From start to finish, Shadows of the Damned is one of the best Grindhouse movies I’ve ever played. I’m less a fan of the horror element of the genre than I am of the purely over-the-top, gratuitous nature of the genre, but the game is so unashamedly vulgar and grotesque that it overcomes any qualms I may have had about playing out of my comfort zone of “pretty-much-anything-but-horror.” Let me reiterate: I don’t like horror, but I liked Shadows of the Damned. Of course, with the combined might of Suda51 and Shinji Mikami at the helm, it already has a lot going for it before you even take it out of the case.
The game starts off with a very cinematic style. The hero, Garcia “fucking” Hotspur is introduced as he approaches a downed demon, who taunts him before his explosive demise. As Garcia races to his apartment, you fade into an appropriately dark and creepy, and very movie-style game credits, with a musical score by the inimitable Akira Yamaoka. As I mentioned, the game is very vulgar and grotesque, which is very refreshing. The language, imagery, juvenile humor, gore, violence, and double entendres are of the type that you don’t often see in mainstream games. Suda51 and Shinji Mikami don’t care. They made a fun game, and that’s all that matters.
The gameplay is fairly linear. This is not an open world adventure, it’s a third-person shooter with rigidly defined direction. While this means exploration is…well, fairly non-existent, it does mean that the story is constantly progressing at a good pace. Well, what story it has, at least. Hotspur is a demon-hunter who does it for shits and giggles. This has upset the upper echelons of the demonic world, so naturally they’ve kidnapped his girlfriend. What does any self-respecting, demon-hating demon-hunter do in that situation? He dives in to Hell and brings the pain.
There are areas of immense darkness in Hell. I don’t mean dark like a nighttime stroll, but overwhelmingly, crushingly dark like the depths of MY SOUL. The darkness saps away at your health, and can only be stopped by firing a magical ball of fire from your phallus-shaped weapon into a floating, bleating goat’s head. I dare you to tell me that doesn’t sound like a hell of a good time.
Shadows of the Damned is not perfect. As you play through the game, you find red gems that can be used to upgrade your weapons and abilities. This system works very well, with each gem being worth an upgrade point. Once you finish the game, however, there is no option to start a new game with the upgrades you earned in your first playthrough. This removes a great deal of the game’s potential replay value. On top of that, the camera during combat and normal play can be a bit clunky, and is not as intuitive as it could be. There will be times when you will want the camera to be somewhere specific, and it will be off the mark. Neither of these are terrible issues, however.
Shadows of the Damned, in spite of the lack of replay value and camera issues, is absolutely fantastic. You are doing yourself a disservice if you deprive yourself of this experience.
|Excellent soundtrack and sound|
Wonderful visual style
Over the top vulgarity and violence
|Camera is a bit clunky|
No new game plus