Put two of Japan’s finest game designers together and what do you get? The strangest third-person survival horror game imaginable. Welcome to the world of Shadows of the Damned; a completely over the top tale of a badass leather jacket wearing Mexican demon hunter out to rescue his girlfriend from the depths of hell.
Shadows of the damned tells the story of Garcia Hotspur, the Demon Hunter from Mexico, who sets out to save his beloved Paula from the claws of the demonic demon Fleming, together with his trusty sidekick Johnson who transforms into a handful of weapons to help you kill the demon spawn.
Produced by the creator of Resident Evil, directed by Suda 51 (Lollipop Chainsaw) and music added by Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill fame; Shadows of the damned sure had a lot to live up to, so did it go well? Yes…..sort of.
Shadows of the damned has a rather unique art style that you don’t find it many video games these days; its dark, gothic and clearly takes influence from certain grindhouse horror comedy movies. Unfortunately while at times it can look very pretty, most of the time it looks a little out-dated and just lacks polish in general but somehow it works. The audio is fantastic and totally suits everything thats happening in this twisted version of hell.
During your time in hell you’ll come into contact with a large amount of enemies which consists of variations of the same demon type. When you kill a demon they drop white gems which can be exchanged for health, ammo or red gems which are the games collectible item and are used for upgrading weapons of which there are many. Weapons include: Teether, Skullcussioner, hot boner, big boner, the dentist , etc.
It takes the camera perspective of such games as Resident Evil 4 and 5, as well as the targeting system. The biggest difference is the ability to move and shoot, and also dodge while aiming. Every weapon has a laser sight and it’s a very smooth aiming experience overall.
Johnson also can fire a special “light bullet”,”which can be used to both stun enemies and is a primary mechanic of the game’s ‘darkness’ puzzles. If Garcia enters an area covered by darkness, he will momentary be safe but soon the darkness will drain his health until he leaves or dissipates it. This most often can be done by firing a light bullet at a goat’s head in the area, but often finding this goat requires completing other puzzles, such as opening a series of locked doors.
The place in which the game really shines is the boss battles, the designs of the bosses are really creative and each needs a specific strategy to dispatch; this can lead to quite lengthy battles which could annoy some people but none of them are particularly difficult. The game also keeps things fresh and mixes up the gameplay with mini games and some side scrolling sections which are good fun.
I enjoyed Shadows of the damned because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s refreshing to see, the dialogue is cheesy as hell but that’s clearly what they were going for here and it worked. At times the game can be genuinely funny and had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion, most of the time I was cringing at how bad the jokes were but I digress. I love just how over the top it is, you can go from stuffing a brain into a babies mouth to open a door to reading books and posters about the lifestyles of demons (which are hilarious) to walking across a giant pair of breasts or your girlfriends ass, it’s very random indeed. It’s just a complete blast to play and it never lets up with non stop action and over the top cut scenes.
Johnson is certainly a highlight, he always has something to say and most of the laughs I had came from things he said. I also really enjoyed some of the references to certain movies that must have influenced the game such as Evil dead. The penis jokes can become rather tiresome near the end of the game as it really takes every single opportunity to make one. The crude humour and colourful language of some of the game’s characters won’t be to all tastes. The 18 certificate is there for a reason. Shadows of the Damned is not one for sensitive souls. If you want to fully complete shadows of the damned and get all its achievements then it requires you to play through at least 3 times on each difficulty setting as they do not stack. The game is quite short so this shouldn’t be a huge issue and it’s just so fun that you won’t find yourself getting bored too quickly.
Shadows of the damned is unique to say the least; its full of gore, non stop sexual innuendos, crazy cheesy dialogue and I enjoyed every second of it. It does lack polish and controlling Garcia can be frustrating at times because he moves in such a clunky way, its quite short and doesn’t really have that scare factor that I had hoped considering its themes. I really hope these types of games get better support in the future because I want more!
Shadows Of The Damned