky, and mock-serious. Together, they make a pretty entertaining duo and it’s refreshing to play as someone other than your custom character.
So how do you save the the boss of the Saints? Well, by killing Satan, obviously. But first, you need to piss him off to get his attention. Gat out of Hell is a sandbox game in the truest sense. You’re free to go where you want and do whatever it is you want to do — whether that’s causing mayhem, speed-flying through hell, or completing some other side mission or collectible goal. The map is split into zones, each ruled by a specific leader. Vlad the Impaler, Shakespere, and Blackbeard are just some of the fun characters you’ll encounter in your journey through hell (along with some characters you might recognize from past Saints Row games). Again, though, many of these side missions or mini tasks presented to you are just reskinned versions of what we’ve already played in Saints Row 4, but in Hell. If you enjoyed them in Saints Row 4, they’re still fun here. As someone who hasn’t played the game since its initial release back in 2013, it was enjoyable to come back to it with this whole new approach.
Everything you do in hell contributes to filling Satan’s Wrath, a meter that when filled to certain points will progress the story. Having said that, there’s no “critical” path to follow. You do what you want to do. At times, there are specific missions you can do to progress the story, but you don’t have to do them right away. This freedom to just explore Hell at your own leisure is something I really enjoyed, especially with the new flight mechanic.
Like your character in Saints Row 4, both Gat and Kinzie are blessed (cursed?) with special powers and an entire arsenal of weaponry. Combat feels the exact same as in SR4. It’s smooth and fluid, with occasional stuttering when there’s a lot going on at once. You still have abilities and super powers that can be used, including running at super speed or clearing enemies with Super Stomp (or Holy Stomp). And the wheel of weaponry returns with one, or rather seven, deadly additions. Going off the whole Hell theme, you can unlock a series of legendary weapons that embody the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. Each weapon fills one of the designated slots in the weapon inventory wheel, and is obtained in a unique way that’s specific to the Sin that they try to embody. While I only managed to unlock three of them in my first playthrough, part of the sandbox experience is searching for the remaining weapons.
Both Johnny and Kinzie also have the ability to fly, thanks to their new angel wings. Not only does this provide another mode of travel, but Hell has been designed with flight in mind. The mechanic definitely felt a bit wonky at first, and I absolutely hated it. After some practice, though, and a bit of upgrading it quickly became my favorite way to travel, especially since the world caters so much to this new ability.
If you enjoyed the gameplay of Saints Row 4, odds are you’ll also enjoy Gat out of Hell. It’s the same game, but with a few additions and a fun, thematic spin on it. I enjoyed my time in hell, but if you’re looking for anything other than a reskinned Saints Row 4, you’ll probably be disappointed. Having said that, if you didn’t play Saints Row 4 at launch, I highly suggest getting the bundle which includes Saints Row 4: Re-Elected (which is just Saints Row 4 re-released for Xbox One and PS4) and Gat out of Hell.