The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai was a winner of Microsoft’s 2006 Dream Build Play competition. It is very refreshing to see something new brought to the XBLA table, but with so much good that was brought with The Dishwasher a lot of bad comes along in tow.
Dishwasher is your standard beat ‘em up with the artistic twist of its creator, James Silva. You are thrown into an over the top gore fest as you hack and slash your way through countless enemies, who from what the diluted story line gives away, wants to turn you into a Cyborg.
The game has an overall saturated tone in terms of its art and story. The environments are grey, the enemies are grey, the only thing that has color really is the effects, namely blood. While the artistic direction certainly does not detract from Dishwasher’s overall experience it does however give the game a rather boring look.
I did find the levels to be laid out quite well with little rewarding secrets hidden throughout the game. One secret even lets another player aid the Dishwasher as a guitar to which you must actually play with a guitar controller! The enemies in Dishwasher have a lot of variety from Zombies, to jet pack wielding Special Forces, to heavily armed Cyborgs. Each one presents a new challenge with another gruesomely gratifying finishing kill.
This game relies heavily on its artistic vision of blood and gore. As you kill more enemies blood begins to coat the environment. This certainly may appeal to some, but for me I found more gratification come from the game’s somewhat limited co-op.
I found the game’s difficulty absolutely frustrating. So frustrating it no longer was fun for me at a point. Many have said Dishwasher takes from Behemoth’s past works, Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers. It certainly takes Alien Hominid’s ridiculously difficult levels, but Alien Hominid had a balance between those difficulty settings. Easy was easy and Hard was infuriatingly difficult. Alien Hominid had that balance and it was extremely rewarding when you finished that next level on Hard. Dishwasher does not have this balance and the difficulty no longer becomes a rewarding challenge as it becomes a hindrance to the gameplay.
Castle Crashers is most definitely a hack and slash, but two huge things I think it has that Dishwasher does not. For 1, true co-op. The Dishwasher begs for online co-op, which in my opinion really is far more enjoyable. I played the first few levels by myself frustrated and just wanted to stop playing entirely. After getting my kid brother to sit down and play some local co-op with me did I actually start enjoying the game again. Sadly, online is lacking co-op story mode and it is extremely disappointing not seeing story mode an option for online co-op.
Another thing Castle Crashers has is block! Having to roll or teleport around everywhere to avoid being hit is yet another thing builds upon this pile of frustration. Why blocking was not added into the game confuses me as at times rolling away or teleporting is not a viable option for the situation.
I've played my share of challenging games. I know what challenging is and I know what frustrating is. Mega Man 9 is challenging and is certainly frustrating, but it is extremely rewarding when you do finally get a grasp on the levels and are able to kill that next boss. Portions of the Call of Duty games on Veteran are frustrating, but when that helicopter finally came to rescue you in Modern Warfare and you finally realized after you picked up MacMillan you were invincible *smacks forehead*, the reward for Veteran difficulty was extremely satisfying.
Dishwasher lacks this satisfaction. I felt in no way compelled to continue on to the next level just because the level prior was too infuriatingly frustrating. With Easy not really being easy in any way shape or form, the difficulty level started to detract from what I believe to be a solid unique beat ‘em up.
Dishwasher certainly has it’s flaws. The repetitive combat and difficulty settings seem to be harder than Russian roulette with a fully loaded hand gun. The Dishwasher though, still brings something unique as with no predecessor, its something none of us have seen or played before. It's a game that's new to us all and it is extremely refreshing to see such a game released on the XBLA.
Overall the graphics are the first hurdle for all of you on the fence about purchasing. Try out the demo. If the graphics are appealing to you, next try out the other difficulties. If this is something you feel is not an issue then drop the cash on the game. In the end with what the XBLA is populated with, Dishwasher stands out as a unique gem amongst the crowd. For 800 Microsoft points [$10] your money will be well spent putting The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai in your collection.