When news broke about the new Saints Row game, I was, as many others, appalled by what I saw. The graphics were bland, the story seemed laughable, and the main characters did not immediately appeal to me. However, due to some industry contacts, I was able to get a review code of Saints Row (2022) and was able to start playing the game before its official release date (Thanks, Wyatt! You are the best!!). Even though I am pretty busy, I was able to carve out some time and, to be quite frank, I got pretty hooked towards the end, even playing until three or four a.m., which I last did with GTA V. This game impressed me deeply, so I decided to sit down and write down my thoughts on it. The result was a long and very substantial review. Please read it in its entirety, and with an open mind. For calibration, it took me about 20 hours to get 100% of the game’s achievements and afterwards I spent about five hour in the post-game, exploring the game world and replaying some of the engrossing mini games. I am currently halfway through my second playthrough.
The Evolution of Video Games as Male Power Fantasies
Let us start with the basics. Traditionally, video games were a male hobby and they therefore were made to appeal to the male power fantasy. Mario was short, fat, and ugly but still somehow always ended up banging the tall, slim, and super hot Princess Peach. This is essentially porn-caliber writing. As technology improved, so did the appeal of video games for the male gamer. In Castlevania you take on armies of the undead, in Contra you lay waste to armies of robots, and in Ninja Gaiden you are an unstoppable ninja, as the title implies, that can do absolutely everything. These were the 1980s. In the 1990s, the graphics got better and explosions got a lot bigger. This form of escapism now meant that teenage boys were brainwashed to believe that they could wipe out fleets of colossal space ships by moving a lever in an arcade cabinet and tapping on a few buttons.
With the shift to 3D graphics, this only got worse, er, better. Now graphics had a massive oomph behind them, hitherto completely unknown. I am skipping early 3D graphics, which have little appeal, and instead highlight examples of games from the 2000s onwards. In God of War, you kill monsters and Gods from Greek mythology, in Gears of War you take on the ginormous Leviathan, and Doom (2016) has you tear demons apart with your mere hands. Obviously, if you are a man with an insatiable thirst for power, those games were there to serve you, just like all those tatted up big-tittied sluts you pump and dump.
Saints Row (2022) as the Ultimate Power Fantasy
The world has changed a lot in the last ten years. The male power fantasy has evolved. In fact, human biology advanced more in the last few years than in millions of years before, and we are seeing the effects of it. Instead of the nameless pilot of some space ship in a 1990s arcade game, or the testosterone-trenched Kratos in God of War, the modern man has a more realistic outlook on life. He no longer perceives masculinity to be about asserting dominance, climbing status hierarchies, and fucking the hottest sluts he can. No, this is all in the past. The male power fantasy desperately needed a reboot, just like Saints Row needed one, and, as it so happens, those two needs converged, as if by divine intervention, to produce a video game that is the perfect fit for the current year.
Video games were always about power. Yet, it is no longer an expression of power to shoot and kill and loot and destroy. I mean, it kind of is, but the entire nature of power has changed. Quite frankly, there is nothing and nobody in the current year who is more powerful than an intellectually challenged, gender-fluid female who belongs to a racial minority. This is true power in the current year! Forget about Marcus and his Gears of War taking down the Leviathan in a fantasy world. In the real world, the woke take down society and its institutions and you, as you do not belong to this group in the real world, can now live out this power fantasy on the screen. The woke are the most powerful group on the planet and now you, too, can have a taste of it! Thus, Saints Row (2022) has as much to offer to the modern man as more primitive video games such as Gears of War or God of War (the one on PS3, not the Dad of War reboot) or Dead Space had to offer a solid decade ago. Like it or not, Saints Row (2022) is the perfect power fantasy for today.
I have to say that I am a relatively picky gamer. I am quick to dismiss a game when it does not appeal to me instead of trusting anonymous Redditors who tell me that a particular game gets good after sixty hours. My time is too precious to be wasted this way. Yet, Saints Row (2022) is arguably the best video game ever made, and I cherished every second of it. Let us look at the closest competitor in comparison: In GTA IV, the story was a cynical take on the American Dream with a clear conflict. In GTA V, on the other hand, the story was really weak. Somehow, a high-IQ white criminal joins forces with a black gentleman from the hood and a complete lunatic. The game is basically a sequence of set pieces, but it is not coherent. In contrast, Saints Row (2022) has a story you can completely relate to, and a lot more. Let’s dig in!
Saints Row (2022) starts with a character editor. You no longer chose between a male or female character. Instead, there is a slider that is not even labeled. No matter where you move the slider, you end up with a relatively unattractive character, which is great as it powerfully drives home the point that sometimes, the world just wants to screw you over and nothing you can do will change it. Thus, the first few moments of Saints Row (2022) are already deeper than most video games, books, and movies ever could be. It is such a powerful message that I had a hard time not tearing up.
I wanted to manually adjust certain parameters to turn the androgynous creature I was supposed to play with into a somewhat more appealing character, but this was not possible. I could not even give xir a white skin tone. The lightest you can go is some kind of Mexican-brown. Hair colors are similarly restricted, but there is a wide variety of neon colors. You are not going to create a tall, slender, busty, blonde, blue-eyed vixen as this would defeat the powerful message this game wants to send. Also, if you could do that, you would cheat yourself out of the power fantasy the game provides and you surely do not want to do that. If you are playing in order to live out your power fantasies to the full, you should create a female character, of course.
The Riveting Story of Saints Row (2022)
After you have created your character, which will look unfuckable no matter what you do, you find yourself walking out of a sex change clinic. Some mysterious donor paid for you to have your sexual organs cut off, but now you need a constant supply of meds as well as follow-up visits to a doctor, a shrink, and your local drug dealer. Due to no fault of your own, you suddenly need to earn money. This is highly intelligent commentary on the capitalist system as we cannot just live in harmony with nature. Instead, we need to acquire a made up unit of exchange to get access to live-saving products and services. It really is a brutal system we live in, and I am grateful for Saints Row (2022) for pointing this out.
In the game, you can apply for a few jobs but, unlike in the real world where diversity hires are shoo-ins, in Saints Row (2022) you cannot get a proper job. Thus, you need to steal, rob, loot, and kill to make a living. There is no other way, unfortunately, and if society puts you in such a bad position, well, what else can you do?
Your first missions consist of robbing a few white guys in the banking district. In an engrossing cut scene, your character muses about the difficulties of making a living this way as those people just do not have enough money on them and it is too much effort to rob and stealma. As you do that, a lesbian, a black guy, and a cucked mestizo gather around you and ask you if they can help you in any way. At this point, the camera shows the face of your character, which smirks. The screen pauses and, with a bang, the powerful title melody of Saints Row blast out of your speakers. This is the real start of Saints Row. You would not believe it, but those mad lads really licensed the Village People’s cult hymn YMCA. The screen gets drenched in rainbow colors and the real game starts.
Hyper-realistic World Building in Saints Row (2022)
It would have been very short-sighted had the game only sent you on a wild goose chase to get money for the ongoing hormone replacement meds of the protagonist. After a day or two of in-game time, the two moms or two dads of your character — this is decided at random during character creation, as I learned directly from one of the developers on one of the many fan channels of this game on Discord — surprises you with the bad news of a letter from FannyFay, the in-game government agency that administers student loans. Your character has a Master’s in Ethnic Studies and now needs to pay back $100,000, and there is interest to pay, too.
After the real story has been properly set up, the game lets you and your jolly gang loose on the game world and, man, is it fun! Let me highlight some aspects. Overall, the world depicts a majority-minority utopia. You see a few whites in grocery stores, which you can rob, there are a bunch of white bankers, and then you will encounter gangs of white criminals. In contrast, our black brethren are depicted as smart and hard-working, and thus present an aspirational image that has the power of propelling weed-smoking Tyrone from welfare dependency to a solid six-figure income.
For navigation, you use a smart phone. Updates come via a Twitter clone, which showcases the excellent humor of the writers. A running gag is a Trump-inspired politician who is shown giving boastful speeches in almost empty venues. If you refresh this fake-Twitter feed a few times, you will come across videos in which fake-Trump gets beaten up by a mob, shat on by a dove, or attacked by a pit bull. All of this is done in a really tasteful way. There was one seemingly shocking and tasteless clip were fake-Trump gets torn apart by three pit bulls but the smart black guy then quips, “Ayo, don’tcha get ya hopes up, homie. Das a deep fayke!”
Speaking of humor, the voice work is stellar. In one mission you break into the home of a priest who, as you learned, is a prepper and and also stores a lot of hard currency at home. This is played out in a torture scene similar to the infamous one with Trevor in GTA V. The one in Saints Row (2022) is more evolved, though, as the entire gang takes part and the black character frequently, and always at exactly the right moment for best effect, utters, “daym!” It is wonderfully subtle humor that is not in the slightest retarded.
A key mission consists of a bunch of white guys robbing a black charity worker for absolutely no reason at all. At this point, your little posse has gained the trust of the city authorities, and therefore you are able to convince the mayor to outlaw whites. You have also paid off your student debts, which is celebrated by the news papers as a “diversity success story”. Yet, the game cannot end yet at this point as there are still all those pesky whites around, which soil the utopia you have been building. This leads to the final third of the game where the goal is to kill every white in the game. Just like the buffaloes in GTA V, the whites in Saints Row (2022) do not respawn. Once they are gone, they are gone.
The game properly ends once you have killed the last white person in the game, which is a white, pregnant mother. One of the characters quips, “I bet you can’t breathe now, too, right?” and the black high-IQ gentleman in your group wittily remarks, “Now we put paid to that, finally.” The other three repeat this line, then they all say it once more. In a truly heart-wrenching scene, the streets flood with brown and black people, the sky turns into rainbow colors, and everybody shouts, “Now we put paid to that, finally.” There is a huge party everywhere, YMCA plays, and the game fades to the credit roll. This vision of a non-white future is deeply moving.
Side Missions and Mini Games
One minor criticism I have is that the game locks you out of some content if you do not complete in due time. This only applies to a few missions as they would no longer make any narrative sense. For instance, in Red Dead Redemption you can wipe out camps of criminals. In contrast, Saints Row (2022) has you burn all churches in the game. If you progress enough in the kill-all-whites missions, however, churches get demolished by the city. Thus, if you want to play an active part there, you need to plan ahead. On the positive side, this side activity is not tied to any achievements or trophies so you can still get 100% completion in one play through. (But, trust me, you are going to want to play this game repeatedly!)
There is another mission where you are tasked with dumping gallons of estrogen into the fresh-water supply of the city. This is presented as a fun series of quick-time events, and whenever you do this, the city is rendered in more and more vibrant colors. This is such a cool idea that I have to tip my fedora to the developers. In particular, I appreciate the pacifist tone of this activity.
As you know, GTA is often maligned for its misogyny as you can bang prostitutes in that game and, shockingly enough, you can kill them afterwards to get your money back. Saints Row (2022) inverts this gameplay element. This time around, you are the prostitute, and this is actually a pretty quick way to make money as all the NPCs in the game want to have sex with your avatar, no matter what. This activity is triggered by walking to a street corner and picking the option “sex sells!” from a context-dependent menu. You also have the option of lowering or raising your prices, based on race. An example of the fine humor of the developers is the “Not even if you pay me” trophy or achievement, which triggers if you shoot dead a white guy who approaches you for sex.
There are no real issues with this game as everything just flows so nicely. However, I noticed a few problems with the game. Once I once spotted a very attractively rendered female NPC, a slim one with big tits. This caught me by surprise so I raised a stink over this on Discord. As I later learned, this was put into the code as a so-called “Easter egg” by a disgruntled employee who, as I was told afterwards, is no longer with the company as a consequence. Also, if you downloaded the game on or after the release day, this issue will have been patched out already because those developers really know what the players want. We are so past hot chicks, so why should we have them in our video games?
Saints Row (2022) also takes cues from Days Gone and Call of Duty. The former has “hordes” and the latter a “zombies” mode where you have to kill huge numbers of enemies. You can trigger this as a mini game by going to the in-game version of a planned parenthood abortion clinic. Pick “defend progress” from the context menu to trigger the game unleashing a horde of whites with a distinctively Southern appearance attacking the building. The developers even found a way to keep this activity in the game after that narrative event mentioned above, and this happens without breaking immersion. It works like this: Once you have killed all whites in the game, there would be no whites left for the horde mode. However, you only need to take drugs in-game to trigger a “dream” that allows you to replay his activity. The developers even went the extra mile and added a high-score table for the drug-induced horde events. I am not sure if repeatedly playing the horde mode this way will change my avatar to show long-term effects of drug use. I did notice an increasingly strong rainbow-colored glow around my avatar, which is probably unrelated.
As you can undoubtedly tell from this glowing review, I am a huge fan of the new Saints Row (2022) game. The market timing is impeccable, and the game has so many fresh ideas! Saints Row (2022) is a great symbol of the vitality of the video game market. More importantly, this is not just a game for our time. This is a game for the future as well. It is a game for all time! I see Saints Row (2022) sell more copies than GTA V, which is currently the best-selling video game of all time. Saints Row (2022) will be remastered and remade for decades as it speaks a timeless message. I only wish there were more games like this because I think that we deserve more of it. I cannot wait for the next game the 666 — yes, really — people that are listed in the credits, together with their pronouns, will do next.