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Shadows of the Damned Review

Shadows of the Damned Review

Shadows of the Damned, developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, is a collaboration between three Directors, each with their own distinct personality and style. Suda 51, Shinji Mikami and Akira Yamaoka are somewhat of a dream team when you consider their history in games such as Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill and No More Heroes. So when tasked with developing a psychological action thriller, it was clear that the game would be scary, exciting and make about as much sense as Nintendo's Wii U announcement at this year's E3. Throw in a few hundred phallic jokes and innuendos and that's the short story of what the game essentially is, now onto the long story.

Players take on the role as the Mexican Demon Hunter Garcia Hotspur, who has become somewhat unpopular with the demons that he faces. In fact, after killing too many of the evil minions, the archdemon Fleming takes an interest in the hunter, or more precisely, his girlfriend Paula. After a brief confrontation, Paula is kidnapped and Garcia vows to rescue her from hell, but not before putting a bullet between Fleming's six eyes. With help from his friend Johnson, a floating skull who can transform into various objects such as guns and a motorcycle, Garcia sets off to take his revenge and reclaim his love. Now the story may be an old cliche when simplified to its basic 'save the girl' plot device, but the game throws enough obscurity at the player to keep things fresh.

At its core, Shadows of the Damned is simply a 3rd person shooter reminiscent to Resident Evil 4, laser sight and all. From the start, Johnson is able to transform into a pistol called "The Boner", but has the ability to swap later on to a machine gun called "The Teether" and the "Monocussioner", a shotgun/grenade launcher variant. It's important to note that Garcia's aiming and turning speeds can be altered in the options menu as the default settings are a little sluggish. Melee, of course, requires little skill in aiming and can be used effectively to knock back enemies that get a little too close. Unfortunately, this only tends to work with the basic zombie-like enemies, tougher opponents later on will just laugh and pound Garcia's face in. Another dangerous obstacle and puzzle device comes in the form of darkness, or rather a purple/blue fog that damages Garcia over time if he stays inside it for too long. To prevent this, Johnson can fire what he calls a "Light Shot" directly at a goat's head that will not only disperse the darkness, it will probably confuse the player too. Why a Goat's head?

Throughout the game, players will find various collectibles in crates, ammo boxes or just out in the open. White gems are most common and act as the game's currency, they can be used to buy life restoring drinks at vending machines or used to trade with the half demon Christopher for more valuable items. Red Gems are used to upgrade weapons by increasing their damage or reload times or, better yet, Garcia's health bar. And lastly, Blue Gems, these little beauties upgrade Johnson. Blue gems can also be found at set intervals throughout the story, these grant access to new variants of previous weapons, such as "The Dentist", which allows the machine gun to fire three times the amount of bullets which have the ability to home in on a target. The weapon progression and upgrading system means that killing enemies never really gets boring. The later enemy designs also warrant switching weapons for different situations, like the masked demons who are easily taken out once their mask has been removed thanks to the explosive Monocussioner.

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