in Review

Damned Good

Shadows of the Damned

Shadows of the Damned is an embarrassing game. It is a collaboration of two of the greatest game developers Japan has to offer, Suda51 (No More Heroes) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil). Despite that, or perhaps as a result of that, a significant proportion of Shadows of the Damned is dick jokes. Not really clever ones either. Stuff like your bone-shooting gun being called “the Boner.” That weapon gets upgraded twice. Its upgraded names? The Hot Boner and the Big Boner. Yeah, Shadows of the Damned isn’t exactly a title that makes you proud of how far gaming has come. But, if you’re willing to laugh at that kind of stupidity, you’ll find Shadows of the Damned a pretty entertaining ride.

The awesomely-named douchebag demon hunter Garcia Hotspur comes home one day to find his girlfriend Paula murdered/kidnapped by the creepy Lord of Demons, Flemming. Garcia follows Flemming into the underworld, hoping to save Paula. Along with him is his floating skull companion, Johnson (hur hur), who can transform into a torch, guns and even a motorcycle. It’s a weird game. Some aspects of the underworld are actually pretty disturbing, like the twisted backstories of each boss, which you get to read from giant storybooks. The game is helped out a lot by its strong voice cast, Garcia and Johnson actually do have some rapport. There not really likable, but that’s kind of beside the point. It’s not quite grindhouse, but it has those kinds of sensibilities.

Mechanically, Shadows of the Damned is akin to a quicker Resident Evil 4. Shooting feels pretty much the same, with the familiar over-the-shoulder lazer sight aiming in full effect. Johnson can turn into three guns, modeled after a pistol, a shotgun and a machine gun. They are each upgraded several times over the course of the story and can be further upgraded using in-game currency. The controls feel tight and faster than even Resident Evil 5. Add in some solid enemy variety and a few interesting boss fights and you got yourself some solid gameplay.

Shadows of the Damend really comes down to whether you like the way it’s written or not. If you can get into its world, characters and dialogue, it could rank among your favorite games of the year. For me, I found the overly-indulgent stupidity distracting. In one turret sequence, Garcia kept yelling “Taste my Big Boner.” You see, the Johnson had turned into the Big Boner, a massive gun, and Garcia was holding it at hip level, shooting demons. I get it, neither of the guys developing this had a track record of great storytelling, but come on. You can’t make the same dick jokes over and over for a whole game and expect me to laugh.