The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

If you enjoy stylish visuals, fast-paced combat, and over-the-top violence, then The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile will definitely put a grin on your face. It features two different characters, a nice carnage-filled campaign, as well as plenty of extra modes to keep you hacking and slashing. Despite its age (the game was initially released on Xbox 360 back in 2011), Vampire Smile still has what it takes to satisfy fans of the genre.

Gameplay: The game is fast, fluid, and very, very violent.

Graphics: The visuals are stylish, but the art style might not appeal to everyone.

Sound: The soundtrack and sound effects are a perfect match for the action

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The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile

Developer: Ska Studios | Publisher: Ska Studios | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Action / Hack & Slash / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Dedicated PC gamers may or may not know this, but in 2009, a violent hack-and-slash title named The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai took the Xbox 360’s Live Arcade by storm. It featured an unnamed protagonist taking on an army of enemies and disposing of them gruesomely. The game’s popularity spawned a sequel two years later in 2011, once again for the Xbox Live Arcade. It wasn’t until 2017 that PC gamers finally had the opportunity to take the game for a spin.

It seems to be an odd choice to release Vampire Smile for PC without its predecessor, but the story is so over the top and crazy that we are not sure it would really have made much of a difference. While the Dishwasher is still available to carve his way through enemies, players can now also play as “The Prisoner.” Having lost her arm and evidently her sanity as well, she is on a mission for vengeance and will let nothing stand in her way, not even the Dishwasher. In terms of the broader storyline, it appears that the first game’s events have pretty much left Earth in shambles, so the action has headed to the moon. The Prisoner was framed for what happened on Earth, but one dodgy deal with an evil entity later, and she’s back to take her revenge on the corrupt leaders of the lunar society. Playing as the Dishwasher reveals more of the story, but no matter which character you pick, you can expect a lot of weirdness.

Vampire Smile was a good-looking game on Xbox 360 and used its graphic novel inspired aesthetic to great effect. Despite the six-year wait, the 2D visuals still look pretty good on PC, and the mixture of blacks and grays with splashes of red makes for a striking game. Some players might argue that the backgrounds are a little sparse in detail, but once the combat kicks off, this is a blessing. The last thing you want is for the backgrounds to distract you from the absolute carnage of combat. Occasionally, the game does throw a couple of visual surprises your way, such as a boss battle with 8-bit visuals and a text adventure section. Each character also has their own little pet that follows them around, and these critters are a neat touch. The cutscenes that pop up at the start of each level feature the same hand-drawn art style as the rest of the game, and overall, the visuals aged well.

Where Vampire Smile shines is the animations, most of which are dedicated to showing all the gory ways in which to dispose of your foes.

Your enemies, which range from zombies and cyborgs all the way to undead sharks with mechanical legs, put up a decent fight, but when they go down, it’s a sight to behold. Whether you are bashing their brains out against a wall or the floor or decapitating them with a giant pair of scissors, nobody is spared in this game. Of course, you need to soften your opponents up a bit first with your regular and heavy attacks before finishing them off in a geyser of blood, but this just makes it even more satisfying.

Vampire Smile focuses on combat, so while there is a bit of exploring, you’ll mostly be locked in rooms with enemies determined to murder you. They also don’t adhere to the rules of movie combat, so instead of attacking one by one in an orderly fashion, they will throw everything they have at you. Whether this is fists, knives, swords, chainsaws, or rockets, you’ll need quick reflexes to retaliate. Thankfully, your characters have a couple of advantages when it comes to combat. Firstly, enemies can injure each other, so if you are agile enough, you can let your enemies do half of the work for you. Secondly, you have a convenient dash move at your disposal, allowing you to dodge almost everything. The result is fast-paced combat where your character zips around the screen like a bee on meth while eviscerating anyone foolish enough to get within grabbing range. You have a ton of combos at your disposal, and there is no limit to your dashing, so the rules of gravity might as well not exist.

With such a focus on bloody carnage, it should be no surprise that both The Dishwasher and The Prisoner can arm themselves to the teeth. The Prisoner has wisely decided to replace her missing limb with a chainsaw to supplement the sword she gets from the first boss after tearing him to shreds with her claws. These are not her only weapons either, as she can gain access to everything from a giant sword to a massive needle over the course of the game. The same goes for The Dishwasher, who starts with his trusty Shift Blade but can also acquire a giant pair of scissors called the Guillotine, cleavers, and most bizarrely of all, a squirt gun with an electric toaster attachment. Characters can quickly swap between two different load-outs, so you can access four weapons at a time, not counting your firearms. As if this was not enough, each character can perform magic, and you gain access to up to four spells to help you turn the tide of battle.

When you are not murdering everyone in sight, you can run around and search for the hidden “beads” that can be equipped for passive boosts. There are 30, but you can only equip four at a time. These beads can bestow anything from regenerating health in combat to buffs against certain enemies or attacks, so they are well worth seeking. You’ll also run into vendor bots that can be used to buy food items for healing or to upgrade your weapons, health, and magic. You’ll need to choose carefully, though, as the money you earn from defeating enemies can quickly run out, and there’s never enough for everything. Occasionally, you’ll find a guitar or violin, which activates a guitar-hero-style mini-game that rewards you with more coins if you are good.

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is not an easy game, but it has a couple of difficulty settings to choose from if you struggle. There’s even a “Pretty Princess” difficulty that unlocks if you die repeatedly in the same section. Playing in this difficulty is vastly easier, but you’ll have to endure visuals that are a lovely shade of pink and get used to an abundance of hearts floating around. Switching difficulties requires starting from scratch, so it’s worth persevering even if you struggle. At least the game allows you to continue from the same room where you perished.

The game’s campaign mode kept us busy for a few hours, and although the routes are the same for The Prisoner and The Dishwasher, it’s still worth playing through both. Not only are their fighting styles different, but you’ll also get a different perspective on the story. The Prisoner campaign is definitely the strongest as she experiences a lot of nightmares and hallucinations that are absent from the Dishwasher campaign. Completing both campaigns still leaves you with a lot of content as the game also features survival mode, where you try to stay alive for as long as possible, and a 50-level arcade mode. The latter is the most fun, as each level is a small room where you have to take down foes while helped or hindered by rules such as instant kills, a countdown timer, or only being able to use specific weapons.

The audio in the game is a great match for the visuals, but all the text takes the form of speech bubbles, so there is no voice acting. The best way to play the game is with a controller, as dodging is mapped to the right analog stick, which feels very intuitive. Vampire Smile doesn’t have many options, so you can only adjust the resolution, set the SFX and BGM levels, turn Vsync on or off, and pick whether you want red or black blood. We encountered no technical issues or crashes while playing the game and completed both campaigns without a hitch.

It’s a pity that Vampire Smile took so long to reach the PC, but it was more than worth the wait if you are a fan of hack-and-slash games. The action in this game is fast-paced, and every one of the boss fights is memorable. The massive list of combos and different weapons keep the combat from becoming stale, and most enemies are deadly enough that you can’t afford to become complacent. Of course, you can drop the difficulty down and enjoy a more mindless hack-and-slash experience. If you missed out on this game when it was first released on console, then you’ll definitely want to check it out on PC.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows Vista
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz or equivalent
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.0+ support (2.1 with ARB extensions acceptable)
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: SDL_GameController devices fully supported
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.2+ support
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: SDL_GameController devices fully supported
  • OS: Lion 10.7.5
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz or equivalent
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.0+ support (2.1 with ARB extensions acceptable)
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: SDL_GameController devices fully supported
  • OS: Latest macOS Release
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.2+ support
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: SDL_GameController devices fully supported
  • OS: glibc 2.15+, 32/64-bit. S3TC support is NOT required.
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz or equivalent
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.0+ support (2.1 with ARB extensions acceptable)
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: SDL_GameController devices fully supported
  • OS: glibc 2.15+, 32/64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.2+ support
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: SDL_GameController devices fully supported

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