Something wicked this way comes and believe me, what comes is one hell of a game …literally. Shadows of the Damned is a rip roaring, gun toting and strange trip through hell and it come courtesy of EA,Suda51 (No More Heroes, Killer7), executive director, Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil, Vanquish), creative producer and music by Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill series) and all this talent equals something hell hot and wise crackingly spicy.
When I first got wind that Shadows of the Damned was to be released, I thought.. Yeah, yeah, yeah a Dante’s Inferno or even a Devil May Cry wannabe. (How wrong was I)? I would like to take this moment to retract every negative thought regarding this game that manifested itself within my misguided mind.
Shadows of the Damned has to be one of the most strangely compelling games of its genre that I have ever played. This weird, eccentric and unforgivingly brash third person’s shooter could easily have been a film chalked up from the likes of Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez.
From the opening credits this game plays like a Grindhouse title e.g. Death Proof, Machete, and Planet Terror.The term Grindhouse used as homage to the old-school exploitation films such as I Spit On Your Grave and Zombie Holocaust to name but a few.
Exploitation films, often referred to as Grindhouse movies because of the type of theatres they were predominantly screenedin also known as Paracinema (if you’re a student of films).
These films can be identified by their emphasis on extreme depictions of sex; violence and gore in place of quality and/or artistic achievement. This brings me nicely to the protagonist in Shadows of the Damned: Garcia Hotspur; now this has to be one of the coolest names ever to appear in any video game (could also have been a cool name for a Grindhouse title). But nonetheless this is the name of Shadows of the Damned: butt kicking, demon crushing, wise cracking and sometimes foul mouthed hero.
As the opening scene kicks in, the streets are dark and deserted except for a blooded figure laying in middle of the street, a demon, the dying ember of a battle with our protagonist the demon hunter (Garcia Hotspur) who is now standing triumphant and victorious over another vanquished demon. With the demon’s last breath it tells Hotspur that his girlfriend (Paula) will be taken. After hearing this, Hotspur suavely blurts out an expletive then finally dispatches the demon with a bullet in the head.
Garcia heads back to his apartment where you have a basic tutorial as Garcia fights his way through hoards of demons as he tries to save Paula, but you’re too late as Paula has been kidnapped by Fleming (a six-eyed Demon who is the Lord of Hell) because Garcia won’t atone for his sins of killing demons. Now,the only way Garcia can bring his girlfriend back is to go through hell in order to face Fleming in his castle. So you give chase and follow Fleming through the portal to hell.
To follow the story in Shadows of the Damned does not require an A in rocket science. But what makes this a fantastic and interesting yarn is undoubtedly the characters you will meet as you negotiate the unique and bizarre vision of hell as laid out by Suda 51 and if you add to the mix , the dark and gothic atmosphere and the sense of humor then what you have here is a sure fire winner.
At Garcia’s side is Johnson, a former demon who loves to talk and talk and talk; you get the picture. Johnson is Garcia’s very capable sidekick. At first glance Johnson could be mistaken as a flaming torchbut this is not the case as Johnson also transforms into Garcia’s many weapons including a handgun called the Boner. Johnson can be upgraded with rare blue gems which can be obtained after killing big bosses. When you obtain a blue gem, you will have a new weapon. You will also be able to add a new function to the already acquired weapon. Another strange thing I found was that as my weapons upgraded and the power increased I felt powerful and untouchable, I really could not get enough of blowing the limbs off of these walking red eyed demons (bring it on!!) whoops, back to the review.
Other types of gems you can get on this highway to hell are red gems. These can be used to enhance your status. You can obtain these red gems by buying them or finding them whilst on your jaunt through hell. The red gems can boost the damage; reload speed and capacity of the weapons. Your health can also be upgraded along with your torch charge.
In Shadows of the Damned you trade white gems to purchase drinks to refill your health. You can find these by killing demons, shooting boxes and barrels.
Light and dark plays a massive part in this thrill ride. Demons roam the darkness, and Garcia will have to make use of the power of light to work through the stages. When you enter darkness zones, you’ll have to clear out the darkness to progress. To clear the darkness, you have to shot light shots at the Goat Lamps (the source of light in Shadows of the Damned) which you will find scattered throughout the game.
The PS3 control is rather intuitive: L1 to hold your weapon, L2 lets you replenish your health, R1 fires your weapon, R2 fires you light shots, triangle is your item menu, Left stick to move, R stick to look around, X to do a quick 180 degree turn, Square action button, Circle melee attack and the D pad is for you weapon selection.
The shooting gameplay is similar to Resident Evil 4 and 5, but now, you can walk while you are shooting. At no point did I find myself overwhelmed by the number of demons I had to fill with lead and light shots. The action is nonstop due to the excellent variety of the demons that are you going to encounter and the awesome boss battles.
The detailed environments looks great and lighting effects are foreboding. But there are some technical issues which did not spoil my time spent in hell.Shadow of the Damned has an excellent and very, very dark musical score and as such is right up there with the best of them.
The game took me about eleven hours to complete. Shadows of the Damned is one of the best action survival horror games I’ve played in a long, long time. It’s filled with many funny and memorable moments. If you’re thinking of getting this game you will not be short changed. This is a one way ticket to funsville where a lip smacking, joy pad bashing fest awaits… but just don’t take Shadows of the Damned to seriously and you will be drawn to Garcia’s charm and Johnsons somewhat dry humor as together they bring hell to its knees in this dark,mind shattering, visceral, grindhouse-style horror extravaganzathat has to been played to be believed.