Shadows of the Damned Updated Hands-On: Gems & Sister Grim
We find out more about weapon upgrades and tangle with one of Death's servants in Suda 51 and Shinji Mikami's joint effort.
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Our previous look at Shadows of the Damned had us describing the many dark and light puzzles, the usefulness of a goat's head, strawberries in the demon world, and two scuffles with a VIP demon called George. This time, we check out what collectibles demon hunter Garcia Hotspur can obtain in his quest to find his love, as well as tangle with another boss in EA Singapore's office with the Xbox 360 build of the horror-laced action title.
The game has three types of gems to collect: red, white, and blue. Red gems are used as upgrades for the guns you have. Each weapon Garcia's sidekick Johnson can transform into can be upgraded to deal more damage, reload a little faster, and hold more ammo. You can also lower the charge time for Johnson's one-hit kill melee attack or boost Garcia's attack.
White gems are spent on buying items from vending machines that dispense alcohol and from a demon shopkeeper named Christopher. The latter is a charming Southern-accented fellow who sells red gems and gun ammo in exchange for white gems that fill his sustenance. Any item you buy from him is vomited out of his mouth, hitting home the kind of tone that Shadows of the Damned is going for. You can always tell that the demonic vendor is nearby by the telltale blue glowing flowers.
Whenever you kill a boss or a demon VIP, you get to keep a blue gem which upgrades Johnson's weapon transformations, usually with secondary functions. After we dealt with George's human form, we got the gem which awarded Johnson the ability to transform into the machine gun known as the Teether. Each of the three weapon types (color-coded with red for the Boner, blue for the Teether, and green for the Monocussioner) can be upgraded to a superpowered version that usually comes with a secondary shot. The upgrade for the Boner, called the Hot Boner, can lay C4-like charges that explode upon contact and can be triggered from your own shots. Killing the demon form of George (detailed here) awarded us with another blue gem that upgraded the shotgun-styled Monocussioner to the more powerful Skullcussioner.
Speaking of demons, we traversed underground into the sewers during our recent playthrough. Here, we had to fight a lot of crawling demons who loved to put out the light from the goat's head and armored demons which couldn't be killed with either a headshot or by crippling its legs. We also had to deal with a giant head that enveloped the room with life-killing darkness. The only way to make it go away is to shoot down the head's three red weak spots which were on three different sides. The constant interruptions from the lesser demons didn't help matters, but it was manageable thanks to the Teether.
Further down the road into a wide sewer hallway, we encountered one of the Sister Grims, the death dealers of Shadows of the Damned that even made the demons cower in fear. This reaper of death teleported back and forth, chucking two scythes which we had to dodge to avoid getting hurt. The reaper then dived to the centre of the screen and filled the entire room with darkness. This was the only time we could hurt it, but we had to wait for it to come up close before we fired a light shot its way. The Sister Grim backed off and was stunned, with its weak spot exposed that was ripe for shooting down using our Teether. Repeating this pattern ensured the creature's demise; our reward was the aforementioned blue gem that gave Johnson the ability to transform into the Hot Boner.
Shadows of the Damned wasn't just about Resident Evil 4-style gunplay--not that there's anything wrong with that. We also had to climb onto a chandelier and ward off the creeping darkness by knocking down strategically placed phallic-shaped bulbs which contained bursts of light. Breaking them down required us to swing back and forth on the giant chandelier. Some battles in the game required Garcia to just holster his gun and make a run towards any darkness generators lest he get overrun by darkness-powered demons.
With its '70s grindhouse aesthetics, variable score, and good mix of action and simple puzzles using darkness and light, Shadows of the Damned seems like a promising affair. While its plethora of shoehorned innuendoes and dark humor may turn off some, we felt that this was just the nature of the mind that brought us Killer 7 and the two No More Heroes games.