Review

A new breed of game has entered the market place – dubbed a psychological action thriller, Shadows of the Damned is from the creator of the Resident Evil series (Shinji Mikami) which sees Spanish demon hunter, Garcia Hotspur, chasing through the netherworld to find and rescue his bambino, Paula who has been taken by the evil Fleming – the lord of Hell.

Aside from the simplistic plot of finding the girl and saving the day, everything else in Shadows of the Damned could only be described as ‘Mental’. Packed full of innuendo’s, bizarre visuals (including gates you need to feed fruit to open!), a talking skull called ‘Johnson’ that you use for everything and a large dollop of influence from all of Quentin Tarantino make this one of the strangest games we’ve ever played.
Shadows of the Damned game review PlayEject
The first and most obvious thing you will encounter is the ‘sex factor’ or innuendo’s that are so in-your-face that its laughable. But that is part of the charm of the game – it never takes itself seriously and as a result, the appalling dialogue, odd environment and constant references to ‘holding your Johnson’ make it a fairly easy game to get into.

Johnson and Garcia, the two main characters in the game, work well together – we see Johnson (the talking skull) be used by Garcia as a torch, gun, melee weapon and a guide to all things underworld-esque in Hotspurs journey to find Paula. To begin with we found Johnson irritating but soon warmed to him once we were able to accept where the game is coming from in trying to be something a bit different and the deliberate tongue-in-cheek dialogue.Shadows of the Damned game review PlayEject

The variety of weapons on offer to Garcia is made up of the usual suspects – pistol class, longer ranged guns, up close Melee attacks and the Light Shot which can be fired either directly at enemies that are possessed by Darkness (a shield that protects them from normal fire) or at strategically placed goats heads which light up the immediate area. We found using the Light Shot became more and more important as we progressed – especially when an area became consumed with darkness and Garcia’s life is being sapped away. that adds a good element of urgency to levels but can also be annoying when you’re not expecting it.

So far, thats goats heads to provide light and fruit to open locked gates – it is that strange, but yet refreshingly appealing!

Continuing on from the Resident Evil mindset, Shadows of the Damned adopts a very similar control method and combat engine for the aiming/shooting of the hell spawn. The familiar red-dot laser sight means you can line up shots while looking off-centre from the shoulder of Garcia with ease. Hitting a decent headshot or a certain enemy will zoom the camera in and give you a slo-mo of the decapitation which adds to the cinematic experience the game trys to convey.

And thats a big part of Shadows of the Damned – it trys to do so much to impress with its visuals, constant chatter between Johnson and Garcia and even the soundtrack that the gameplay is left fairly simplistic. Thats not a bad thing – it just means it is easy to pick up and play but doesn’t offer too much in terms of longevity.

So despite the originality that is thrown in to it, Shadows of the Damned is a watered down adventure/shooter that trails closely behind Resident Evil’s blueprint. It might be confusing, entertaining, all out wierd and repetitive but that mix doesn’t mean it works. Close but no cigar.

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