sat 04/07/2020

Chainsaw Warrior | reviews, news & interviews

Chainsaw Warrior

Chainsaw Warrior

Save New York, one card at a time

Chainsaw Warrior: zombie attack

The original Chainsaw Warrior was a single-player boardgame, published in 1987 by tabletop gaming powerhouse Games Workshop - home to the better-known Warhammer 40,000 wargame and endless shelves of lead miniatures and associated acrylic paints. An odd mix of solitaire card game and dice-based RPG, the game cast you as an archetypical Eighties Bad Dude tasked with fighting waves of zombies and mutants to defeat an evil entity known as Darkness at the heart of a ruined New York.

Chainsaw Warrior on Android, iOS and PC is the same game. No, I mean it really is EXACTLY the same game. Rather than creating a game "inspired by" the original but designed for mobile or PC, developers Game The News have taken the original mechanic, cards and all and faithfully rereated them in digital form right down to 3D-rendered dice rolls. The only way this could be more authentic would be if it periodically lost some of the dice and made you use ones from an old Monopoly set.

Chainsaw Warrior: opening movieAs a design choice this is broadly a good thing. The setting and themes of Chainsaw Warrior have been done to death in video game form and even the original was a hodge podge of Escape From New York, Evil Dead II and half a dozen other sci-fi schlockers. By focusing on the core game, CW manages to hit a good balance between nostalgia and fairly decent gameplay.

A typical CW game goes like this - you create a character with dice rolls to determine your endurance, health and combat skills then take a random number of equipment cards (the US Special Forces quartermaster apparently being certifiably insane) that you hope will contain a gun, hand-to-hand weapon (perhaps the titular chainsaw) and special gadgets like wirecutters, flare and poison needles that have specific gameplay or combat effects.

You then journey into Manhattan by turning over cards representing corridors, rooms and lift-shafts each of which could contain nothing, a trap, a cache of supplies or an opponent that you must fight using equipment and skill-modified dice rolls. The card deck is split in two with Darkness hidden away in the second half, ensuring you have to fight through at least 50-odd cards worth of unspeakable evil before you get a crack at the Big Bad. Darkness can only be defeated by the Laser Lance card which carries just three shots, so you must try not to waste them on lesser foes. If you were lucky enough to get the Implosion Vest card you can always commit suicide, which the game counts as a draw. Bleak.

Chainsaw Warrior: dead againEach turn of a card or action in game counts as 30 seconds of game time and, as the opening cutscene says, you only have one hour until Darkness takes over and New York is destroyed so time is of the essence and running out of it is just one of the many, many ways you can lose this very difficult game.

The game has three difficulty levels - Easy gives you generous starting stats and a free pick of your equipment, Medium is a tough baseline and Hard is incredibly stingy and can leave you with terrible stats and little bar a small knife with which to save the world. That Hard is the closest recreation of the original game gives you an idea how much gaming - and gamer's expectations - has changed in 25 years.

The straight conversion has left a few rough edges that jar more than they did in the physical game. You are forced to carry out every dice roll even when the game has told you it is unnecessary due to the low skill of an opponent and the interface could stand some streamlining in places. How much you enjoy Chainsaw Warrior will depend on your tolerance for randomness and extreme, unrelenting difficulty but if you are so inclined then this is a fun challenge that proves surprisingly gripping for what is essentially a gussied-up random number generator.

If you were lucky enough to get the Implosion Vest card you can always commit suicide, which the game counts as a draw.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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