Despite the relative success of the original, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is still primarily the work of one man: James Silva, winner of Microsoft's 2007 Dream Build Play contest, but most well-known for creating indie channel darling I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1. Silva has, once again, managed to produce a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up of enough quality to put entire studios to shame.
The game juggles its mixture of extreme hyperviolence with a charming art style and brooding themes of revenge, and in the meantime you juggle swathes of bloodthirsty cyborgs in the air with a trusty mix of blades, shotguns, and a giant hypodermic needle you can use to skewer people to death. You can switch your arsenal on the fly, though mixing and matching two loadouts with two weapons each means this is often easier said than done in the midst of the game's rough-and-tumble battles.
Most of the game is spent progressing in one direction while stabbing everything in your way, but levels often branch into large, multi-storey affairs that encourage you to stray from the beaten path and explore for extra goodies. There's a bevy of collectibles to pick up, too, with the game knowing just as well as you that you'll probably resort to a FAQ for the locations.
The majority the game is solely focused on frantic combat, with enemies having no hesitation to clutter the screen, but much of The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile has been reworked to bring out the best in the combat engine. Enemies still drop a manageable string of audio and visual cues before launching their offensives, but no more do your adversaries feel like near-invincible damage sponges - my enduring memories of the original is the phrase "fire in the hole" and having to basically set up a standing order for continue hearts from the in-game store.
Often with The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai I felt like the only way I'd be able to see it to conclusion was to mechanically augment my eyes and hands - which seems somewhat at odds with the game's anti-cyborg vibe. Now necessary features like continues aren't limited by item stock, and your health bar takes less of a battering after making silly mistakes. This means you've got enough currency left over when running into the various robot vendors to actually invest in upgrading your weapons and abilities, thus making the game passable on normal difficulty by regular human beings.
Even relatively high concept inclusions have been tweaked. Warping, handled by flicking the right stick in the direction you want to go, has been specifically attuned to naturalistically lock-on to enemies while avoiding attacks and, while you'll still curse it when you come up against some of the hulking end of level behemoths, there's generally little frustration outside of lamenting your own incompetence.