Some Thoughts About Saints Row (2022)

If there is one thing that I can say about my gaming history is that I am a huge fan of the Saints Row series.  The first game is still an albatross around my neck I have never finished, but from Saints Row 2 onward, I have been neck deep in this series.  We are talking full completion, searching for every secret, completing every activity and just squeezing every last bit of life out of the games.  So when the latest Saints Row was first announced, there was no hesitation from me to pre-order the game.  Sure, I was a little skeptical of the new setting and relaunch of the brand, but I had trusted Volition in the past, and I felt I could trust them again.  Sadly, the trust was broken, as the new Saints Row is a decent game, but it never reaches the high echelons of past games in the franchise,.

As stated, Saints Row is a fresh start for the franchise.  Gone is the history and drama of the previous five games in the series, giving everyone a great jumping on point for the series.  Everything here is fresh and new.  New protagonist, new location, and even new friends.  If you are looking for a slight hint to the series past, you might as well give up as there was nothing I found that ever acknowledges the history of the series.  This is not a complaint per se, but it is a little disappointing for long time fans that there was not a small bone thrown out to us for our dedication to the series.  We meet our new Boss as a training recruit for a private security firm as she chases down a notorious criminal.  Success is swift, but due to not following procedures, you are fired and it drives you to start up your own crew with your three friends.

It is a simple premise, but it gets us with our dedicated crew and starts our way to building our new crew in Santo Ileso.  The city here is a magnificent addition to the series and might be the best thing about the game.  The city sprawls, with suburbs, huge casinos, skyscrapers and surrounding deserts.  Sadly, you have this huge, beautiful city and it feels dull and empty.  All this trouble went into making a detailed desert oasis, and it feel sparsely populated.  Many times, I felt that I was in a small backwater town, rather than a bustling metropolis.  The city is never fully realized, and that is sad, because it is a great site to behold.

The lackluster nature of Saints Row, just continues throughout the game, as most of the jokes are funny, but nothing really sticks out.  The three companions that we have in our crew,  Neenah, Eli, and Kevin, never really shine on their own.  They do not have the personalities of past Saints like Johnny Gat, Shaundi, or Pierce.  They show up, and tell you stories, but they never stand out, or have moments that make them memorable.  Even the music in the game never really feels great.  There are a few bangers on the radio, but we never get the soundtrack around the missions.  It all just exists, but never excels.

Mostly, Saints Row just feels like a game that is trying to be made in a new era where the prior jokes would be edgy and risque, but here we go with things that are safe and funny.  Kind of like when you want to play with fireworks, but all you get is sparklers and snakes.  It feels boring.  There are no flashy set pieces, with the exception of the last endgame sequence, which I will not spoil here.  Its like the developers tried to figure out what would make for a safe release in 2022, and this Saints Row is what we got.

And its not that its bad.  It just never feels as great as its predecessors.  There is a lofty history here, and this game just does not fit into that fine history.  It might be a good game on its own merits, but when you want to be part of a storied history, you better live up to that former greatness.  And yes, there are moments here.  The LARP mission chain might be some of the funniest moments in this game, and it briefly flashes back to the funny moments of prior games in the series.

Trust me, I wanted this Saints Row game to be great.  I wanted it to be a great new start for the franchise.  Instead, I got an average at best open world world, with a main story that ends far too quickly, and never lives up to the glory of the prior games in the series.  You will find some fun here and there, but overall, fans of the series will probably be left with feelings of wanting to go back and play one of the old games in the series instead.