Is Saints Row ‘Awake’? An investigation


Saints Row won’t win any awards in 2022 with a debut with most critics wrecking the game and the public rating it even lower. I’m in a position to defend the game as better than people attribute it to, at least by Saints Row standards, and find myself consistently accused of the same weird thing.

The idea is that I’m forced to defend Saints Row because it’s “awake”, and I’m just a liberal journalist unable to resist the siren’s call.

Given that most other journalists don’t like the game, this builds on a story I heard about Saints Row well before launch that the series had “awakened” and now after launch the chorus is that because Saints Row “went awake” it is now “broken”.

Playing the game I can certainly see where normal criticism applies, but the more I look within Saints Row for this alleged wakefulness, at least in a way that differs significantly from previous Saints Row games, the more I can’t. find, and the more this becomes a proof that this word now essentially means nothing. Back in the day, “awake” was anything with progressive values ​​that the right wing didn’t like. Here… I don’t even find much of anything progressive. At least nothing that the previous games didn’t have.

Here’s everything I can find in Saints Row that be able to considered “awake” by today’s nonsense definitions.

  • The main boss in the commercials is a brown woman. This is different from previous Saints Row games that made the “default” boss in the commercials a white one. Of course in all these games you can make your boss of any race or gender or even Shrek. So this is really just a marketing call.
  • You have a diverse group of friends. It doesn’t matter what race you’re bossing around, you’ll have a Latino friend, a black friend, and an Asian friend as the core team of the game. But in previous Saints Row games, of course, your main group has been Johnny Gat, who is Asian, Pierce, who is black, and Shaundi, who I’m pretty sure is white and sometimes just has dreadlocks.

  • Your friend Kevin is bisexual and he talks about his former girlfriends and boyfriends. I immediately think of Saints Row 4, where in its Mass Effect-esque starship you had a “bang” dialogue option for every member of your crew, regardless of gender, so this hardly feels like new territory.
  • There is no dildo bat. But despite not being able to beat anyone with a dildo, you can make a perfect 10 hot boss and run around naked all game if you want. Stores like Leather and Lace still exist and sell all the sexy outfits you can think of.
  • You can’t rob shops. This seemed more like a technical design to me, where shops are their own little microzones, rather than a statement about protecting the lives of shopkeepers, while still allowing you to kill literally any civilian you come across on the street.
  • They now call “Freckle Bitches” FBs. I think if this change makes you feel repressed, that’s your privilege.

And…I literally can’t think of anything else after 20 hours of gameplay here. And essentially, nothing I even mentioned is…everything. The main storyline is still killing many gangs and a private security company to secure territory for yourself. You kill civilians, police, anyone who gets in your way, just like all other games, just like GTA. Is there a brown girl on the box instead of a white one who wakes up the game? Does a single character name his ex-boyfriends? Is it the lack of a dildo bat? I do not get it.

If you want to critique the script, the gameplay, the action, the characters then of course I can see a lot of those arguments as Saints Row lacks a lot of shine in many places. But the idea that this reboot looked bad because it “woke up” and is now failing because of some sort of series-betraying turn toward liberalism that literally doesn’t reflect the reality of what’s in the game itself.

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