Saw the video game is really unnerving at times. Trying to escape a hideous torture device before time runs out and your head is ripped apart is incredibly unpleasant. More than any other horror game I've played this year, Saw gets under your skin. That's clearly something the development team at Zombie Studios should be proud of, but they most definitely shouldn't be congratulated for a shockingly poor combat system and a clear lack of ideas beyond the clever opening scenes.
Konami's game follows the plight of lead character Detective Tapp (Danny Glover's character in the first movie). He's been kidnapped by series villain Jigsaw, placed in a run-down asylum with loads of other people, and made to play a series of "games". Far from being Snakes and Ladders and the like, these devilish contraptions are designed to test what Tapp will do to save people linked to his past. Jigsaw, voiced superbly by the movie series' star Tobin Bell, is always on hand to relay some vital info and give moral-laden speeches via the many TVs scattered about, making the experience feel all the more authentic.
As you move from one trap to the next you'll frequently have to find keys and other items that are needed to progress. These are never just sat around on a desk, but hidden inside a vat of acid or in a toilet bowl filled with used needles. While unpleasant at first, these situations are used too often and lose their impact. Frequent electrical puzzles, in which you have to link up wires, are also used too often, which is especially annoying as they aren't entertaining the first time you have to solve one.
The same is true of the visual puzzles that crop up all over the place. Right at the start of the game there are some mirrored numbers scrawled on a wall in blood. By lining up what's written on the mirror on the other side of the room with what's visible in the reflection, you're given the combination for the lock that's keeping you inside the room. This looking in a mirror technique and slight variations on that are used throughout the game, making what was a seemingly clever idea rather predictable.
When you get to the grander traps, which usually involve Tapp and another character, the level of originality increases, but by the end of the six chapters it's still all rather samey. Many of the inventions you'll see will be familiar to fans of the movies, and they're suitably sick and twisted to fit in with the tone of the films. I won't spoil them, as fans will likely find these to be one of the game's only saving graces. It's refreshing to play a game that does challenge you from time to time with its puzzles and creates a genuine sense of impending doom as the ticking clock counts down to death.