It would be fair to say that the first DLC for Saints Row 2022 – The Heist and the Hazardous – didn’t do much to right the wrongs in the eyes of many fans. Even those of us who enjoyed the base game didn’t have much to say about the first DLC. Can the second serving – Doc Ketchum’s Murder Circus – do anything to improve the overall package? It is time to find out.
Saints Row: Doc Ketchum’s Murder Circus takes place away from the main story of Saints Row, having you play as four different characters. If you can remember the mission Aggressive Recruiting where you slaughtered a bunch of people for reality TV on an abandoned island in the middle of the map, it is pretty much an extended version of that. Though you will need to have at least completed that mission before you can access this DLC.
From there, and to access the DLC, just find the Murder Circus app on your smartphone.
Boot Hill has been heavily revamped for this DLC. It looked like it has been decorated by a Twitch streamer however, with neons and loud signs everywhere. But this isn’t as fake or as happy as those on Twitch; it is full of death and bullet casings.
Doc Ketchum’s Murder Circus is a basic roguelite using the divisive Saints Row shooter combat. Players enter the Murder Circus armed with only one weapon, but more can be found as you explore. Runs are ended upon death, at which point you return to the menus to either spend coins earned in game to unlock more weapon choice, or perks that can then be found in your next run.
A run in the Murder Circus has you attempting to claim loot at four Caskets of Chaos. Weapons can be found in chests but these have limited ammo. Triggering a Casket of Chaos will cause waves of enemies to kill; only when the last one is dispatched can you claim the casket and move on to the next one. Claim all four in a run and be victorious.
The Caskets of Chaos have modifiers to keep things interesting. Some of these include all enemies having shields, dropping flash grenades upon death, and enemies not needing to reload. Every run has four caskets, but there are plenty more modifiers than that.
Boot Hill also has minor changes to the environment. As well as the caskets and chests being in different locations, sometimes the inner sections are closed off to prevent passing through. It isn’t much, but it is something.
You take on the Murder Circus as one of four participants, each with their own reason for entering. They are: Chief Justice – a Captain America lookalike (outfit-wise at least) former judge out for revenge against those that murdered his family; Consuela Reyes – an MMA star looking to rightfully reclaim her place in Los Panteros; Daniel Li – a kidnapped mail clerk who just happens to be a Murder Circus superfan; and last but not least, Artemis Vandekogel – a competitive marksman on one final hunt for the Most Dangerous Game.
Each of these characters start with their own individual weapon but aside from a unique skill and perk, they all play identically. They are all fully voiced, and have a good selection of one liners depending on which enemy is trying to shoot at them. Some of them are quite funny too.
Expect to see the resident gangs from the main game, along with Marshall contractors, police, inmates and bizarrely, people in costumes resembling furry cartoon characters.
Each contestant has their own rival they wish to end, but to get to them, they first need to reach level 8. Starting a final run at level 8 will cause the rival to spawn during the last Casket of Chaos. Only be defeating them can you truly say that the character’s redemption arc is complete and you can move on to the next one.
Levelling up grants new perks for each character, opening up the shop with more goodies. Enemies you kill drop coins that you can spend in there. Later levels also unlock items for use in the main game of Saints Row; new weapons, HQ collectibles and outfits, including one particular one that will appease long-time fans.
This is vastly different DLC from the first one, The Heist and the Hazardous. That focussed on missions and was far too short. This focuses on combat, and is arguably too long.
For fans of Saints Row combat, Doc Ketchum’s Murder Circus is an opportunity to maximise its output. For those who weren’t impressed – and there were many – then this DLC is one to avoid. It is just pure combat, with very little in between. That said, even the fans will probably grow tired of it, being very repetitive as you level up each of the four characters and then perform one more run to face their rival. But still, it is a much better offering than the first DLC.
Saints Row: Doc Ketchum’s Murder Circus has a real DLC feel to it, offering something different from the main game whilst remaining in the same tranche. You know, rather than some blatant cut content disguised as DLC.
But ultimately, most interest is in what the final instalment for Saints Row has to offer.