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The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile Review

Richard Naik's picture

I was a Cyborg Ninja Assassin

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile Screenshot

HIGH: Finally beating a particularly nasty wave of bad guys in the second-to-last level.

LOW: Realizing that the strategy for every single enemy is "warp behind them, then attack."

WTF: The text RPG boss.

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is very stylish. The swordsmanship is slick as can be, and the dark, brooding visuals do a great job illustrating the dystopia of the game's world. When I started the game, I was convinced that I was in for a genuine treat. Sadly, that feeling evaporated after the first hour or so. Vampire Smile has very little depth under all that window dressing.

Vampire Smile, the follow-up to 2009's The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, follows two ninjas that are out for revenge of some sort. I think. The intermittent comic book cut-scenes, while very well illustrated, are extremely vague and never really gave me a concrete idea of what I was doing. Basically there's some evil business going down with some cyborgs, and it's up to the ninja hero/heroine to stop....whatever it is. Something is going on, but I'm not quite sure what.

Once past aesthetics, even if they're very good aesthetics, there isn't much left.

Vampire Smile is a basic 2D hack n' slash button masher with repetition oozing out of its appropriate orifice. Oh, and there's lots and lots of blood coming out of that orifice too. Hack n' slash gameplay is by no means a bad thing in and of itself, but there's no depth here. The levels are all closed-in rooms indistinguishable from each other save for a few setpieces, making them a perfect setting for all of the fights against indistinguishable enemies.

The simplicity becomes incredibly glaring. The game changes very little after the first level, with the exception of the ever increasing amounts of enemies per encounter. Even the new weapons I steadily acquired didn't break the monotony. Vampire Smile is button mashing in its purest and most unadulterated form, as my thumbs can attest to. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say I was playing a less varied 2D version of the recent Ninja Gaiden games.

The bosses were particularly disappointing, as I was hoping they'd be the game's saving grace since the way to my heart is through a good boss battle. (Or through my ribcage. One of the two.) Anyway, there are plenty of big baddies that provide an opportunity for more creative fights, but these chances are wasted since all of them (except one) can be defeated by using a warp move to get behind them and then ninja-ing the living crap out of them. Using the same strategy over and over and over and over and over and over again gets very old, very fast.

Since every level is practically the same and even the bosses can be beaten with the same strategy, the only thing left for the game to throw at the player is increasing amounts of enemies. The vast majority of fights can be tackled by using the same warp strategy I mentioned above, so progressing feels a lot more like a chore than it should. The minions kept piling on as I pushed through the game, and instead of any sense of progression there was just more and more frustration. Being difficult is just fine, but I need to feel like I'm earning something for going through all of this.

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is a game I really want to like, and I think with some more attention to level/enemy design this could be morphed into a winner. However, in its current form it's so shallow I just don't see the appeal in it. The only things it truly has to offer are some pretty weapon animations, lots of blood, and a certain feeling of old-school masochism. Fans of hand cramp-inducing button mashing or extensive weapon combos might find a lot to like here, but for everyone else there's just a pretty face and some scattered body parts. Rating: 5.0 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 6 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 1 time on normal difficulty) and no time in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains violence, blood, and gore. If my descriptions weren't clear enough, there's blood and body parts all over this game. No kids.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You should be fine. There are no spoken lines, and all relevant information is conveyed through text.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360  
Developer(s): Ska Studios  
Series: The Dishwasher  
Genre(s): Arcade   Super Powers  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Reviewer needs more time and to challenge himself further.

6 hours of gameplay in just the single player and only 1 time through each is nowhere near enough to really get to grips with the scale of this game. It is New Game + so your pickups carry over and you find new things to keep. Co op adds a different depth to play and a different story, 50 levels of arcade set you up with challenging situations in which you can improve various areas of your combat. You can take these abilities into the Dishwasher Challenge where the most precise players will strive for that perfect combo.

Game reviewers play a lot of games so I expect them to be on higher settings to fully experience the challenge. Normal is a very low difficulty so enemies will be far too weak, slow, few and predictably easy to exploit. If you dont challenge yourself half the fun is gone and it is bound to feel easy and repetitive.

Warp behind attack is a hard habit to get out of but it isn't the only strategy you can use and it's harder to do consistently if youre on the right difficulty setting. Certain weapons provide invincibilty frames in certain moves and timed right you can attack an enemy with much harder blows from the front and challenge yourself. One thing I like about the game so much is that has the capacity for the "Pretty Princesses" as the game calls the hilarious lower difficulty (even high skill players need to try once, its almost a different game)Then for the combo hungry higher skill Samurai and Ninja players they can mix it up a lot more (and they will have to). Warp behind doesnt always leave you in a good position to keep the combo going and much of this games focus is on getting high scores and big combos so you will need to have many more methods in your arsenal as enemies will dodge and counter and shoot you in the air or on the ground. It isnt just about killing the bosses and getting through it, the art is in how you do it.

I must have played for 20 hours and I am only just brushing the surface of what this game has to offer. Real reviewers need to challenge themselves and they need to play EVERY mode at least once and the stories at least 2 times. It is a shame they get such little time to really experience the game properly. This reviewer sounded like he was playing to hit the deadline rather than trying to actually enjoy the game (normal setting and repeating his tactic just to get through it)

It doesnt do the game justice, nor does it capture the real essence of the game. Reviewers have to be given more time to enjoy and to gain a fuller perspective that the demo cant give players. This is in no way saying the reviewer is rubbish, he picked up on some things other reviewers havnt but he needs more time with the game to experience it all in a more challenging perspective as the game is meant to be. He has not been able to talk in depth about the whole game.

Maybe reviewers should have initial impression reviews and then a couple of weeks after release they can update with more depth their more learned open views to the whole game and its mechanics. James Silva is one of the games industries true auteurs and this game isnt just a game, its a piece of moving art constantly changing and dancing around.

So, wait, now reviewers are

So, wait, now reviewers are supposed to play through games twice and through each difficulty mode? I guess we missed the memo on that. It's a nice idea (actually, no it's not -- no one needs to play through a shit game multiple times to know it's shit, nor do they need to play through every difficulty of a great game to know it's good), but it's not very practical.

Developers, on the other hand, should be ensuring that players get roughly the same experience on each difficulty level. It's not the reviewer's duty to spend 300 hours running through each difficulty on Mass Effect -- it's Bioware's duty to make sure that regardless of which difficulty level the player chooses he/she gets the same kind of experience from the game. Normal should be a perfectly acceptable setting for any game. By it's name it implies that it's the median setting, the one designed for the masses. If normal doesn't give a player the full experience, it's not the player's fault -- it's the designer's. Expecting anyone to devote the time to multiple playthroughs on different difficulty settings for a review is pure insanity.

No not through every

No not through every difficulty mode all the way through thats dumb. You can always change difficulty you know.

"Developers need to ensure players get the same experience on each difficulty level" What? Do you understand what difficulty levels are for and what changes in order for them to be levels? Of course the experience will never be the same on each level that is the point! My friend hasnt played games long so she plays on easy while I would play on hard to get the same experience because I am more experienced and practiced. The AI behaves differently, the damage changes, the speed of combat will change. This is what difficulty levels are for. You cant tell me that Pretty Princess level on this game should be the same experience for seasoned gamers as Samurai level. That would defeat the point in levels totally.

I dont expect reviewers to play 300 hours. I expect them to play the game to its fullest and touch on every mode though. My point is not that this reviewer wasnt doing his best. It is that he was likely unable to really explore the game because of a deadline. It is clearly stated how much of the game he has played and it simply is not enough to write a responsible review which is not just based on an initial impression which is bound to force rash opinions of the game. In turn not fully doing the game justice and resulting in ignorant people like you to call the game shit when you probably havnt even touched it.

A reviewers main responsibility is to play the game to its fullest in order to give a rational opinion. In this case there are 3 story modes and he played just 1. There are 6 difficulties (including Speed Run setting) and he is a seasoned gamer who played on 1 setting which was normal. In that situation the AI is not going to be challenging for someone who plays games for a job.

By all means speed through the stories on normal if you like to get the stories but give another setting a go so that you can understand the gameplay to your level. The fact he was pulling off a warp behind repeatedly shows that he was on too low a setting for his skill and experience in games. You cannot be of the opinion a game is repetitive and unchallenging if you ONLY play on normal setting! Gameplay cannot be judged unless you get a scale of the difficulty at the very least. You CANNOT resort to a warp behind method all the time if you play any higher than normal.If someone thinks theyre a normal player but they understand they can get away with easy methods then its time to step it up a level.

@Goatbot

First, I was not under any sort of pressure or deadline from anyone to get this review out. I played at my own pace.

Second, a full playthrough on normal (or whatever the default is) difficulty should provide the full experience. If it doesn't, that's on the game and not the player. If I want more then it's there for me, but I obviously wasn't interested in replaying a game that I wasn't very fond of, and I shouldn't have to do that to get the "full experience". I finished the game on the baseline setting-that's enough.

Third, I did actually sample the other campaign, and it was exactly the same as what I had already played, so it wasn't noteworthy.

Fourth, I never said the game wasn't challenging-in fact I specifically mention some harder parts in the later levels. It's not cripplingly difficult, but it isn't a pushover either. The problem is that it creates challenge in a very cheap way by just throwing more and more of the same kinds of enemies at me, instead of different types of enemies or more creative/harder levels. It's just lazy design. Upping the difficulty doesn't make any difference at all when there's that kind of fundamental flaw.

the only situation I can

the only situation I can imagine where I would replay a game at a higher difficulty level would be one where I SO enjoyed the game, yet felt I wasn't really challenged. (Mass Effect 2......)

I do not replay a game that I felt was dull and unimaginative on normal difficulty. Agree with Richard and Mike - if a game is not interesting at normal difficulty, then there's something wrong with the game.

Goat, you could have posed the argument that the highest difficulty was the way to approach this game, which would have convinced me of positive aspects of the game, rather than rhetorically going after Richard Naik for "not doing his job properly", which only convinces me that you are trying to encourage negative responses.

To convince: debate the opinion, not the person.
Peace.

1st I would like to thank

1st I would like to thank you for your response. Reviewers very rarely discuss any further their views.

I am very suprised that you will give a game only 1 play on normal difficulty on 1 mode. It seemed from your writing there were very rash responses based on a very initial opinion.

As a reviewer it is your job to get the fuller experience. You cant seriously tell me that it is ok to review a game by not reviewing it in full and at the right level of gameplay for you. It doesnt matter one tiny bit whether they arent enjoying it it is the sole responsibility of their job. Playing every mode, checking gameplay changes between settings, find out about hidden features. You're not ready to do this yet you have the gall to say this game has "lazy" design with regards to difficulty? I played on Normal then stepped up to Ninja and am now on Samurai difficulty, the number of enemies hasnt "increased with difficulty", they have changed to be sharper reacting, more agile, defend more responsively and hit harder. Advanced strategies and mechanics come into play here with invincibility frames and dash and grab cancels. Fighting game veterans will understand this depth of gameplay a little more. In no way does this game have "lazy" design, it is designed by 1 guy who built the engine, wrote the coding, designed and animated the characters and levels and even wrote the full soundtrack of 13 full songs and the short mini game guitar solos.

I really dont think you understood the essence of what this game is about. It isnt meant to be an epic story like Mass Effect where you trundle through facing a couple of different enemies. Its an arcade game, its about building combos and getting scores fighting through armies of zombies, robots, ninjas, secret agents, soldiers, giant evil samurai, flying skulls and rocket launching computers and many many other types of enemy I dont even know how to describe because Ive never seen anything like them before. Theres lots of them so you may see more than 1 of each. Even big developers like Bioware, Bungie or Epic dont design thousands of different enemies. What about CoD and Battlefield? Theyre all just soldiers but youre not going to say their enemies arent varied really are you?

The fact there is a story at all is just a bonus. This games substance is built on the combat. You go through the Dishwasher Challenge or through level 36 of arcade mode and tell me you can get a 400 hit combo and 300,000,000 points while only trying to "warp behind enemies". It cannot be done, you have to move and constantly change your approach as enemies dodge, counter and block.

I admittedly did not like The Dishwasher at first. But I remained open minded to try all aspects of the gsme. It took me a little exploration and experimentation in different modes, having done that I was able to build a rational opinion on the things I do and dont like about the game.

So a couple of questions based on what you said:

How would you propose a game change aspects as difficulty settings progress?

Can you name one game with more enemy types than I mentioned? I bet youd be hard pushed to find one. I am honestly willing to check any out that you do consider more varied and would recommend to me.

I am honestly interested in your view. You seem like an understanding and opinionated person.

Ok well thats your view. I

@RandomRob

Ok well thats your view. I respect that. Personally if I find a game is easy and I am getting away with cheap strategies then I will put the difficulty up so that I will enjoy it. You wont have fun if youre not giving yourself a chance of challenge so you wont enjoy the game and you wont want to play it a 2nd time. Thats my perspective anyway.

Just looked at the twitter feed on the side. It looks sort of like my message has been misunderstood a little. Im not trying to attack Richard here. Im just trying to point out that you will not be able validly talk in depth about a game until you have played the game in depth. Sure if you dont like it then ok but people are relying on you for the full picture. If youre not getting it yourself then Im not sure how you can give it. Again thats just an opinion, Im not attacking Richard, I did praise him for picking up on some things a reviewer I saw on Video Game Talk didn't such as the clever design of the text adventure boss. I can see he has potential to be a great reviewer, I just want to give a little constructive feedback in order for him to work on his ability further. I look forward to seeing more of his work and how it develops as time and games move on.

I wonder how many of those people in the twitter feed slating my comment have played the game to be able to stick fully by Richards review.

in depth gaming

Goatbot wrote:

Im just trying to point out that you will not be able validly talk in depth about a game until you have played the game in depth.

gamecritics reviews are always rather short, concise, not really in depth. I like'em, but they are more like a personal experience than a full scale analysis.

There are sites with longer reviews, maybe boring for many and too long to the guidelines of this site but actually i doubt a full depth review is really that easily possible. No one except fans will do it.
Either you like a game and spent happily a few extra hours with it and check all difficulties and modes or you dislike it and you have trouble finishing the campaign once. No gamer will sacrifice his time in testing a game he doesn't like for more than this "first look", the initial campaign. If he lasts even that long.

I hate Civ4 or Bejeweled2. I spent afair 10 hours with them and my only reason to waste so much time was trying to understand the fun others have with those classics. Fans of the game, like you are of Dishwasher, spend dozens or hundreds of hours with those, but i doubt i would have ever found any joy in it.

There are games were in depth gaming can vary my opinion, but hardly turn it 180°. Usually it increases fun because there must be something in it i want to explore, visit every corner, master more challenges, be more satisfied when i'm done after 50 or whatever hours and secondly i get more value for my money. If i hate a game from the beginning i don't want to explore it, no matter how much the money feels wasted.

A true fan might give in depth opinion on the good in a game, like you tried here (thanks) and hopefully also doesn't forget to criticize also the parts that were less enjoyable but the usual "hater", will tell you what players might hate too.
This review here told exactly how much time he spent in the game and what he thought about it. It might not do service to your experience, but others might experience it in the same way.

What about trying to write a review yourself? This site has published divergent reviews before. Talk in depth, though stay within the gc-guidelines. see link on the top for submitting.

@ crackajack

"No gamer will sacrifice his time in testing a game he doesn't like for more than this "first look", the initial campaign. If he lasts even that long."

In writing reviews, Richard isnt just a gamer though is he? He is a reviewer.

To be able call yourself a reviewer comes with a little more responsibility than that of a gamer. I have actually written reviews before and am very aware of what they entail and it is perfectly possible in very short limits to cover your subject in depth. I am sure Richard is perfectly capable of giving in depth reviews but this particular one just wasnt, he covers about 5% of what this particular game entails.

Devs put huge parts of their lives into making their games and its their livelihood. A reviewer is put in a position of trust to cover the whole of their work in general. A dedicated fully credible reviewer who wants improve their skills and reputation, as I am sure Richard aims to be, will find they have put the time in to find out about the source of their article whether they enjoy the subject matter or not and they will provide a general overview of the game with constructive critical feedback not just talk about their dissappointment of 1 mode and mislead people about the depth of the game (Richard wrote "Theres no depth here" such a statement is misleading so I spoke in detail about the depth there is in the game in my comment.)

Sure I am a fan but Im never really ignorant to issues in games I like. All games can improve in certain areas and this one has things that will improve for the next one if there is one. There were a couple of bugs I encountered but nothing seriously broken enough to break the game or make me thing too much less of it. Im a fan of the Crysis franchise but the new one had some very bad bugs and netcode issues and in that instance I didnt like the latest release but I still like the series and the ideas.

@ Richard

Again here I am not saying you are bad, I am just trying to give you a little constructive input on areas in which your reviews can improve while speaking from my own experience. I do hope you will take it on board and look for ways to continue building on your already capable review skills even further.

Do you have any answer for the 2 questions I posted? Im interested to hear your views on these.

Frankly, I don't think the

Frankly, I don't think the reviewer played any more than a demo of this game or the first or second level. I've finished both campaigns and arcade mode as well and every single thing he said in his review is completely false. I'd even go so far as to say that I don't even think he played this game at all.

Bosses have plenty of variety and so do enemies. They are NOT indistinguishable. They all look different and they all have different attack patterns and weaknesses. The game does more than just throw more at you to try and challenge you. Also, button mashing = death in this game, especially in Arcade mode or Samurai difficulty. That dash behind the enemy nonsense he talks about is not the only technique you need in this game as his review implies as there will always be someone waiting to stab you in the back after you do a dash move, or shoot you from afar, or drop on top of you from above. Attacks are constantly coming at you from every direction in this game.

Also, this game has one of the simplest stories I've ever seen. If you can't comprehend it....well, I don't really know what to say about that.

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