"A Grindhouse-Inspired Shooter"
I should start this game review with a dirty joke and probably reference a part of the male anatomy at the same time. However, if you plan to play Shadows the Damned, then you will hear plenty of this stuff to last you a decade.
Shadows of the Damned is a very basic game. It’s a third-person shooter which strays very little from the genre's well-trodden path. The story remains just as simple -- you are a demon hunter who goes to hell to save your girlfriend. Although, as simple as the game is at its structure, the meat packed onto these bones is quite… rotten (but not in a bad way).
- The enemies are often ludicrous, but don't expect Silent Hill-like scares -
To help you understand what SotD is like, imagine yourself locked in a revivalist theater, stuck in the ludovico device from A Clockwork Orange, and made to watch every single over-the-top horror and exploitive film from the 70’s and 80’s. Shadows of the Damned pays homage to all of these films by creating a world of graphic violence, monstrous and gory demons, and plenty of nudity. This is perfect for establishing the atmosphere and idea the developers wanted for the game, which, in turn, is probably the best part of the game.
The biggest flaw comes across in Shadows of the Damned's dialogue and jokes. Humor is summed up with handfuls of lame sexual puns. Half the time, sexual innuendo and references are neither creativ, nor well-timed. Phallic jokes are what fill up most of the dialogue of the game, and it gets tiring quickly. Oddly enough, the soundtrack was composed by Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill fame – so, it’s a shame there is so much lame humor and dialogue running over the excellent soundtrack. After a while, I was hoping the game characters would just shut up so I could play the game and rock out.
Shadows of the Damned suffers in gameplay too. The fact is, the game simply is not that great, though it isn't terrible either. It feels about 5-6 years out of date. Like a film whose director spent too much time worrying about effects and visuals rather than the story itself, SotD suffers in the same way. So much energy was put into creating a bizarre, over-the-top world with grindhouse film homages that gameplay development seemed to get left far behind. While the graphics seem out of date too, you won’t notice them as much as the bland gameplay.
- There's a lot less substance here than we expected -
However, there are some puzzles and a few events that keep the game from being a complete wash. A few, almost unnoticeable extras lie within- mini-games, pixel hunting, and such. Shadows of the Damned is only about 8 hours long and moves at a fast pace, so that it becomes very playable inspite of its flaws.
Adventuring through the version of hell Grasshopper Manufacture has created is entertaining and bizarre, with enough Silent Hill / survival horror moments to make you feel tense. Fans of horror genres (in both film and video games) will absolutely adore Shadows of the Damned. However, those looking for more than a gory, bizarre, nudity-filled, exploitive horror, third-person shooter should continue their search. SotD brings nothing unique to this genre except visuals and ambience.
GameDynamo's Score for Shadows of the Damned (X360)
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