Violence as Cathartic?
There’s a certain satisfaction in playing outrageously violent games. Whether you’re searching for solace in violence in order to de-stress, because you enjoy breaking things in general, or because you have a genuine thirst for human blood (consult a specialist practitioner of psychological medicine if this latter reason applies to you), violent games are a healthy outlet for your inner rage.
The latest in the blood-soaked Whack It series of destressing/wanton destruction games is Whack the Burglar. It’s a simple yet hugely enjoyable point-and-click-to-find-the-kills masterpiece with a lot of violence a burglar towards which you’ll be directing it, and a cathartic soundtrack of classical piano to give the whole thing a distinctly Hannibal Lecter-feel.
As I type this review, the classical piano piece in a largely minor key rings out from the browser a few virtual windows across, giving an audio backdrop to Whack the Burglar’s gameplay and also giving my typing a rather demented, serial-killer vibe. The gameplay itself is virtually the definition of simplicity. Much like the many point-and-click puzzle games out there, you merely have to hover cursor over the various objects on screen. Once you’ve found an item of interest (there’s a handy red highlight graphic over each when you do so), you simply click on it to initiate one of the game’s 19 standard kills.
The point-and-click mechanics may be simple, but the action that results is anything but a simple thrill. The combination-item kills in particular are extra-satisfying too because you have to try and pair together two items, clicking on one and then searching for its counterpart – before the kill is initiated.
The Kills Themselves
It’s time to talk about the kills themselves now, since they are after all the bulk of the game’s content as well as the reason you’re playing it. They range in complexity from the very simple mirror smash – this involves smashing the mirror over the burglar’s head and him falling over onto the jagged edges before our protagonist, Patrick- stomps on his head to decapitate him – to more complex kills. This system delivers a great deal more variety than the more big-budget violence titles such as Carmageddon, which speaks in this game’s favour since its design is a great deal simpler in nature.
One of my favourite kills is still the combination-item kill where Patrick’s mother comes into the room, beats the burglar to death with a rolling pin, and leaves as casually as she entered while indicating that Patrick’s tea is ready – this is met with an hilariously nonchalant thumbs-up from Patrick, who I gather is almost as demented and twisted in the head as the burglars are to be there in the first place.
The variety doesn’t end there either. There are kills that involve an arsenal of guns sliding up from under the floor, through to setting the burglar on fire with 100-proof whisky, all the way up to wrapping the burglar up in a curtain, beating him with a baseball bat until it breaks, and then stabbing his still-twitching body with the remaining splintered edge of the bat. The kills really are as depraved and violent as they sound, with the violence and twistedness of the atmosphere almost reaching Manhunt levels.
Time must be taken here to praise the game’s visual design, since it gives it a unique style and makes it memorable. The illustration is almost exclusively in black and white with a simple sketch style. This would be a little too simple for some, if it weren’t for impressive effect this has on highlighting the extremely red blood which pours from the burglar in pretty much every kill. The mixture of monochrome and red is somewhat reminiscent (in colour properties only) to the striking contrast between the black-and-white filming of Schindler’s List and the tragic image of the girl in the red coat.
The flash version of this game is enjoyable enough, but the real content lies in Whack the Burglar Mobile. There you will find updated content that takes the game up to a whopping 34 kills, which also take place in additional rooms. These additional kills in Whack the Burglars are even more creative than the existing content as well, so expect more blood to be shed in even more imaginative and demented ways!
So what’s the 411 on the game in general? It’s a cracking title, with a simpl-yet-effective, sketch-like visual style, an abundance of kills to enjoy, and a rather dark yet calculated atmosphere owed to the soundtrack, which in contrast to the violence, is rather calm and precise. I’ve therefore choice but to give this one top marks.