With the ever-increasing presence of technology in our day-to-day lives it makes sense that we would do away with the old in favour of the sleeker, sexier new. Letters, books, DVDs, and board games have all been snatched up by this digital monster. This week we look at a game that probably should have been left where it was, Chainsaw Warrior: Lords Of The Night.
Chainsaw Warrior was a board game produced by Games Workshop back in 1987 and like many GW products from that era, was aimed primarily at young boys. What’s more badass than a badass American soldier? A badass American soldier with a chainsaw! It has this eerie, designed by old people feel where they’ve worked their hardest to create a protagonist that balances out the badass and inoffensive scales. Brown hair, thirty something white male. It’s all so default that it’s almost painful.
Fast forward to the year 2015 and has Chainsaw Warrior evolved? The answer is sadly, no. Yet again we are delivered a boring, brown-haired, thirty something badass who appeals to very few people. You might be asking yourself at this point, ‘why am I spending so much time bashing on the character’ ? Well, it’s because there is so little to talk about in Chainsaw Warrior.
The gameplay takes the GW route of, roll some dice, add numbers, roll some more dice, is it higher than their number? Oh my god, you totally rolled some dice! This is no different to the board game but at least in the board game you felt that your rolls mattered. In digital Chainsaw Warrior you are left at the mercy of the computer and its rather dodgy dice rolling. Call me paranoid but I don’t believe most of those misses were my doing. There is no skill in the game and your stats are randomly generated so there’s no strategy except for choosing the right guns. Pro-tip, take the flamethrower so you can skip right through group fights.
The aim of the game is to find and kill The Darkness before sixty minutes pass. From that sentence alone, it sounds like a fun game about killing Justin Hawkins, but, instead, is a persistent slog through zombies and cultists. You start off in the Jungle (a deck of cards) where you must fight your way through to the Lost City (a deck of cards) where you again must fight your way through to the Pyramid (a deck of cards). Each card has a chance of being a fight or a trap with a small chance of being nothing. When I play videogames, I like to place myself in the events of the game. The benefits of a digital game is that you could have moving foes, a changing background and many more eye-catching things. However we are greeted with a painfully faithful recreation of the board game.
To be even more faithful, there is a “Classic” mode that has you choose items randomly. Personally I found this mode to be much like a pair of safety scissors, that is to say completely pointless. There is already so little strategy in the game that having to rely on the luck of the draw, Battle Royale style, just feels thematically wrong. What military would send their only hope in with a bag full of knuckle dusters, a net, and a rad suit?
I will give Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of The Night points for using the Aztec creation myth that involves the world being destroyed by jaguars, it really doesn’t get enough attention. However, even with this mythology lesson going on in the background, with a little narrative to explain how it relates to what’s happening in the game, it ultimately falls short. There is no end cutscene. No “you saved the world!”, no Darkness writhing in agony and calling you foul names as you flick a cigarette into the hell pit it is dragged into. It just takes you straight to the victory screen with a breakdown of your score and a return to menu option.
Chainsaw Warrior is a product of a bygone age where people liked muscles more than brains and the measure of one’s worth was in their benching ability. With Duke Nukem’s failure to return to the limelight, Chainsaw Warrior should have kept his little head down. If you want a game where you can play as a badass marine, go pick up any FPS clogging the shelves of your local pawn shop. If you want a fun board game experience, even Games Workshop has better to offer in the form of Talisman. However, if you really enjoyed the original or the board game then it is probably worth the price. Probably.