Daily Reaction: Dildos Don’t Get Awards – The Future of Saints Row with Deep Silver

With the ownership of the Saints Row franchise switching hands to Deep Silver, the chance that we will see a new take on the series is rather likely. As we are still figuring out the details surrounding the demise of THQ, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan discuss what this could mean for GTA’s biggest competitor, Saints Row.

Dan: While not a series for everyone, Saints Row has come a long way since it was first released in 2006, and is no longer simply the Grand Theft Auto clone it was thought to be. The main reason the series has carved out a name for itself really has been because of its ability to take the old GTA formula and push it to areas where its competitors would not go.

Now, as THQ has had to sell the rights to Deep Silver, the ability for a new publisher to reboot Saints Row is at hand. Given the fact that the long awaited return of the king of open world games is only months away, will Deep Silver keep the series on its current path? Or will they reboot it to bring in a new set of fans? Some developers believe the franchise would actually benefit from moving away from the more risqué concepts that have been brought on over the years. As is apparent given the comments made on twitter by Cliffy B:

The SR team is amazing. Dildo holds them back. It’s immature. Make an open world game that’s more Michael Mann/HEAT/Collateral/Training Day.

This new direction to bring in a more mature and cinematic touch to Saints Row could be an interesting touch, but ultimately sounds like it would once again move it closer to being a GTA clone. As GTA has really been the more successful of the two at working within a more dark underworld crime setting, to take the plunge back against Take 2’s heavy hitter and forgo the things that sustained Saints Row through 3 games, seems to bite that hand that fed it.

An evolution of the series is a given, but as we have already skydived naked, interacted with pornstars, used dildo bats, and an array of other less than reputable acts, where do we go from here? That really is the question that will prove if Saints Row’s ability to pull in an audience is simply because of its wow factor, or if it was the solid controls, and great design?

Well, given the comments made by Jason Rubin in 2012, that the team behind Saints Row should move away from making something that could be considered “embarrassing”, we could just see that from the next installment of the series. Whether this means that the series will take a darker tone, or just reserve the dildos for other uses, we will have to wait and see. My take on the matter is that the series could actually benefit from moving its ability to push boundaries of acceptable content, to actually furthering the depth and reality of storytelling. Namely, the atrocious realities that we face almost daily seem to be beyond the grasp of normal developers, but for a series that has already extended its reach, we could take on much more mature concepts.

Seb: There have only been 3 Saints Rows – all of which were released over a very short time period – yet, the franchise is still trying to find its groove. It’s clear that THQ and Volition were experimenting with different levels of extremeness, silliness and rudeness to try to work out what was best.

The Third was a mistake – they didn’t do it right. I have nothing against swinging a big dildo around (hell, even Sony loves a good dildo), but “Over-the-top” should be a plot description, not the entire script. It felt as if their concept meeting was based on going down to the nearest Kindergarten and giving children a bunch of toys and writing down what happens:

“Chuh, chuh, chuh… BOOM! Neeeooow, da da da. Cpow. Firetruck! Blam”

A plot can be crazy and no-holds-barred, without utterly devolving into a collection of one-liners that would be blasted in any other medium (not for being sexist or racist, but just unoriginal), and big explosions, all strung together across a lifeless city. There can be tons of irreverent humor, but it shouldn’t hamper a game’s quality.

Going too serious isn’t the answer, of course – they’ve always been the triple espresso to Rockstar’s single shot – and now that’s going to be even more of a problem with GTA V finally coming out. GTA V is undoubtedly going to sell astronomically well, and a lot of people who play it will have their open-world itch scratched for another few years (plus there’s sure to be hefty DLC).

But just trying to see how stupid they can make it and how much free publicity they can get from lame controversy is not the way to outdo GTA. It’s becoming more and more like an actual sandbox, not a game. It’s what happens when people mess around in PC games and release mods with everything turned up to maximum. Fun at first, but ultimately hollow.

The good news for Deep Silver is, however, that GTA V is sticking to this gen. Bring out Saints Row 4 early on in the PS4 and 720’s lifecycle, and they have a good chance at capturing a huge audience of new gamers, as well as old ones who are curious to see what can be done on the new specs. Of course, it might be a little embarrassing when GTA V looks better than it…

It’s hard to predict what Deep Silver will do, they have such a small track-record after-all, but their marketing of Dead Island shows they are not scared of controversy. That’s good, games shouldn’t be censored due to fears of upsetting people. But, equally, controversy shouldn’t be courted and sought out just because of its sales benefits.

Keep the dildos, but use them right.

Are you a fan of Saints Row? Do you love to beat people up with your purple weapon? Or do you long for a bit of depth instead of just girth? Let us know your length in the comments below, or see if you can measure up against Seb and Dan on twitter.

Be sure to email DR ideas, podcast comments and pics of your favorite dildos to [email protected].