The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai
System: Xbox 360
Developer: Ska Studios
Release Date: April 1, 2009
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a side-scrolling beat ’em up with a distinct art style that heavily emphasizes blood and violence. You play as a dishwasher (go figure) who was captured by cyborgs; now it is your duty to murder countless enemies in order to take out the head of the Cyborg army. A handful of comic-style scenes help flesh out the story, but it is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The Dishwasher is all about destroying your enemies in the most brutal ways possible (typically with a convenient fatality button after you wear them down).
At the beginning of the game, the dishwasher character is fairly weak and has nothing but meat cleavers to use as weapons. By continuing to kill enemies and progress through the game, you can unlock the abilities to obtain new weapons (swords, guns and even chainsaws) and you can use experience points to increase your health and skill levels. Most game stages provide multiple ways to get to the end as well, and the freedom to do so is certainly welcome. An odd little addition to the campaign is the presence of guitar rhythm mini-games, even giving you the option to play them with Rock Band peripherals. This guitar feature also provides one of the most hilarious Xbox achievements I have ever seen (the “Peter Moore” award). I love that this game doesn’t take itself seriously, it makes it even more rewarding.
On top of the fairly lengthy story campaign, there is a large arcade mode in which you go through a number of brief stages just slaughtering enemies in order to get the high score. It’s a nice way to add replay value.
There are a couple of potential problems that need to be brought up. One, The Dishwasher is very, very difficult. I am ashamed to say it, but I even struggled a little bit at times on Easy mode. Considering that is the lowest of four difficulties, that’s saying something. I embraced this level of challenge, but other gamers may not. Two, as is the case with many beat ’em ups, the game does occasionally get repetitive. However, every time I felt myself getting tired of the gameplay, I came across something else (i.e. the aforementioned guitar mini-game or a badass boss battle) to reinvigorate my interest.
The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai has the distinction of winning the Xbox Dream-Build-Play contest and for becoming the first community “indie” game to be promoted to a full-fledged XBLA title. This promotion is undoubtedly deserved, as I greatly enjoyed playing through the game. The Dishwasher provides a surprisingly large amount of replay value, and it is one that I can see myself revisiting many times in the future. Although some may let the difficulty and occasional monotony dampen their experience, I found the game to be more than satisfying. For $10, The Dishwasher is a bargain. At half price, it is an outright steal.