It’s hard to describe Suda 51 and Shinji Mikami’s upcoming Shadows of the Damned, coming out of Grasshopper Manufacture in Japan, but if I was going to, I’d say if Devil May Cry was to get jiggy with Resident Evil, then Shadows of the Damned would be their illegitimate son. Of course, with Mikami (Resident Evil and Vanquish) and Suda 51 (Killer 7 and No More Heroes) driving the development, that hybrid bastard doesn’t sound too far fetched now does it? In short, Shadow of the Damned is a hack-and-slash/third person shooter hybrid where you can move while you shoot. Mind = blown. No? Well, let me delve a little deeper on what you should expect this coming June.
Suda 51 and Mikami took to the stage at EA’s pre-GDC showcase last week to show off Shadows of the Damned to the world’s press. Inspired by the work of Hollywood’s Rodriguez and Tarantino, Shadows of the Damned revolves around Garcia Hotspur – who must have one of the coolest names in gaming – who has to venture into Hell to get back his girlfriend, Paula, whose been captured by a demon called Fleming and used as a pawn in one of his sick games. Essentially, Shadows of the Damned is a tale of light versus dark with the scar-faced and tattoo-painted Garcia at the helm, assisted by his sidekick… a former demon, Johnson, who’s confined to life as a skull and can change itself into various weapons… Say whaaaat!? It’s barmy, it’s over-the-top and it’s of the same ilk as something like Devil May Cry.
At its heart, Shadows of the Damned is a third-person action-adventure title that combines a little puzzling with some melee and third person shooter combat mixed in. Its combat and character movement is actually very reminiscent of Resident Evil in many respects, except for the fact that Garcia can move whilst shooting. In the fairly lengthy cross-section of the game that we managed to go eyes-on with, we managed to see Johnson, the morphing demon gun, change into a shotgun, a pistol called the “Boner” and an assault rifle called the “Teether,” all of which double up as a melee weapon as well. With the general on-screen fodder though, Garcia is able to load up a charge shot and then finish off his foes with a gruesome kill move. I mean, after all there’s nothing like headbutting a demon into a fine red mist. It’s exactly what James Cameron’s Titanic needed.
Speaking of on-screen fodder, the general demons in Shadows of the Damned that we saw came in the form of these mutated skeletons of sorts that would come in waves and would overwhelm with their sheer numbers. However, if the world was surrounded in “darkness,” which represents the world in a blue hint, the demons are more relentless and powerful, meaning that it’s essential for Garcia to rid the world of this darkness – by shooting a statue head or doing a little in-game puzzle – if he’s going to have an easier time. Like any good Japanese game though, outrageous bosses and boss battles are aplenty with Garcia facing off against a demon witch of sorts who has guns on every limb – *ahem* Bayonetta *ahem* – and some 8-foot tall beastie who’s not only agile, but is swinging a huge multi-bladed scythe in the process, in a small vertical slice of the game.
Even the in-game health is a tip of the hat to Garcia’s off-the-cuff and over-the-top attitude… meaning it’s alcohol, of course. And when you’re not smashing crates to uncover alcohol to replenish health, you’re looking for crystals, which when you’ve accumulated enough, you’ll be able to spend on upgrading your Johnson… Errr, and by that, I mean your demon sidekick, you dirty animal!
So what makes me say that it’s a Devil May Cry and Resident Evil hybrid? Well, that’s easy. It takes the wacky dialogue and general over-the-top plot from Devil May Cry – Garcia has a skull friend called Johnson that can turn into a gun for Pete’s sake! – and combines that with the combat of Resident Evil… well, in a world where you can strafe and move while firing! Will it be as good as either of those two stellar franchises or even a fraction of what they’ve become? Well, we’ll have to wait until June to find that out, but Shadows of the Damned could certainly be one to watch based on this showing.
Shadows of the Damned is scheduled for a June 7th and June 10th in North America and Europe respectively.