Shadows of the Damned has blown me away, not so much with its gameplay (it’s mostly run of the mill 3rd person shooter similar to the modern Resident Evils) but with just how stylish the presentation is. We start the game off as Garcia Hotspur, a Hispanic man ripped with muscles and covered in tattoos. After finishing off a demon in the streets, he hears the screams of his girlfriend and rushes to save her, only to be stopped by demons. After a few waves, the head demon Fleming shows up, proceeds to talk trash to Garcia while gloating about the size of his very phallic gun, and then drags Garcia’s lady to hell.
The next thing I know, Garcia and his floating “former demon” head friend Johnson (appropriately named, as you later find out) set out on a motorcycle, and have literally forced open the door to hell. It’s hell like you’ve never seen it before.
LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL
Charisma - And our main character? He’s tough as bullets and mad as hell (yes, bad pun, I know) that the demon warlord has his girl. He curses, chats it up with Johnson and just oozes a cool that you haven’t seen in a video game character in years. While he may seem like a stereotype, he’s got his own personality that stands out. While Duke Nukem revels in being cheesy, this game avoids such pitfalls by having dialogue that is clever.
Jamming Out - The game has a lot of interesting choices for music, from casual jazz and blues, ranging up to heavy metal and punk rock. It’s all very well done too, and continues to set it apart from the rest of the shooters out there.
Inspired By The Best - The gameplay feels inspired mostly by two games: the modern Resident Evils and Silent Hill. Elements like upgrading weapons, traveling shopkeepers, and shooting enemies’ limbs to slow them down are all there, but the game controls better than Resident Evil’s clunky “let’s not move while shooting” design choice. Meanwhile, the environment is heavily inspired by Silent Hill, with evolving environments, bizarre enemies, and constant illusions that make you question reality. Even the menu’s sound effects reminded me of Silent Hill.
The Darkness Takes You - To keep your objectives interesting, darkness takes over the world around you, and you have to deal with enemies growing stronger and your health draining. Certain objects and enemies are only vulnerable in darkness, making it necessary to dive in sometimes instead of strictly avoiding it. You have to find ways to restore light to be rid of the darkness, which is often done with magic goat heads, fireworks, barrels and whatever else the game decides you must use at any given time. While I’ve seen this mechanic in other games like Metroid Prime 2, it’s done in a unique manner that the game makes all its own.
It’s a shame that due to its release in the summer and lack of promotion, this game is probably going under most people’s radar. If you’ve played a Suda51 game before and were too weirded out by it, don’t let that stop you from checking this game out. It’s got so much style and epicness to it that any fan of 3rd person shooters should immediately fall in love with ut. It even plays well too, proving you don’t have to sacrifice style for substance. I would highly recommend this game to anyone who loves gore, demons, a unique style, and of course, headshots.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*