User Rating: 8 | Shadows of the Damned X360

Shadows of the Damned is a strange game. Not just because of its visuals, which are weird, or its story, which is deranged, but because of the way it comes together. Shadows of the Damned is a game you might play and enjoy, but not necessarily because you'll enjoy playing it. The things it does best, the bizarre visuals, the fantastic soundtrack, the strange narratives and side stories are largely removed from what you spend your time doing. The premise to Shadows of the Damned is simple, but again, strange. Garcia Hotspur's girlfriend Paula has killed herself, and the lord of Hell, Fleming, has claimed her as his own. So Garcia's off to the City of the Damned to get her back, with only his Johnson to help him. Shadows of the Damned is a collection of strange, arcade shooter conceits stuffed into a game that seems like it's poking around the edges of a modern third person action game. Garcia wields Johnson, his former demon companion, in one of three different weapon forms: a pistol, a shotgun, and a machine gun. Johnson can also fire out a light blast that has various effects, it incapacitates weaker enemies, and it can chase away darkness during one of Shadows of the Damned's many dark light puzzle sequences. The City of the Damned is frequently home to giant pockets of inky darkness that will slowly tear Garcia apart, it is called Shadows of the Damned, after all unless, that is, he can figure out a way to chase it away. The particulars become more complicated over the course of Garcia's feel good trip through the underworld. This is the inherent conundrum of Shadows of the Damned. Your own tastes will determine whether it's more or less than the sum of its basically functional but not especially interesting parts, and the attitude and style it carries like a chip on its shoulder. As an action game, Shadows of the Damned is a passable exercise in a few interesting ideas often buckling under the weight of controls and level design stuck firmly in the past. But as a weird tour through a Hell we haven't seen before, with a love for subject matter that neatly sidesteps the likes of other Grind house inspired games over the last few years. Shadows of the Damned is an experience that's worth having... for a particular audience.