Saints Row review round-up: Middle of the Row’d?

Set in Santo Illeso, the latest Saints Row game from Volition is a reboot that brings the series back to its crime boss roots and away from the superpowers and magical demons. Intrepid reviewers have had the chance to go hands-on with the new game ahead of its release tomorrow, and now that the embargo is up, we thought we’d look into what the industry is saying about it. 

At the time of writing, the response to the game seems mostly positive, if a little underwhelmed by how close the title is to previous entries, and a little disappointed with its technical performance. We’ll cut to the chase now — a lot of reviewers gave it three stars, and the game is currently sitting at around 65/100 on OpenCritic. Most people who have played the game are hoping that the day one patch will fix some unfortunate bugs, although the glitches seem to have affected some players more than others.

Alyssa Mercante from GamesRadar+ gave the game three out of five stars, saying that it was a “younger Saints Row in vibe, tone, and theme, but much of it plays like a Saints Row of yesteryear.”, which was corroborated by Richard Wakeling of GameSpot, who gave Saints Row a six out of 10 and said that it “ditches the over-the-top aspects of its predecessor, but still feels like it’s trapped in the past.” 

William Hughes from the AV Club was less than impressed with the cast of characters in the new entry, saying that the hipsters that make up the core crew were “like if the main characters of How I Met Your Mother were all also in the Mafia together — conceptually interesting, admittedly, but also pretty disorienting in practice.” but still had to say that he “can’t say I didn’t have fun with it” despite the characters being “too likable, instead of not enough.”

Jake Tucker at NME was a part of the three out of five stars club as well, saying that the weak link in the writing was actually The Boss themselves, because they can’t have the same “magnetic charisma” as the other characters due to their nature as the audience avatar. Unlike William, Jake was very much a fan of the core crew, largely because “it’s so rare for games to actually examine friendship” and it “ends up being the narrative glue that gets you through the campaign.” 

Keith Stuart from The Guardian also gave the game three out of five stars, saying that “Saints Row has dropped the dudebro “anything goes as long as it celebrates the patriarchy” shtick of the previous title, with its giant dildo baseball bats and sex pest humour. Now, everyone is in on the joke – and the joke is about trying to exist as a young person in the post-capitalist hellzone of the 21st century.” Despite this positive response and even calling it “preposterously fun”, his review score suffered due to witnessing a barrage of technical issues and glitches that he reckons will put a lot of Saints Row clips on TikTok and YouTube in the coming weeks.

Chris Carter from Destructoid was far more positive however, giving the game an eight out of ten. He wasn’t bothered by it leaning on what had worked in the past and in fact had a great time, saying that an “open world that lets you waste time in it for fun feels like a lost art”, and that the “classic Saints Row absurdity is present nearly everywhere.”

This sort of enjoyment was also experienced by Andrew Reiner from GameInformer, who gave the game an eight and a half out of ten and called it an “exciting crime fest” with “giggle-worthy humor, purple splattered everywhere, and an open-world chock full of things to do and secrets to unearth.” 

Saints Row is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Windows PC as of August 23, 2022. It costs £59.99.

About Vince Pavey

Vince is a writer from the North-East of England who has worked on comics for The Beano and Doctor Who. He likes to play video games and eat good food. Sometimes he does both at the same time, but he probably shouldn’t.

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