Review: Painkiller:Black Edition

Review: Painkiller:Black Edition

Part of the 2nd 9 days of Heck event! Let’s look at a *somewhat* overlooked first-person shooter where you fight Ninjas, Skeletons, Cultists, and the Devil himself! No, I did not make up the description- that’s really what happens!


Year: 2004

Played on: PC

Also on: Xbox, PS4 (Remake), Mobile

Developer: People Can Fly

Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive


Kill. Rinse. Repeat.


Date posted: October 24, 2018



You know, this event needs for shooting, don’t you think? I think it’s time to talk about a game I consider somewhat of an underrated gem (and by underrated, I mean 89% on Steam!) known as Painkiller: Black Edition

Set in the coolest version of purgatory imaginable, you play as Daniel Garner, voiced by legendary voice actor Cam Clarke (“TETSUOOOO!!!” “BROTHERR”!), as you shoot your way out of purgatory and straight into hell after “dying” in a car crash. There, you fight the lost, damned souls that reside their- from WWI skeletons, cultists, witches (BURN THOUGH THE WITCHS!) and Ninjas. Yes- Ninjas! ( and no. There not that guy who made millions playing Fortnite.)

So what do you do? Kill pain? Let’s find out!


Painkiller is a first person shooter in its purest form. You don’t go around looking for switches, or solving puzzles. No, in Painkiller, you have one objective, and one objective alone- kill anything that moves! Taking a page from games like Serious Sam, PK focuses more on gunning down hundreds of different enemies while avoiding their attacks more then anything else. This is a good thing, as destroying hundreds upon hundreds of baddies is incredibly satisfying and pulse-pounding, for several good reasons.

First off, is the immense arsenal at your disposal. You got your standard armory- A satisfying shotgun that lays down the hurt, a machine gun that has a “shocking” alt fire, and a rocket launcher that turns into a minigun. Yes- you hear me right. A rocket launcher that turns into a minigun. You also have a satisfying to use stake gun, and the Painkiller. Yes, the melee weapon you start out with is the games namesake. Damn, this game just sounds better and better, doesn’t it?

For a 2004 release, Painkiller somehow allowed for a lot of enemies on screen. Impressive!

There is also a cool game mechanic in which you can gather the souls of defeated enemies for various purposes. After gathering enough in one level, you get the ability to enter a frenzy mode that lets you one shot most enemies for a limited time. After the level ends, you can use these souls and gold to buy cards that improve your abilities- unlocking more cards though completing various objectives.

So, where do you even face in the bowels of purgatory? Everyone- pretty much! You start by facing off against Skeletons, Witches, and other medieval creatures in dilapidated graveyards and churches, then make your way an Opera house where you face ninjas. Again, I am not making this up. In Painkiller, it seems everything is your enemy! Banshees, Spiders, Bikers- Everyone in purgatory is here!

Of course, the levels are also varied- Medieval towns, a castle, a modern docking bay, an airfield, Venice- you don’t just kill everything- you pretty much visit everywhere too!

The game’s graphics and aesthetic also holds up well, too!


Again, there is not a lot of cons, but there is something that I really didn’t like….

The biggest flaw of Painkiller is it’s card system. There’s nothing wrong with the cards themselves, it how you unlock them. Remember those objectives I mentioned? Yeah, some of them are just way too hard, in my opinion. From finishing a level in a certain time, to not taking damage at all, it’s simply too demanding. Nothing hurts more then trying to do these objectives, coming close to your goal, only to fail.

People have also criticized the games themes for not meshing well, but I don’t really think it’s a problem.

Also, like I said before, don’t expect a lot of depth. You pretty much just make your way though levels, killing everything, just like in the aforementioned Serious Sam. If you like Serious Sam, then you’ll like Painkiller… but if you want something more akin to classic Doom or Duke Nukem 3D, then you might be in for a bit of a disappointment, to say the least.

The story can also be weird and hard to follow, but I thought it was all apart of the games charm, really.


The first Painkiller, or as I call it, Painkiller: Black is weird when it comes to ports. You see, it originally came out on PC, but was ported to Xbox. Then it was remade and put on the PS4 and PC. It was also ported to mobile devices as well. I think it’s obvious which one’s best….

PC (Black Edition)– The OG. Still runs great on modern system (well, at least on my crappy all-in-one) Steam version contains the “Battle out of Hell” expansion included. My preferred way of playing it! Note: If you buy physical PC games, do not get the “Special Edition” as it only contains 12 of the 24 levels!

Xbox (Hell Wars)– Not sure if this version is any good. Footage I seen looks alright, but it’s also more expensive (copies on Ebay go for about $10 or so). Probably not a bad version by any means, but PC’s still your best bet.

Mobile Ports– I have no idea what this was. Wikipedia says it was official, but I just have no clue. I found a video of the gameplay, and yeah. It plays just the way you think a FPS on a phone would. I would only look into it if your curious.

PS4/PC (Hell and Damnation)– Here’s another weird one, as it apparently serves as both a remake and a sequel. I remember playing this on PS4’s PS Now service, and it seems acceptable. I might just give this one it’s own review one day!

Clear Winner: PC (Black Edition)

Alright: Xbox, Hell and Damnation

WTF?: Android, iOS


If your a fan of Serious Sam or the 2016 Doom, then you’re sure to love Painkiller: Black! It’s cut from the same cloth of those games, and though it’s not entirely old-school, it has that mindset about it. Add in it’s one of a kind charm of throwing everything at you, and you have a shooter that begs to be played! It goes for cheap on Steam during sales (99 cents to 2 bucks, usually), so there is zero excuse! Get it!

Note about all of Painkiller expansions: Yeah, I have no idea. I heard Overdose might be the only one worth playing, along with Battle out of Hell (which comes with Black Edition). The others? Eh. Not so much…


Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Review: Painkiller:Black Edition

  1. This game is a masterpiece.

    The story of Painkiller is simple… You’re pissed off and very angry after that hard day at work… suddenly demons and ninjas… you know what you have to do…

    Music is metal as fuck too… best atmosphere I’ve ever seen in a FPS ever, those levels have so much personality it’s crazy. None of this generic Military crap, Instead you get Dark Gothic inspired locations mixed with urban locations and even some arabic locations. They thought of everything and it gives the game so much flavor compared with other FPS games.

    I wish more FPS games were like this masterpiece… seriously.


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