PlayStation’s best guilty pleasures – the less than great games OPM’s embarrassed to admit playing
Saw – Louise Blaine
Stop. You’ve already put me in that horrible, unwashed row of the cinema haven’t you? That bit near the back that smells like the kid in school who’d have been nicknamed Pigpen 20 years ago? Well, just wait a nose-holding/dry-retching minute. Liking horror doesn’t mean I don’t wash, and liking the Saw game in particular doesn’t make me a gore-hungry zombie baying for flesh. So, on to the gratuitous bone snapping and eye gouging!
With its own narrative that works alongside the films – kudos to the men who stretched one absurdly entangled plot across a gradually worsening franchise – Saw has you exploring a dank, atmospheric insane asylum as Detective David Tapp: a man who’d set off security alarms if he went within five miles of an airport, due to the key hidden inside his body. En route to his escape, Tapp must solve a series of cleverly juicy puzzles that send recent Silent Hill titles cowering behind their overturned squeaking wheelchairs.
Scattered throughout the asylum are victims of the Jigsaw killer expecting to be saved from a series of intense traps that need to be prised squelchily open and pulled apart before there’s a serious spillage of A rhesus positive. Plus, to make matters even more depressing, walking between locations is a wince-inducing ordeal as you crunch over broken glass in bare feet. See? Fun!
QTEs lurk in the majority of doorways in the shape of a shotgun that doesn’t like your skull much if you don’t have the required reflexes. Possibly my favourite memory from playing the game for the first time – this is a guilty pleasures feature, after all – was when I opened a door and then sneezed, missing the QTE. Tapp’s head was instantly blown off, and for a micro-second I’d proved that urban myth about keeping your eyes open at the key moment.
So yes, it’s grim, and yes, it’s bloodthirsty, and of course it’s gratuitous – but no more than it should be. Saw is exactly what it says on the tin, and far superior to recent attempts at survival horror. Fine, I admit it, I’ve spent a significant amount of time with my hands sifting through used hypodermic needles in a toilet – but what have you done with your DualShock recently?
Super Rub ‘a’ Dub – Phil Iwaniuk
Oh, we’re playing the ‘I don’t remember Super Rub ‘A’ Dub’ game, are we? Like we haven’t all been secretly enjoying it since 2007? Fine, I’ll humour you. It’s a Sixaxis-based puzzler in which you, a large rubber duck, must free smaller ducks from their stasis bubbles in a variety of aquatic tilt tables and guide them to the exit.
The journey is often perilous, mind: you and your chain of ducklings can fall off the edge of the level and die, or be gobbled up by wind-up sharks. And when this happens, the guilt is unbearable. Those little ducks trusted you. Followed you with blind innocence. And where are they now? Yeah, eaten. “Why, Daddy? Why?” they ask, softly. (In your head. Forever more.)
Never mind that the exit in each level is clearly just a hole in the floor that leads to the exact same place as if you were to fall off the edge. Never mind that the ducks are basically safe inside their stasis bubbles where sharks can’t get them and the sensible thing if you really wanted to help would almost certainly be to leave them well alone.
An incredibly potent parental instinct kicks in whenever I load the game (which is every couple of weeks for the past five years) that won’t let go until I send my sweet, sweet duck chain tumbling safely down the exit. I don’t care if it’s 1am, if someone else wants to use the TV, or if I’m supposed to be hosting a funeral wake in here. Some things are more important, damn it.