Saints Row review: This open-world reboot is Grand Theft Adequate

“Saints Row is a wonderfully high quality open-world game. Just don’t expect any surprises, because the reboot lacks much character.”


  • Excellent customization
  • Strong solid
  • Competent open-world design


  • Lacks ambition
  • Dated mission design
  • No surprises

Where do you’re taking a series once it jumps the shark repeatedly? It is a query the creators of TV shows like Completely happy Days, The Simpsons, and The Office have asked themselves after years of constant escalation and is an issue game developer Volition handled while crafting the brand new Saints Row. The Saints Row series became increasingly ridiculous over time until Saints Row IV capped things off with the addition of superpowers and a DLC set in Hell. While Volition needed to seek out a method to top itself once more with a reboot featuring a latest story, solid, and city, it didn’t. As a substitute, it settled for making Saints Row perfectly adequate.

Despite innovating in small ways, Saints Row is a protected open-world game. While that’s perfectly high quality for those searching for one other sandbox adventure to sink time into, its quaintness feels antithetical to the series’ wacky status. Saints Row is thought for being loud, bombastic, and unconventional. So why am I mostly stuck doing tedious motion and open-world checklist objectives? Volition desired to get in contact with the series’ roots, but after you’ve jumped the shark so persistently and the industry has moved on, this reserved approach makes Saints Row feel like an antiquity.

Stuck previously

For the reason that series began, Saints Row games have been crime-focused open-world motion games with a comedic edge. Players customize their very own character and explore a big city as they drive around and get in gunfights with enemies across bombastic set piece after bombastic set piece. Saints Row is not any different. Linear story missions see players forming the Saints and leaving their mark by asserting dominance over all the other factions in Santo Ileso.

Between missions, players can explore the open world, completing Side Hustles for money, establishing Criminal Ventures to expand the Saints’ criminal empire, and causing some mayhem for civilians in between. While Santo Ileso is expansive and colourful, it doesn’t feel very full of life, with probably the most interesting interaction all the time happening in predetermined side missions or objectives that can mark off a bullet point in your objective checklist. It’s a formula you’ve seen before, and Saints Row executes it seamlessly and provides the form of sandbox fun this genre of game is thought for.

If that description sounds flavorless, that’s since it is. While Saints Row isn’t a poorly made or super-glitchy open-world game, it also doesn’t do anything that special. Although which means fans can have a great time living out their criminal dreams, it makes the experience feel like an underwhelming one next to the wacky lineage of its predecessors.

The Saints outside of a convenience store.

Not ridiculous enough

The Saints Row series stands out since it was often willing to be much more irreverent than Grand Theft Auto. The third game starts with a beloved character being killed before a freefall into Steelport as Kanye West blares within the background. Meanwhile, the fourth game sees players turn out to be the president before they’re trapped in an alien simulation and must stop them with superpowers.

When you’ve played Saints Row for an hour or two, nothing the sport does will surprise you again.

In rebooting the series, Volition reeled that “ridiculousness” consider. Saints Row is a more grounded experience following 4 friends as they create the Saints gang from scratch in Santo Ileso, a latest city based on Las Vegas. It’s speculated to feel like a fresh start for the series, but winds up being a cookie-cutter open-world romp that fails to live as much as its predecessors though it rarely does anything outright bad.

Adventuring around Saints Row’s open-world feels straight out of the early 2010s as players have a listing of scattered side objectives to finish between mainline, linear story missions. This formula worked for the old Saints Row games and leads to this latest game being a passable adventure for those searching for a generic open-world experience. It just never engaged me on a deeper level due to its dated feel and lack of variety. It falls back on generic shootouts and antiquated and frustrating set pieces like turret sections, instant-fail stealth, and escort missions.

Co-op Saints Row players shoot at enemies.

An excessive amount of repetition

Even in comparison with the likes of Grand Theft Auto V, Saints Row quickly gets repetitive. Almost every Mission, Side Hustle, or Criminal Enterprise boils all the way down to either driving a vehicle from point A to point B, mowing down hordes of enemies with guns and special perks gained by leveling up, or a mix of the 2. When you’ve played Saints Row for an hour or two, nothing the sport does will surprise you again. The one time gameplay really changes up is with the Insurance Fraud minigame where players toss themselves in front of cars for money, but even that isn’t an original idea.

Since Saints Row IV released, games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Sable, and Elden Ring redefined what open-world games might be. They’ve expansive worlds that always surprise the player and encourage them to explore and connect with the experience. Saints Row doesn’t take notes from those games and even get as odd as Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV did, so getting through the sport is a reasonably clinical experience even in the event you’ll never outright hate playing it.

The developers even seem self-aware on this issue. One mission follows the Saints as they fight different team-building activities, but each activity keeps devolving right into a shootout. It’s played for satirical laughs, but its emblematic of the sport’s very real lack of objective variety. Crafting that mission should’ve been a red flag that the sport needed to get more creative, but as an alternative serves as an in-game condemnation of Saints Row‘s dated structure.

The Boss shooting at police in Saints Row.

Custom creations

One place where Saints Row does stand out is in its vehicle and character customization, which you’ll be able to already try within the free-to-download Boss Factory. There are various unique options to craft your playable character, whether or not it’s with body shapes, clothes they wear, or textures. Players may design themselves asymmetrically, cementing themselves as a genre leader on this area.

The character customization can also be where Saints Row gets the zaniest. A few of my favorite moments playing the sport were once I discovered I could play as characters like Squidward, Shaggy, The Rock, and The Joker after which spent a while causing mayhem around Santo Ileso as them. If Volition had provided players more tools to create wacky scenarios while actually playing the sport, then Saints Row might need been an exponentially higher experience.

As a substitute, players must experience the linear narrative Saints Row follows. It is a complete reboot of the series, featuring a solid of brand-new characters who’re all struggling millennials that form the gang after getting kicked out of the organizations that run Santo Ileso. Outside of the player character, who’s as trigger-happy and quippy as ever, the Saints Crew consists of the investment-minded Eli, automotive mechanic and driver Neenah, and the well-connected and eternally shirtless Kevin.

“Saints Row isn’t an ambitious game in any way.”

Neenah and Kevin are the actual standouts of this latest group as they’ve probably the most interesting backstories and loyalty missions. Over time, I got here to love this latest group of Saints, even when their character designs are more muted. None of them feel quite as iconic as Johnny Gat, Shaundi, or Kinze Kensington yet, however it’s price remembering that those characters didn’t turn out to be iconic overnight. Fans had time to fall in love with them over time; hopefully, this latest solid will get the identical opportunity. I’d also like to see this latest solid interact with the old one. Perhaps some multiverse shenanigans are so as?

The story of Saints Row is about being the master of your individual fate and the way having friends and letting others in is essential, even in the event you’re a flawed individual. While that’s not a really profound message and the plot is predictable, you don’t come to Saints Row games for an emotional The Last of Us-like story. The brand new characters are endearing, and the writing is filled with lighthearted humor that never crosses the road to turn out to be annoying (see: Borderlands 3). In consequence, Saints Row’s story is an enjoyable backdrop to formulaic open-world gameplay that it’s mostly disconnected from.

Neenah swings on a chain in Saints Row.

Weird is best than boring

From story to gameplay, Saints Row is on no account bad, however it’s also nothing grand. It’s only a project that lacks any real ambition. It seems like an open-world game that might’ve come out in 2014 and pushes the boundaries of the genre lower than the 2 games that preceded it. Personally, I’d slightly a game be super weird or super terrible slightly than not surprise me in any way.

I understand why Volition desired to attempt to get back in contact with the more grounded feeling of the primary two games within the series, but because nothing takes the place of what was removed, beating Saints Row left me feeling unfulfilled even when I never hated my time with it. That is the one Saints Row game that never really jumps the shark ultimately, so it feels milquetoast, clinical, and nothing greater than perfectly adequate throughout. Those are adjectives that feel alien for a series with such a definite voice.

Our take

Saints Row doesn’t do loads terribly unsuitable outside of just a few frustrating objectives. It also doesn’t stand out as particularly strong in any category aside from character customization. After eight years and years of innovation within the open-world genre, the tame reboot feels stuck previously, even when it’s an easily digestible and fun open-world adventure.

Is there a greater alternative?

You’ve probably already played Grand Theft Auto V, but I’d also recommend the Mafia series and Watch Dogs series for similar open-world experiences. Saints Row 2, Saints Row: The Third Remastered, and Saints Row IV: Re-Elected are all available through PlayStation Plus Premium, so you’ll be able to all the time replay those.

How long will it last?

Clearing the story mode should take around 10 to 12 hours, but when you ought to complete every Criminal Enterprise, Side Hustle, and other objectives around Santo Ileso, this game could easily last 20 hours.

Do you have to buy it?

Yes. Saints Row is a high quality game in the event you’re searching for a by-the-numbers open-world adventure to tide you over as the autumn release season ramps up. Don’t sweat it in the event you find yourself missing this game, though.

Digital Trends reviewed Saints Row on Xbox One.

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