Still Killing Pain After All These Years: Painkiller Reboot

He may be tall, but that gun naturally points at groin-level

Back in the old days, when only 12 people read RPS, each and every one of them hated me to the core because I said I didn’t think the original Painkiller was a very good videogame. I wonder what happens when I say that now? I think we can all agree that these long years of expansion packs and expandydandelions haven’t exactly done great favours for ‘the brand’, though. Looks like this may be about to change, as the Nordic Games-published/funded Painkiller: Hell & Damnation has the auspices of a high-budget reboot. Polish (and thus not Nordic, confusingly) devs The Farm 51 perhaps don’t have too much known heritage behind them – Necrovision primarily, although apparently collaborated on The Witcher and Two Worlds II. They’re getting to play with the Unreal 3 engine for this, and if these screenies are legit rather than the shot of the bull this could be a bit of a treat for those who crave high-speed, high-gloss demon-slaying.

Read on for some more pics, and a comment from a man with the best name in the world.

Via the dark magicks of the nightmare lords Cu’ut and Pay-St, allow me to shed the smallest light on what Hell & Damnation involves:

“Powered by Epic’s world-renowned and highly-respected Unreal Engine 3, Painkiller Hell & Damnation recreates the sensations and hardcore gameplay of the original Painkiller. Released in 2004, Painkiller won high praise and many accolades and fans for its fast and unique gameplay. Keeping true to the old-school FPS ideology, lightning-fast movement enables skillful players to get into the heart of the fast-paced gameplay, topped off with stunning enormo-boss fights requiring sneaky tactics.”

The original Painkiller was intended and used as a pro-gamer title for a while, of course. I’m not sensing (‘my Meer-sense is tingling!’) the same here to be honest, but there’s probably enough of an audience for Doom-style shenanigans to not have to tread that path.

And now, let’s open the floor for the incredibly-named Reinhard Pollice, who really should be the next Robocop but is instead making do with being responsible for Business & Product Development at Nordic Games. I also like him because he uses the words ‘enormo’ and ‘shiny’, like I often do. Maybe I am him? Please, call me Reinhard Pollice from now on.

“We’re proud of the shiny new splendor of the game’s graphics, but we’re doubly proud we’ve made player skill the most important part of the game. In addition to the single player campaign, we’re putting a tremendous emphasis on the game’s multiplayer component.”

– Reinhard Pollice.

No website or video for Painkiller: Hell & Damnation as yet, but all being well Nathan will squeak a peek at this during E3.


  1. Jason Moyer says:

    re: The Farm 51’s heritage, wasn’t the studio founded by guys who worked on the original Painkiller (i.e. the good one)?

  2. abraxas says:

    Fuck da Pollice….?

    I’m so sorry, someone had to do it :(

    Sneaky Edit: Alternatively, “Woop Woop, dat’s da sound of da Pollice!” or “Pollice in Helicopter… search fi Mari…” well I’m sure you know how the rest goes.

    • squareking says:

      …and I know because of KRS ONE.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Careful now. Every step you take, every move you make, he’ll be watching you.

  3. LionsPhil says:

    Interesting. Wonder if they’ll be able to get the bunny-hoppy ID tech “feel” right in UE. Or care to.

    • megalomaniac_ng says:

      Oh yeah, we do care about bunnyhopping. It already feels good but we will reserve a special time just for pushing that to the best experience!

      • pierow says:

        I take it you’re working on the game? Great to hear the bunnhopping mechanic is staying. I always liked what painkiller did with it. It was able to make the mechanic more accessible than the quakeworld/half life style but it was still really enjoyable and kept a lot of the positive aspects of it. It’s also great to hear that multiplayer is getting a lot of focus. I still mainly play decade old fpses these days because nothing new has really been able to touch them, with painkiller being one of the last of its kind. A lot of fps players are really itching for a good new game so they can all jump ship to it, best of luck guys.

    • jokomul says:

      I’m a die-hard fan of Unreal and I loved the original Painkiller. It was probably one of my favorite games of all time. So I’m also interested to see how the two combine.

  4. LTK says:

    The original Painkiller was fantastic. Everything that followed tried to tread the same ground and failed. A reboot is the only thing they haven’t tried yet. Somehow I don’t think it’s going to work.

    I wonder what happens when I say that now?

    *starts spinning the Painkiller blades*

  5. Text_Fish says:

    The weapons and player physics of the first Painkiller were wonderful, but the level design was just so so so abominably game-breakingly shit. If they don’t fix that this reboot will be just as bad,

    • drewski says:

      Any level in particular? I played through it about a month ago and rather liked the level design. As places to shoot people go, they let me shoot people and some of them were quite pretty, imaginative and occasionally creepy.

      • Text_Fish says:

        I’m certainly not questioning the artistic quality, but that’s not level design. It’s been many years since I played so I can’t name particular levels, but there’s not really much to separate them in terms of level design anyway. Basically, they consist of a series of large square-ish atriums which get flooded with enemies that you have to kill before you’re allowed to move to the next atrium and repeat ad-nausium. There’s very seldom any decent vertical action to be had and never any point where you have to actually think about where you’re going. Often combat simply consists of mowing down a horde of near-identical enemies, so you don’t even have to consider any detailed strategy. Occasionally they might throw in a level that’s slightly different, like maybe it’s just ONE very large atrium, but that only simplifies it more. They do a passable job of disguising the linearity by making spaces very big, but ultimately there’s only ever one direction and one approach to take.

        • Phantoon says:

          Indeed. I tried it when the Painkiller pack was a mere 3 bucks or so, and the game was boring like a day jam packed with going to the DMV, then visiting your grandmother, then going to the dentist.

          I think this one is propelled in popularity by nostalgia- I can’t possibly see how someone that didn’t play it back then would rate it as highly as other games of the time.

          We should do a Blind Pepsi Challenge and get some twelve year olds to compare this to the original Doom. We’ll just have the scoring be rated in whatever gets the least amount of homophobic slander.

        • drewski says:

          Did you finish it?

          Yes, the levels are largely linear but they were in Doom, too. It’s not trying to be anything more than a box to shoot lots of things in.

          I can understand criticisms of the level design if it was confusing or repetitive, but it’s neither of those things (with a couple of exceptions). Linear, yes, but linearity isn’t really a fair criticism of a game that has absolutely zero reason to be anything other than linear.

  6. Lemming says:

    I think painkiller is just a laugh. It’s nothing special. But if you tell me you like Serious Sam and think Painkiller is rubbish, then you are talking shite, quite frankly. SAME. GAME.

    • PitfireX says:

      Amen… the old doom style was just like the NEW CoD style…its everywhere and boring lol

    • SirKicksalot says:

      No, Painkiller actually has satisfying weapons, a beautiful art style and level design better than “stadium with baddies”.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I’ll give you the other two, but the art style? QUAKE BROWN. Give me Sam’s cartoon-saturated Egypt any day.

        • The First Door says:

          Lies! The art style was so much better than Quake. There was some utterly gorgeous levels in the first Painkiller with many of them based on real cathedrals/buildings. The sequels not made by People Can Fly were terrible, though.

        • mr.ioes says:


          link to

          I remember finding that secret at 2:20 on my own. So satisfying ;[

        • drewski says:

          There’s the odd Quake brown level, sure, but they’re definitely the minority.

        • mr.ioes says:

          1:20… god I loved that game.
          3:00 as well.

        • Zeliard says:

          Couldn’t disagree more about Painkiller’s art style. It was a visually-striking game both due to its tech at the time and the diverse environmental art.

          Also, it had absolutely fantastic multiplayer deathmatch. Shades of Quakeworld. If you only played the single-player, I’m afraid you truly missed out.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I actually got bogged down in the SP because of all the dark and gothic—just a bit visually wearing to slog through when Sam’s there with sunshine.

            Vienna-esque level’s a good point, though; remember that from the demo yonks ago.

  7. Necroscope says:

    Great! I’m looking forward to this. I enjoyed Necrovision a great deal for all it’s quirky designs and crazy mechanics and would love to see a bigger budget sequel to it. As for a Painkiller sequel, hell yeah! It must stay clear of aspects of the expansions though because contained within them are some of the worst fps level designs in any game ever like a spiral staircase [?…] that is near on impossible to walk up and I’m quite sure the sorry souls who tried to negotiate it gave up staring into the abyss.

  8. felisc says:

    Reinhard pollice ! What an incredible name. I bet he lives in a high castle, surrounded by amazing women, eats raw meat and sleeps in a bed made of gold. Also at night he can fly.

    • DirtGunfrey says:

      There is an actual honest to goodness person named Lord Maximus Willhammer. Lord is not a title. It is his first name.

    • megalomaniac_ng says:

      Yeah, I am always surrounded by amazing women and No, I can also fly during day times. Do you want to know how I came from Europe to Los Angeles for E3? But I guess you can imagine now…

  9. Cytrom says:

    Never played any of the expansion but the original painkiller was good. It felt like a cross beetween doom and serious sam.

    Doom had lots of exploration, while it definitely packed a lot of action it had a decent variety of pacing, not just max intensity all the time, while serious sam was so far on the other end that it was nothing but constant mindless action with little to no pacing. Painkiller was a good mix in my eyes (although it was closer to ss than doom). + it had a decent style, and level design.

  10. too_physical says:

    He should have been a private detective:


    • lowprices says:

      I’m just talkin’ ’bout Reinhard.

      And we can dig it.

  11. The First Door says:

    I hope they bring back the massive bosses and the fun use of physics. I remember the 12 story boss with the giant hammer where you ended up with bits of rock flying all over the place quite fondly.

  12. drewski says:

    I’d prefer a proper, well resourced sequel to be honest. Don’t get the point of reboots.

  13. Xardas Kane says:

    Hmmm, I remember Painkiller fondly. I am not quite sure I see any point in a remaking an eight year old game, but ah well, who’s asking me.

  14. tumbleworld says:

    “… a tremendous emphasis on the game’s multiplayer component.”

  15. malkav11 says:

    Still hate you to the core for saying Painkiller wasn’t good. (And the first expansion is also great.) However, the other, non-People-Can-Fly releases are apparently quite terrible, and this remake/reboot seems pointless and misguided (multiplayer? piss off). NecrovisioN (remember the stray and unnecessary capitalization) is a reasonable pedigree, though.

  16. MistyMike says:

    I hope they include the fantastic cut-scenes, now in HD!

    • povu says:

      And consistent hopefully! I feel like the expansion’s cutscenes were made by a different studio entirely. The characters looked different and the lip syncing was really off.

  17. povu says:

    I’d prefer a proper Painkiller sequel to a remake. Painkiller still feels great to play, and has no issues on modern PCs. And all the spin off titles aren’t that good.

  18. Jackablade says:

    What the hell is the point of remaking a game like this. (A) it still looks great, despite being a few years old now (B) It still runs fine -because- it’s only a few years old and (C) it’s such a simple premise that it seems ridiculous that they couldn’t knock together some new enemies, weapons and levels and roll out something new.

    EDIT: Wait, is this a remake? The shot of the boss there certainly looks like a higher res version of the one from the Catacombs in a similar looking environment.

  19. Phantoon says:

    I think the thing is, if you didn’t play it when it was new, or went in having been told it was good, you won’t have liked it.

    That’s generally the vibe I’m getting here.

    Oh and sidenote: That first shot totally looks like the chainsaw gun from Gears of Manliness.

    • drewski says:

      I think Painkiller would be the only game in history where having high expectations meant people liked the game more were that true.

      Maybe people liked Painkiller because they enjoy that style of game. From what I recall at the time, it attracted what are generally known as “mixed” reviews with some people loving the old school chaos, and others finding the lack of chest high walls to hide behind confusing.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Not a fan. But I like this type of game. It was just so brown and grey and dull throughout, with grey brown forgettable enemies. The shooting was very solid, and some of the guns were fun. But, grey brown box room, grey brown box room, followed by another grey brown box room.

  20. slpk says:

    I’d be a happy pill if they simply redo Gold Edition, but they won’t. So meh..

  21. PoulWrist says:

    Bleh Unreal engine.

  22. NamelessPFG says:

    The original Painkiller doesn’t need to be remade.

    It looks fine as is (moreso than, say, Serious Sam: TFE/TSE do today), runs fine on modern computers, and current versions of UE3 would actually make it sound worse. (To hell with XAudio2, bring back OpenAL!)

    What I’m wondering is why they can’t make a sequel that doesn’t suck…