This review has been rated M for Mature because of its graphical content, gallons of blood and jokes about male body parts.
Here at GGUK we are heading to hell in this week’s review of Shadows of the Damned which is developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and is available on Xbox360 and PS3. So is it a hard hitting, demon slaying badass? Or is it just a doomed soul trapped forever?
The game is from the eastern power house that is Grasshopper Manufacture, which is home to some of the finest talent ever seen in the games industry. The Shadows of the Damned credits reads like a true tour de force with the legend that is Suda 51, whose past works include Killer 7 and No More Heroes, Shinji Mikami, who worked on Resident Evil 4, and the world renowned Akira Yamaoke who composed the soundtracks for the Silent Hill games. So on paper the game is set to be something very special.
Shadows of the Damned follows the tale of Garcia F****** Hotspur (yes, that is his real name) and he is a hard-as-nails, leather-clad, motorcycle-riding professional demon hunter who finds his true love kidnapped by vengeance-seeking demons. He sets out to chase the Lord of the Underworld, get her back and kill as many demons as he can on the way.
As Garcia begins his search for pay back, he is not alone on this journey because he is joined by Johnson who is a demon, well an ex-demon, and a floating, flaming skull that can transform into weapons including revolvers, machine guns and shotguns, as well as items like a torch and a motorcycle. That’s all well and good, but Johnsons real job is to hit out with quick witted jokes, often about parts of the male body. Yes, Johnson has a mouth like a broken sewer and some of the things he says in the heat of battle will have you rolling around in tears of laughter, they are that funny.
During your travels through the underworld you will come across lots of demons. Some will want to kill you the minute they see you, whereas others will give you a hand. One Eye Willy is a great example of a friendly demon, and another acts as a shop keeper supplying you with ammo and upgrades.
There are also parts in the game where you’ll feel like you’ve seen it before. That’s because there are sections of the game that are heavily influenced by classic 80s horror movies such as The Evil Dead and Ghostbusters to name a few. These sections are a true love letter to the genre and just show how much love Suda 51 and the team have for them, though if you listen at these parts you will hear Johnson wise cracking about how he feels like he’s in a movie.
Along with the movie influenced parts in the game, you’ll come across huge story books as you make your way through the game. These Story books are short stories which are read by Garcia & Johnson and last for about 5 to 10 minutes each. They are very bizarre, but are great fun and something totally different to find in the depths of hell that you would have not have seen coming.
The game is bursting with style and each enemy has been designed to look and act differently. As for the underworld, it has a dark, dirty, grimy look to it from the outset and sees the fighting take place in streets and back alleys, to a marketplace. It may look like a Eastern European city you are playing in, but every two or three streets you are reminded that you’re really in hell because you’ll run across a horrific scene where the street is covered in crimson and there are the corpses of the lost souls hanging from every surface. The game is truly terrifying but at the same time stunning and it is safe to say hell has never looked so good.
As for the audio side of things, the master of terror Akira Yamaoke has done an outstanding job in setting the mood of the game and has really nailed the sound of the creatures as they try to grab, claw and rip you to pieces.
The gameplay is a lot like that found in Resident Evil 4 with an over the shoulder camera which brings the action that bit closer. The camera system on the whole works well, but there are a few moments where it forces you to reset it because it has got stuck or is blocking your view in a fight. You’ll spend most of your time wielding an array of hellish firearms that Johnson transforms into, like the Boner and the Skullbuster. These guns may have fancy names but at the core they are just pistols, shotguns and SMG. Each one handles differently and all get upgraded as you play through the campaign. Johnson also transforms into a torch to light your way, which doubles as a handy killer melee weapon.
A big part of the game is the boss battles and each boss brings a new challenge to the table, often taking a few minutes to work out how you will bring them down. There range from super charge killer will two huge blades, to a 12ft bull man. These boss fights are one of the standout features of the game.
Along with the run and gun fun, the game has some 2D sections which see Garcia fighting his way through R-Type style levels. These sections are great fun and a welcome change to the gameplay, as well as being very stylish.
The game’s sense of humour is exactly the sort of thing you would expect from Suda51 (though some of the double entendres border on the crass rather than funny from time to time) but you’ll be laughing away at the game more often than not.
Shadows of the Damned is a truly enjoyable tale from start to finish and will have you playing through it time and time again with it’s dark humour and core gameplay from some of the legends in gaming. A must buy at all costs.
I am a Mexican not a Mexican’t