Game Review: Chainsaw Warrior (Video Game)


Chainsaw Warrior Cover Art
Now THAT is cover art!

Chainsaw Warrior (Video Game)

Chainsaw Warrior, developed by Auroch Digital and based on a board game of the same name published by Games Workshop in 1987, is a game about kicking ass. Kicking lots and lots of ass.

The story of Chainsaw Warrior (yeah, there’s a story) takes place in future New York City. A spatial warp opens up, a big bad dude called “Darkness” emerges and turns the denizens of New York into his mutated/zombified minions. Darkness is also emitting so much evil power that New York will be overthrown in just one hour. There is only one person who can stop Darkness and save New York in time: Snake Plissken Chainsaw Warrior.

Kinda like what happened in Detroit and Cleveland. The only reason those two cities didn’t fare so well is probably because they depended on Crackhead Warrior and Unemployed Warrior.

The game starts off with you rolling some dice to setup your character. Depending on what difficulty setting you chose, you will have certain limitations (or lack thereof) on your dice rolls, stat bonuses, and equipment selection during character creation. For instance, easy mode will allow you to take the best of 3 d6 rolls with some high fixed stats, medium mode allows the best of 2 d6 rolls and some fixed stats, and hard mode only gives you 1 d6 roll for stats as well as mostly randomized equipment. Hard mode follows the classic rules of the board game, and is the mode you’ll want to play if you can’t find a copy of said board game.

Million Dollar Warrior
“Nurse, pass me the d6, I need to roll to see if we are going to enhance his vision or remove his testicles”

After you setup your dude, you jump into the action. You have 60 minutes (game time) to get through 1 whole deck of 54 cards and then a second deck of 54 cards where Darkness lurks. You start off by running through (i.e. flipping over) rooms, corridors, stairwells and various other location-based cards. Each time you flip a card you lose 30 seconds of game time, sometimes more depending on the card’s effects. The cards contain everything from zombies, mutants, chaos agents, and traps to new equipment, ammo refills, health kits, and the ever-so-exciting empty rooms. As Chainsaw Warrior, it’s your duty to bust down all the doors to these locations and kick all the asses contained within.

The gameplay of the Chainsaw Warrior can basically be summed up as “flip card, roll dice, mark down effects, repeat”. That may sound a bit exiguous, but I find it creates a very fast and addictive pace to the game. Lot’s of turn-based strategy games have a sort of unwritten goal in their development where the team creating them is trying to achieve what’s referred to as “1-more-turn” gameplay. That essentially means they are trying to make their game so addictive that the player has to stick around for just 1 more turn, and another, and another. Chainsaw Warrior is a shinning example of this type of gameplay. The turn structure is so compact and contains so much concentrated action that it behooves you stick around for 1 more turn (about 108 1-more-turns, give or take finding Darkness early in the second deck).

The legendary chainsaw in the flesh. Soon to be through the flesh.

When you flip over a card to reveal an enemy, combat ensues. Depending on your reflex and marksmanship stats, you might be able to shoot first, otherwise the enemy rushes towards you and engages in hand-to-hand combat. Most of the time, you are being attacked by hordes of zombies and they usually can’t match your hand-to-hand stats, but occasionally you’ll come across more powerful and tricky enemies like chaos agents, slimes, and mutants. These minions can throw knives, cause large amounts of damage, and irradiate you, among other gnarly things.

During combat, the enemy rolls, then you roll. The results and point modifiers are matched up against each other and the winner is the one with the most points. After combat, you flip another card over and repeat the process. It’s pretty simple, but it creates a momentum that makes the gameplay very compelling.

In terms of presentation, this is about as badass as a dice and card game can possibly get.

Fit and Finish

The cards and main gameplay area have awesome artwork, the dice rolling animations are varied and natural feeling, and there are lots of cool little visual effects during combat such as chainsaw slashes, bullet holes, and blood spraying on and across the screen.

The music and sound design is a bit understated but does a decent job of providing atmosphere, with increasingly intense music as you progress through the decks. There are also evil laughs as lunatics steal your gear, gun shot effects, growls, and the sound of the chainsaw sawing your foes in half.

For a dice and card game, the presentation is about as good as it gets.

Happy About

  • Fast paced, addictive, gameplay
  • Presentation, especially the cover and card art.
  • Easy to jump in and out. Makes for a great mobile gaming experience.

Sad About

  • Some people might find the high level of randomization (especially during character creation) to be a bit much (the three difficulty modes do account for this to some degree, though). At points you are really on the edge of your seat, not necessarily because of decisions you have to make, but because you are hoping the dice don’t screw you over. I don’t really have a problem with all of the dice rolling and the game kind of driving itself at times, but if you are a staunch strategist you might want to think twice about picking up Chainsaw Warrior, as it’s more of an ultra-violent bloodbath than it is a thinking man’s game.

The Gist

Chainsaw Warrior is a great solo game with good presentation and lots of action. The gameplay is surprisingly addictive but its randomization-based mechanics might turn off all of the little Napoleons out there. If you are throwing around the idea of picking it up, I recommend getting it for your mobile device(s) as it plays really well on the go.


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