Painkiller (2004)

3.69 from 67 votes
Painkiller is a fast-paced first-person-shooter that hearkens back to the early years of shooters. Telling a hellish story about a man fighting his way out of Purgatory and foregoing modern conventions of realism, Painkiller brings back the over-the-top twitch gameplay that is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
First released
Apr 12, 2004
Developed by
People Can Fly
Published by
DreamCatcher Europe SA
Action, First-Person Shooter
Horror, Fantasy
PEGI: 16+, ESRB: M, BBFC: 15
  • PC - Painkiller United Kingdom
  • PC - Painkiller United States
  • PC - Painkiller Black Edition United States
  • PC - Painkiller: Pandemonium United Kingdom

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*Warning: spoilers* Amazing game and one of the best First Person Shooters I have played
Painkiller is just Epic. In the core it is just a First-Person Shooter in which you shoot monsters and progress to the next stage, classic stuff that Doom, Serious Sam and Duke Nukem did before, but this game feels different somehow. It has a unique style of playing and some mechanics that are different in a way that it offers a fresh new concept.

You play as Daniel Garner, a happily married dude who dies, along with his wife Catherine, in a car crash. Catherine goes to heaven and lives happily ever after, but not you. You are sent to Purgatory and are trapped there. Then, an Angel called Samuel makes a deal with you. If you can wipe out the four generals of Lucifers army, to prevent a battle between Heaven and Hell, you will be purified and can join your wife in Heaven. You accept and go off to war. On your journey, you meet a chick named Eve, who is also trapped in Purgatory. She aids you with information on the whereabouts of the next generals and other useful tips.

The graphics in Painkiller are great. The environments are beautiful and detailed, and every level has some sort of Gothic theme that enhances the graphics even more. I especially liked the “Town” level and the “Opera” stage. The animations are perfect too. Enemies have Ragdoll and you can blow them away with your shotgun or nail them to the wall with your stake gun. Explosions and fire effects are really well done too. There are some clipping issues tough, but I take that for granted. Every level is completely unique with different themes, environments and enemies, keeping the game fresh.

The controls are fluent, as can be expected from a fast-paced shooter like this. They feel natural and responsive. The Weapons are awesome. You got some sort of blade spinner as a melee weapon, shotguns, rocket launchers, machine guns and, best of all, your stake gun which lets you fire wooden sticks at enemies, nailing them to every surface. It is just epic.

Some unique mechanics in this game is the soul collecting when killing enemies, which increases your health by one for each soul collected and let you enter demon rage mode, killing everything you point at. You can also earn Tarot cards that give you a bonus in each level if you selected that specific card for the level. You first earn those cards by completing a challenge in a level, for example, kill fifty monsters with explosions, or kill all enemies on the stage. When you earned the card, you need to buy it so you can use it. This can be done with gold, which you can collect and scavenge throughout the levels. I really liked this mechanic, and it gave some kind of RPG feel.

Painkiller offers excellent and well-balanced multiplayer, only matched by Serious Sam. It is fast paced, fair and gives everyone a fair chance. I really liked it back in the day, even tough it is now mostly abandoned.

What sets this game apart for me is the sound and music. I think I can say, without a doubt, that this game has the best music that I have experienced so far, even better than Serious Sam. Every level has a unique Heavy Metal fight track that really gets you pumped up. Combine this with the excellent sound effects of your weapons and the enemy grunts and it makes for one epic experience. It is just a masterpiece.

The ending of the game is true badass style, Daniel knows that the killing is not done yet and is eager to return to the fighting, even tough he is offered to go to heaven like promised.

In the end, Painkiller is a masterpiece in every way and one of the games that I can play any time of the year. It is a real classic and that it why it has multiple sequels and a remake, rightfully so.

You really need to play Painkiller at least once in your lifetime, in my humble opinion.
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