Shadows of the Damned
Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed)/Playstation 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Spicy Horse
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: June 16, 2011
Price: $99 AUD
Suda51, Shinji Mikami and Akira Yamaoka – Three of the most influential video game developers of this current generation (whom works’ include Killer7, Resident Evil and Silent Hill respectively) have collaborated together to create one hell of an insane game “Shadows of the Damned”. With these three big names in the video game industry attached to this game, players can definitely expect the unexpected with plenty of gory violence, action and of cause to top it all off, an abundance of jokes about certain ‘phallic’ parts of the human anatomy.
Shadows of the Damned certainly doesn’t beat around the bush (in one of the best gaming intros I’ve seen in a long time) in less than five minutes to the game, players are literally jumping straight into hell. And who might you be playing as, you ask…? Professional demon hunter, the one and only Garcia Hotspur! And holy shit what a badass he is. His journey through hell begins with the death of his lover Paula, by the ruler of Hell itself Demon Lord Flemming. But you’re not going at it alone you will be accompanied by your trusty companion Johnson a flaming ex-demon skull.
He also funnily enough, turns into your arsenal of weapons which includes The Boner, Teether and Monocussioner. Sort of a pistol, machine gun and shotgun respectively, I say sort of because throughout the game these weapons are upgraded to become so much more. Right from the get go the story kicks off with a bang and before you know it you’re standing in front of the gates of Hell. Now the story may sound familiar, a hero on a quest to save the one he loves and true overall the story doesn’t really get much more than this.
But where the game lacks in main plot, it makes up in the absolutely over-the-top scenarios, environments and bizarre-quirky side stories that players will run into that makes this interpretation of Hell so damn interesting. A nice inclusion into the game is these hilarious storybooks which tell the tales of how each ‘V.I.P Demon’ ended up in Hell (and by the way V.I.P stands for Very Important Pendejo…which I don’t think I can repeat in English). Personally I didn’t mind the simple story because it’s how the game has presented it which has made this game standout so much.
There are some solid game mechanics behind this game which is at its core, fundamentally a third person shooter. In this field the game plays fairly alright, aiming controls, moving and the camera may take some time getting use to as they do feel quite stiff from the start. Players of cause can tweak these controls in the settings menu. The game paces itself very well throwing in a range of new weapons, different enemy types and the occasional side-scrolling section to keep the game running and feeling fresh even towards the final chapters of the game.
As a Suda51 game you can expect plenty of insane boss battles, which Shadows of the Damned gladly delivers on. Boss battles in this game are very trial and error. The standard “aim for the weak spot” is easier said than done in this game, considering that sometimes there not as blatantly obvious as you would like them to be. But eventually studying a boss’ attack pattern will eventually give it away, given a few ‘restart from checkpoint’.
Along with the standard convections of a third person shooter, Shadows of the Damned also introduces a light and dark system which is integrated well with the various combat and puzzle sequences. When Garcia is trapped in darkness, enemies become invulnerable and he will slowly lose health leaving players with a short time frame to solve puzzles or complete the objective at hand. Even in the light, Darkness provides a protective coat for enemies which players have to remove first before they are able to kill them, which is a simple affair with a quick melee attack or light shot.
Gameplay overall doesn’t particularly change that much at the later stages of the game once you have full decked out your arsenal, and it would of been nice to see something that tied all Garcia skills together that’s not just the final boss. But with this said, what the game does presents is absolutely satisfying and fun to play through.
Graphics & Audio
‘Shadows of the Damned’ sports a strong art style which is backed up with solid graphics. It works wells in creating the dark, twisted and for the most part macabre world that you find yourself travelling through. It might be an artistic decision but there seems to be a fuzzy/blurry glaze over the each of the cutscenes, which I found to be quite distracting. But asides from this the game’s strong art style and art direct continue to through the weird and bizarre at you.
Audio in this game is superb, voice work by the lead characters Garcia and Johnson is as witty and filthy as it is downright hilarious. Throughout the game, there are so many great one-liners and memorable dialogue which adds to the overall look and feel of the game – very very crass humour indeed. And not only this, overall the soundtrack is fantastic in providing an overall atmospheric feeling. From the quirky music of moving ‘sushi lamp’ to each epic boss battles, every moment audio is layered together very nicely.
Suda51 has once again thrown the unexpected at us once again. Shadows of the Damned is truly a very unique experience with an unbelievable interpretation of Hell. The game provides strong gameplay with the odd twist to each boss battle and it’s filled with a lot of content that’s not afraid to eat your face off or fill it with undeniable laughter. It’s a damn shame then, that once the end credits roll you’re just left wanting more and more.
I give Shadows of the Damned for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3: