If video games got drunk and had one-night stands that resulted in pregnancy, Painkiller would be the product of the frenzied, S&M-laden coupling of Doom and Serious Sam.Painkiller
is a FPS made by Polish developers People Can Fly (now absorbed by Epic Games
). The game concerns Daniel Garner, a man with an idyllic life, a beautiful spouse, and whose life is tragically snipped short when a truck plows straight into his car. Daniel gets to watch as his wife goes to Heaven, but he has to stay in Purgatory where he is commissioned by God to stop Lucifer's invasion. If Lucifer takes Purgatory, he can take Earth and Heaven as well. Oh, and Eve is your companion through the game. Yeah, that Eve.
The story is utterly auxiliary, though it lends itself to interesting interpretations. Either way, you can skip all the cutscenes and hop right into the game with no ill consequence. The game strings together massive battle after massive battle, tossing a bunch of novel guns into your inventory and setting you free in the Demon Preservation Hunting Grounds in the middle of Demon Hunting season.
The boss battles are massive, the challenges the game sets are worth it (in the form of powerups you can earn), the enemies are varied and awesome (Nazi zombies whose war cry is "SCHEISSE!"), it's got hours of replay value, and it costs something like $10. In short, it's a fantastic example of old-school FPS game design with new-school sensibilities.
For a while, Painkiller
owned the unique distinction of being THE MOST METAL GAME EVER
, finally being overtaken by Brütal Legend
Apart from the original game, People Can Fly also developed an expansion pack, Battle out of Hell
, made up mostly of content that was Dummied Out
or otherwise scrapped for the original game. It shows, as most players consider the expansion to be a bit of a mixed bag that doesn't quite reach the level of the original game. Since then, the game's publishers have released other standalone expansions developed by fan modders, starting with Painkiller: Overdose
in 2007 (developed by Mindware Studios from the Czech Republic), and following up with Painkiller: Resurrection
in 2009 (by Homegrown Games) and Painkiller: Redemption
in 2011 (by Team EggTooth). Par for the course, none of them are particularly good.
A modern remake
of the game, titled Painkiller: Hell & Damnation
, was released on October 31, 2012 on Steam
. It was developed by The Farm 51, the makers of NecroVisioN
, who were themselves heavily inspired by the original Painkiller
. The game is basically a "greatest hits" of the best levels from Painkiller
and Battle Out of Hell
, with a new engine and modern graphics, new weapons, and a new original story attached (Daniel is fighting to collect an army of 7,000 souls for Death, in exchange for being reunited with his wife Catherine). Noteably, Daniel is now voiced by Jon St. John, the voice of Duke Nukem
Not in any way related to a series of media featuring virtually immortal, ass-kicking Action Girls.
Or Judas Priest
. Though being related to Judas Priest
would be the one and only way to make the game any more metal than it already is.
This game provides examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo - Roughly every single weapon has you firing something that could arch a few eyebrows. Demon fetuses, stakes, the screams of a severed demon head, shuriken and lightning...
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier - The "Air Combat" level from Overdose takes place on one such vessel in what appears to be an alternate version of World War One.
- Alien Blood - Overdose introduced enemies with green and even purple-colored blood.
- All Just a Dream - The ending to Painkiller: Hell & Damnation seems to imply Daniel never died, but was really in a coma the entire series. However, the supernatural events in Purgatory all really happened, it just happens that Daniel was alive all along the whole time.
- Arrows on Fire - Ammo from the Stakegun will catch fire if it flies far enough. It can also be lit on fire if the stake hits a Stakegun grenade in mid-air, turning it into a rocket.
- The arrows fired by the Templar enemies in the Oriental Castle and Babel levels also follow this rule.
- At the Opera Tonight - Mr. Garner's idea of a fine opera performance includes samurai, ninja, and beetle-things lunging off the stage and trying to kill him. To which he replies by promptly blowing their heads off.
- Ascended Meme - All of the weapons in Resurrection have a slightly grungier redesign to them, but if you were to look closely at the new design on the Electro Driver, you'd be able to notice small graphics of fire and a topless woman. A likely nod to a particular famous quote said by a certain critic. The redesigned version is not present in the later Redemption and Recurring Evil expansions, however.
- Awesome but Impractical- Yes, you can shoot a stake through a grenade to make a long-range grenade. Yes, it's awesome when you get it working. No, it doesn't have any real combat application.
- For giggles the developers made it possible to do the same thing between the bolts and the scatter bombs of the semi-auto sniper weapon in Battle out of Hell, but due to the high speed of the bombs and the long reload before using the bolts, its incredibly pointless and nearly impossible to use it effectively.
- Not so much in multiplayer in the case of the stake gun, where a staked grenade's faster projectile speed makes it an extremely useful spawnkilling weapon in the hands of a skilled player. Still useless in direct combat, though, due to the stake gun's low rate of fire.
- Bag of Spilling: Health, armor, and ammo are all reset at the beginning of each new level. This seems to be done to avert Too Awesome to Use, giving you absolutely no reason to hold back during the firefights.
- Barred from the Afterlife: The basis is that the main character has died, but cannot enter Heaven with his wife until he does some work for the angels and kill the generals of Hell.
- The ending of Hell & Damnation presents an alternate explanation for this: Daniel never died in the first place, he was simply in a coma the entire time in the real world, which explains why he's stuck wandering Purgatory instead of being able to settle in Heaven, deceived by everyone he's come across.
- The Battle Didn't Count - Lucifer's general Alastor appears at the end of the game to mock you after you kill Lucifer himself in the "bad" ending. It seems killing Alastor in Purgatory just sends him back to hell. Whoops.
- Beat Them at Their Own Game - See A Taste of Power
- Body Horror - The flying enemies in the Dead City level of Battle out of Hell and Dead Marsh level of Overdose are the up-turned remains of a human corpse's upper-half with dragonfly-like wings sprouting from the rib-cage.
- Bolivian Army Ending - One of the possible endings of the first game. The canonical one. The opening to the expansion picks up from there and shows Daniel's escape.
- Bullet Time - The Haste, Double Haste and Triple Haste cards, which can make any encounter a breeze when combined with certain other cards.
- Camera Abuse - Beginning with Overdose it was possible to have blood splatter on the screen when dissecting a baddie up close, including enemies that had Alien Blood.
- Circus of Fear - One of the levels in Battle Out of Hell.
- City of Canals - City on the Water.
- Clown-Car Grave - Explicitly stated to be portals used by demons, so justified.
- Collection Sidequest - To get 100% on all levels (and some of the cards), you need to find well hidden gold and treasures.
- Continuity Reboot - Hell & Damnation clearly seems to ignore all of the third-party games ( although Belial appears at the end and claims to be the new protagonist), but it's ambiguous as to whether it's the same continuity as the original Painkiller and Battle Out of Hell. Daniel is extremely untrustworthy of Death, initially rebuffing his offer with 'I've heard that before', mentions battling the devil, and being cheated by Heaven out of their side of the bargain. Eve's betrayal is also mentioned, although for some reason she doesn't have any Queen of Hell powers and is sincerely trying to help Daniel. Overall, it seems to take the events of the first 2 games as having happened in Broad Strokes, or at the very least, the remake seems to be a Here We Go Again.
- Copy And Paste Environments - The aforementioned Circus of Fear in Battle Out of Hell was pretty much copied shamelessly in Overdose, aside from a few different enemies and a different final section.
- Not to mention the guns, most of which were copied directly from Painkiller and Battle Out Of Hell, usually with a reskin and a Nerf to boot.
- And on that note, Redemption is made up entirely of multiplayer levels from Painkiller, populated with monsters.
- Crate Expectations - There are crates found here-there. Might be justified in a factory level of the first game which has pallets.
- Creepy Cathedral - Several levels.
- Crowning Level of Awesome - The game has tons of great levels, ranging from the atmospheric Asylum level to the gorgeous City on Water, but the stage for the final Boss Battle is generally agreed upon to be one of the greatest levels in the game, if not one of the greatest levels ever made for any FPS. See Hell Is War below. Too bad the fight itself is stupidly easy and short).
- Darker and Edgier - Painkiller could be considered the darker counterpart of Serious Sam, which also imitated the old-skool War Sequence-spamming FPS style and came earlier.
- Dead to Begin With - Well, Dead Because Of Opening Cutscene.
- Deliberately Monochrome - The demon morph makes Daniel see in black and white, with enemies tinted black and red.
- Degraded Boss - The miniboss from the first level of Painkiller. See below.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Just in case you missed the intro, Belial will be sure to remind you. Every 15 seconds or so.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? - The final boss is Lucifer himself.
- Die, Chair! Die!
- Easy-Mode Mockery - The lower your difficulty choice, the fewer levels you can access. Curiously, if you play on the highest difficulty rating then the entire final chapter is locked out.
- Eleventh Hour Superpower - In Redemption, on the last level of chapter 1, Entrance, which is the entrance to the current Big Bad's lair. It's loaded with monsters guarding, well, the Entrance, and odds are stacked against Daniel. Or they would be, if it weren't for the fact that he has 666 health, and 666 ammo for EVERY SINGLE GODDAMN WEAPON IN HIS ARSENAL. Yes, that includes the Rocket launcher. There's a boss at the end which is a huge demon. And he doesn't have a chance in hell of beating Daniel.
- Emergency Weapon - The titular Painkiller actually remains a useful weapon for the rest of the game.
- Everything Fades - Including dropped souls and gold, if you aren't fast enough.
- Excuse Plot - You're dead, and God has decided to make you His errand boy by holding your wife over your head. Go kill everything.
- Face-Heel Turn - The end of Battle Out of Hell reveals Eve's ultimate goal was to steal the power of the Ruler of the Underworld to become Queen of Hell.
- Face Heel Revolving Door - In Hell & Damnation she's repentant for her power-crazed lunatic phase and once again a sincere ally of Daniel's; the reason for this is not explained at all.
- Fan Disservice: The 'nurse' enemies are a parody of the sexy nurse concept, complete with bad breast augmentation and waxy faces.
- Final Exam Finale - A very clever variation. In the second to last level in Overdose, the Movie Studios, you go through the "stages" and "actors" of each previous level. Along with cardboard cut-out monsters!
- Fire and Brimstone Hell - Averted. Instead Hell consists of a collection of man-made disasters and wars frozen in motion.
- But then played straight again in one of the ending videos after you kill Lucifer and Alastor gloats before leaving you to your Bolivian Army Ending.
- Freeze Ray - Secondary fire of the Shotgun (Or "Bonegun", in Overdose).
- Fun with Acronyms: Painkiller: Hell and Damnation
- Gag Dub - by Yahtzee, of the game's intro sequence, which can be seen as a post-credits addon in his review of The Witcher
- Game-Breaking Bug: The game has an annoying habit of corrupting save files.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation - What happens in the intro and in between cutscenes, has little to do in the game. At least in first installment.
- Gas Mask Mooks - Skeleton soldiers.
- Gatling Good - With an attached rocket launcher nonetheless.
- Some of the Biker enemies in the Prison chapter will carry their own gatling. They move slowly take a while to charge up their weapon, but they certainly look like they enjoy using such heavy ordnance.
- Genre Throwback - The game is unapologetically hailing to older FPSes, with the only tactical decisions being "unload" and "charge".
- Godiva Hair - Eve wears only this and a cloth wrap around her hips. In some shots her nipples are actually clearly visible underneath. In Battle Out of Hell she gets a little more cover.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All - Most, if not all of the card conditions basically boil down to this: Find all the monsters and kill them, find all the secrets, catch a certain number of souls and demon morph a certain number of times, etc. Some of them can be really dickish to get too.
- Grappling-Hook Pistol - The titular weapon, sort of. Secondary fire latches onto the environment with a hook... but then just projects a laser beam back to the base if you face it, slowly vaporizing anything caught in it. Enemies can find themselves taking first-class flight on a direct hit with the hook.
- Gratuitous Japanese - Par for the course with demonic ninjas, but the things they yell out ("watashi wa karasu!!!"/"I am a crow!!!") kinda border on nonsense.
- Unless you happen to know that tengu in Japanese mythology were essentially demonic crow ninjas, then it makes slightly more sense.
- Guide Dang It - How many of those secrets will an "average" gamer find without a walkthrough?
- A couple of gamers were this stumped on the Vampire miniboss in the catacombs level. Shoot the ceiling and shine light on him.
- Even worse is the Ghost Nun miniboss of the Orphanage in 'Battle Out Of Hell'. Completely immune to the fire of all your weapons, including the new submachine gun/flamethrower combi-weapon you picked up in her room, there's only one way of damaging her. Use the flamethrower to set alight a patch of floor near the door that looks exactly like the rest of the room except for a tree root growing on it just as she crosses it. The flames will set her alight and kill her, despite the flamethrower itself having absolutely NO effect on her.
- Guns Are Worthless - Not for you (thankfully), but for the enemies. If you have armor on, you barely even take Scratch Damage on most difficulties (it adds up fast, though). Then we have the bikers in the first Painkiller: they wield Tommy Guns in level 5-1 and nail guns in 5-2, and the nails do MUCH more damage.
- Harder Than Hard - two hidden difficulty levels (Nightmare and Trauma)
- Hell - The last level of the original; The earlier ones are actually Purgatory.
- Hell Is War - Literally. The final area of the game takes place in Hell, which to the hero's human eyes looks like a time-frozen collection of historic war scenarios with the humans cut out, complete with an unmanned battering ram breaking through crumbling castle walls, grenades exploding in trenches, a crashing airplane and, looming in the distance, a giant mushroom cloud forming over an exploding atomic bomb.
- Here We Go Again - Hell and Damnation is a loop of the first two games, due to Death making a deal to go collect souls for him so he can really return him to his wife. Surprise surprise, in the end, he's been deceived and Eve tells him he has to go fight yet more legions against a deathless enemy (Death himself, in this case, not Alastor).
- Hey, It's That Voice! - Most games with this game's development budget just have a couple of guys who sound like they were grabbed from the office across the hall do all the voice work. Painkiller actually goes the extra mile and has several recognizable voice actors, including Cam "Liquid Snake" Clarke as the main character, and the incredibly hammy Jim Cummings as Alastor.
- Highly-Visible Ninja - If they're not using projectile attacks, then they're about four inches from your nose trying to kill you. And they repeatedly yell gibberish in Japanese.
- Hoist by His Own Petard - How Daniel defeats Lucifer.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels - Daydream is easy, Insomnia is normal, Nightmare is hard, and Trauma is Nintendo Hard.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon - Just about every single one of them.
- Improbable Weapon User - One of the weapons in Overdose you get to use is a severed demon head. Another are demon fetuses.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests
- Leap of Faith - Frakking secret areas. Especially bad in the Stone Pit, which is a massive level consisting of plenty of secrets hidden above a, well, giant pit.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition - Both subverted and played straight.
- Literally Shattered Lives - You can freeze and shatter enemies. This is the best way of dealing with some Goddamned Bats.
- Literary Allusion Title - He is the painkiller, and this is the painkiller.
- Luck-Based Mission - At least one card condition in Overdose relies on pure, dumb luck: the level Animal Farm requires the player to collect 160 souls to collect the card. However, there are only 161 enemies (the last one is glitched out) in the entire level, so the player can only miss a single soul at most - which is already incredibly challenging, but becomes luck-based because some souls can spawn out of reach, and the card condition becomes Unwinnable if this happens even twice.
- Ludicrous Gibs - The Painkiller shreds enemies into a fine paste, and that's just the beginning.
- Malaproper - Daniel somehow pronounces Alastor's name as Allister.
- Meaningful Name - Asmodeus is a demon hiding out in Purgatory to avoid having to fight for Hell. In Christian demonology, Asmodeus is a "Great King" of demons who, according to some legends, was the serpent in Eden. His name may have been derived from a dangerous spirit of Zoroastrian myth called Aeshma-deva, or "the Destroyer." Asmodeus was also one of the demons Solomon used in building his temple. Given this pedigree, finding out he's a dumpy little nobody demon hiding from Hell seems about as inappropriate a name choice as possible. He's Lucifer in disguise, who's also the most commonly-named candidate for the serpent in Eden. And that bit of history as an architect? He's the one building the gates from Hell to Purgatory.
- Monster Clown - In the Circus of Fear, natch.
- Mood Whiplash - The Asylum and Orphanage levels are genuinely horrifying. Especially the Asylum pre-patch, when there is no battle music at all to pump you up. Both of them come RIGHT at the time you're considering yourself utterly Bad Ass.
- Ms. Fanservice - The game's portrayal of Eve makes one contemplate all manner of original sin.
- Multiple Endings - There's three in the original game.
- A bad ending: You are trapped in Hell, fighting off an infinite wave of enemies with just your Manly Boots and shotgun.
- The second bad ending: You've completed the game at 100%. The ending is the bosses running towards the camera in washed-out, bright white light. That's it.
- Completing the game at 100%, then the first hidden difficulty at 100%, and then the second hidden difficulty gives you the good ending, which shows Daniel and his wife slowly walking together and holding hands. And the ending isn't canon anyway.
- Nigh-Invulnerability - Part of the Demon Morph powers.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot - Numerous nouns become descriptive adjectives transfixed before "demon", such as "pirate demon", "prisoner demon", or "biker demon". The amount of variety in Hell is absolutely staggering.
- No Animals Were Harmed - "Several demons were actually harmed during the production of Painkiller."
- Number of the Beast: The 666 Ammo card, obviously. However, the number on the card is written in Roman numerals (DCLXVI), which shows that the devs knew the value is important, not three sixes.
- Nuns Are Spooky - Demon zombie nuns show up in the Orphanage level.
- Obfuscating Stupidity - Daniel's easy-going Imp friend that follows him around for most of the game turns out to be Lucifer himself in disguise, busy digging holes to open portals between Purgatory and Hell.
- Obvious Beta - Resurrection, through and through.
- One-Hit Kill - Part of the demon morph's powers, except against bosses.
- One of the cards, when activated, gives every single enemy 1 HP.
- One-Man Army
- Pacifist Run - Sort of; the Tarot Card challenge of Battle Out Of Hell's second level, Looney Park, is "Kill no more than 88 enemies". The first 67 kills are mandatory, so the Pacifism part only comes into play during the rail shooter section in the second half.
- Doubles as a Luck-Based Mission: the roller-coaster automatically running over 18 enemies and the other enemies accidentally killing each other can very easily push your kill count over 88.
- Power-Up Letdown - Many tarot cards. While most cards are not entirely useless and even fun to use, the letdown comes from the difficult process of obtaining them. The new cards from Battle Out of Hell take it a step farther with how expensive it is to purchase them.
- The few new cards introduced in Overdose on the other hand are completely useless and not worth looking at. Resurrection takes it the furthest in that there are only six cards to obtain in the entire game and only one gold and one silver card can be used at a time as opposed to the two silver and three card holding of previous games. Add this to the fact that Resurrection's levels are far longer and long and easy to fail, its best to just completely ignore the tarot cards in that game outright.
- Puzzle Boss - It's easier to name those who are NOT: Necrogiant, Alastor, and Cerberus.
- Quad Damage - Via the Black Tarot. There's also a skull item which alters weapons so that some of their weaknesses are removed.
- In Painkiller's multiplier there's an actual Quad Damage item to be found. It can also be found on the first level of Redemption.
- Rewarding Vandalism - Most of the objects, when destroyed, release coins for some strange reason.
- Rule of Cool - The game's reason for existing.
- Scenery Porn - Seriously, just play through it and you'll understand. Some of the jaw-dropping settings include a cathedral, a fancy opera house, a castle, a Turkish-style palace, a Venice-like city on the water, a modern dockyard with towering cranes, a hilltop monastery, and an absolutely vertigo-inducing snowy bridge level. Also, some locations doesn't have any mooks or useful objects in it - they were just made for scenery porn.
- Secondary Fire, of course! Some even have Tertiary Fire.
- Sequel Difficulty Spike: Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is noticeably harder than the original game, especially the earlier levels. There are even more enemies, and the earlier levels now contain Elite Mooks instead of simply waves of cannon fodder.
- Shock and Awe - Hi, Electrodriver.
- Simulated Urban Combat Area - The architecture is amazingly realistic in more than several of the urban levels.
- Skeletons In The Gun Closet: The Bonegun and the Spinegun from Overdose are made entirely out of bones.
- Spiritual Successor - To old arcade shoot 'em ups, and Quake I, in terms of random locations being mashed together to form a bare-bones FPS. The game has also spawned its own set of spiritual successors: Necro Vision, developed by The Farm 51 whose team includes former People Can Fly designers, and Dreamkiller, an original shooter from the developers of Overdose. Most eployees of People Can Fly are currently in the employ of Epic Games, who ended up working on Bulletstorm. The rest of them founded Flying Wild Hog, who made Hard Reset and the recent Shadow Warrior.
- Standard FPS Guns - Averted. There are five guns, each with an alternate fire. The Painkiller, a weedwhacker/grappler/beamgun. The shotgun that also shoots freezing ice bolts. The Stakegun, that fires yard-long bolts of wood and grenades. And the Electrodriver, which shoots shurikens and lightning. The only gun that can be considered "standard" is the rocket launcher/minigun. The expansion adds a machine gun/flamethrower and a sniper rifle/flechette mini-bomb launcher.
- Not only does Electrodriver shoot shurikens and lightning, but it can also shoot shurikens which shoot lightning themselves.
- Also The Painkiller can shoot its blade out at an enemy, go through multiple enemies, and return to the user. It does a decent amount of damage if you are willing to wait for it to return to you.
- Overdose features several weapons that lifted directly from the original game, reskinned, and usually nerfed. However, its original weapons are... interesting. Most notably, a radioactive waste spewing wheel-lock pistol/flamethrower
- Standard Sci Fi Setting - In Overdose, the Asteroids level pretty much happily channels typical sci-fi.
- Standard Status Effects - Some enemies can make the character slower, poison him or make unable to fire weapons.
- The Starscream - Turns out Alastor's not really that upset you killed Lucifer. In fact, he was on his way to kill the old man himself for being such a boneheaded leader. Also Eve, who only wanted you to kill Alastor to take his powers and become the Ruler of Hell.
- Stock Scream - In Asylum and Hell stages, many of them can be heard in the background. Wilhelm and Howie screams are not included.
- Super Drowning Skills: Submerging in some of the levels is instantly fatal.
- Super Mode - If you collect enough enemy souls, you'll become a demon until you run out. A very, very powerful demon, at that. A demon who kills enemies just by looking at them, lighting them on fire and Mind Crushing them.
- Swiss Army Weapon - See above. The expansion Overdose also adds some newer, even stranger weapons.
- Take That: A print ad for Hell Wars read "Hang up your Halo. Get ready for Hell."
- There's also a subtle jab at Doom 3 in the opening cinematic of Battle Out of Hell. Eve tells Daniel that "nobody wants to teleport into Hell."
- Underground Monkey - Surprisingly averted. For the first 2/3rds of the game, each new level features a new set of enemy types, with their own unique models and behavior. The last several levels do tend to use repeating enemy types, but even then there's some degree of variety.
- Urban Fantasy - There's just as many modern-day levels as there are ancient levels.
- The War Sequence - The original Painkiller might already have counted, but nearly every single encounter in Redemption plays out like this: Every single level has close to a thousand monsters, with as many as a hundred for individual encounters.
- Wham Line - "I dig graves." As an explanation, the completely unnecessary graveyards in Purgatory are used to hide gates from Hell. Asmodeus has just revealed himself as Lucifer, preparing the way for Hell's armies all this time.
- Wreaking Havok - Painkiller was one of the first high-profile games to use Havok physics, but unlike some of its more popular contemporaries, Painkiller focused more on enemy corpses flying through the air propelled by shotgun blasts and giant bosses whose footsteps make arcways collapse brick-by-brick.
- Wutai - Japanese Massacre, The second level of Overdose. To a lesser extent, demon samurai and ninja are prominent in Episode 2 of the original game, trying to kill you in a European Opera house and a Russian army bridge.
- Zombie Apocalypse - The Village level is a medieval one.
- The Dead City level in Battle Out of Hell is a literal one, and almost more intense than Left 4 Dead, particularly if you're trying to beat the level under 20 minutes to get the Tarot card.