GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween 2013: Shadows of the Damned
If I could only use one word to describe Halloween, it would be “fun.” Coincidentally, that's the exact same word I'd use to describe games from Suda51 and developer Grasshopper Manufacture. Over the years, the studio has showcased monsters, zombies, and all kinds of other ghouls. In Shadows of the Damned, however, Suda51 sends you straight to hell to find your lost girlfriend. It's not without its fair share of campiness, but isn't that pretty much a staple of Halloween?
Before we go to hell, though, maybe you'd like to visit the spirit world in the Blackwell series of games. If so, check out the previous entry in our fright-happy October series. With that said, let's keep GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween going with Shadows of the Damned.
Why it stands out
When Shadows of the Damned launched for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 back in 2011, it was almost like a supergroup project. Joining Suda51 were Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami and Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka. With that impressive team at the helm, Shadows of the Damned was certainly worthy of attention. Sadly, the game never actually managed to sell very well, but those who did play it were treated to an entertaining third-person shooter.
Shadows of the Damned plays a lot like one of the more recent Resident Evil titles. Protagonist Garcia Hotspur, a demon hunter, is followed closely by an over-the-shoulder camera, and the bulk of what you're doing is shooting enemies. That pivotal gameplay foundation aside, this particular game doesn't feel like any of the Resident Evil games, and that's likely due to its over-the-top style and funny writing.
This is a Suda51 game through and through. Hotspur is a hot-tempered, foul-mouthed, leather jacket-sporting badass who's on a mission to save his beloved Paula. He's not alone, though; the main character is accompanied by his skull-headed buddy Johnson. Yes, that's literally what he is: a skull, sometimes on a torch and sometimes on a gun, who talks to you ever so calmly. It's also worth pointing out that he's a former demon.
Is it scary?
Are you kidding me? Shadows of the Damned couldn't be further from scary. The game is a lot goofier than anything else, and while it sometimes seems as if Hotspur is taking himself way too seriously, everything surrounding him is funny. It's not surprising that this title isn't the least bit scary, and its comedy works in its favor, creating a weird tale about a guy, his skull friend, and his psychotic girlfriend.
People don't really play Suda51 games for their serious overtones, because more often than not, they don't have any serious overtones — at least not any that you can take, well, seriously. While this game takes place in hell and features a sinister enemy, it's still filled with laughs, and it's hard not to chuckle when certain things happen, or when some characters deliver their lines. Scary? No way. Entertaining? Hell yes.
I mean, come on, there's even a scene where you're running on top of a giant version of your semi-naked girlfriend. Weird pervs may find that hot; I (along with other normal people) just thought it was hilarious. Now that I think about it, I guess it's kind of scary that some players might get their jollies after running around on top of a naked Paula's breasts and butt. Freaks.
Why play it on Halloween?
If you're the type of person who enjoys Suda51's work, you really can't go wrong with Shadows of the Damned on Halloween. It's exactly the type of joyously vulgar, pleasingly dirty-mouthed experience that the dev's fans have become accustomed to. Even if you don't normally play games from Grasshopper, the gameplay here is different to the point that you may still enjoy it.
Ultimately, there's plenty of seasonal goodness in Shadows of the Damned, and while it may not be perfect, it's still a good fit for Halloween. You go to hell, shoot ugly demons in the face, run away from your possessed girlfriend, carry a skull around — yeah, this game is a nice little lighthearted romp that's totally worth enjoying on October 31.
Seriously, though, if you're getting turned on by giant, naked Paula, turn the game off, dude. Turn yourself off, too, while you're at it.
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.