Hell Is Like A Disney Musical In Saints Row IV’s Expansion

Hell Is Like A Disney Musical In Saints Row IV’s Expansion

Last time out, the Saints Row series went crotch-first into superhero sci-fi territory. Now, its newest expansion Gat Out of Hellis going the occult horror route. But the game’s creative director Steve Jaros says you don’t to worry about them “shitting out variants” to the open-world franchise.

I spoke with Jaros last week after playing Gat Out of Hell at PAX Prime and he described the shift in milieu as a way to offer a new filter on an experience that would still feel familiar to fans. Jaros did say that he thinks a fantasy-tinged Saints Row would be delightful, if only for the chance to write the words “Ye Olde Saints Row.” I got to try out a few of the game’s typically funny-lethal weapons — like a Barcalounger with mounted machine guns on it — in an open-world Hades. The city where you’ll fight off hordes of demons isn’t Steelport. It’s an all new underworld metropolis where Johnny Gat and the rest of the Saints will be trying to rescue their fellow gang member/POTUS.

So why hell? “No matter what, we wanted you to have powers,” Jaros told me. “But we wanted to put you in a location that felt fun and unique.” He went to reference the famous cover of Captain America #1 from 1941 as one inspiration. The Marvel Comics character famously punches out Hitler on the front of that comic and Jaros said that the idea of Johnny Gat doing the same to Satan was one that energized the team at Volition.

But the movies from the house that Walt Disney built are another inspiration. In Gat Out of Hell, Satan wants daughter Jezebel to marry the President of the United States. But she doesn’t want this arranged ceremony to happen, dreaming instead of falling in love for the first time. “Our version of Hell takes cues from classic Disney films like The Little Mermaid,” Jaros said. The opening happens at a birthday party, as in many of the studio’s animated films, and sees the main Saints characters whisked away to a whole new world where things work differently. And instead of a talking animal companion, players get a talking gun linked to the deadly sin of Pride, which constantly talks about how great it is. Additional hell-weapons will be linked to the Seven Deadly Sins, like a Lust gun that lures enemies closer to the player.

Despite all the Disney love Jaros and team are putting into the game, he told me that “we know we’re making games and not movies.” This expansion won’t be as story-heavy as previous Saints games and goes more for open-world roaming than a traditional mission-based structure. It’s also aiming to be scarier than its predecessors. As goofy as the series’ games are, Jaros says that Volition’s trying to make Gat Out of Hell feel genuinely creepy and scary. “If it doesn’t feel like Hell, then you won’t want to win as much.”


  • I really enjoyed Saints Row 3, but 4 was so disappointing. It’s basically just a Saints Row 3 expansion that they decided last minute to put out as a full release, and you can feel the ‘only an expansion’ vibe in basically everything.

    • I dunno, maybe it was because for me there was a pretty solid gap between playing SR3 and SR4 so the map didn’t feel reused, but I felt like Saints Row 4 was it’s own game. It hopped around more than the normal games where you sort of break the city into three islands and spend solid time on each, but I liked that. The powers were fleshed out well enough for a full game, although most Saints Row games do a good job of ensuring the random funny idea is well executed on a mechanical level rather than just being a gun that plays a fart sound effect.
      I guess now I think about it the lack of mixing things up vehicle-wise might make it feel less than it was. In the other games they soft pushed variety on you by linking vehicles to missions but in SR4 you were on foot doing what you wanted most of the time making it easy for it to blur together if you aren’t constantly changing your approach to use the new powers you’re given.

      • The map didn’t feel that reused for me it just felt like lots of filler as the majority of it was go here do this event now go hear and do this event so by the end of the campaign you had pretty much done every event while in the previous games the majority of the events were extra side-quests. The powers etc really did add a new life to the game though.

        • I suppose I wouldn’t have noticed that since I was running around doing everything as soon as I was able. I literally just realised as I was reading your comment that in order to do the semi-optional loyalty missions you needed to do all the activities (although in fairness when it comes to the missions it’s pass/fail so you don’t need to get gold every time). When it came time to do the loyalty missions I was pretty much just talking to the character over and over because I’d done everything they wanted already. =P
          I’ve always loved the side missions in Saints Row and the way they give you serious rewards, so every time I play a new Saints Row game I race to get them done as fast as possible. I even keep track of the challenges as I play because they’re usually a fun excuse to mix things up. In that sense I think I often forget when praising it that Saints Row is the perfect game for me and I’m the perfect player for it.

  • I had a good time in Saints Row 4 however for me there were two things that I really didn’t like.

    1. The movement powers made vehicles and vehicle missions pointless as you could run somewhere faster than a car could drive. Driving around with a car full of your homies was a great part of SR3. So were car chases and evading the cops.

    2. This one is far less important but the entire game being set at night made it kind of dreary compared to the colourfulness of SR3.

  • I might be in the minority, but my fondest memories and most enjoyment was playing S1 and S2. Simple things like overpowered weapons, which featured cool mods and the excellent car management system and, again, sweet mods were great.

    • I have very fond memories of Sr1 and 2. I like to pretend they stopped the franchise at 2, Everything after that was horrible for me.

  • In Gat Out of Hell, Satan wants daughter Jezebel to marry the President of the United States. But she doesn’t want this arranged ceremony to happen, dreaming instead of falling in love for the first time.For some reason, this makes me think of the whole Mephisto and Heckett storyline from Princess Knight.

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