Shadow Warrior Review

Written by Rick Lane

October 15, 2013 | 13:01

Tags: #shadow-warrior

Companies: #devolver-digital #flying-wild-hog

We weren't joking when we said you carve through the demon ranks, and you do so in incredibly bloody fashion. Demons can be beheaded, sliced in half at the waist, diagonally across the chest, and can be unburdened of their limbs, although the latter doesn't always stop them. For all the blood and body parts, though, the violence is never anything other than cartoon. All it's missing is a flock of canaries flying around a demon's head when you stun one. The katana remains functional throughout the game, as demons tend to attack you at close quarters, and it can deal with several at one. Interestingly, however, using the katana's special powers too much will "enrage" other demons, causing them to morph into a more powerful form, like Dragonball Z, except the transformation takes thirty seconds of fighting rather than six months.

Shadow Warrior Review

Alongside the katana, the demon heads and hearts from the original Shadow Warrior make a return. Demon hearts can be crushed to make several nearby demons explode, and demon heads shoot a laser that cuts through anything in its path. The rest of the weapons are a mixed bag. The crossbow and the shotgun are probably the most useful, and can be upgraded to fire sticky bombs and have extra barrels respectively. Other weapons, such as the flamethrower and the pistol are redundant almost from the moment they are acquired.

There are magic powers too, such as healing and a "force-push" ability that can be tweaked to make evolved enemies return to their regular form. Shadow Warrior gives you plenty of toys to play with, and also encourages you to play with all of them through a scoring system that gives you additional "karma" points used to upgrade abilities. Precisely how this works is never properly explained, although it seems to reward efficiency, variety, and not getting hit too much. Meanwhile, money is used to upgrade weapons and "ki" crystals boost powers. The latter two tend to be locked away in cubbyholes and secret areas, so it's worth exploring the levels as extensively as you can.

Shadow Warrior Review

It's a substantial game too, sailing effortlessly past the ten-hour mark. In fact, if anything it's a little bit too long. While there are several different environment types roughly divided between the game's three stages, with some variation within those stages, the chapters do drag on a bit, and certain areas, such as mazy bamboo forests or tanker-ship corridors, are repeated a few too many times.

It doesn't become so repetitive you stop playing, but you do start to wish for the game to hurry up and get on with the next stage. There aren't quite enough variations of enemy to keep your interest - you'll still be seeing those you fought at the start of the game right up toward the end. It also commits the cardinal FPS sin of including floating enemies, lots of them. Worse, they usually crop up just as it appears that you've finished off a horde of the more entertaining ground-based opponents, which is like eating a jar of honey only for the bees to turn up and demand it back.

Shadow Warrior Review

Shadow Warrior isn't a classic, but it certainly isn't a disaster either, and if we're honest it's far better than we were expecting. It's respectful of nostalgia, but isn't a slave to it, and instead builds its Pyramids as a shrine to fun. Bright, colourful, messy, silly and deceptively smart fun. It's only real downside, aside from not having a truly original bone in its body, is that it runs out of steam before the finish line. But it's so much fun up to that point, you may well find yourself willing to get out and push.
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Overall 75%
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