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Have you played... Painkiller: Black Edition?

Portable pain killing

Like so many games buried deep within my Steam library, I am unsure when I bought Painkiller: Black Edition or my exact reasons for doing so. I expect it was cheap in some kind of daily sale. Perhaps I was hungover, and hoped a small treat would ease my aching head. I vaguely recall booting it up once, perhaps a decade ago, and getting no further than its main menu. Painkiller was destined to rot in a digital purgatory of my own design forever, an unassuming icon that I would scroll past on my way to reinstall Destiny 2 for the 12th time without giving it a single thought. That is, until Valve finally sent me my Steam Deck.

Cover image for YouTube videoSteam Deck: The Second Opinion
Katharine recently spoke to James and Liam about her first impressions of the Steam Deck.

Why did I decide Painkiller would be the first game I played on my handheld PC? For the same reason I bought it in the first place, I suppose: I have no fucking clue mate. My guess is that it appeared to be a throwaway shooter from the mid-00s that had yet to be tested on the Deck by Valve themselves, something I found tantalising as a fresh-faced Deck owner. Will this game that I know nothing about work on my fancy new piece of tech? It was a question I asked almost constantly, and was excited to discover the answer.

Well, imagine my suprise when not only did Painkiller run like a dream on the deck, but this 18 year old PC game also felt purpose built for handheld play. Painkiller is an arena shooter that literally plonks you into a big open space before hoying a bunch of horrible enemies at you. There is no rhyme or reason to the locations you visit; one second you’re shooting dudes among the waterways of Venice, the next you’re blasting witches in the burning streets of a medieval village. Your goal is simply to kill things, before moving onto a new part of a level to kill some more things. Eventually the level ends, the game throws a dart at a moving wheel with a sign above it that says “LOCATION IDEAS”, and before you know it you’re shooting undead soldiers beneath a UFO.

If you were to play this on PC I reckon it would feel disjointed and messy. But on the Deck? Blasting through a level while waiting for the kettle to boil or in the breaks of an episode of Taskmaster is absolutely superb. Saber Interactive are currently cooking up a sequel, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.

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Liam Richardson avatar

Liam Richardson

Former Video Producer

Liam used to be RPS’s vid bud. When he’s not obsessing over the finer details of digital cities and theme parks, he’s probably getting very excited about a colourful indie game that stars a nice frog.