Shadows of the Damned Review
Way, way more inappropriate than Duke Nukem.
Grasshopper Manufacture are known for making games that are less than conventional. 2005’s Killer7 was one of the stranger, and more violent, experiences available at the time and it seemed gamers either loved it or hated it. Shadows of the Damned is sure to be just as polarizing. It has plenty of brutal violence, nudity, cursing and genitalia-based jokes but it never tries to sell itself based solely on these facets. Instead, Shadows of the Damned chooses to throw the action at you and let you sort out the rest.
Shadows of the Damned is a 3rd person shooter of a similar style to Resident Evil 4 and 5 which is no surprise considering they share a designer, Shinji Mikami. The story follows Garcia Hotspur, a retired demon hunter who has just witnessed his girlfriend captured by the powerful demon Fleming. Garcia follows them into hell with his sidekick Johnson, a retired demon. Yes, you read that right. Johson retired from ‘demoning’ and is now a floating skull that also turns into different guns that Garcia uses to blast his enemies into bloody ruin.
Like a twisted buddy-cop movie, the pair jump into hell and ride a motorcycle into town. Johnson and Garcia really do play well off of each other and are quite funny at times, if you can handle some crude subject matter. I think a lot of the things that are said in Shadows of the Damned will come across as shocking at first but the jokes themselves are usually sort of clever, they just happen to be about crude things. On the other hand, sometimes they are more obvious. Your starting gun is called the Boner. Seriously. Mind you, it uses demon bones for ammo, but I think you see where I’m going with this. The story and humor are going to shock some, others will find it funny.
Shadows of the Damned is also capable of laughing at itself. Upgrades are bought with gems collected in the environment and doors are unlocked by feeding strawberries to the demon faces locking them. Demons love strawberries, of course. Special blue gems are used to upgrade Johnson himself which gives you access to different weapon types. Every weapon also has a special Light Shot that fires a bright burst at an enemy, stunning them.
While on your way to defeat Fleming, his minions try to kill you head on but also with darkness. Darkness harms Garcia and he will have to find some way to light up the area or die. This often involves locating a goat head and shooting it with a Light Shot because goat heads are a source of light. How did you not know that? It’s one of the things that gives Shadows of the Damned its charm; the fact that there are silly, mundane jokes mixed in with all the adult themed ones.
The single player campaign is quite lengthy and plays out over five acts, each with multiple chapters. There are a lot of secret gems to find and upgrades to be had. Depending on how much time you want to spend looking around you could be here for well over 10 hours. The action is fast and much of the story is told via conversations between Garcia and Johnson that take place while you are in the action or moving through the levels. It’s hard to get bored with Shadows of the Damned.
There are no multiplayer or co-op modes in Shadows of the Damned.
Shadows of the Damned is tied with a few other games for easiest achievement ever. You Go To Hell is unlocked the moment you start your first game. Not to be outdone, Grasshopper Manufacture wins the title for the first time I’ve ever encountered and achievement with the F word in the title. You can look that one up. The rest will come as you progress through the game with the exception of High in Las Vegas which you unlock for finding every red gem in the game. Some of these are hidden quite well, so good luck.
Grasshopper Manufacture deliver a striking, fun and interesting game. So many games that rely on shock value have very little under the hood but Shadows of the Damned is actually a good game. No co-op or multiplayer in a game of this type is, however, just a missed opportunity as there isn’t a compelling reason to go back after your first playthrough.
Final Score: 8/10
Developed By: Grasshopper Manufacture
Published By: EA Games
Release Date: June 21st, 2011