“Resident Evil in hell.” That was my first thought as I played Shadow of the Damned for the first time. The similarities are striking, both in a visual aspect and in the layout of the controls, however in other respects there is no other game out there like Shadow of the Damned.
Shadow of the Damned follows the story of Garcia Hotspur, a demon hunter who goes to Hell to find his true love Gracia, who has been taken there by an evil force named Fleming. The game comes from the minds of No More Heroes, Suda 51 and Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. Looking at the game it’s obvious only a collaboration between these two talents could come up with such an idea. This is especially evident when you see some of the more graphics scenes, which range from headless humans to skin peeling ones, yes that really happens.
The first time you see Shadow of the Damned you can’t help but think, “ah this is a Capcom game,” however it’s actually being published by EA, which, it seems, is a large step away from anything it has ever published before. Shadow of the Damned certainly has a dark eerie nature to it, taking an over the shoulder view of the main character which is identical to Resident Evil (which is probably were the Capcom thoughts come from), thankfully though this is no bad thing because it works really well.
During our hands on time we got to discover the various weapons within the game as well as what makes this title so unique. A lot of the game does seem to be based on fighting against a darkness which envelopes the levels. When the darkness appears it signals the spawning of creatures who are invulnerable to your attacks, though thankfully you can at least stun them until you figure out how to dispel the darkness completely, at which point you can take the creatures out using Johnson (that’s not what you think).
Johnson, is Garcia’s companion along the way, he is a former demon but in this game acts as both your guide, torch and weapons. There are three main weapons to use within the game, these include a pistol (named the boner), shotgun and machine gun style weapons, although Garcia also has a few special moves, such as his light shot, which helps him to dispel darkness when fired at the specially placed goats heads spread throughout the levels (yes that’s how you dispel it, see I figured it out).
Although it may seem simple to shoot a beam of light at a goats head to dispel the darkness, such is the way with games that you will need to figure out various puzzles to achieve this. Some puzzles can be simple affairs, while others will leave you scratching your head, which is a dangerous activity when you have a big scary demon about to gouge your eyes out.
During the demo most of the enemies were smaller minion creatures, however there was one large demon who was a particularly nasty piece of work. The larger demon stood quite tall, and to be honest it took a while to take this guy out as he pounded our hero into the ground, however I eventually figured out that his weak point was in his back, “Ha, take that you nasty big demon!”
After being beat around it’s nice to know that throughout the various levels there is alcohol spread around which acts as a way to regain health. There are other collectables as well, such as Red Gems which act as the games currency and will allow you to improve your weapons at a later stage, while blue gems allow you to upgrade them completely.
Shadow of the Damned is a stylish looking game, its dark, punk rock style is certainly a lot different from anything saw before. Suda 51 describes the setting as “an Eastern European version of hell,” whatever it is though, Shadow of the Damned is certainly one to keep an eye on.
You can pre-order Shadow of the Damned here (Xbox 360) and here (PS3).