Shadow Warrior (2013) was recently released on steam and was developed by Flying Wild Hog, the company behind Hard Reset, and is set to revive the old game of the same name by 3D Realms. Rebooting a game from a separate company can sometimes be difficult with translations in the story and staying true to the original game, but with the spectacle that is Shadow Warrior you might be pleased either way.
The story starts off with the Protagonist Lo Wang driving towards a very oriental style village to buy a sword called the Nobitsura Kage from the man in power in the castle of the village. Sadly 2 Million dollars is not enough for the exchange and Lo is declined his offer, being the straightforward and get the job done man he is Lo draws his sword and starts to hack away.
The story hastily expands from the first few chapters as the human adversaries are replaced with various demon hordes teleporting into the human realm. You stick to your original task of obtaining the Nobitsura Kage and decide to fight your way through any foe in your way. After catching up with the late owner of the Nobitsura Kage you form a bond with a demon called Hoji, a cocky, sly and comedic character who follows you on your journey.
After obtaining the first part of the Nobitsura Kage you are told there are actually three parts to the sword and set off around the country to obtain each piece, uncovering more of the story behind the sword, the demons and the war brewing between the two. The main goal sticks to the retrieval of the swords but also blossoms into a 2 part objective, get the sword, kill the demon lord… sounds easy right?
The story mode will last you around 12 hours, with each of the 17 chapters lasting around 30 minutes each. The chapters are split up between the “Kill Everything” and “Find all the seals” missions throwing in a few Boss fight Chapters to mix up the gameplay a bit and add some excitement to the explosive campaign.
While the beginning is done very well, introducing you to the game and its controls, it can get boring pretty quickly as it runs out of things to teach you and loses most of its challenge. Though the ending can certainly make it worth the while to endure the boredom for reasons I won’t say here but trust me you’ll love your sword.
The gameplay in Shadow Warrior is very wide spread, from the use of swordplay, gunplay and magic use splitting up the different ways you will battle with your enemies. The game uses a first person perspective and follows a very FPS style to its gameplay and layout making Shadow Warrior a fast paced action shooter.
Swordplay is done very similar to other sword fighting games like The Elder Scrolls or The Witcher, where you have to parry and move your sword around your enemies’ guards and their own slashes, unless it comes to Demons, just hack n slash at them. You can elect to let the slashes be random or control their direction, but you rarely need to control them as the enemies don’t block for long.
The guns in the game are beautifully crafted, with nicks; details and personalisation that makes them feel a lot more innovative then most other games. The arsenal at your disposal is very situational however, as for the majority of the enemies you face it is just faster and more efficient to use your sword. The revolver is great at dispatching flying enemies, whereas the shotgun is good for big crowds or fast moving targets and the big guns are glorious against the big hulks you face.
The magic in the game is very basic, with healing and shield abilities to help against large amount of incoming damage, or the lifting and push abilities that immobilise your enemies to allow for easy kills. Using your seemingly endless amount of Ki you can spam your spells to aid you in battle, mainly the healing ability, and change the odds into your favour.
Depending on how well you dispatch your enemies you are rewarded with Karma, the experience of the game, allowing you to level up your character and choose new skills. The skills you learn are nicely varied, giving the opportunity to improve your health, stamina and damage to improving your ability to find money and ammo to using the Demons heads as weapons… because why not. Besides the Karma system you can find Ki crystals hidden throughout the levels, allowing you to unlock and power up your Ki spells. Money is also used to upgrade your weapons, adding fire damage or increasing the amount of barrels they have as well as purchasing ammo on the fly for them.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
The beginning of the game can certainly blow you away; with it’s over the top blood and mutilation mechanics that allow you to slice up foes into several pieces and having their blood stain you and your sword. Up until around Chapter 10 you will have a dojo full of fun, but after the midway point the game seems to drag on, throwing you back and forth between the reused buildings and locations…I’ve been in this house 3 times now. Besides the reused buildings there are several assets that are used over and over again making the levels feel very cut and paste.
The music in the game changes a lot depending on where you are, from the Chinese style songs in the villages you visit to the science and laboratory themed music and the Metal music for the Demon Bunnies… yes demon bunnies. The music really shines when you face bosses and enter the Shadow Realm, with rock and energy full music and compositions that pump you up to defeat the titans that wish to crush you under their shiny armour.
There is plenty of humour to be found in Shadow Warrior, from the one liners the two leads spew to the posters and hidden parts of the game referencing Hard Reset, Duke Nukem, Batman and even hidden rooms representing old Doom levels. The humour doesn’t feel forced at all and it isn’t thrown in your face, taking more of a background and reserved feel to it which makes it all the better. The Wangcave got me laughing a bit just on its own, giving a nod towards Batman and his own cave fetish.
The main faults of the game lie in its glitches and overused assets and mechanics. I found myself having to replay several levels from the beginning because of game breaking glitches or having my weapons disappear for no reason. There are also times when the game simple spawns unreasonable amount of enemies to give you “difficulty” when it just seems like a lazy attempt at trying to keep the game fresh.
I give Shadow Warrior a 3/5, it is a great game full of action, puzzle solving and humour but beside it’s amazing parts it has a ton of faults and annoyances. The beginning of the game is where it shines but after that it can feel like a chore to play drastically reducing the fun you will find in the game. This is a game for lovers of gore and action packed Demon Slaying.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.