Suda 51 is mental. I know because I’ve met him and I mean that in a nice way. Although I didn’t ‘get’ No More Heroes, I was much more intrigued by Shadows of the Damned when I watched the announcement trailer because I also like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez movies. This is basically one of those movies with the gameplay mechanic of Resident Evil 4 and Silent Hill’s soundtrack and somehow it works.
You play as Garcia Hotspur as you enter hell to rescue your dead girlfriend Paula from a demon called Fleming. I know, he doesn’t sound scary but he does have four pairs of eyes and a head like the Tefal guy (ask your Dad). You’ll be meeting lots of weird demons on your travels as you shoot them and hit them over the head with your partner in crime – a floating skull called Johnson. Cue lots of double entendres about men’s private parts that are very self-aware. Luckily, because of this it’s more funny than puerile.
The other mechanic which adds a twist to the usual 3rd-person shooter is The Darkness. No, Justin Hawkins doesn’t come running round the corner like a banshee all crooked teeth and wailing, instead, when you are plunged into darkness your health starts to drain and you have to shoot a goat’s head with a light shot from your Johnson to make it go away again. I told you the game was weird. You can also use the light shot to blast darkness off demons so you can damage them and to activate moving slugs that move around to light your way. The Darkness adds a puzzle element to the game and it’s this that certainly makes you think more than you would if it wasn’t there.
The game is fun to play but there are some strange sections that just don’t work. There are frustrating moments when you’re chased by your dead girlfriend and if she touches you, you die, a strange repetitive Big Boner section that plays like a shooting gallery and an equally out of place series of side-scrolling sections which have you floating from left to right as a cardboard cut-out. The similarities with Alice: Madness Returns can’t be ignored! Boss battles are also very derivative with the old ‘shoot the big red spot until something happens and repeat twice more’ mechanic. The game’s also rather short. I clocked it at 6hours 45mins and was hoping I could replay it with my upgraded weapons and make them even more powerful. I’m afraid to say you can only start a new game from the start so the replay factor once you’ve finished it is practically nil.
Still, while the combat is also a little bit clunky, while it lasts you will enjoy the game and laugh out loud at some of the exchanges between Garcia and Johnson – IF you like that kind of thing. If you don’t, it’s probably best you steer clear and play something more serious with more replayability like Resident Evil 5. It’s short but sweet so Shadows of the Damned gets a very good 7 out of 10.
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