JOYSTICK: ‘Shadows of the Damned’ for the winPublished 5:00pm Saturday, June 25, 2011
There are games out there that frighten, entertain, sicken and puzzle you. And then there’s “Shadows of the Damned.”
Born from the minds of game impresarios Suda51 and Shinji Mikami, SOTD is the best parts of the No More Heroes, Resident Evil and, in some cases, Silent Hill game series. There’s a lot to like here in terms of gameplay.
SOTD centers on demon hunter Garcia Hotspur’s travels through Hell as he seeks the soul of his girlfriend. Not exactly a novel premise, but the way the game makes you think through your actions creates entirely novel experiences.
As Hotspur, you go through levels beating down demons with a variety of guns and other weapons while making sure you stay in the light. If you travel into darkness, your character’s life is drained until you can light up a room or a level. While this gets tedious at times, there are enough varied situations to make the process of lighting areas, killing demons, re-lighting areas and figuring out other puzzles seem fresh most of the time.
The graphics look great, the gameplay is sound (and borrows heavily from Resident Evil 4 and 5), and the soundtrack is to die for, as it’s composed by Silent Hill creator Akira Yamaoka. The game’s star quality is its absurd storyline and its willingness to stick to lowbrow humor and dirty jokes through every possible scenario.
Yet for all of SOTD’s pedigree and AAA design, there’s a few minor setbacks that take away from the game. Combat doesn’t feel as smooth as other third-person shooters, and it would be nice to have melee weapons available earlier in the game. Additionally, the game’s steadfast refusal to give up its lowbrow humor and absurd dirty jokes tend to get tiring in large doses. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, but too much of a good thing turns bad.
All in all, SOTD is an incredible experience for any adult gamer, and should be a highly sought-after game. The gameplay’s good, the design’s spooky, the jokes are pandering, chauvinistic and self-deprecating, and there’s plenty of action for everyone.