Review: Shadows of the Damned
OverviewSystem(s): Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Things We Liked:Great Soundtrack | Hilariously Rude Humor
Things We Hated:Quirky Controls | Low Replayability
Shadows of the Damned is one of the strangest, crude, rude, foul and yet entertaining games I’ve played all year. But with Grasshopper Manafacture and Suda 51 at the helm what else would you expect? Well what I didn’t expect was a hidden gem in a game that will most surely be ignored by the [...]
Shadows of the Damned is one of the strangest, crude, rude, foul and yet entertaining games I’ve played all year. But with Grasshopper Manafacture and Suda 51 at the helm what else would you expect? Well what I didn’t expect was a hidden gem in a game that will most surely be ignored by the majority of gamers.
The game revolves around the protagonist Garcia Hotspur who spends his days moonlighting as a demon hunter. However things go haywire when upon arriving home he finds his girlfriend Paula being kidnapped by the Lord of Demons, Fleming. Garcia does the only thing a hot-blooded man can do in that question, plunge into the depths of hell to save her.
The amazing thing about the game is it takes what is quite possibly one of the most cliché scenarios and weaves a disturbing and unique tale. Upon arriving in hell Garcia finds that Fleming intends to torture him. And he does that in the simple yet most effective way possible, killing Paula multiple times in front of him in the most horrific ways imaginable. All the different ways that Fleming kills Paula is quite disturbing indeed and causes you to become just as involved in saving her as Garcia is.
However Garcia isn’t in the adventure alone. He is armed with his trusty demon sidekick Johnson. Johnson also transforms into your main weapon, a transforming gun that uses demon body parts as ammo. And here is where the game’s nasty sense of humor kicks in. Johnson can transform into your main weapon called The Boner, which of course shots bones. Later he can transform into a revolver called the Hotboner. See where I’m going with this? Pretty much every aspect of your weapon translates into a penis joke. I couldn’t help but snicker a bit at the game’s unapologetic use of dirty humor. Each different version of the boner has its own upsides and downsides which correspond with different enemy types. In addition to the weapon types Johnson can also fire a light bullet that serves two different functions. When shot at an enemy it will temporally stun then, allowing you to get an easier kill or give you some breathing room when being surrounded.
The other purpose of the light bullet plays a pivotal roll in the main mechanic of the game’s puzzles. Darkness in Shadows of the Damned is bad for the health. Being surrounded in darkness will slowly suck the light out of Garcia and eventually his life. The only way to get rid of the darkness is to shot any goat’s head nearby. Yea that’s right, a goats head. However it’s not always as simple as shooting a goat and being saved. Some demons spew darkness and must be killed to keep the darkness from coming back. Then there’s demons that deactivate the goat. There’s also special doors that have to be activated by finding strawberries and feeding them to the baby heads that keep doors sealed.
It sounds completely and utterly ridiculous and honestly it is. But damned if it isn’t funny the whole time. Between Johnson’s jokes, Garcia’s crass humor and the overall craziness of hell I found myself laughing more than any game has made me in quite some time. Then there’s the ridiculousness of the boss fights and various demons you encounter across the way. Oh and who can forget the random side scrolling shooter levels where your turned into a floating marionette.
Graphically the bulk of the game is standard with nothing special or outstanding. Though the design of the demons are great and especially disturbing when it comes to the bosses. Things can get particularly gruesome when it comes to the different ways Paula dies through the course of the game. Given the scenery of the game the colors are very dark most of the time, though this isn’t necessary a negative point for the game.
One thing of particular note is the soundtrack. With Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill fame at the helm the music carries all the things one would expect from him. The music always has a hint of horror and tension while having a sense of insanity. I know that description sounds odd but there is truly no better way to put it. The music is almost comical in a Killer Clowns From Outer Space sort of way. Also of special note is the rock infused song that plays during the opening scene of the game. The music plays into the game perfectly and goes to highlight the crazy nature of the story and scenery.
However the most amazing thing is that even with all the crude humor, foul language and graphic violence there is a great story be seen. Various storybooks throughout the game tell you about the origins of the major demons and a little about Fleming himself. Then there is the story of Paula and how Garcia met her. The story is detailed enough to keep you invested but never gets in the way of the action or horror of the game. It even has a very good and unforseen twist at the end.
Shadows of the Damned is a unique and wild ride. I’ve never seen a game run such a fine line between horror and comedy and end up on top. The style is truly unique and unlike anything I’ve seen before and doubt to see agian. The only unfortunate thing is that Shadows of the Damned is doomed for cult status. It wasn’t on anyone’s radar and that is a shame. The game is almost a omage to the old times when games were about fun and style, a delicious ride into the mind of creator. While Shadows is certainly not perfect it does what it does very well, and that’s making you have fun.