Game of the Month, June 2011

Winner: Shadows of the Damned

Many in the Japanese games industry talk gloom and doom for their future, but if they’d all just shut up and make games as crazy, funny, action-packed, and unique as Shadows of the Damned, everything would be fine. Headed up by the beloved-by-critics Suda51, with support from big name developers including Resident Evil’s Shinji Mikami and Silent Hill’s Akira Yamaoka, this exuberant look at a journey through the bowels of Hell was head and shoulders above everything else that cropped up on home consoles this month.

The bloody, shadowy action was more entertaining than FEAR 3, the unique design aesthetics made us forget about Alice, the eclectic soundtrack is one of the most memorable we’ve heard in a long time, and the comedy was legitimately funny, unlike the painfully shitty Duke Nukem. Shadows of the Damned first won our hearts by being the most playable game from Grasshopper Manufacture to date, no doubt helped by the input of Mikami, as the controls take what RE4 did for over-the-shoulder shooting and ran with it. Despite being equipped with only three different firearms throughout the game, the shooting never let us down.

As we braved through more of Hell in SotD, we found to so many other reasons to enjoy our stay. Almost all the boss fights had some clever trick that kept things interesting, with some battles a genuine challenge that made each win feeling earned. We loved how sometimes SotD would suddenly surprise us with some gameplay twist that was truly bizarre and unpredictable.  Likewise the game impressed us with how it kept its formula fresh while simultaneously maintaining a familiar feel to the action. But what we’ll remember most is Damned’s mastery of the not-so-subtle art of the dick joke.

Shadows of the Damned never met a dick joke it didn’t love, with the risqué gags told so often and with such giddiness that you just have to give in and enjoy them. Unlike the mean jockishness of Duke Nukem Forever’s humor, Damned’s juvenile jokes have a childlike innocence to them that you can’t hate. SotD has over-the-top action, an unpredictable pace, and more dick jokes than you can shake a phallic symbol at. What’s not to love?

Runner up: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

In the grand scheme of things, Ocarina is a bigger, better game than Shadows of the Damned. But it wouldn’t be fair to award “Game of the Month” to a remake instead of a brand new title, so we’re bumping this admittedly excellent 3D conversion down to runner-up. Like we said in the review, this is everything you loved about the groundbreaking original – the puzzles, the story, the expansive Hyrule Field and countless secrets hidden in every room – gussied up for another moment in the spotlight. Further improvements, like controls and inventory management, were also addressed to make this the definitive version of an already outstanding adventure. As with any Zelda, there are a handful of minor complaints along the way, but they’re insignificant when compared to the staggering amount Nintendo (and 3DS dev Grezzo) got so perfectly right.

Jun 30, 2011

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  • EnigmaSpirit - July 5, 2011 3:41 a.m.

    Shadows of the Damned truly deserves it. Ocarina is fun, but the actual gameplay, way of telling stories, and some simple mechanics are too dated. The fresh coat of paint was very welcome though. It still makes for the most solid 3ds game to date though. Still waiting for Kid Iccarus... Also Shadows of the Damned looks fantastic, and I love Suda, but I have nothing to play it on.
  • jackthemenace - July 3, 2011 3:57 p.m.

    SotD definitely deserves it. I've only rented, but if the only thing GR were complaining WASN'T the fact it has no replayability, I'd definitely buy it. It's funny, it's atmospheric, it's a joy to play, and, most importantly, it has ONE HUGE EVIL DEAD JOKE.
  • WinkedUp Lozza - July 3, 2011 4:32 a.m.

    "Scha-WIING!" I think SotD went a little over the top with it's insubtle 'dick' jokes. And it doen't feel like a game you would play over and over. Therefore, this game would be a 10 out of 10 if you rented it fora few nights.
  • Yeager1122 - July 1, 2011 9:34 p.m.

    Cant wait to pick up SotD once i finish my backlog that is.
  • robertpopovic - July 1, 2011 6:02 p.m.

    I succumbed and bought this game eventough I'm on my last shreds 'till payday in 2 weeks. With a metalfest coming tomorrow. Thanks! :P
  • reson8er - July 1, 2011 2:23 p.m.

    I freaking love this game! If you like one or more of the following, I highly recommend playing this game: 1. Evil Dead (movie) 2.From Dusk till Dawn (movie) 3. Resident Evil 4 (game) 4. Grind House movies If none of the sensibilities of the above mentioned things particularly appeals to you, I would wager this game is not for you.
  • Baron164 - July 1, 2011 2:01 p.m.

    I've been very happy with DNF and Fear 3. My friend gave me his copy of Mafia 2 and I've been sucked into that for about a week now. I didn't have any interested in Shadow of the Damned though. And I don't have any interest in the 3DS. $300 to replay Ocarina of Time and Star Fox is not high on my priority list right now.
  • Tranquilbez34 - July 1, 2011 11:37 a.m.

    Seeing Shadows of the Damned getting Game of the month makes me regret buying Duke Nukem Forever :/
  • philipshaw - July 1, 2011 11:23 a.m.

    I have to get shadows of the damned
  • KidKatana - July 1, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    'the controls take what RE4 for with over-the-shoulder shooting and ran with it' 'SotD would all of a suddenly surprise some gameplay twist' Did anyone edit this article?
  • batouyukinawa - July 1, 2011 6:38 a.m.

    I applaud you guys for not making the obvious choice. Yeah, Zelda 3D is based off a master classic, but in the end, it's a port with a gimmick feature and slightly updated graphics. SoTD is a new IP, and how often to we get those?
  • Pocotron - July 1, 2011 5:37 a.m.
  • Darkmessiah24 - July 1, 2011 4:49 a.m.

    Awesome to see both excellent titles of this month listed :D One is an awesome new IP from the brains of Suda 51, with Shinji along with the ride and Akira lending his awesome talent for the soundtrack. The other an excellent remake to a beloved classic.
  • Spybreak8 - July 1, 2011 4:48 a.m.

    Def will pick it up come this fall. I'm on a 3-5 month delay, saves money and still get to play the hobby I love.
  • ashleymenvielle - July 1, 2011 2:22 a.m.

    I'm thrilled to see SotD as game of the month :). I plan on pick it up asap!
  • hester2 - July 1, 2011 1:52 a.m.

    My games-to-beat list is getting ridiculously long. I bought both of these games within a week of each other, but then I made the mistake of buying The Witcher 2. Needless to say, I haven't touched my Playstation or 3DS since then. Oh, and then there's Dirt 3, Dead Space 2 (yeah, I'm way behind), my PC playthrough of Mass Effect 2 so I can export it, L.A. Noire, and now I'm getting depressed.
  • Redeater - July 1, 2011 1:47 a.m.

    It's been a pretty lousy month. I'm playing Duke Nukem as we speak and the load times are just fucking terrible!
  • Bobbety - July 1, 2011 1:38 a.m.

    I feel somewhat guilty for not buying (planning to buy) this game considering creative it seems and how badly it's selling. I'd buy it if it came out for PC, please EA, make it happen!
  • Defguru7777 - July 1, 2011 1:38 a.m.

    From how much Henry gushed over this game, I'm not surprised (or disappointed) it got Game of the Month. And Ocarina of Time 3D is definitely great as well. Did you guys do a Game of the Month for May? I remember waiting for it because I wanted to see if L.A. Noire won it.