The closest Splatterhouse gets to making a concession to modern videogame preoccupations is with very light RPG elements as you collect blood from all your kills to unlock new moves and level up a little. Blood flows more freely if you're pulling off the flashier stuff, by the looks of it, so the game's real narrative is more honestly about transitioning from coping with a room of gruesome monsters to the point where you see each massive brawl as an opportunity for some nasty showboating.
Weapons will mix things up, but they seem to be dropped in and then taken out very quickly. With a mix of bludgeoners, like lead pipes and 2x4s, through the likes of blades and projectile weapons, right up to the iconic skull crushers like chainsaws and a shotgun, they should give you a nice break from kneeing the undead in the groin over and over again.
Bosses, meanwhile, are tossed in every 20 minutes or so, if the demo we're shown is any indicator, and they're predictably horrible. Big penis-snake thing with a face that looks like Thom Yorke's brain-damaged cousin? No problem. Toothed vagina with an eye in it? Can do. Everything you're faced with is about a week or two past the point where a band-aid would have been really helpful, and everything comes with attack patterns to spot and weak areas to exploit.
Occasionally, Splatterhouse makes a surprisingly convincing transition to two dimensions as you race through side-scrolling corridors, jumping over spike pits and ducking whirling blades. But, really, if it's variety you're after, you've bought the wrong game.
What's potentially refreshing about Splatterhouse, then, is just how unevolved it is. Namco is channelling another era's horror - the VHS era, to be precise, with its misleadingly brilliant cover art, badly-lit rubber suit set-pieces and endless parade of summer camps. It belongs to the fondly-remembered days before Freddy and Jason started subscribing to Sight and Sound and learning about things like mise en scene; it's stuck back where the films weren't bad because they were constantly winking at you, but because they were shoddily produced and conceived and crafted by a gaggle of wonderful idiots.
Splatterhouse genuinely captures a little of that gleeful shoddiness. It's there in the dripping stonework and Aztec-themed mines, in the long-fingered zombies and baby-faced demons. Namco's latest looks likely to be repetitive, short, and unashamedly stupid, sure, but it's just as possible that it will be endearing and faintly hypnotic too.
While it's hardly going to keep you plugging away for hours, this could be a very good game to use as a quick fix when something bad has happened to you in your real life, and you're not quite at the stage where you want to take your violent impulses out on other human beings yet. One-note and rather basic, Splatterhouse has a very simple agenda, then - but so does Santa Claus, and nobody seems to mind his work too much.