January 22, 2019 at 6:03 PM #1392
Rating: 5.0 – Flawless
Vastly overlooked and underrated, Shadow Warrior is a true gem of a game that must be played.
Shadow Warrior is vastly overlooked and underrated. Too many people fail to realize that it even exists, let alone that it is an awesome game. It’s an FPS developed by a fairly new company called Flying Wild Hog. It’s set in Japan and has a very Japanese style setting. Although it was made by developers in Poland, these guys really captured the true essence of Japan. It’s a breath of fresh air not only for the FPS genre, but for the entire video game industry. Allow me to explain.
Shadow Warrior feels like a game you would have bought back in the 90’s. When I say this, I don’t mean that it has outdated mechanics or it feels old and clunky. I mean that it actually feels like a true video game did. It has no leaderboards, DLC, microtransactions, or online multiplayer like the industry has come and expected nowadays. It’s a 1 player game, and it is the complete game. You pay the one time price of buying it and the full game is yours, with no season passes or anything like that to add on to it. It’s all about the gameplay, and that is what the industry seems to have left in the past nowadays. This game brings gaming back to it’s roots, where it belongs. It’s rare to see something like this nowadays and I applaud Flying Wild Hog for what they have done here.
The story revolves around collecting pieces of a legendary Samurai sword, the Nobitsura Kage. You play as Lo Wang, basically an Asian version of Duke Nukem. He’s full of funny one-liners and kicks a lot of butt in the process. You befriend a demon named Hoji. He also has an attitude of his own, and many of his lines had me laughing out loud too. I became attached to Hoji as the game went on. It really has great character development. I found it comforting to know that the misunderstood demon Hoji was right there with me throughout all of my battles. He always had good advice.
The gameplay is a mixture of swordplay and shooting guns. The sword is what you will be using the most, as it does the most damage in the quickest amount of time. It feels awesome to use the sword and dismember your foes. I would have loved to play a game like this when I was a kid. It’s really done so well, and I’ve never played a game that does first person swordplay as well as this one. It really shines. There are simply combo moves you will constantly be using with your sword, such as up up trigger, or down down trigger. You will get used to these as they are very helpful against your enemies, rather than just blindly smashing the trigger button to attack.
The enemies you face are a mixture of demons and humans. There are mostly demons that you will be fighting in each level, but there are some human opponents thrown in to give the game a balance. Now I mentioned the sword, there are also a variety of guns that you have at your disposal. These range from a machine gun, to a crossbow, a rocket launcher, and a flame thrower. The machine gun is by far the best gun to use. It gets the job done, fast. As you kill enemies, you are awarded karma points. You also get additional karma for stylish kills against enemies, such as beheading them or using the environment to kill them. (Shooting a gas barrel and having it explode on the enemies.) Once you have enough karma, you can upgrade Wang at any time during the game. Pressing down on the directional pad will bring up the upgrade menu.
The upgrades are very helpful. You can get a bigger health bar, new sword combos, sprint faster, and deal more damage to demons. There is one upgrade I suggest very early, and that is Aswang Hunger. This will regain your health when you use a ki attack with your sword. (When I mentioned the up up trigger combo.) You can spam your ki attacks with your sword on your enemies, and this will essentially make you invincible because you will always regain health whenever you land a blow. This is very helpful, as there are a LOT of enemies you will be fighting.
There are also two other upgrades. You find ki crystals hidden in the levels, and with each ki crystal you find you can use it to teach new commands to Wang. Commands such as Peacocks Blessing, which will heal your health, and Tigers Roar, which will knock enemies down. You can also upgrade your guns with the money that you find hidden in each level. You can add a double barrel to your shotgun, laser sight on your weapons, and even dual wield with your machine gun. (Which is very powerful.)
The money is scattered across each level, sitting out in the open or in crates. There are many crates and drawers in each level, and you are basically looting everywhere you go for money, ammo, and health. It was strangely satisfying to loot each area, looking for secrets. There are also secret karma pools and money statuses hidden in each level. These give you large amounts of karma and money, respectively. They are hidden quite well, and at the end of each level it tells you how many secrets you found. This reminds me of Doom, back in the early 90’s.
There is no waypoint at the top of the screen telling you exactly where to go. Instead, the correct door you are supposed to go through or switch you are supposed to press is highlighted bright yellow. This is much appreciated, yet it is still very possible to get lost and not know where to go. The game doesn’t hold your hand, but it isn’t completely relentless. The few times I did get lost I simply pulled up the mission on YouTube and saw exactly where I needed to go, usually something that was right under my nose.
There are also boss battles, something that isn’t seen often today. You fight huge behemoths that take up the entire screen. They don’t go down easy, but it sure is satisfying when they do.
Going through the levels, sometimes a door is blocked by colored energy symbols. This is a classic game mechanic where you must seek out the statues of that color, and destroy them with your sword. This will break the energy and allow you to pass through the door.
The graphics look wonderful. There can be so much going on the screen at once, with dozens of demons coming at you from all directions, and barrels exploding everywhere. Yet, the game never showed any signs of slowdown. I was very impressed. It stayed fluid the whole way. The game screen will pause for a slight second to load when you enter new areas or progress in the mission some, but this was actually a good thing because it let me know I was heading in the right direction. The game never once froze or crashed on me. Bravo, game developers. Bravo.
The game is very gory. You are slicing and dicing these demons and they bleed red. A feature I thought was awesome is that after an enemy is dead on the ground, you can slice up their body with your sword, and their body falls off piece by piece as you cut them. It’s a small feature, yet so oddly satisfying!
In closing, Shadow Warrior is a wonderful gem of a game. It’s so fun, so underrated, and vastly overlooked. I’m writing this review in hopes that more people will notice this game and give it a chance. It’s not expensive, and can be found for less than 20 bucks. It feels great to play a game like this nowadays. It really takes gaming back to it’s roots. I will always remember my experiences I had playing through this.
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