aka: PK, Painkiller: Verega Ristitud
(prices updated 9/26 12:34 AM )

Description official descriptions

Painkiller is a "bullet hell" first-person shooter with a gothic storyline and frantic gameplay.

Players are cast as Daniel Garner, a regular guy who gets killed in a horrific car crash while taking his wife out for her birthday. She, being the saintly woman she is, gets admitted to Heaven. Daniel, due to his shady past, does not. He finds himself in Purgatory -- a place somewhere between Heaven and Hell. It isn't long before Daniel is recruited by his "caseworker for the dead" to fight the minions of Hell. Lucifer is plotting to overthrow Heaven, and is using Purgatory as a staging ground. The offer is simple: stop Lucifer's armies and earn Daniel's heavenly reward.


  • Painkiller: Крещеный Кровью - Russian spelling
  • 恐惧杀手 - Chinese spelling (simplified)

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Credits (Windows version)

401 People (355 developers, 46 thanks) · View all

President and CEO
Managing Director (Europe)
Executive and Line Producer
Vice President Marketing
Lead Product Marketing Manager
Marketing Director (Europe)
Marketing Brand Manager (Europe)
Product Manager France
Product Manager Germany
Product Manager UK
Product Manager Spain
Product Manager Italy
Marketing Creative Director
Graphics Management
Director of International Communications
PR Coordinator
PR Manager (France)
PR Assistant (Europe)
PR (Kohnke Communications)
[ full credits ]



Average score: 81% (based on 45 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 81 ratings with 5 reviews)

Return of old-school FPS

The Good
Daniel Garner is in Purgatory since his car accident. He's been separated from his wife Catherine, who is waiting for him in Heaven. Something about being not pure. One day, Sammael, an angel, gives him a mission: kill four guys. Four generals of the hellish army. Daniel accepts. If he succeeds, he'll join Catherine. He's standing in a Cemetery, weapon in hand, waiting for his first serious battle with a demon. He's the Painkiller. He's you.

Nice introduction, no? I could have done better, well, I did but in my native language, French. But we're not here to discuss about my creative skills. No, we're here for one of the most enjoyable FPS I've played: Painkiller. And well, it brings some good ideas, aside from the fact that Painkiller is an old-school FPS, you don't need brains for playing it. Just follow the successive areas, kill some demons and enjoy the gameplay.

First good point is the Black Tarot. How to obtain the cards? Play on Insomnia or Nightmare difficulty and you'll have the card... if you pass the unique challenge in each level. Let me explain the difference between silver and gold cards. Silver ones are useful during the level, even if you can only carry two at the same time. Be wise when you're choosing them, remember that for a boss fight, you can't use a card like Soul Catcher but if you have Forgiveness (gold cards use per level is two times instead of one), don't hesitate to pick it. Gold cards are limited in time and use, so, it's up to you to trigger their effects at the right moment because, unless you've chosen Mercy (3 uses) or Forgiveness (see above) as silver card, you can only make one use per level.

Second thing, difficulty makes harder the quest of the cards. Daydream is the easiest difficulty setting - I'm always playing in the easiest mode first - but Tarot isn't available. Add to this that you can't play 3 levels. That means that if you want to really enjoy the game, you must play in Insomnia where Tarot card is available, as one of the 3 blocked levels (Abandoned Factory in chapter 3 and its waves of Skeleton Soldiers). Then Nightmare is harder than the two previous ones: cheats codes don't work anymore - aaargh, I wish I could play with the god mode for some passages - . But you can play another level who was forbidden to access: Prison in chapter 2. I'll make a confidence: I don't know how I survived it but I did. And then Trauma, only available after beating Nightmare, will give access to the last level you couldn't play before - Forest in chapter 4. But you can't play chapter 5 because of a different ending and enemies don't let green souls, useful for morphing into a demon. And you've understood that your usual Black Tarot deck must change for surviving in this cruel world... in the cruel Purgatory.

Third positive point is the fact that every level has specific enemies s to it, even if it's an advance version of another one: Templars in Babel for example shoot three arrows when the Templars in the Palace are only shooting one. Enemies have a great design, I love the Samourais or the Arabian Warrior. Rare are the games with this particularity.

Fourth good point is the originality of the weapons. Don"t be sad about the fact that you have only 5 available. But each one has two (or three - discovered by the players) ways to kill the demons: for example, stakegun is also a grenade launcher. So, you have choice between the Painkiller (the unlimited ammo weapon), the Stakegun, the Freezer Shotgun, the Rocket Gatling and the Electroshuriken (or Electrodriver). Stakegun is probably the most original weapon and Electroshuriken the most beautiful.

Fifth point is the quality of the graphics, even with 4 years of age. Levels are beautiful and I can't only applause for the variety of them: from an old Asylum (scary and shocking - don't let children play with PK) to a Castle without forgetting an Old Monastery or Docks, you're traveling between insane places to religious buildings or to modern places. The game is divided in 5 chapters with a boss at the end, generally a general or for the last level, Hell, Lucifer himself.

And last but not least, the soundtrack is marvelous: vocals, hard rock, everything is just at the right place. My favorite are the ambient from Atrium, Cathedral, Old Monastery, Military Base, the Palace and Castle. Oh yeah, when you're hearing the beginning of an hard rock track, be prepared to fight against demons!

The Bad
If Painkiller was perfection, I would have erected a statue to the first game to ever gain a 20/20 on me since I'm 13/14. Before, I was too young to really see the defaults of a game. But back to Painkiller. It's not perfection. And here are the reasons:

Repetitive fights are getting on your nerves, especially with the Skeleton Soldiers in chapter 3: you never know when it will end. And you're even wondering if it will effectively end.

Difficulty can also be a negative point. Even if the way of presenting it is original (well, it's not the usual "more enemies in highest difficulty"), Nightmare and Trauma are really challenges. In Nightmare, I've never passed the Swamp Thing for example - I've played the last blocked level because one player solved the problem of accessibility, it's perhaps cheating but it was first for making Chapter 5 available in Trauma.

Another one negative point is the useless cards like Divine Intervention (effect: placing cards in the board doesn't cost a thing) who is totally useless for players.

The fact that you have only 5 weapons can be a disappointment for some players (but remember, it's a two in one). It's not an arsenal like Half-Life or Rainbow Six but originality is the keyword here.

And some moves are difficult to master: Lead Jump (well, the fact that you can direct your jump with moving your mouse) and PK Jump (use your painkiller on an object when jumping and you'll jump higher) for example.

The Bottom Line
Painkiller is a victorious return of the FPS old-school like Doom or Serious Sam, where Will Rock, released in 2003, failed. Lock, load and shoot is your motto. 2004 was also the year of Doom 3 release. What a year for the old-school FPS! Last thing before concluding the review: I played with the demo on my 5-years-old laptop (in 2008), with some slowing times. But the complete game, I couldn't install it on my laptop (normal) and on my previous computer. Luckily, I've got a new one on 2006, so, I could enjoy the magnificent graphics. I just wanted to point that if you've bought a computer before 2003/04, Painkiller will not work - my previous one was from 2001/02.

Painkiller is a good game, you'll have a lot of fun with its famous stakegun and I must warn you, Painkiller can cause addictiveness. And even if I'm writing in 2008, Painkiller didn't lose of its charm. I strongly recommend it. With its add-on, released later in 2004, Battle out of Hell and perhaps Overdose, the free mod which became a costing stand-alone, Painkiller is one of these games with a coherent universe.

Windows · by vicrabb (7272) · 2008

A game with potential shot down by serious programming bugs

The Good
Almost everything apart from the initially hard to get secrets and the propensity for the game to crash and corrupt gamesave files.

The Bad
Hopelessly incompetent programming and quality testing has resulted in a game that is not worth playing, in spite of showing many strong points. Game saves often become corrupt to the point of having to start at an earlier point in the game, or even a new game outright.

The Bottom Line
Don't buy it, unless you don't mind end after end of serious game bugs.

Windows · by Dave Billing (24) · 2012

Have some Quake with your Serious Sam.

The Good
Seems Serious Sam really made a dent out there, as we are officially seeing the first clone of it right here in DreamCatcher's Painkiller, an FPS that's heavy on the action and light on the brains.

Just like "Serious", Painkiller is nothing but a shooting gallery on steroids. A throwback to the more simplified early days of FPS gaming where you'd walk into a seemingly empty hall with a big weapon or power-up floating in the air and as soon as you grab it all exists close and a gazillion enemies spawn instantly coming for you from all sides. Forget tactics, forget realism, it's all about killing the bad guys in a frenzy of bullets before they get you. And like Serious Sam proved, that concept is more entertaining than you would first believe. You can't say it's groundbreaking but it sure is entertaining... for a while anyway.

This mold of simple yet entertaining gameplay is the one Painkiller takes and coats with a dark theme much like Quake's as you are not a cartoony hero defending earth from alien invaders, but instead take the role of a "Hitman from Heaven". A wandering soul that's tasked with cleaning out the Armies of Satan from the purgatory as exchange for him getting into heaven and rejoining with his long dead wife, taking the souls of his enemies as he dispatches them... The game thus plays in the purgatory, which as imagined by the developers looks pretty much like a distorted and dark version of earth (think Silent Hill). As another reviewer noted while the level design itself is completely straightforward, the layout and art direction is not so, and manages to be a standout feature in the game, with some pretty impressive locations like the sanitarium and the opera house deserving some serious praise.

I don't know what engine the developers used but the results are pretty impressive. Not only on the levels themselves, but also on the enemies (which also have localized damage and rag-doll physics) and special effects such as when you trigger your "god mode" (acquired by collecting a determined number of souls) and which blurs and distorts your vision and surrounds all the enemies with an eerie glow (and also allows you to kill them just by looking at them!)

As for the enemies and weapons, they are all your standard "darkie" stuff you know from games like Quake or Blood, with the inclusion of some rather impressive asian-themed enemies and the hyper-gigantic bosses that steal the show and prove to be the most exciting opponents in the single-player game. As an original touch the game throws mini-objectives for you to complete in each level, usually dealing with a certain number you must reach in some of the game's many stats (killing X amount of enemies, recovering X amount of souls, etc.), should you complete those, the game rewards you with tarot cards that can be equiped before you go into the next level, and which have all sorts of different effects that you can call forth at anytime to aid you in the fights (such as stopping time, dealing cuadruple damage, etc.) a nice idea that has proved itself in other games and works like a charm here also.

Finally, the multiplayer component (the real deal-maker here) is superbly designed with enough options and quality gameplay to satisfy the most jaded frag-addict.

Oh, and the cutscenes are reeaaally good, and the goth heavy metal soundtrack Kicks ASS.

The Bad
Well, it IS a clone of Serious Sam... With everything bad that entails...: A braindead action game with braindead enemies and braindead gameplay. Continued playing either takes you to a zen-like nirvana state or makes your brain explode, as it's the same retarded shoot-everything-that-moves thing over and over and over again....

It also has some rare bugs that get you stuck in a pixel and crash the entire thing... but I'm sure that's going to be solved eventually.

The Bottom Line
It's simple enough: Liked Serious Sam? How about some Quake flavor on top of it? That's Painkiller. If you liked Serious Sam then "more of the same" doesn't exactly pose a problem to you, so you are sure to enjoy every action-soaked moment of it. However the rest of us with somewhat more diverse interests might consider the novelty but quickly forget about it as soon as anything barely more interesting comes along.

Windows · by Zovni (10504) · 2004

[ View all 5 player reviews ]



On October 14, 2004, the CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) announced that Painkiller was chosen as the official game for their $1,000,000 CPL World Tour. The competition maps are designed by Todd Rose, Richard Heath and Russel Meakim from Ritual Entertainment.

A month later, on November 20, 2004, the CPL announced that they had cut a deal with Dreamcatcher Interactive that gives them worldwide rights for the use of multiplayer Painkiller in any online or live tournament with cash or merchandise prizes.

German version

In the German version, blood was re-colored green and enemies don't burst.


In January 2004, four months prior to the release, a hefty multi-player alpha build was leaked to the internet. Dreamcatcher was unable to trace the source and could only warn fans that the leak was not representative for the final game.


The latest patches (1.61 and higher) adds new graphic features, such as the Bloom effect and more resolutions. Two more weapons are also added, an SMG with a Flame Thrower and another gun similar to the shotgun and Stake Gun.


Daniel Garner, the hero of Painkiller, was originally envisioned and prototyped as slick, gun-toting Latin American with a wardrobe reminiscent of Miami Vice, before being reinvented as a the tough and troubled everyman he is in the final game.


Painkiller is one of the few games that doesn't force real-time rendering for it's video display. Usually whenever a game or program has a graphic load that exceeds the hardware's performance it starts to "skip" the rendering of certain frames in order to maintain the timing of the animations as intended. This results in the familiar "frame-skipping" or "jumping" that we known so well.

Another alternative to this problem is to forget about trying to maintain real-time animation and draw every frame at the speed the hardware can manage, however this is hardly used for videogames and usually only appears as an option on 3D rendering programs. The reason for this can be seen on Painkiller and that's because if you play it on a machine that's below the recommended specs, the game will be actually easier to play. As whenever the CPU load gets too high (which starts to happen when many enemies appear) the game goes into slo-mo.


  • Computer Games Magazine
    • March 2005 - #3 Game of the Year 2004
  • Computer Gaming World
    • March 2005 (Issue #249) – Single-Player Shooter of the Year
    • March 2005 (Issue #249) – Best Weapon of the Year (for The Painkiller)
  • GameSpy
    • 2004 – Most Pleasent Surprise of the Year (PC)
  • PC Gamer
    • 2004 - FPS of the Year

Information also contributed by Ghostbreed, PCGamer77, rstevenson, Scott Monster and Zovni

Related Games

Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell
Released 2004 on Windows
Painkiller: Gold Edition
Released 2004 on Windows
Painkiller: Overdose
Released 2007 on Windows
Painkiller: Resurrection
Released 2009 on Windows
Painkiller: Redemption
Released 2011 on Windows
Painkiller Triple Dose
Released 2008 on Windows
Painkiller: Hell & Damnation - Anti-Christmas DLC
Released 2013 on Windows, Linux, 2014 on Macintosh
Fear Surrounds
Released 2021 on Windows
F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon
Released 2005 on Windows, 2006 on Xbox 360, 2007 on PlayStation 3

Related Sites +

  • All About Painkiller
    Fan site about Painkiller and its add-on, Battle out of Hell, with gallery, guide, secrets, videos, etc.
  • Hall of Pain
    Fan shrine to Painkiller and its add-on with a complete list of enemies, videos, a mod created by Varus, the webmaster, called The Hills and an interactive Tarot Guide. Also available in German.
  • Official Website
    Official Publisher Website for Painkiller (Flash required)
  • Painkiller Euro
    European painkiller fansite with news, cups and tools.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 12938


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Brian Gladman.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, tarmo888, Sciere, Xoleras, vicrabb, Patrick Bregger.

Game added April 23rd, 2004. Last modified March 9th, 2023.