Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

Like many other games hidden deep in my Steam library, I’m not sure when I bought Painkiller: Black Edition or exactly why I did it. I expect it was cheap in some sort of daily sale. I may have had a hangover and was hoping a little treat would ease my headache. I vaguely remember downloading it once, maybe ten years ago, and never got past the main menu. Painkiller was destined to forever rot in a digital purgatory of my own design, an unassuming icon that I flipped through on my way to reinstalling Destiny 2 for the 12th time without thinking about it. That is, until Valve finally sent me my Steam deck.

Katherine recently spoke with James and Liam about her first Steam Deck experience.

Why did I decide that Painkiller would be the first game I would play on my PDA? I guess for the same reason I bought it in the first place: I have no idea, mate. I’m guessing this was a mid-00s one-shot shooter that hadn’t yet been tested on a deck by Valve itself, which I found teasing as a new deck owner. Will this game I know nothing about work on my fancy new tech? It was a question I asked almost constantly and was glad to find the answer.

Well, imagine my surprise when not only did Painkiller work like a dream on a deck, but this 18-year-old PC game seemed purpose-built to be played on portable devices. Painkiller is an arena shooter that literally throws you into a large open space and then pounces on you with a bunch of terrifying enemies. There is no rhyme or reason in the places you visit; one second you’re shooting dudes in Venice’s waterways, the next you’re shooting witches in the burning streets of a medieval village. Your goal is just to kill things before moving on to a new part of the level to kill someone. 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 at the undead soldiers underneath the UFO.

If you played this on PC I think it would be rambling and messy. And on deck? Playing through a level while waiting for the kettle to boil, or in between episodes of Taskmaster is just great. Saber Interactive is currently preparing a sequel and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.