|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Grasshopper Manufacture|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: June 21, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language|
by Adam Dodd
When I first read about Shadows of the Damned, it was hidden deep within the rumors section of a gaming magazine. That was way back in 2006 when all we knew was Goichi Suda, better known by his Suda51 moniker (No More Heroes), and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) were supposedly working together on a secret action/horror title that would be published by EA. This excited me for a number of reasons. The biggest of which was my love of horror, a genre I've loved since watching Candyman at the age of six. I've also always had an undying affection for the Resident Evil series that Shinji Mikami created, and when Akira Yamaoka left Konami to compose the game's soundtrack, I knew this was something that was being created with people like me in mind. So is Shadows of the Damned the game I'd hoped it would be for the last half decade?
Despite being advertised as an action/horror game, the game is incredibly light on the horror aspect. Scarce ammo and other such staples of the horror genre are largely absent here, replaced by Garcia F**king Hotspur and his Big Boner—yes, that's the name of one of his guns. Shadows is a very raunchy game. Everything, from the dialogue to several more memorable moments—like when you have to walk along a giant, and mostly naked, version of the girlfriend you're trying to save—is a little naughty.
Even the hints you're given by your flaming sidekick, a torch named Johnson (who goes limp if you stay in the darkness for too long) are hilarious. One of his better lines came when my Boner weapon was upgraded, giving me the ability to fire mines that I could then shoot from afar. When I walked up to a rock wall covered in glowing cracks I was tasked with firing a line of mines and setting them off so they'd destroy the wall. Instead of using the approach most games would take and simply telling me what to do through a dialogue screen, I was instead told by Johnson to "fill those cracks with my explosive hot boner!"
The banter between Garcia and Johnson is almost always amusing. There are several large tombs scattered about the game that you can read to learn more about the back-stories of certain bosses. Usually Johnson reads them, adding the occasional witty comment here and there, but there was one tomb in particular that Garcia read. Those five minutes might be my favorite in the game. I won't ruin any surprises; just know that should you come across a large book during your adventure, it's in your best interest to check it out.
It's tough to call this a horror game, mostly because you'll spend more time laughing than you will sitting on the edge of your seat in fright. Shadows has a fantastic sense of humor—similar in style to Bulletstorm—that extends to almost every facet of the game. Most of it is sexual jokes and innuendo, and the rest is admittedly a little bizarre. One example of the latter is the game's merchant, a very welcoming demon with a thick southern accent. The merchant is interesting because he reminds me of the masked man in Resident Evil 4, who you know is close by when you see the strategically placed blue torches. In Shadows, you'll know the merchant is nearby when you start seeing glowing blue flowers. With Resident Evil 4's creator working on this game, this is a fun little thing that fans of the Resident Evil series will notice.
I may have been a little worried when Yamaoka left Konami to join Grasshopper Manufacture, but I can't imagine hearing anything but his trademark industrial music in this game. Silent Hill fans will recognize some of the instruments and specific sounds that are prevalent in Akira's previous scores, but it still sounds very different from his past work. The ominous industrial score and haunting melodies provide the perfect backdrop for the tale of a man on a mission to save the woman he loves.