The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile
Posted 2 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
Microsoft’s Dream-Build-Play program is easily one of my favorite competitions. It pushes the Indie crowd to strut their stuff in an attempt to break out of the independent mold and into a more mainstream limelight. In 2007, we were given The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai from Ska Studios.While it still felt like an Indie title, playing through it made it tough to imagine that Ska is pretty much a one-man band. James Silva’s side-scroller up did two things: It gave us a fun, if not slightly rough, beat ‘em up and also, by winning Dream-Build-Play, it pushed the man behind it to grow. And grow he did, as evidenced by the sequel, The Dishwasher 2: Vampire Smile...
I know, it’s a little odd to be more focused on the growth a developer rather than the game itself. However, when I was done slicing and dicing my way through Vampire Smile, that was the overall vibe I was left with. Essentially, Dishwasher 2 isn’t all that different of an experience from its predecessor. You still run through each level, eviscerating foes with a multitude of weapons and/or magic. But what shines through is how refined the experience is this time around. It doesn’t have that “Indie Game” feel to it that Dishwasher 1 couldn’t shake, regardless of its Xbox LIVE Arcade status.
For this outing, the focus is on Yuki. Remember her? She was the cyborg assassin (and The Dishwasher’s sister) that was pestering our titular hero in the first game, ultimately meeting her demise at the end of his blade. The story picks up with her death, or resurrection, as the case may be. Unfortunately, the story itself is probably the weakest part of the package, with still-frame graphic novel cut scenes laying out a tale of nightmares, planetoid destruction, and revenge. Wait, that should be UBER BLOODY AND OFT TIMES SURREAL REVENGE!!11!! Ok, get the point? The cannon fodder narrative is quickly over-looked and pushed to the back of the line by the absolutely insane inner workings of one James Silva.
The action relies on a simplistic control scheme that makes everything flow rather well. An attack button, a chainsaw button (YES!), a grab button and of course the age-old jump button. The triggers facilitate the machine gun and magic. The key is combining all of it as creatively as possible to keep the attacks flowing the the point totals climbing. Disposing of enemies have never felt so chaotic. Get five or six of them (or more) on screen at the same time and then start dishing out the damage, culminating in a long chain of finishing moves as you drop them in a perfectly synchronized dance of death. Now, actually seeing this dance will be tough as the copious amounts of blood splattering everywhere will soon overtake the entire screen.
If blood disturbs you, Vampire Smile is not the game for you. The dark, water-colored art style as a whole is one disturbing, surreal experience after another. From the twisted insane asylum nightmare world to the freak show parade that makes up the boss lineup, one can only hope we never gain the dream-hopping abilities of Inception as this game demonstrates that there are some minds we should not venture into. And I say this in the most heartfelt, joyous, pat-on-the-back sort of way that I possibly can. It’s twisted, but fabulous at the same time. And trust me when I say that your initial impressions of the first few stages are nothing compared to the genre-hopping you’ll find later in the game. I’ll just leave it at that.
The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile did exactly what it needed to. It took all the visceral fun of the first game and honed it until it gleamed and glinted like the morning sun reflected off a sword blade. Now, if this is a genre that tickles your fancy, Vampire Smile is certainly at the top of my recommendation list. But, if you didn’t like The Dishwasher the first time around or if the side-scrolling beat ‘em ups just aren’t your thing, I highly doubt this sequel will do much for you. It’s more of the same, only a lot more fluid. Gone is the guitar peripheral support, replaced by a rhythmic button press mini-game. Where The Dishwasher felt a bit restrained and clunky, Yuki is a lot more graceful, dancing like liquid death (although you can play this one with The Dishwasher as well). The magic, weapons, and items have been expanded and flesh the whole thing out considerably. The Arcade mode has returned and is better than ever, giving you a ton of different arena to defeat with a preset character and load-out. And the multiplayer is present and accounted for as well.
But perhaps the best thing that Vampire Smile does is show how much a budding developer can learn over time. The last four years have been good to Ska Studios. As I said, the gist of the game remains the same, yet the vibe is much more professional. Kudos to James and the rest of his team at Ska. If this is any indication of what’s to come, you can put me down in the “Excited” category!
+ Much more polished over the original
+ Guitar peripheral support gone!
+ Fabulously twisted art style
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Release Date : 2011/04/06
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Developer : Ska Studios
Category : Action
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
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