The critic reviews for the Saints Row reboot have been revealed, to an overwhelming… mostly lukewarm indifference.
On Metacritic, the game has an average Metascore of 67 at this time of writing based on platforms with four or more critic reviews (PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S). Open Critic doesn’t fair much better, with an average score of 67%, and only 48% of critics recommending the game.
VGC opened their 2 out of 5 review with “Our overwhelming takeaway after finishing Saints Row was how badly the open-world genre needs Grand Theft Auto VI. How the genre is so past the point of relevance that it needs the flag bearer for the open-world action game to once again provide the roadmap forward.”
Only praising the character creator and lighting, VGC’s cons included “Woeful technical problems throughout”, “Utterly uninspired open-world blandness”, “Rotten shooting,” and was “Dated to the point of parody.”
They concluded “It’s a below average open world game that’s stuffed to bursting with bugs, and the best thing we can say about it is that making our Tobias Fünke-inspired character crouch over and do the w—ker gesture while he walked down the street made us laugh. Probably not quite worth the price of admission.”
IGN gave it a 6 out of 10, and a similar conclusion to VGC. “For a game that gives us so much freedom to be exactly who we want to be via its superb customisation options, it’s odd that Saints Row itself struggles to forge its own identity when it comes to the types of wanton criminal activities it makes available to us.”
“There’s definitely no shortage of shallow shoot ‘em up thrills to be had here, but it’s a very familiar and uninspired brand of sandbox fun that’s unlikely to wow anybody who’s played a Saints Row game before, much less a GTA,” they dismiss.
“There are a few spectacular story moments and the city of Santo Ileso serves as a sprawling new playground full of surprisingly antiquated and non-interactive amusements,” IGN absolves, “but the distinct lack of new gameplay ideas – and the frequency with which some of its least interesting ones are reused – means this Saints Row feels more like a repetitive retread than a proper reboot.”
PC Gamer lamented how tame the side-activities were compared to past Saints Row games and “the worst they’ve ever been.” For example, you can drive toxic waste to a dump site and try not to spill it in the reboot (PC Gamer stating it “gets real tedious), while Saints Row 3 had you driving with a live tiger in the passenger seat, which would maul you if you drove too slowly or crashed.
Even the return of fan-favorite Insurance Fraud — hurling yourself into traffic and trying to gain as many collisions as possible as you ragdoll through the air — has been ruined thanks to new physics. “The ragdoll after-touch has been toned down, making it harder to tumble into multiple cars for combos as you flop down the highway like a fish with a death wish,” PC Gamer claim.
Along with lamenting tame activities — such as taking photos — and most of the weapons being realistic unlike the sci-fi and reality-bending gear of past games, PC Gamer admit the game has long stretches without the weirdness that made the Saints Row series. “The knockabout glee of classic Saints Row ultraviolence is here, but held back a little by new-found restraint,” they conclude with a 60 out of 100.
GameSpot details a woeful story of young teens doing crime to pay rent. “Saints Row adopts an anti-capitalist stance and touches on some socially conscious issues throughout its first few hours, with characters bemoaning their crippling student debt and lack of health insurance, while also taking a satirical swipe at toxic corporate culture.”
While they praise mention of these issues making the main characters relatable, the cast soon build their criminal empire and undertake more elaborate crimes. GameSpot praises the cast, but loathed that “the boilerplate story is anti-climactic,” bland criminal ventures, outdated mission design, bugs, and “Shooting is overly finicky and most of the weapons feel superfluous.” Another 6 out of 10.
The Escapist recommended 2014’s Sunset Overdrive over Saints Row — still managing to enjoy the game in spite of being uninspired and featuring a few bugs — while WhatCulture said “Saints Row Gets Almost EVERYTHING Wrong” in its video title alone.
It should be noted there were a decent number of reviews that scored the game above 70%. Game Informer gave 8.5 and, despite having glitches, they conclude “It may not push your new hardware to the limit and is a little rough around the edges, but the latest Saints Row is everything it needs to be, delivering a wonderful comedic experience with plenty of depth.”
“While a little irritating, I was never bored and wanted to see where my team’s goofy antics would take them next. The payoffs are often worth the time investment, and just veering off the beaten path pays dividends. I’m glad the Saints are back, hopefully for another long haul,” Game Informer yearns.
Twinfinite gave it 4 out of 5, and swore that fans of older games would love it. “Overall, anyone who was a fan of the franchise before this will likely still love Saints Row, as the comedy, goofiness, and chaotic gameplay is still at the game’s core. And while I wasn’t a fan of how they went about the story, there’s definetly [sic] some promise in regards to its more grounded focus, as it seems clear this reboot was made to push the series into an interesting new direction.”
Dexerto’s 7 out of 10 was married to their opinion that “Saints Row is everything you’d expect from a new entry into the franchise: It’s full of larger-than-life story beats, a LARPing subplot, oodles of customization, and outlandish Skills to take down your enemies with.”
“While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any means,” Dexerto caveats, “your Boss and their three companions are where this reboot truly shines — and it’s a joy to experience Santo Ileso and all that it has to offer with them.”
Nonetheless, Forbes reported on the overall critic’s reception with the far from subtle headline “‘Saints Row’ Reviews Are Here And They Are Bad.” While the claims of it having “little marketing fanfare” and “one of the worst-reviewing major releases in quite some time” can be debated, the raw numbers don’t lie.
At their time of writing, the Metacritic and Open Critic scores were even lower, respectively giving the recently released title a 59% and 65%. “This is…extremely low in the video game realm, especially for a relatively major release from a franchise with a solid history and decent fanbase,” Forbes admits.
“While stuff in the 70s may still be considered pretty decent, when you’re dipping to the low 60s and high 50s, you have released something with serious issues, be they technical or conceptual,” Forbes claims. “And Saints Row appears to struggle with both.”
This reflects the somewhat rough consensus that games under a 7/10 aren’t worth anyone’s time or money. While a 7/10 might not be for everyone, it may have some niche appeal that some will cherish. Under that, and the game is so flawed, even fans of that niche won’t enjoy it. Some even treat it as a tell-tale sign a reviewing outlet doesn’t want to give a low score, but can’t go higher than that.
Speaking of, another ill tiding are review embargo dates being very close to release. While most would expect review embargoes to lift early, and build up hype for players before launch. Instead, Forbes reports “others with early access have just published their reviews at embargo” one day before the game launches. on August 22nd. Keep your eyes on us as we cover the gamers’ reactions very soon.
What do you think? Let us know on social media and in the comments below!