Originally I had no intention of playing Shadows of the Damned, being a shooter & all that. But after watching some clips from it, I decided that it actually looked pretty interesting. Plus, it has a good pedigree. Suda51 of killer7 & No More Heroes as Executive Director, Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil 4 as Creative Producer & Akira Yamaoka of the Silent Hill series as Composer. Not a bad starting line-up. So far I’ve played up to the first stage in Act 3, & I’ve really been enjoying myself.
The story starts out simple enough: you play as Garcia Hotspur, a demon hunter, whose girlfriend Paula is kidnapped by the Lord of the Underworld, Fleming. So of course Garcia chases after them. But he’s not alone. Accompanying him is Johnson, a former lost soul who, in spite of being nothing more than a flaming skull, aids Garcia greatly with his ability to turn into various weapons. And now the two have to track Paula across the underworld while dealing with numerous demons & lost souls.
The influence of each of the major developers is obvious in the game. From Suda51 we get his offbeat wit. The running dialogue between Garcia & Johnson is endlessly amusing — although I find myself wondering how many different… phallic undertones he can make. Despite the dark tone of the game, there’s definitely an absurdly humourous slant to it. For instance, using strawberries, eyeballs & brains to unlock the baby faces on doors or buying liquor to heal yourself.
The control scheme is heavily influenced by Shinji Mikami. If you’ve ever seen or played RE4, it’ll look familiar. As a third-person shooter, typically the camera is over the right shoulder until you aim, which zooms in closer. Fortunately, Garcia is able to move freely while aiming, allbeit at a slower pace. You’ll usually be facing more than one enemy at a time, & they all require a different strategy. I’ve been through two boss fights, & both were completely different from each other. The first required me to lure the boss (George) near a barrel of light to blow it up, after which I could shoot his face. But after each round, he stole my goat (quite literally, he stole the goat that produced light to protect me from the darkness) & I had to run around the carnival, jumping over tables to find & shoot it to restore the light, then repeat the process. In my second fight with George, I had to stay in the darkness to reveal the weak spot on his back, then shoot his horse in the stomach when he fell over. The second half of that fight required shooting several weak spots on George’s giant body without getting crushed, then shooting worms that were coming out of his stomach. Can’t say I’ve ever done those before.
And I do have to say that the soundtrack is my absolutely favorite part of the game so far. The music in each level is amazing & different. It’s very reminiscent of the Silent Hill soundtracks: slow, dark & moody. Very fitting for a game based in Hell.
Some other things I enjoyed are the upgrade system, the ease of switching between weapons as well as the availability of ammo, the voiceacting (even if I can’t understand everything Garcia’s saying in Spanish) & the visual style of the game. Overall, I’m looking forward to playing the rest of the game. I believe there are five acts with four to five levels per act, so I’m hoping to get it done by next week.