Dishwasher: Vampire Smile Review

This vampire is smiling because this sequel is a well-refined gaming delight.

Alex Keenby Alex Keen


I have always been impressed by the independent spirit of The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, James Silva’s breakthrough hit.  The art style was impressive, the storytelling was interestingly different, and the combat was challengingly entertaining.  The one downfall was that the game was a bit short on polish.  The controls weren’t as tight as they should have been and the difficulty felt so high that the game didn’t allow for a lot of players to finish the story.  In Silva’s follow-up, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, these concerns have been addressed and advanced upon.  I am proud to report that The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile takes a well-crafted game and makes it even better.

The story begins with the return of the Dishwasher into the dark world of chaos and violence.  Instead of just playing as the Dishwasher, you can also take charge of his sister, Yuki.  Along the way you’ll take down an endless barrage of ninjas, suits, robots, cyborgs, and badass bosses.  I would gladly explain the story a bit further; but, to be honest I’m not entirely sure what’s happening.  That’s okay because I’m fine with the vagueness thanks to the kick-ass gameplay, murky graphics, and tight controls.

While I enjoyed the side-scrolling shooting and slash-em-up of the first game, it is obvious that Silva has learned quite a bit from his first game.  The gameplay is noticeably more fluid, clean, and, simply devastating.  When I kill an enemy it’s a visceral experiences.  There’s tons of fluid spraying all about, sparks shoot about, and body part bounce around with flair.  Instead of just abandoning his work from the first game, Silva has advanced on his previous work and gives the gamer everything he can desire.

As I mentioned, the murky graphics sure add quite of flare to the game.  Silva started with some great work in the first game and has expanded quite a bit.  The levels are a mix of foggy underworld with the harsh technology of an abandoned future.  The basic enemies are beautifully drawn and fantastically demented cartoons.  Meanwhile, the bosses have unique designs not lifted from the generic enemy design guide.  While most games seem to borrow their boss designs from other games or movies, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile presents a fantastic mash-up of Silva’s mind and Henry David Thoreau’s worst industrial nightmares.  This is easily one of the best looking games on XBLA and one of the most unique side-scrollers of this generation.
Finally, I was glad to see that the controls for this sequel have advanced quite a bit.  They are tighter and definitely more responsive.  While I loved the graphics and the gameplay in the first game, I had major issues with it’s controls.  The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai moved well for an indie game but it wasn’t in the same class as one of its peers, something like Shadow Complex.  It just didn’t have the polish.  Fortunately, Silva tweaked the gameplay in the sequel and now I have zero complaints.  No matter how frenetic and chaotic my fights got, I always felt in control of my warrior.  I can’t blame my death on the controls.  I can only blame my strategy or my timing.  

Overall, I am roundly impressed by The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile.  It’s exactly what a good sequel should be.  It expands on the formula of the first game without selling it’s soul, destroying the mechanics, and advancing the technology.  If you remotely enjoyed the first game I highly recommend that you take a gander at this outstanding sequel.

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