Shadows of the Damned Review: Demons Are Buttholes

ShadowsOfTheDamned

No matter what I write here I just don’t think there are words to express how deep and unconditional my love for this game really is. It’s raunchy, funny, scary, and manages to take many of the things that made Resident Evil 4 one of my favorite games and give it that unique, Suda51 flavor. I’ve been hyping up this game since before it had a name so I’m sure by now many of you are fully familiar with what it is and who’s behind it.

For the uninitiated, Shadows of the Damned is an action/horror game that plays a lot like Resident Evil 4 (fitting since Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is one of the minds behind this) but with a style that’s very Goichi Suda (Suda51, the genius behind No More Heroes). Layer on top of that another incredible soundtrack by legendary Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka, and Shadows seems to be destined for greatness. So is this the game that will “redefine horror?” Let’s find out. The Baby Factor: If Resident Evil 4 got together with the punk-rock edge of No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned would be their extremely well-endowed demon hunting offspring.

The quick and dirty answer to that question is no, and only because this isn’t a game that’s looking to redefine anything. Instead its sole mission is to give you the best damn gaming experience you’ve ever had, one that’s filled with buckets of gore, hilarious dialogue, and more sexual innuendo than you can shake your Hot Boner at.

From the beginning it’s obvious that the guys behind Resident Evil and No More Heroes worked on this game. It controls very similarly to Resident Evil 4 (four paragraphs into the review and I’ve already mentioned that series half a dozen times) in that it’s a third person, over-the-shoulder shooter, only this time you can do things like dodging and strafing. You can also run but despite Garcia’s chiseled exterior, he must have been skimping out on the cardio because he can only run for a few seconds before needing to catch his breath. This is something I can relate to.

The gist of the story is Garcia F**king Hotspur’s girlfriend, the lovely Paula, has been kidnapped by a very cool looking demon. I mean, this guy’s head is like three heads in one, each stacked on top of the next giving him six glowing eyes. He’s cool. The rest of the game consists of Garcia wiping out wave after wave of demons with his flaming sidekick, a torch named Johnson. Johnson is far more than the comedic relief of this duo, he also has the impressive ability to transform into weapons and a motorcycle. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the former but sadly, you never get to drive Motorcycle Johnson, so that was a bit of a bummer.

The banter between our two protagonists is one of the best things about this game. Having seen all the trailers, screenshots and every bit of gameplay that’s leaked out regarding this game I knew there was an interesting dynamic between the two, but I had no idea I’d be laughing out loud so often. Throughout the game you’ll come across tombs that can be read to glean a little backstory regarding several of the game’s bosses. All except one of these books are narrated by Johnson, who always manages to add some funny commentary, but there’s one in particular that Garcia reads and those five minutes might be the funniest of the entire game. I won’t ruin it for you, just know that if you find one of these large books it’s in your best interest to check it out.

Proving this game’s humor really does seep into everything, even the hints and tips are hilarious. The weapon you start off with, the Boner, is a pistol that can later be upgraded to the Big Boner, giving it the ability to fire mines. These mines can be shot from afar to break enemy defenses or shatter rock walls that have glowing cracks on them. When confronting the latter for the first time Johnson told me to “Fill those cracks with my explosive hot boner!” It’s just so good.

I might suggest not playing this around family and/or young ones, and I’m not saying this because of the gore, even though there’s plenty of that. Shadows has more sexual jokes and innuendo than you can shake your Hot Boner at, and while they’re really fucking funny, some parts of this game might make it an uncomfortable game to play within earshot of family. There’s one section in particular that had me traversing a Godzilla sized version of a mostly-nude Paula to the backdrop of a lot of moaning. On more than one occasion while reviewing this game I was asked by my roommates to stop watching porn so loudly, to which I replied, “If I was watching porn you wouldn’t hear anything because I’d have my headphones on!” Yeah, that shut them up.

Shadows is also a very bizarre game, but in a really good, fun way. There are doors with animated baby faces that must be unlocked by feeding the infant various items like strawberries. There are other times when I have to set fire to an odd-looking sea creature so it can light my path as it scurries along to amazing backwater music I’d expect in an Alabama swamp (assuming Alabama has swamps).

As I mentioned earlier this game was scored by longtime Silent Hill composer Akira Yamoaka, and while his style is easily recognizable to fans of the Silent Hill series, it’s still very unique to this game. Yamaoka’s unique blend of industrial sounds and haunting melodies works great as a backdrop for this game.

It’s not perfect though, and there are a few issues like a lack of checkpoints in a few areas, achievements that don’t stack (you’ll have to beat the game on multiple difficulties to get them all), and the surprising lack of a New Game + option. But overall those are minor gripes when compared to my main issue with the game: instant kills. I’m used to going up against a few things that can slay me instantly, but Shadows throws you in several situations where if you fail to do what you’re asked, you’ll be killed immediately. These areas are mostly limited to running from an enraged Paula who gives you a kiss of death if she catches up to you, and a section where you have to snipe massive enemies with your explosive hot boner before they reach you. I would’ve liked less of these.

I was worried an arsenal consisting of a paltry three weapons would make the combat turn repetitive quickly. Fortunately, tanned to my happy surprise, this isn’t the case. Yes, there are only three weapons, but as you vanquish bosses and collect their blue diamonds, you use those treasures to upgrade your weapons. Each weapon can be upgraded three times, and each new version looks and plays different from the next, so in the end you really have nine weapons, you’re just limited to three at a time. It’s a strange way of doing things and it’s an approach I was a little worried about, but they seemed to know what they are doing and it never really bothered me.

Shadows of the Damned is a kick to the face, but only in the best way possible. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget, and when it’s over it’ll leave you hungry for more. Throw a running time of 8-10 hours, some very fun 2D segments and a musical treat nestled after the credits that may very well blow your mind and this game is everything I hoped it would be and more. If you want a gaming experience that really hasn’t been seen before, Shadows of the Damned won’t disappoint, in fact, it guarantees a happy ending.

The Final Word: What, that last paragraph wasn’t enough? This game is like sex – it’s fun, infinitely replayable, is best enjoyed alone, and only costs $60.

This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Shadows of the Damned, which was provided by the publisher.

Have a question? Feel free to ever-so-gently toss Adam an email, or follow him on Twitter and Bloody Disgusting.

Source: Dead Pixels Video Game News for Badass Demon Hunters