Generally favorable reviews - based on 62 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 53 out of 62
  2. Negative: 1 out of 62
  1. With speed and smarts to match its outrageous visuals, Painkiller boasts fiendishly clever monsters that attack in groups and learn from your defenses. No corpses shambling around like they have a load in their pants, these are monsters of the 28 Days Later variety: quick and scary.
  2. This game is the sort of which I'd like to see more: breathtaking attention to detail, deeply satisfying gameplay, and a focus on pure, simple fun that doesn't in any way defeat or diminish a richly powerful thematic narrative.
  3. It gamely delivers the pure joy of superbly crafted chaos, something it does better than any game released (so far) this year. [July 2004, p.56]
  4. I love it. I became addicted to this game very quickly. My wife is starting to get jealous now.
  5. There’s an eerie absence of a whole lot of noise sans the atmospheric sounds in each level; another sinister part of the game to keep your interest in what is going on.
  6. Painkiller puts the action back into action gaming and will pull you in, pump you up, and unleash the righteous demon-slayer buried within.
  7. To call the game simple fun is to ignore Painkiller’s proof that straightforward play in elaborate environments with creative, demonic enemies and a sophisticated sense of style is tremendously entertaining. This is a first-person shooter that can be enjoyed in brief sessions or a protracted weekend of play.
  8. 90
    Perhaps what's most amazing is that it plays like the work of a seasoned developer with a rare grasp on atmosphere and tone, a rock-solid set of technologies, and sophisticated ideas about game design.
  9. An excellent mix of intense first person shooting combined with a sophisticated risk-reward system that actually integrates into the gameplay. The Tarot cards are pure genius and add a whole new level to the genre.
  10. It offers a quick adrenaline rush and beautifully detailed levels running on the spectacular Havok2.0 physics engine and, I must say, this game is one of a kind.
  11. 90
    Painkiller sports some of the best graphics to come down the PC pipe all year. The bosses (the hammer-wielding Saphathoraél in particular) all look incredible.
  12. But obviously, the gameplay is incredibly repetitive. There’s no denying that you don’t do much beyond running around shooting monsters and blowing up stuff.
  13. Painkiller delivers satisfying gameplay, excellent visuals, and a visceral feel that veteran FPS players will feel right at home with.
  14. Its addictive and amazingly detailed single player game, coupled with a fun and varied old school multi-player game, set Painkiller apart from the rest while at the same time harkening us back to shooter days of old.
  15. A visceral, intense shooter with well designed and realized levels, and certainly a “must have” title for FPS aficionados.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 238 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 58 out of 76
  2. Negative: 11 out of 76
  1. Aug 13, 2010
    Bloody massacre coupled with unusual weapons. One of the first big titles with Havok physics.
    This is most unexpected game which rightfully
    Bloody massacre coupled with unusual weapons. One of the first big titles with Havok physics.
    This is most unexpected game which rightfully earned AAA status in gamers' minds shortly after release.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 12, 2011
    A rather unusual mix of horror and fast action gameplay, Painkiller is gory and atmospheric, but really all it is is just action. TheA rather unusual mix of horror and fast action gameplay, Painkiller is gory and atmospheric, but really all it is is just action. The Purgatory setting and in fact the idea of fighting demons is very great. However the idea itself simply is not enough. It requires the correct execution and a plot, and that was where Painkiller fell down. Still though, as an FPS game, it is forgiveable if it has a weak story, which is why I still found the game fun. Painkiller features a big variety of areas, but I felt that only about half of them were breathtaking, whilst the other half were boring. Areas such as Asylum and Town were fantastic due to being incredibly atmospheric and actually scary in a very twisted way. Likewise there were areas which simply had beautiful locations and were a pleasure to travel through, areas such as Train Station, Military Base, The Palace and City on Water. However most of the other maps were rather repetitive and boring. The game allows the player to use 5 weapons, but each one of these weapons has 2 very different modes of fire, so in a way the game has 10 different weapons. The weapons are very original and enjoyable to use. This was perhaps the strongest aspect of the game. The enemies, well they were nothing special. Although most were demons in various disguises, it was uninteresting how at times they just looked like people, for example in the level Docks, which was perhaps one of the worst stages in the game. The boss fights were terrible. It was impossible to know what the hell you were supposed to do to defeat most of them. For one of them you had to attack the boss' hammer rather than him. How would you know to do that? You wouldn't. The final boss fight was a huge disappointment too and really ruined the game for me. Just terrible. Lastly the cinematics and cut scenes in between some of the missions were pretty good, although I wish some of those characters were developed in greater depth. Painkiller has some really great features and it has some very strong weaknesses. If only Painkiller didn't have some of these weaknesses, it could've been a fantastic game. But for now I think a score of 7 is appropriate. I can't give it any more than that. Full Review »
  3. BitBurn
    Apr 15, 2004
    It's aiight... Reminds me of Quake 1 but with much better graphics! I dig it...