Take a trip through another mind-screw from Suda 51.

User Rating: 7.5 | Shadows of the Damned PS3
Suda 51 is a crazy man. He is the man behind games such as Killer7 and No More Heroes and has proven to be quite the madman. Now, he combines his madness with Shinji Mikami and Akira Yamaoka's talents to create Shadows of the Damned. The result is a mad game. Can the madness push through the darkness? Or will it sit and rock itself to sleep?

The story is about Garcia Hotspur; a demon hunter. He's out on an evening hunt when he's told to return home. When he does, he finds the demons in his house and his girlfriend; Paula, dead. He fights off the demons to find that Flemming, the lord of demons, has taken Paula to Hell with him. Garcia follows Flemming through a portal and, with the help of his demon skill friend Johnson, starts his path through Hell to save her.

The story doesn't really get more complicated than that but the dialogue between Garcia and Johnson run the show here and it's fantastic. It's funny in a real juvenille way, Garcia's pistol weapon is called the Boner, but funny none the less. There are backstories for each of the bosses you fight and they are surprisingly well done for some random bosses. The story is really entertaining, messed beyond belief at some points and funny at others. It won't last you long but you'll enjoy what is on display.

The game plays a lot like Resident Evil 4 with some improvements. You can move and shoot and you move much faster in general. There are only 3 weapons in the game that get upgraded throughout the game but the variety boils down to pistol, shotgun and machine gun. You mostly just move down a hallway from one fight to another with some semi-open areas requiring a certain item to proceed down the next hallway. It's rather bland but the shooting is fun. The bosses are really lame however, all they require is bullets in their big huge red orbs. You just repeat the same patterns while the brain dead AI stomps around barely trying to kill you. The terrible AI transfers over to the normal enemies as well. They just sorta walk into your bullets.

One harmful mechanic is the Darkness. Every now and then, Darkness will consume the area and if Garcia is in the darkness, it hurts him. To get rid of the darkness, Garcia will have to find a Goat Head and shoot light at it from his Boner. Get it? It keeps you on your toes but it gets real annoying since enemies are invincible in it. It leads to some cool moments however. You collect white and red gems throughout the game, the white gems are currency and the red gems are for upgrades. Upgrades can be done at anytime as long as you have red gems but white gems can only be used at the shop. You can buy health items, which is alcohol, ammo and more red gems. The upgrades are not really important, just upgrading damage, ammo capacity and reload speed. Most enemies go down either in a few shots or in one head shot so they are not really needed.

Even with the bad AI, bland level design and terrible boss battles, Shadows of the Damned is still fun to play. The satisfying combat has great feedback and the enemies explode real nice. If you still enjoy Resident Evil 4, you'll enjoy playing Shadows of the Damned.

Akira Yamaoka did the music for this game and it's as haunting as you'd expect from both Akira and Hell. The sound effects are fitting and the voice work is great, with Johnson stealing the show here. You'll get to love Johnson's Britishness and Garcia's more serious nature balances him out well making them quite the pair. The other characters are voiced well enough but none take anything away from the two stars.

The world of downtown Hell is quite the sight. It runs on the Unreal Engine so it has the common issues, such as slow loading textures. The artistic side of the game shines, Hell looks very disturbing and evil, contrary to the conversations Garcia and Johnson have about the place. Body parts line the streets, corpses hang from the light posts, and rivers are all blood. It's frighteningly brilliant to play through. From a technical side of things, it's rather underwhelming, especially considering the game is just corridors.

The visuals lose steam part way through, relying on a strange, out of place mini-game rather than making new looking areas. Overall, it's great from an artistic point but below average from a technical point. Hell is still as disturbing as ever.

- Gunplay is great
- This version of Hell is disturbingly great
- Dialogue involving Johnson is the best
- Funny and serious all in one
- Surprising amount of backstory for minor bosses
- Darkness is a neat mechanic
- Music is haunting and fitting

- Game is too simple and too short
- Shoot and run is all you do
- Visuals are underwhelming
- The environment is basically all corridors
- Little variety in weapons
- Terrible bosses and AI
- No variety in enemies
- Upgrades aren't very important
- Low difficulty

Overall, Shadows of the Damned is not a bad game, it's just a very flawed game. It's extremely short, it's not that difficult, there is very little variety, boss fights are terrible and the visuals lack polish. Despite all this, the game is wildly fun to play. I wouldn't recommend you pay full price for the game but if you can buy it cheap, I say go for it. You'll enjoy your trip to Hell with Garcia and his talking Boner, Johnson.

Story: 8.0/10
Gameplay: 7.0/10
Audio: 8.0/10
Presentation: 7.0/10