Magnifico! Shadows of the Damned is easily one of those games that has over the top action, intense shooting and a memorable pair of the demon hunter Garcia Hotspur and Johnson. The game begins with Garcia on the verge of killing a bull like demon and before he shoots the bad guy’s head off he gets to know that the evil forces have captured his girl friend Paula. He then takes off to his residence, takes care of a few demons and then gets to meet the bad boy of the game: Fleming. Apparently this six eyed demon wants Garcia to accept defeat and join his evil realm. But our hero is reluctant to do so and instead he shows him what his bullets can do. Fleming than disappears in the outer world, with Garcia just managing to follow him. As you might have already guessed, Shadows of the Damned is all about our hero going after the bad guys to save his girlfriend, although the plot does a great job of getting the player involved by adding several humour filled scenes instead of drifting towards serious moments, depicted in games like Dante’s Inferno.
Now let’s jump to the gameplay. If you have been following the game lately you must already be aware of the fact that the game takes inspiration from Resident Evil 4 which was no surprise really since Mr. Shinji Mikami was involved. So in Shadows of the Damned you are going to shoot a lot and kill tons of enemies, but with the help of some really interesting guns. Your best friend in the game is Johnson, a demon that assists Garcia. Johnson can transform into a variety of weapons. First off, Johnson will be able to transform itself in to a handgun (Boner) which is useful for taking down some of the easier enemies that the game throws at you initially. Later down the road, Johnson will be able to transform itself in to a Big Boner which packs a lot of punch to some of the bigger demons and fires like a double barrelled shotgun. As you progress through the game you will be able to unlock more weapons, namely Teether (assault rifile) and Monocussioner (shotgun). All of these have superior versions that the player will unlock through the course of the game. For example the Monocussioner will be able to transform itself in to a Skullfest which will fire 4 skulls at a time or the Dentist which has an automatic targeting system and takes teeth as ammunition. You can also upgrade traits of each of these weapons (capacity, damage etc) by collecting red diamonds which are scattered throughout the game. You will also be able to buy ammunition and health packs with the help of a merchant, something which we have seen in Resident Evil 4. For this the player would need to collect white diamonds, which is the currency for buying stuff.
The boss battles are long and intense in Shadows of the Damned, however much of that can be made easier by the use of right weapons. You will face against demons that will be able to transform themselves in to birds, 100 feet colossi and attack you while riding on a horse. As is the trend these days, every demon has a weak point which the player needs to continuously bang it with bullets and the same logic applies in Shadows of the Damned.
The level design is pretty similar to the Resident Evil games. However certain sections are locked by baby demons which need to be fed with strawberries, eye balls and brains. You need to find them and feed these baby demons, which is depicted in a hilarious manner. The developers have also added a few 2D gameplay sections where Garcia will have to make across a certain level which adds a nice change of pace to the game. You will also come across sections which are filled with darkness. Once Garcia enters these sections his life will constantly start to degrade. In such situations the player will need to make their way across as soon as possible or fire a lightning bolt to a light source which is a head of goat. It’s the small things like these that give an amusing feel to the gameplay. Sometimes you will have to unlock puzzles in the game whose connection may be present in the darkness sections. For examples you may see things while staying in the dark which you can’t while you are in a non darkness section.
Shadows of the Damned is powered by the Unreal Engine and it goes without saying that the game looks pretty damn awesome. The character models, the horrible looking six-eyed Fleming, the demons and the various bosses that you will face in the game are a treat to watch. Of course there are a few rough patches here and there, but nothing major to spoil the visual experience. As I mentioned earlier in my review, Garcia Hotspur and Johnson add a life of their own in the game. With their cheesy dialogue delivery, Shadows of the Damned becomes a crackbrained horror romp that tries nothing but to give a sense of immersion and humour all the time. The music is very well done and I expected nothing less since Akira Yamaoka the sound designer of Silent Hill was involved. Great voice acting is backed up by some amazing background music that will suck you right in, be it the rock music that accompanies the game when Garcia is taking care of the demons or the Indian classics that initiates when Garcia moves with a light creature.
Shadows of the Damned is a pretty short game. At normal difficulty I was able to wrap it up in seven hours and the biggest down point is that on the second play through, the upgraded weapons are not available, which is such a shame. But if you can avoid that, then Shadows of the Damned will take you on a non-sense ride which will make sense and is well worth your money and time.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Cheesy and over the top dialogues, Shooting demons never gets old, A great mix of Indian and rock music, Your best friend Johnson, a skull can be transformed in to variety of weapons not to mention the fact that he is one of the hilarious characters we have come across Lengthy boss battles and 2D games in between missions is a nice addition.
Too Short and upgraded weapons are not available during the second play through.