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Shadows of the Damned Review

His name is Garcia Hotspur, hunter of demons, and his wrath will bring hell to its knees. From the creative genius of Suda 51 (No More Heroes) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) comes an all-new psychologically twisted vision of hell unlike anything seen before. Shadows of the Damned combines visceral grindhouse-style action with dark, grotesque horror to create a mind-shattering adventure that has to been seen to be believed. When evil demonic creatures kidnap Garcia’s girlfriend, it’s up to him to travel to the City of the Damned to get her back. Aided by a former demon with the ability to transform into an array of vicious weapons, Garcia will once again take on the mantel of “demon hunter” and rip apart the horrifying forces of the underworld to protect what he loves most. Players must harness the power of the light to fight the army of the dark in unique light versus darkness gameplay that will forever change the way gamers perceive puzzles, combat, and terror. Combining the punk rock style of Suda 51 with the legendary horror design of Shinji Mikami, Shadows of the Damned will take gamers on an in-your-face thrill ride through demon-torn towns, shadow infested forests, grimy sewers and more. Featuring the most twisted boss battles ever seen, warped visuals and intense visceral combat, Shadows of the Damned will challenge gamers to break through the ultimate head-trip to help Garcia rescue his tortured girlfriend from the clutches of a mysterious enemy. Brace yourself for one hell of a trip to the city of the damned. – EA

It’s a Strange, Strange World – There’s definitely one thing that Shadows of the Damned has going for it, and it’s a level of strange that is unparalleled.  From the moment you fire up Shadows of the Damned you know that you are in for a ride that is going to be quite different from anything you’ve ever played before, if just in the story and characters department.  While there are plenty of traditional gameplay mechanics in Shadows of the Damned, it’s more the way which you interact with this strange land that really sets this game apart when judging it solely on it’s weirdness.

Distinct Graphical Style  Bring the Strangeness to Life – Shadows of the Damned has a distinct graphical style, one that could definitely have been influenced by grind house, and or George Romero zombie flicks.  It’s not a scary game as much as it is strange, but the underworld which Garcia must traverse is definitely of a distinct style in each of its sections.  Overall you’re not going to be blown away by the graphics of Shadows of the Damned, but they do well enough with variety of locales to keep your mind off of the finer details.

Pretty Long For a Single Player Experience – Shadows of the Damned is a single player only offering.  That being said, they extended the campaign a little longer than the average.  There’s between 10 and 12 hours of gameplay in Shadow of the Damned, with little to do in the way of exploration.  There are plenty of goodies to pick up, weapons to upgrade, and different strange things to see, but when it’s over, it’s over.  Throughout the single player campaign, you’ll find that each section that you visit will have a distinct flavor and feel to the environment, and I found myself being strung along if just to see what was next.

Resident Evil on Psychedelics – The best way to describe Shadows of the Damned is Resident Evil on Psychedelics.  Seriously, the things they have put together in this game are truly just odd.  The shooting mechanics are so familiar to fans of the Resident Evil franchise, that you’ll swear you are jamming on your PS2 at certain points of the game.  Whether this is a good or bad thing is probably entirely up to you.  If you like strange twisted trips then this one is for you, otherwise you might just think it’s all a bit corny.  I like the oddities strewn throughout the game, being a fan of the creative, it’s truly imaginations run wild with ideas poured into the world of Shadows of the Damned.

The Repetition Will Kill You if the Demons Don’t – Being that Shadows of the Damned is a fairly long single player experience, there’s a ton of repetition involved.  Eventhough there are some saving moments that remove you from the TPS element completely, it just becomes drawn out.  The shock value begins to deplete, and what you are left with is a game that is broken in many aspects, trying to perform the same tricks again and again.  The boss battles are a mixed bunch of outstanding, repetitive, and downright boring, but pull no punches when it comes to creativity in their design.

Not everyone will appreciate the games weird and quirky ways – Shadows of the Damned is an artistic expression.  The bad part about that is not everyone will view this game’s art as appealing to the eye.  In fact, judged against modern games, it can be pretty ugly at times.  The jagged grainy textures will immediately stick out like a sore thumb to most gamers as being sub-par to what other games this generation have set as a standard.  Cutscenes are rendered from in-game it appears so there is no saving grace when it comes to the telling of the story.

Controls like a throwback game – Probably the very worst aspect of Shadows of the Damned and one that nearly ruins the game completely, are absolutely piss poor controls.  It’s a third person shooter that has both horrible aiming, bad hit detection, and shoddy camera angles.  It’s the trifecta of mediocrity when it comes to bad shooter controls.  Even tweaking sensitivity levels doesn’t help the poor core elements of the game in the control department, and it’s a shame because the rest of the game is unquantifiable.  It’s more of a matter of preference, when examining the weirdness, shock-value, and overall presentation that the developers created.  Though for me, I never could get over, or get used to the way the game controlled from beginning to end.  With a more polished control scheme, I really would have liked Shadows of the Damned.  Unfortunately, the game feels like such a hindrance to navigate and play, that it felt more like a chore than a pleasure.

The Verdict

It’s hard to compare Shadows of the Damned to anything that has been released recently, but I definitely found myself thinking of Bayonetta when it came to weirdness of it all.  There’s a certain charm that games which choose to step outside of conventional boundaries tend to convey.  Shadows of the Damned does this in some respects, but there are major differences.  Bayonetta had a saving grace no matter how you viewed the story, it played well.  Shadows of the Damned has the weirdness and the coolness to rival a game like that, but unfortunately it’s broken at some very basic levels that take the fun right out of it, weird and different as it may be.

- This article was updated on:December 3rd, 2017

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Shadows of the Damned

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
  • Published By: EA
  • Developed By: Grasshopper Manufacture
  • Genre: Action
  • US Release Date: June 21st, 2011
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "Shadows of the Damned has the weirdness and the coolness to be somewhat enjoyable, but unfortunately it's broken at some very basic levels that take the fun right out of it, weird and different as it may be."
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