Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
by: Mike "pheriannath" Katsufrakis
There’s a moment early on in Shadows of the Damned where you meet the main villain and he monologues for a good couple minutes while constantly making penis jokes. It’s good that this comes so soon, because it serves simply as a taste for what’s to come. While crass, the writing somehow manages to remain entertaining throughout, and if your sense of humor allows for such language, you’re in for a treat.
Shadows of the Damned is a grindhouse/horror movie love-in masquerading as a crass third person shooter, and it’s one of my favorite single-player games of the year. You assume the role of Garcia (F-bombing) Hotspur and his wisecracking demon sidekick Johnson. Garcia’s girlfriend Paula has been kidnapped by Fleming, the lord of all demons (naturally), and you need to get her back.
The action is standard fare for a third-person shooter, and mostly revolves around you using Johnson, who (of course) can transform into any weapon you need to ventilate your foes. He also serves as your prime source of penis-related humor as a good number of the weapons he can become have names like “Hot Boner”. Dial up a phone-sex line later in the game and he’ll become the “Big Boner”. Awesome.
Some simple environmental puzzles punctuate the action, and usually involve cleansing an area of shadow to make enemies vulnerable. I had a few Alan Wake flashbacks, but your mileage may vary.
As the product of a sort of Japanese game development supergroup (Suda51, Shinji Mikami and Akira Yamaoka), it manages to capture the best essence from all three. From Suda, we have an absolutely insane plot, over-the-top characters and the old “punk’s not dead” attitude that serves as Grasshopper Manufacture’s motto. Mikami, famed for his work on the Resident Evil series, brings structure to the gameplay which is something a game Suda works on usually lacks. Yamaoka brings his vast musical talent along, and while it’s not his best work, the music serves the game well.
While Shadows of the Damned may not have had the best marketing budget (hey, zero is still a budget!) out there, it’s clear that the developers had a ton of fun making it. The localization is top-notch, and while the action is merely solid, it serves its purpose.
If you enjoy blue humor, this is an easy recommendation. I had a ton of fun in my playthrough, and this is definitely the sort of game that will live on as a cult classic.