Shadows of the Damned Updated Hands-On Preview

The latest game from Grasshopper Manufacture may be completely out of its mind, but that's hardly a bad thing.

Shadows of the Damned is a game with a customizable weapon system, where one of the weapons is a handgun called "the boner." In other words, you can upgrade your boner. Shadows of the Damned is also a game with hideous, horned demons. One of them is named Christopher. He's incredibly polite and speaks in a charming southern accent. Notice a pattern here? Shadows of the Damned is kind of insane.

As the latest project from No More Heroes developer Grasshopper Manufacture, Shadows of the Damned carries that same absurd sense of humor that fans of the studio have come to expect. The jokes are often vulgar, but they're well done if you don't mind a few rough chuckles in your video game dialogue. It's also a much darker game than previous Grasshopper titles; it's a game studio head Suda 51 describes as "a road movie set in Hell." Ultimately, what you've got here is a game of contrasts; it walks a fine line between horror and comedy. And if our recent hands-on demo is any indication, it seems to be pulling it off.

At its core, Shadows of the Damned is familiar stuff. It's a third-person shooter dressed up in themes of lightness and darkness (which you can read about in detail in our most recent preview). You've got a collection of guns that, despite such names as the boner, the teether, and the monocussioner, behave more or less like the usual array of shotguns and machine guns you've fired countless times before. The wrinkle here is that you need to remove the cloak of darkness from enemies to render them vulnerable to your gunfire. Thankfully, each of your weapons has a handy illuminating alternate fire to do so. In practice, it feels a lot like the flashlight mechanic from Alan Wake.

The difference here, of course, is that Shadows of the Damned is absolutely out of its mind and that the third-person shooter core is merely a springboard for various forms of insanity. For example, healing yourself during battle isn't done with mere health packs--you have to down a bottle of tequila or sake to restore your spirits. And the torch you carry to light up the darkened corners of the world is also a jive-talking English demon named Johnson. At one point, before encountering a particularly nasty boss, Johnson remarks, "It sounds like a cat having sex with a harmonica! And I don't mean the consensual kind." So that's Johnson.

One of our enemies during this demo was a giant head on a column or, rather, four heads on a single column. We had to fire at the glowing red orbs ornamenting this twisted statue while taking on a series of ghost demons that just couldn't help but take part in the festivities. After this run-and-gun action, we had to scale the interior of what appeared to be a massive church tower. This was achieved by leaping onto an equally massive chandelier and swinging about wildly, smashing everything in sight until we somehow made it up to the top. We're not sure how the physics of this section worked, but the bottom line here is that there was a lot of smashing. That appears to be something of a theme in this game, and we're OK with it.

See, the trick is to shoot the demons with gun bullets.

The whole game takes place in Hell, as mentioned earlier, but this version of Hell looks more like a sleepy European village shrouded in darkness and evil spirits. Think of it as the world's worst (or best!) backpacking trip through Europe. The level we played through (a brief 15-minute chunk of the game) was a linear affair that involved a lot of running through narrow alleyways before encountering enemies in a large courtyard before being funneled back into a narrow alley of some sort. We're hoping that other parts of the game involve more freedom to explore this twisted city, though we will say that the environmental design is awfully well done. There always seems to be some terrifying castle or skyline looming ominously overhead that is hiding behind a dimly lit layer of fog.

Ultimately, though, it looks like Shadows of the Damned's biggest strength is its personality: protagonist Garcia Hotspur is a tattooed, slick-haired, purple-leather-jacket-wearing force to be reckoned with, and Johnson seems like a pretty entertaining costar. When you add some twisted enemy and boss designs, you've got a game that oozes character. Hopefully, the combat evolves into more than just Alan Wake light elements followed by "shoot the bright glowing thing on the boss," because then this game could be something special. We'll have to wait and see when Shadows of the Damned is released on June 21.

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Discussion

53 comments
metaltorn
metaltorn

the animation is choppy but you know what i don't give a F**K i want this game the humor is far out there man. it's Origanl, cult classic easy

GothicCard
GothicCard

At first I thought it sounded good, not so sure now. Still going to keep an eye on it. I hope it doesnt have multiplayer, so fed up with games going that way and forgetting about a good story.

Dreakon
Dreakon

Getting a Alan Wake meets Nightmare Creatures meets Devil May Cry vibe out of this game, with a splash more humor. Could be a diamond-in-the-rough, "great game that no one has played" kind of release, but will more likely than not be a generic budget title. Just my opinion based on the preview lol...

Kid2812
Kid2812

First I was like ''interesting'' but after I heard about the story I was like ''No thanks, I'll pass''

ffviiifreak
ffviiifreak

Christopher looks really cool and I'm sure he will turn out to be a really cool shopkeeper character.

SesameSeeds
SesameSeeds

this game sounds good its a horror commedy at first i did not like it but watching the interview game looks so good

911game
911game

Shadows of the Damned? How damn is game will be cool..................

raith616
raith616

who needs multiplayer, lets have a well done long story for a change n scrap the multiplayer, besides it would be "alan wake"" death matches, dont get me wrong big fan of alan wake but multiplayer!? see Johnsons quote from the bottom of paragraph 4

lipehique
lipehique

this game seems colorful, unique, fun and exciting... seems like its multiplayer wont work out very well, so i hope the single player experience really stands out!

aeguvas_basic
aeguvas_basic

Anyone else think the protagonist looks like Skeet Ulrich from the series "Jericho" and more recently "Law & Order: LA" ?

advocacy
advocacy

I'm surprised that this game is going to be so similar too Alan Wake.

Eclipse-015
Eclipse-015

This is gonna be sick!, No way this is gonna fail

KAM10000
KAM10000

Well, the preview was nice & the game is somewhat haunty,comedy & action. the game is overall good & the fighting skill superb. the girl in the preview video was really sexy & hot. but its graphics output is not good. though the game is good & the preview was superb.

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

It looks good. The humor is too funny though.

drknessfeeds
drknessfeeds

looks like a cornfest, graphical quality is poor and the huge emeralds look out of place for the graphics they are attempting. Looks like a wait and see. Might be fun...

CelticFrost669
CelticFrost669

gameplay looks interesting as well as the dialogue but I do agree that the graphical glitches are definately distracting...

Berkut666
Berkut666

This looks whack with a big W

risako9
risako9

Sh**!!!! I love all Suda 51 games! Killer 7 ! NMH ! and this!!!!!!!!!!!!

BFKZ
BFKZ

what the hell is up with these graphical glitches?? these drive me crazy :S

Gomtor
Gomtor

I like this kind of game.

jinilthedon
jinilthedon

WoW. Shinji Mikami and Suda 51's Game wont be a Fail,i would rather believe in doomsday 2012,rather than believing it would be a Flop,the game would be hardcore and awesome .

Gabe_Logan_666
Gabe_Logan_666

Wow, this game really looks unique, definitaly picking this one up!

2nude4u
2nude4u

RE4 meets grindhouse...can't wait

the_requiem
the_requiem

This looks like RE4 sequel-ish spin-off. Just rename Garcia Hotspur to Luis Sera and everything else, from story and location to enemies, fits the bill. In fact I won't be surprised if that is how they got the idea. Over a couple of beers one said to another "Hey, wonder what happened to Luis in RE4 after dying? Wonder what sort of afterlife he had in hell."

megakick
megakick

meh looks kinda corny. WET with zombies?

desfrat
desfrat

MMMM the gameplay looks like a very improved and more fast paced version of resident evil 4/5, totally getting this, even if the protagonist looks completely awful...

Tsuchikage
Tsuchikage

This sounds pretty stupid, if I'm honest (which I always am). Maybe it will wind up being fun, but I don't have a lot of hope for it.

SubZezo
SubZezo

...you can collect emeralds from dead demons?!.

smbius
smbius

lol @ the very first sentence

mooseifer69
mooseifer69

Hey, hey! Do the names SHINJI MIKAMI and SUDA51 and AKIRA YAMAOKA not mean anything to people? If anyone deserves our blind faith it's these guys. Killer7, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil 4, and the SH Soundtrack? Would it make you guys feel better if Treyarch was behind this?

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

Sick, sounds like a game right up my ally... 80s, B-Movie horror, with a slice of comedy, sounds A-some!!! Not all horror video games need to be super serious, you rarely seem to find these elements in horror games. I wouldn't mind a new change up where it has the cheese B-Movie comedy that you would find in a movie like Evil Dead, used in a video game. One game did this really well, which was The House Of The Dead Overkill, where it had the Grindhouse, horror, comedy, mashed into it. I thought that was a pretty unique change up. looking forward to this game, especially since Suda 51 worked on it. I hope it turns out good.

JoshX042
JoshX042

This looks like it will be garbage.

El_Esbirro
El_Esbirro

this game IS weird...from the looks, probably splatterhouse comes to mind. But again, it's only the looks...hope it turns out for the best.

helam88
helam88

Please no!!! this game looks terrible

Dantethayer1
Dantethayer1

Very interesting, definitely keeping an eye out for this one.

Solid_Azeus
Solid_Azeus

Looks ok. definately not an AAA title.

conkerton
conkerton

I will watch this closely. Loved No More Heroes, but even that needed lots of work.