Now that’s what I call a big f***ing boner!
Oh, Shadows of the Damned, you’re such an enigma. Your obvious ties to creative producer Shinji Mikami’s Resident Evil pedigree did their best to make me hate you, but once I got over my interactive avatar’s inability to accurately target things within arm’s reach, I found myself immersed in a rich, beautiful world full of humor and horror that few dare to develop—and, for that, I am thankful.
A collaborative effort between Mikami and No More Heroes frontman Suda51, Shadows is a tough game to peg. Immersed in a tale of love, loss, and endless sexual innuendo, I found myself mesmerized by the aim behind this third-person adventure but not quite sure about the end result. Fans of the Resident Evil series will undoubtedly love this Latin-themed death opera, but as a gamer who never quite embraced the old-school control scheme, it took me a while to look past the quirky interface and fully embrace a game that, despite is flaws, must be applauded for its all-out assault on the status quo.
Intricate level design, peerless character progression, and an unyielding sense of style are all hallmarks of this charming throwback’s undeniable 16-bit sensibilities—and in an age of “bigger, better and faster,” Shadows of the Damned is less concerned with the prevailing wind of blockbuster development and more a tribute to the things that make our hobby great. I’ll admit I got a bit bored in some of the game’s more didactic moments (such as the game’s unfortunately redundant Army of Darkness tribute), but as it progressed, Shadows really amped up the intensity with a host of minigames and tonal shifts that displayed a real sense humor and wonder often lacking in modern gaming. And I couldn’t help but find myself drawn to the game’s intent.
And, sure, folks will knock it for a lack of obvious enhancements (such as Move support or an sympathetic checkpoint system), but ultimately, I was really impressed by the game’s ridiculously irreverent characters, epic boss battles, and solid sense of self. I know it’s a bit cliché, but honestly, Shadows just isn’t for everyone—and, in this instance, I can’t help but admit that that’s OK. It’s a beautiful, humorous, iconoclastic look at third-person gaming that doesn’t care what you think. And just like its chief protagonist, Garcia Hotspur, this game’s on a mission. Either you get it, or you don’t. As far as I’m concerned, Shadows succeeds, and if you’re a gamer in search of something intense, amusing, and undoubtedly in tune with what brought you into the hobby in the first place, you’ll find it deserves its props, too.
SUMMARY: An irreverent throwback with obvious ties to the Resident Evil series, this game isn’t for everyone, but as an old-school alternate to the agro-action games that plague the genre, Shadows has a lot to offer.
- THE GOOD: Refreshing, irreverent, unapologetic style
- THE BAD: An RE-esque control scheme and occasionally stale moments
- THE UGLY: A new world record for references to male erections