Sometimes gaming can get a little too serious. There’s a place for sobriety in every art form, but sometimes you just want to kick back, take a break from the woe, and make a demon’s head explode with a magic sword then calling them a dickhead.
That is exactly what Shadow Warrior achieves.
Funny, gory, meta, immediately engaging, excellent combat and some seriously addictive swordplay are just some of the traits that make Shadow Warrior a brilliant game. Sitting in the same vein as Duke Nukem and Serious Sam, Shadow Warrior is the journey of one Lo Wang and his quest to retrieve a powerful sword in order to defeat an invasion of demons on Earth. A simple premise on which to build a game that, at it’s heart, is about pure, unadulterated fun.
Fun is the aim and combat is the game, and what a game it is – truly a shining example of run and gun/slash done right. Dodges, dashes, distinct special moves, dismemberment and more await those warriors who decide to partake in close combat, while a wide range of guns invite a gleeful chuckle with every popped demon head.
Honestly, even without the guns, the swordplay would be enough to make this a must-have game for gore enthusiasts. The special moves can be a little tricky to get the hang of: double tap movements keys along with a held button press is a clunky system in a game designs around free-flowing combat. But when you get it right, unleashing a wide range of spinning, slashing, thrusting and throwing is always satisfying and all serve a particular purpose tactically.
You are also rewarded for being “good” in a combat scenarios, with additional karma (experience points essentially) being given at the end of each fighting section, though what “good” consists of does not seem obvious. Supposedly, using as many powers and abilities as you can will improve your score, but honestly it just seemed arbitrary. Often you can walk out of a combat scene unharmed, having smashed the enemy to pieces easily, but you only get 2 out of 5. Then in another scenario, you limp out after a prolonged battle, and get 5 out of 5. It is confusing, and a bit of a clunk moment in otherwise brilliant gameplay.
Though the combat is the main draw, with body parts and organs flying with every slice of your katana, the plot is surprisingly engaging for a game that features a walking dick joke as the protagonist. Mostly told through the demon companion Hoji, the plot is simple but interesting enough to drive the player onwards to see what happens at the end. Don’t expect a masterpiece with the plot, but its nice to have a reason for all the violence.
The main campaign is also quite short, supposedly taking 20 hours to complete but we were able to blow through it in about 10 without intentionally rushing through everything. Short and sweet, the campaign features some half-hearted puzzles and objectives that just feel a little tacked on. The environments are distinct between levels, and gorgeous at that, tough within levels you can get some serious deja vu.
While the campaign is short, there are also additional survival modes which play upon the combat-orientation strengths of the game and gives a little bit more longevity to Shadow Warrior.
Overall, we think Shadow Warrior is rad. Tongue in cheek humour, gory combat and an adequate plot all spell a decent adventure game. While not a watershed moment for the genre, it is certainly an excellent example of how carefully-considered and well constructed combat can make a merely average game into something really special.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Shadow Warrior? Let us know in the comments below. Check out more Rad Reviews here.