You may have noticed that I left a lot of actual gameplay and stuff out of my Gat Out of Hell review. That’s because I felt it was worth its own article. Also because it’s kinda similar to that of Saints Row 4, but it’s worth looking at it separately.
In Gat out of Hell, you have three things to unlock and upgrade: your normal weapons and abilities and Arcanes, which are your super powers. These are similar to the super powers in Saints Row 4, but are obtained super early on. You also have Super Sprint and Flight, carried over from Saints Row 4, unlocked from the very start if the game. You need these because the vehicles in Gat Out of Hell are prone to exploding and a lot of cool things are quite high up.
The flight is really cool. Super Sprinting just feels like it did in SR4 and honestly causes too much destruction – you might end up with high notoriety just by running down the street. And Super Sprinting uses WAY more stamina until it’s leveled up. Flight though, flight is amazing. It’s a bit tricky to get used to first, you need to get into the air and hold shift to fly, and flying upwards (or crashing or going too slow) will make you fall, but once you’ve got a couple of upgrades, you can go all over the place. Speed is key, and if you climb up somewhere high (which is perfectly possible with the wall jumping available from the start) and dive off the top, you will soar like an eagle. It is glorious.
There’s four Arcanes: Super Stomp, Summon, Aura and Blast. Blast is a simple “throw a ball of elemental power at an enemy” ability, Summon will summon one of three types of ally to assist you, Aura creates an aura around you that affects enemies in different ways and Super Stomp does what the name suggests. Each Arcane has three different elements, but these are different between each Arcane – for example, Super Stomp has Blast, Vacuum and Holy, while Summon has an imp, a tower sort of thing and a heavy demon unit. These are basically just different effects.
Super Stomp is the best one. By a mile. Blast comes in at a distant second. Being a Saints Row game, you can get swarmed by enemies quite easily, and Stomp basically says “fuck you” to everyone around you. Does pretty good damage as well, actually. And, once leveled up, it will affect every enemy in the game, including Satan himself. Alright, all the Arcanes will do that, but Stomp interrupts pretty much every attack and has a similar cooldown to Blast and Aura. I’d recommend the default Blast element rather than the Vacuum one because it will drag more powerful enemies close to you and you might not want that unless you’re meleeing things to death. Holy is pretty good for pure damage but Blast is just more fun.
Blast is alright. The first element you unlock is stone, and it will briefly freeze enemies in place. The area of effect and duration can both be upgraded, and the damage is also pretty good for common enemies. Blast works well with the Hover effect from Flight, giving you a little aerial combat and allowing you to damage high priority targets before you go in with your guns. Summon is more a Fire and Forget sort of ability. The default Imps only serve as a brief distraction and the Tower just feels awkward. the Summon ability is heavily reliant on upgrades to be good, sadly.
The one I dislike the least is Aura, because it doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything, its effects are very invisible. I assume the trick is that you activate Aura then switch to another Arcane, but that doesn’t make it feel any better. Summon may be somewhat finicky to use and Blast seems overly simple but Aura is just… there. Its elemental effects are weird as well, the Holy Aura makes enemies bow down to you but it doesn’t really do anything to kill them. It’s easier to just use Stomp to knock enemies away.
As for gun play, well it’s alright. Weirdly, I found that the more gimmicky stuff just didn’t seem to hit particularly hard, I actually found myself using the basic weaponry. Then again, most of the weapons in the game only cost 200-1000 souls, so it’s not like you can’t pick something else if you’re not happy. There are a handful of other weapons locked elsewhere, mainly the Seven Deadly Sins weapons.
The problem with the weapons, even the standard Saints Row pistol, is that they all feel incredibly weak. Like, “multiple headshots on enemies to kill them” weak. All the weapons need money sunk into them to upgrade them. And not all of them have the option to upgrade damage. The costs to level up are the same but I ended up with pistols out-damaging my hell-based weapons quite early on because I leveled them up first. The Grave Dodger, the gun you obtain by killing the husk pretending to be Dex 7 times, doesn’t have a damage level up at all, but I didn’t like that gun in general.
That being said, the Seven Deadly Sin weapons, the ones I have, are pretty good. The Armchair-mageddon gun is a hilarious weapon with a huge amount of ammo but slow movement speed and since you get it for free, I don’t mind the fact that you can’t aim up much.
The biggest disappointment is the melee weapon choice. The default non-hands melee weapon is the Omega Omega Omega, a piece of wood with nails in it. It does the job but it’s no Penetrator or the awesome Deckers sword weapon from Saints Row 3. The other two weapons are a massive hammer and a massive sword, but they require charging up before every hit. The damage is good but that charge up feels janky, especially when you could just be shooting at people.
Melee weapons being mediocre doesn’t matter when the flying and arcanes are pretty damn good.
There is a small issue though. It’s really easy to accidentally make yourself really powerful. Ability upgrades aren’t too expensive because money is pretty common from missions and diversions, but Arcanes require the collection of Clusters (literally the data clusters that were scattered around the Saints Row 4 world) to upgrade. You learn Arcanes by doing an activity for four allies – Shakespeare, Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler and the twins from Saints Row 3. Guns are cheap. The clusters are super easy to come across. And most of the upgrades, for your guns, your arcanes and yourself, are cheap as well. Sadly, there’s no going back once you’ve upgraded things too, leading to the awkward scenario of the final boss fight being… pretty easy…
Caution is required to not make yourself OP, but the mobility is awesome and the Arcanes are all pretty fun too. For a standalone DLC sort of thing, the combat and mobility Gat Out of Hell do a lot better than Saints Row 4.