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Why Fans Love The Saw Video Games | CBR – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Despite the bad reputation that movie tie-in games tend to have, it seems as though the Saw games may have escaped this licensing death trap.

Games based on films tend to be pretty hit or miss, with many movie tie-in films often cited as some of the worst video games. Plenty of movie tie-in films make up a good chunk of the shovelware catalog on PlayStation and Nintendo systems. However, out of all of the movie tie-in games, none have seen quite as much attention as the two licensed Saw games made by Zombie Studios.

Saw and Saw II: Flesh & Blood were both official and arguably canon entries into the long-running Saw franchise. While the first Saw game got some praise, Saw II: Flesh & Blood got a lot of criticism and is generally considered the worst out of both Zombie Studios games. However, both titles have received a surprising amount of attention over the years that may have spawned a bit of an underground following for the horror games.

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David Tapp trying to escape the reverse bear trap in the Saw video game.

Saw follows Detective David Tapp, a character from the Saw films who became a pretty quick fan-favorite. Detective Tapp is so synonymous with the Saw films that he was even selected to be a playable survivor in the game Dead by Daylight as part of the Saw tie-in chapter. Tapp’s canon fate was expanded on and explored in the Saw games developed by Zombie Studios, which was only lightly touched on in later Saw films. Set between the first two films, the Saw game sees Tapp tested by the Jigsaw Killer, who attempts to teach the Detective a lesson on obsession through various life-or-death puzzles. The plot of Saw is pretty close to the story explored in Saw IV, where another Detective is told to stop obsessing and chasing down Jigsaw through various traps. The theme of obsession is relatively common in the Saw franchise, so it’s no surprise that the games would also explore it.

The first game’s sequel follows a very similar premise, though this time it’s Detective Tapp’s son who is obsessed with his father’s suicide. A vital element of both Saw games is that they feature multiple endings that change depending on the player’s actions. Saw II: Flesh & Blood reveals that David Tapp canonically escaped from Jigsaw’s traps in the first game, only to take his own life before the second game.

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A promotional screenshot for the game Saw II Flesh and Blood

The first Saw game actually got quite a bit of praise for its plot and setting, with both being compared to the actual Saw films in terms of quality. While the gameplay and controls weren’t everyone’s favorite, the tone of the first game was enough to make up for those aspects. That being said, both games did attempt to recreate the kinds of puzzles that characters often encountered in the Saw films. Gameplay heavily focused on completing the various traps by using the player’s environment to their advantage. Players can search for items, case files and audio logs that help them figure out how to solve each trap they encounter. Many of the game’s puzzles are like an escape room, where connecting the dots and figuring out how everything in the area ties together is essential to beating the game.

The main criticism that many have with Flesh & Blood is that it didn’t focus on the environmental puzzles that made the first game enjoyable. While there were some straightforward puzzles and combat in the first game, the sequel leans heavily into these aspects despite not really adding more to the first game’s mechanics. In short, the balance between action and horror was not struck with Flesh & Blood.

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Despite the shortcomings of both games, there certainly seems to be something to enjoy with Saw and Saw II. Online content creators have frequently played through the games, though they would usually point out plenty of the faults of both titles in the process. Still, it seems as though new players keep getting drawn to the Zombie Studios Saw games, and it does seem as if there’s some genuine enjoyment for fans of the Saw films to get out of these games. Not only do they capture the franchise’s tone well, but the first game’s puzzles capture the tense problem-solving that the characters in the films face. Outside of real-world horror escape rooms, the first Saw game may be the best recreation of what it’d be like to be in one of Joh Kramer’s death traps.

The second game, Flesh & Blood, certainly does dip into ironic enjoyment a bit more frequently. The lack of complexity with the combat can often lead to some unintentionally funny situations, and the game’s overdramatic movie-like editing only adds to the cheesy entertainment. There’s a reason why the first game is sometimes called underrated, and its sequel is glossed over. The Saw games may not be hidden PlayStation 3 classics, but they’re still worth checking out for horror fans.

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