The combat is a much more frequent source of frustration. It's just terrible. There are a number of items you can use as weapons, such as baseball bats, crowbars, and even pistols, and they can be used only a few times before they break or become useless. Unfortunately, battles feel like slow-motion slap fights. Swings seem to take forever to gather momentum and the melee controls are highly unresponsive, so it's impossible to develop any kind of combat rhythm. Furthermore, the collision detection is flat-out broken, so weapons only need to be sort of close to their target to do damage. You can counter attacks and pull off finishing moves, but the timing of counters is inexact, and poor animations and unimpressive sound effects diminish the sense of impact you would expect from such brutal moves. Fortunately, you won't need to rely on fisticuffs often. Saw is, first and foremost, a puzzle adventure; you won't hate the combat portions as much as you'll try to get them over with as quickly as possible.
Luckily, you have a few other offensive tricks up your sleeve besides boards with nails in them. Using items you find in cupboards and desks, you can put together a few different types of traps, such as gas traps or explosive traps. You can also rig preset locations with wired traps that will kill most combatants instantly when they cross them. If there are stray electric wires strung through a puddle, you can even electrocute enemies with a little fuse box manipulation. Bonking your foes on the head with a bat is perfectly effective, but there's a greater sense of glee when you manage an environmental kill. If you prefer to avoid combat when possible, you can be more defensive, locking adversaries out and bolting the door shut or moving a big crate in front of it, but encounters are easy enough that you'll probably never need to do so.
Sure, buddy, I can give you a light.
In spite of Saw's combat struggles, tensions often run high. As you navigate the dark corridors, you use a lighter or flashlight to help guide you (you can also use a camera's flash, though it's all but useless). At various points, you'll avoid chopping blades while sliding through tight spaces and try to gain access to a door before freezing to death, and these moments are tense and disturbing. In contrast, sections where you must balance your way across narrow boards suffer from unresponsive controls, thus inspiring the wrong kind of tension every time you have to cross a chasm lined with spikes. You also need to keep your eyes peeled for trip wires rigged by enemies and be ready to jab a button for the occasional quick-time event. Speaking of which, such timed button presses are implemented particularly well in Saw. The button in question isn't flashed in a gaudy fashion in the middle of the screen as it is in so many other games; instead, it appears on the object you are interacting with, which makes the event feel less contrived.
After a while, the adventure begins to wear out its welcome. In the final few hours, the repeated puzzle types, the backtracking, and the sameness of the dank visuals and cramped hallways dull Saw's edge. Nevertheless, the game faithfully captures the heavy sense of dread that pervades the films, so it's a natural extension of the movie-going experience. Franchise fans will likely lap it up, though Jigsaw's latest scheme is unfortunately missing some important puzzle pieces.