Painkiller, review

Who I am
Valery Aloyants
Author and references

Painkiller, is there worse exploited series? The first chapter comes out in 2004 and manages to create its own slice of fans, which grows enormously with the release on Steam (we are talking about one of the first games to enter Valve's digital delivery service). From then on they are just bad expansions and disastrous spin-offs that do nothing but alienate the fans, while enjoying some success.

The truth is that, while there is no official sequel, the story told in the first chapter has been expanded in the various iterations, taking often questionable directions. And here it comes Painkiller Hell & Damnation, the latest attempt in chronological order to exploit the success of the original without investing too much in it. In reality it is not difficult to say that this is the most ambitious title of the series, ancestor apart ... maybe because it is the remake made with the Unreal Engine 3? However, if it's a remake, why does the story continue instead of starting it again? Besides, why does it have fewer chapters than the original? What a headache.

The story of the game tells of Death who promises good Daniel Garner to reunite him with his beloved if he manages to collect 7000 souls with a new weapon, the Soul Catcher. To make it, he will have to go back through some of the infernal worlds he has already visited in the past and make the usual slaughter of lost creatures. If you want, you can also take a friend with you in cooperative mode because, as they say in such cases, a massacre in company is more fun than a solitary massacre (the levels remain identical, only the enemies increase). We just have to find out if it is worthwhile or not to re-dress the role of the good Daniel, or if it is not the case to send him to hell permanently.

The cold numbers

Normally, when we talk about remakes, we think of photocopies of more or less old titles updated graphically. In several cases, in addition to the aesthetic updates, there are also relevant innovations in the gameplay, but this is certainly not the case with Painkiller Hell & Damnation, which indeed appears as a bonsai version of the original Painkiller, only with an extra weapon. The game consists of nine levels, plus four bosses, plus a bonus level, which is actually another of the levels designed by People Can Fly put somehow as if it were an unlockable extra at the end of the single player campaign.

Actually playing the Abandoned Factory, this is the name of the extra level, does not give great advantages since the tarot that can be unlocked by finishing it is much less useful than the one you get by beating the final boss ... mysteries. However, in total they do eight hours of play, to which at least a couple must be added if you play on the Nightmare difficulty level (the third out of four) right away. Finishing the game on Nightmare difficulty unlocks the Trauma difficulty, which is all a party and exponentially increases the challenge. To add a bit of longevity there is also the collection of tarot cards, which can be unlocked by reaching one or two objectives in each level.
The Painkiller of 2004 was released on the market with the beauty of twenty-four levels, of which five bosses, for a total of twenty hours of play (since there was no Soul Catcher, to which we dedicated an entire paragraph, it was much more difficult to go on. ).

Of course, Hell & Damnation has the cooperative mode, which can double its duration, but the numbers are quite merciless and on balance the original is still a step ahead, also adding that on the various digital delivery services you can buy for half of the time. price the Black version, which also includes the first expansion, the only decent one. Obviously on a graphic level Hell & Damnation wins. The use of a more modern engine is there and it shows, especially in the effects and in the improvement of the models, but we took this for granted even before installing it. From the audio point of view, however, the differences are not noticeable at all. We know that it is bad to make a comparison based on raw numbers, but we are always talking about a remake and those who have played the original certainly want to know if it is worth making a further economic effort to prove this too.

Soul Catcher rulez

The only big news of the game is the aforementioned Soul Catcher, a weapon that will be delivered to us by Death at the beginning of the adventure. It is an exceptional trinket capable of firing spinning blades with primary fire (limited bullets), and a green beam captures souls with secondary fire (Ghostbusters style, with unlimited charge). After accumulating a certain number of souls, you can fire a bullet that will subjugate the enemies making them work for us, that is, they will fight against their fellowmen. Captured enemies will prove to be a valuable tool in many situations, as they can carry out real massacres before finally expiring.

On the positive side about the Soul Catcher it must be said that it is a very fun weapon to use and really very powerful, on the negative one cannot fail to note how it makes the rest of the arsenal almost completely useless. Weapons like the shotgun, the stake shooter or even the rocket launcher will only come back against bosses. In short, we used it throughout the game, without ever feeling the need to switch to something else. We tried to alternate from time to time, but we quickly went back. Especially at the higher difficulty levels, the ability to take control of enemies proved to be decisive for not dying all the time. In fact, using the Soul Catcher, unlike in the past, dying becomes a rare occurrence. For this we recommend, in case you want to buy Painkiller Hell & Damnation, to immediately raise the game difficulty. Since we mentioned in the preview the enemies that remained blocked, we are pleased to report that in the final version this does not happen, that is, it seems that the developers have fixed the pathfinding. Sure, they're not smart, but at least now they don't spend their time running into stakes or graves.

Contents and conclusions

In terms of content we are faced with the old and dear metal orgy, well anticipated by the title, which many have loved in the past and to which the first Painkiller owes part of its success. From this point of view, the footprint of People Can Fly remains very strong, with the new developers, The Farm 51, who have not dared to take half a step forward compared to the original. So here we are called to face hordes of demons and various creatures that seem to come out of weight from the covers of the most famous metal records, with that desired bad taste baroque / gore that many like so much.

In short, if you have seen even a glimpse of any Painkiller, you know what to expect, also because absolutely nothing has changed compared to the past.
It remains only to understand if Painkiller Hell & Damnation worth the money it costs (about twenty euros). The answer to this age-old question depends very much on your background: if you have already played the first episode and have left the series without noticing the subsequent expansions, here you will not find anything that will motivate you to take it back in hand. If, on the other hand, you love the series regardless, because you appreciate the gameplay, or because the setting fits perfectly with your imagination, maybe you can give it a chance and you certainly won't disdain it. The game could also appeal to those who have never tried a Painkiller before and want to try their hand at a fast-paced title, very different from current average shooters. Everyone else can safely fly over it ... they won't miss anything.



Readers (44)


Your vote

Painkiller Hell & Damnation it's like a wrinkled old singer who takes the stage and disguises himself as what he was trying to deceive the audience that years have not passed. The audience, old like him, with a few too many wrinkles and perhaps with a family behind them, nods spellbound and uses the illusion to dream of lost youth. Depending on how you look at the scene, we can see the idealism of having maintained a youthful spirit despite age, or the pathetic attempt to exorcise death by reactivating a mythical time that is perceived as better than the present, but which in fact does not it was.
Whatever the point of view chosen to read the game, a whole series of questions remains open that make it problematic to recommend without reservations, such as the lack of new relevant content except the Soul Catcher or, paradoxically, the fact that the only relevant content mortifies all the rest of the arsenal, rendering it useless.


  • The levels are well designed, also because they are identical to the original ones
  • The boss fights are well studied, also because they are identical to the original ones except the last one
  • The Soul Catcher gives great satisfaction ...
  • ... but makes the rest of the arsenal useless
  • Less content than the first Painkiller
  • How long will the frenzied exploitation of the work of People Can Fly continue?

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • The editorial team uses the ASUS CG8250 Personal Computer
  • Intel Core i7 2600 processor
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti video card
  • Windows 7 operating system

Minimum requirements

  • Operating system: XP / Vista / 7
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2Ghz / AMD Athlon 64 X2 or equivalent
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Scheda video: NVIDIA GeForce 8600 / ATI Radeon HD 2600XT (256 MB)
  • Disk space: 5GB
  • DirectX: 9.0c

Recommended Requirements

  • Operating system: Vista / 7
  • Processor: 2.4 GHz Quad Core
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX / ATI Radeon HD 4850 (512+ MB)
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