We're gonna shoot the devil in the face.
Often, standalone add-ons are a little out there. Freed of the main game’s need to deliver a full experience, they can go a little off-script or explore a kookier element of the main game. But the last Saints Row ended with us as Emperor of the universe and the DLC saw Shaundi marrying a Velociraptor. How insaner can SR get?
The gang find, and of course, muck about with Alastair Crowley’s Ouija board. Naturally, a portal appears and spirits away the Boss - also naturally, Gat points his gun at the board until it opens another portal, and sends him (with Kinzie, who wants to go because it’s her Birthday) in to hell, where the Devil wants The Boss to marry Jezebel, his daughter. Gat decides the best option is just shoot the devil in the face. Insaner? I had to ask, didn’t I.
In Hell, Johnny and Kinzie link up with Vogel, a villain from the original SR era, who suggests Gat cause enough of a ruckus to draw the Devil out for a face to face; having done that, Gat of course then shoots the Devil the face; but that just impresses big Red, who demands Johnny marry his daughter instead. Vogel suggests Gat free others trapped in hell and take over various regions, absorbing enough power to go one on one with his future father-in-hell.
Hell is pretty much Steelport with some lava and a red sky, in which zombie-like NPCs meander but it’s still great to be back in SR world. In each of the regions there’s a particular super-power Gat will need for his throw-down with the Devil, and each area is occupied by someone who has earned the Devil’s displeasure – Shakespeare (who has become a nightclub DJ), Blackbeard the pirate, Vlad the Impaler, and the DeWynter Sisters from SR 3rd. Each is trapped in their own hell we must free them from, and in return they give us the usual challenge-based side missions and unlock an ‘Arcane’ power that will get us closer to shooting the devil in the face. Again.
Basically the game is one big City Takeover from the main games, where we do the same insurance fraud and timed runs, take over posts and towers to 100% an area. While it feels familiar it doesn’t come across as a quickie-reskin or a bloated DLC, plus we get more Gat than we’ve had in years, Kinzie at her Daria-channelling best and loads of meta-references and in-jokes, including a cut-scene that has the convoluted plot explained to Gat, who just wants to shoot the devil in the face and go home.
Super-powers such as speed and leap are still present, but Gat quickly earns his devil wings and once you get those, you rarely touch the ground. You can go for miles, skimming lava and across the sky like a sociopathic Superman. One side mission, Salvation requires you to swoop about catching souls before they hit the ground and it’s just a joy - all games with a flight element should be this much fun.
Each region’s super-powers can be upgraded; good job flying is so much fun, you need those souls. You find a sigil where killing enough demons will unlock the next power, and they’re all worth it. Blast and Stomp are fairly obvious but fun, while Aura gives you immunity or takes health from enemies, but the big bad is Summons, courtesy of Blackbeard. Initially you can call in a gaggle of Imps to do your dirty work, but get that fully upgraded and you’ll have a huge ass-kicking Demon destroying everything in your path - it’s especially fun when there’s a Hell Demon around, just kick back and watch them scrap.
Returning to Vogel’s Ultor headquarters lets us swap between Kinzie and Gat; they have the same powers but it’s down to Kinzie to plan and Gat to shoot, or in one cut-scene, sing. Jezebel does a brilliant high-school-musical number where she laments her father’s control and wishes for freedom, and Gat gets caught up in the moment. She tries again later, but this time Gat cuts her off with ‘yeah, we ain’t doin that again’.
She agrees to help Gat take down her dad to save The Boss, who the Devil still has on ice, if Gat lets her join the crew; Jez, a valley girl cheerleader with horns who has (understandably) serious daddy issues will fit right in with the Saints.
The final standoff with the Devil is an old-school boss fight but with the powers fully upgraded it’s a wicked showdown, and after an awesome cameo, Gat is given a multiple choice ending; one of which leads to Agents of Mayhem - yeah, we ain’t doing that again.
Its a real shame this was followed by AoM and an even worse shame that this awesome gang aren't back for a universe-hopping SRV. Instead, we get that Saints Row reboot that looks like a Nickelodeon spin off series. Usually I wait for games in the sales, that one I'll wait until Epic offers it for free...