Shadows of the Damned Is Mental - Hands-On Preview

We received a playable build of Grasshopper Manufacture's new survival horror game, and even next to Suda 51's previous work, it's insane.

Shadows of the Damned is out to mess with your head. "The bullet train is here, hell monkey!" announces Garcia Hotspur, our topless, heavily tattooed hero as he presses a gun to a demon's head at the beginning of the game. After dispatching his monstrous foe, he returns home to witness his girlfriend Paula hanging from a ceiling fan, with demons crawling out of her body, before she gets dragged into the underworld to go die some more. In terms of introductions, it certainly grabs you, and as Hotspur jumps headlong into the underworld to save Paula, you're more than ready to join him for the ride.

Hotspur's sidekick through this supernatural adventure is Johnson, a floating skull that can transform into a motorcycle, a torch, and a variety of kick-ass weapons. Johnson's a former demon, so he's an indispensable tour guide, proffering invaluable knowledge such as "demons are buttholes." As you'll be able to tell if you watch our video preview, Johnson's a witty English gent, not a million miles away from Wheatley in Portal 2, making such lines as, "Well, I just lost my stiffy," all the more hilarious.

Before Hotspur can succeed in the underworld, he needs to learn certain rules that apply only in the abyss. Light and dark are important elements, and as in Alan Wake, you need to remove the darkness from certain enemies before they become vulnerable to attack. Unlike Alan Wake, though, you do this by firing a "light shot" bullet at goat heads that hang on the wall, which provide light to the surrounding area and extinguish the darkness. There are other weird and wonderful rules of the underworld, such as doors that are unlocked by stuffing strawberries into a baby's mouth, doors that are chained by a demon's pubes, and health that is replenished by drinking tequila and hot sake.

Hotspur and Johnson have to face off against an army of small demons that, like zombies, are best destroyed by aiming for the heads. They also meet larger boss characters, such as George, who charges straight at you, that have red weak points on the rear--human blood supplies, according to Johnson. There are also basic puzzles that play on the theme of light and dark; sometimes, you need to enter the darkness so you can shoot certain switches to open doors or shoot a goat's head to restore the light.

Shadows of the Damned plays a lot like a survival horror game; you need to hold two buttons to perform a 180-degree turn, for example, but the level of action means it's closer to Resident Evil 4 and 5 than earlier games in the series. The extreme nature of the violence, language, and imagery means that it feels a lot like an exploitation movie similar to low-budget films from the 1970s or the recent Grindhouse flicks.

Garcia faces off against George in minotaur form using the teether machine gun.

Our preview code allowed us to play through the first couple of chapters of the game, which took approximately two hours in total. A chunk of this has been covered by our earlier preview, so for more detail, be sure to check out our earlier coverage. Whereas our last demo ended with a boss called George emerging out of Paula's lingerie-clad body, we got to carry on a little further. Beating George was a case of shooting exploding barrels (a gaming cliche that the game knowingly recognizes) of light to knock him over and then shooting his exposed red-blood supplies. The defeated enemy left us with an upgrade that unlocked Johnson's teether weapon, which was basically a machine gun that was good for keeping large swarms of demons at bay.

One of the most demented sections of our hands-on occurred when we came across a large fairytale book called "The Man Who Never Had His Fill." Johnson read the tale of a man called George, a harmonica player who had the ability to eat food without getting fat. It detailed George's insatiable appetite, including an intimate sexual encounter, until poor George became so thin he died. It was an amusing diversion from all of the action that still admirably maintained the game's vulgar tone.

Other incredibly bizarre moments included using fireworks launchers to temporarily illuminate dark areas and the character Christopher, who was a huge demon/human that barfed up ammunition, drinks, and other goodies if we fed him gems. There was also one great action set piece where we had to jump onto a huge swinging candelabra and then swing around to illuminate spots of darkness.

Chapter Two ended with another demented boss battle against George, who this time ripped out his own heart, ate it, and then transformed into a minotaur riding a horse. Attacking him was a case of running into the darkness to attack his weak spot and then unloading bullets into the horse's stomach when he was on the ground. Once the horse was killed, George ripped out his heart, ate that, and then grew to become 10 times his original size. This time, we had to fire at his many red weak spots and avoid his excretions of darkness, which, of course, emanated from his behind.

Once we'd dealt enough damage, giant minotaur George stopped, started to urinate darkness, and a scythe-wielding superdemon descended and lopped his head clean off, producing a blue gem that we could plug into Johnson's head to give him the skullcussioner shotgun weapon. All things considered, it was a fairly memorable boss battle.

Our preview build also contained the third chapter of the game, but at this stage, we're sadly unable to talk about it. For a look at more reasons why Shadows of the Damned is so insane, be sure to watch our brand new video preview at the top of this article. We're keeping a close eye on the game, so come back to GameSpot for more info ahead of its release. And for those of you in the UK, be sure to check out the GameSpot UK booth at the MCM Expo in London to play the game for yourself.

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Discussion

70 comments
burgo81
burgo81

well that looks like this game won't be coming out to australia

lucanorian
lucanorian

In a market that's flooded with games that try to take themselves too seriously, it's great to have a game that has gates chained with demon pubes.

rigzzsy
rigzzsy

mmm, maybe i'll convince someone else to buy it and get a shot

unknownmight
unknownmight

i read "Shadows of the ..." and thought it was "...Colossus remake" now I am here ,

Hunterjuggz
Hunterjuggz

Visually striking, might have to look into this...

darkanimne
darkanimne

i can get some fun with this one

Kos1c
Kos1c

I'm unsure what to think of this. The graphics look nice and dark for a horror game, but the sense of humor ruins the horror aspect for me. I like playing horror games for the twisted storylines, and the "oh wtf is that? /scream" moments. I will probably give this ago when it comes out, but i'm in no rush. I just feel it's going to be one of those games where you complete it going "this could of been better if they didn't do this, and did that instead."

Gomtor
Gomtor

I pre-ordered long ago and it looks fantastic. I am going to cancel however;because I am sick and tired of games where they try to impress with lots of bad language. I love the sick stuff in the game - yes, but excessive swearing is not sick, just irretating.

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

This is a game intended to shock everyone! I can see it already, newspaper, the nightly news, late night debates and countless protest factions, all trying to get this banned! In turn, all the hype will send it straight into the number one slot and make everyone under 14 begging to play it... I'm not 14 but even to me it looks a right good laugh, It has certainly got my attention now... Bring it!?

zinngg
zinngg

The immaturity will probably kill some of my enjoyment for it, but it still looks pretty good.

Adams_93
Adams_93

Probally all sat down in a board room and just said "F#ck it im gonna have demons sh!tting on people, pizza fetishes, dead babies and wierd doors made of pubes and a crazy mexican blowing things away, just because i can"

dark_harpy
dark_harpy

Looks really awesome, love it already!

raptor1906
raptor1906

Looks pretty awesome! not sure how it would go down with the classification board though...

Swift_Boss_A
Swift_Boss_A

Dante has nothing on Garcia F#!king Hotspur!

tony_hak
tony_hak

i like this game...especially B@D@$$

wornstar
wornstar moderatorstaff

Awesome F%ck!ng Preview Guy! Look forward to this game. Big Suda51 fan! Love his work!

Dam505
Dam505

This game looks crazy like the floating skull Johnson

thuban
thuban

blasterchief "Calling it now, banned in Australia." ur killing demons.. that means its not real = probly allowed in AU that means the Ratings Board think its ok for children, not like that ultra violent SUPER realistic, could happen on any Monday in the Subway game "Mortal Kombat"! the ratings board is screwd now anyway, almost every state has now argreed to issue a R18 classification under STATE LAW, meaning they will be releasing R18s weather the Ratings Board say its ok or not. XD

MGSKojima
MGSKojima

lol "welp, that killed my stiffy"

d100la
d100la

Will definitely buy it for the humour and to LMFAO

true_hurdler
true_hurdler

I...can't believe they didnt ask me for my birth date before watching that o_O

jer_1
jer_1

Man this looks...weird.

Iceeblood
Iceeblood

...wow....its like 'The Darkness' and 'Splatter house' only this doesn't look like it would suck

BFKZ
BFKZ

i really didnt like the fact that there gems as big as ur character to collect...not to mention the messed up graphical glitches...dialogue, story & characters look awesome though. will wait for reviews on this one.

Ohaidere
Ohaidere

Game looks like it'll be cool, but classifying it as survival horror is a bit ridiculous--it's really not the same genre as games like Call of Cthulu, Penumbra and Amnesia.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

Spew, Poo and Boo - what more could you want?

Crash_WL
Crash_WL

Game looks so great, and fresh! Shinji Migami on the wheel, EA backing him and Grasshopper up - I can already sense the awesomeness!

OverlordEX
OverlordEX

To call this game absurd is the understatement of the century

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

Dang. This game is seriously ****ed up. lol.

Samox
Samox

Definitely looks crazy as ****. Gonna see what the reviews are like before I invest any dough though.

Samox
Samox

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

salvucci91
salvucci91

Conker's Bad Fur Day with humans and demons

Barighm
Barighm

Okay, NOW I'm interested. At first I thought this would be a forgettable clone of some existing game, but now it sounds too whacky to pass up. Anything that breaks from the norm these days is too rare to miss.

TerraMantis
TerraMantis

Reminds me of Planescape Torment (A LITTLE) with how a talking, floating skull is your buddy at the start. Looks interesting.

hyksiu
hyksiu

Well i'm mentally insane, so i need to buy this game!