The campaign is primarily structured around Yuki, a prisoner aboard a penitentiary spaceship orbiting the moon, who just so happens to have completely lost her marbles; the game intersects its carnage with skittish and frenzied dream sequences that often feature messages on the wall written in blood. She's the formerly crazed stepsister of original protagonist The Dishwasher, who returns after an introductory sequence to trigger a second arc, which features most of the same levels but with different storyboard panels.
While they share the same basics - hitting the enemies until they're flashing, then going in for clean or messy executions - the pair wield fairly different arsenals. Yuki tends to be the more brutal of the two, with weapons that bludgeon and batter, whereas The Dishwasher ops for slicing: he sports a rather lovely pair of giant scissors, for instance.
Offering Yuki as a character also affords the game some much-needed versatility for when it comes to the score-driven modes. A survival challenge and a 50-stage arcade mode has been included, which pits you against a prescribed set of enemies and demands you make good use of the game's combo meter to rack up a high score for inclusion in the game's online leaderboards. If the original is any indicator then you probably won't stand a chance of making it anywhere near the top, but there's the now-standard option to see where you factor in amongst your friends.
The game still offers up a delightfully scrappy aesthetic that comes across as an intricately realised world of frustrated teenage doodles. Lighting has been massively improved over the original, and the mix of oily blacks with thick, smudgy lines, a shaky camera and veritable buckets of blood goes down particularly well with the overall tone of the game.
The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is a more inclusive and competent game than its already accomplished predecessor, and anyone with a taste for intricate combat and a combo meter will find themselves right at home. I don't know where James Silva intends to go after this, but I'm even more interested to find out now than I was before.
VideoGamer.com Score8 Score out of 10
- More forgiving than the original
- Intensive combat
- Too difficult for casual players
- Movement can still be fiddly