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Shadows of the Damned hands-on preview: 5 reasons video games now have their Evil Dead

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3. It's very, very funny

If it weren’t for Portal 2, I’d have Shadows of the Damned flagged as the funniest game I’ve played all year. The script and delivery are just that good. The key relationship, between hero Diego Hotspur and his floating skull/talking gun/motorcycle/shape-shifting demon buddy, Johnson, could have been an irritatingly generic straight-man/comedy side-kick set-up. In fact in most games it would have been.  In Shadows though, every exchange between protagonist and side-kick, no matter how innocuous, is laugh-out-loud funny.


Above: The perineum-shot. It's the new head-shot

It helps that the straight-man/joke-man roles are muddied, even reversed at times, with Garcia being as brash and sweary as you like and Johnson being every bit the upper-crust English gent. Albeit one who is also a disembodied cranium from hell. Regardless, his playfully deadpan explanations of hell’s inner workings (A small demon acts as your checkpoint marker. He poops and disappears when activated. He’s a relative of Johnson’s by marriage, and if you think his actions are weird, you should see it when he pisses, apparently) are written and delivered with a subtle charm far too often lacking in current AAA games.

4. It’s a Technicolor splatterfest

Grey, brown and red? Pah! Shadows spits in the eye of other shooters, but before it does it chews up a case of Skittles and gargles it with a large blue Slush Puppy. It’s the most lurid game I’ve seen in a while, and I mean that in a really good way.


Above: COLOURS!

The usual colours of splatter and gore mingle with electric blues and neon purples every other minute. Gunshots come in a rainbow of fruit flavours. And when Johnson switches weapon types, he even morphs via a geometric orange flash of light that would be just as fitting in Tron or Rez. It might not currently always be the most polished-looking of games, but in terms of sheer sensory overload in its production design, Shadows of the Damned is one spicy meatball.

5. Demons are people too

Shadows of the Damned’s vision of hell and its denizens is no generic fiery pit of slavering beasties. Oh no, it’s much better than that. Much like Sam Raimi’s Deadites, these are intelligent, if twisted, creatures with a sense of humour and even a fully-functioning society. Which is actually more threatening than a bunch of feral flesh-munchers, and importantly, far more entertaining.

Head boss guy Fleming is a towering six-eyed hulk of a thing, not averse to crawling out of the blood-gushing body of a recently-dead woman. But he’s similarly not averse to throwing out none-more-black GLaDOS-style one-liners as he makes his escape after kidnapping Garcia’s girlfriend.


Above: This guy is funnier than he looks

Hell itself is also a very funny place. Fashioned after an olde worlde European town, only with more rivers of blood and disembodied baby-faces, it has a lived-in feel and its own social hierarchy (the more esteemed damned are honoured by being allowed to keep their genitals attached). So yes, you’ll be slaughtering hellspawn wretches by the dozens, but you’ll be doing it on quaint cobbled streets, before fighting a boss in a fruit market (demons are particularly obsessed with strawberries) and checking out a pleasant, traditional-style pub where you can spend your cash at an Absinthe vending machine.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable blend of wanton eldritch carnage and pleasant country village politeness, and the juxtaposing social mash-up works marvellously. 

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15 comments

  • xenon - May 30, 2011 5:33 p.m.

    @MancisFrorkYorgan: Thanks for bringing ED:Regeneration to my attention, playing it right now!
  • ichigoame - May 22, 2011 12:20 a.m.

    I saw a few critical reviews of Travis Touchdown and how 'generic' he looked,Johnny Knoxville with glasses like..But remember that they can be designed in this way so they can be a 'comical parody'
  • KidKatana - May 20, 2011 9:11 a.m.

    Pretty sure it's Garcia - she says it in the video. And Havok308 - with you all the way. As if this was ever gonna be anything other than superbulent.
  • soulreapermarco - May 20, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    wtf is it Diego or Garcia?
  • jackthemenace - May 19, 2011 8:38 p.m.

    I wasn't really excited about this game until I watch them FAP to it the other day. And now, I'm ESPECIALLY excited, after reading THIS article, and watching the games advertising campaign. JOHNSONS.
  • Ravenbom - May 19, 2011 8:11 p.m.

    Technically, videogames already had their Evil Dead. Evil Dead Regeneration plus a couple others which I couldn't name off the top of my head.
  • FVDub - May 19, 2011 7 p.m.

    If this has New Game + like Resident Evil 4 and 5 had, it shall be a day one purchase.
  • HaVoK308 - May 19, 2011 5:42 p.m.

    I remember when this game was announced fans and game journalist were slamming it pretty good. Now it's referred to as brilliant. Funny how that works. Me? Day one buy! I knew it all along. ;-)
  • GR_DavidHoughton - May 19, 2011 3:49 p.m.

    Yeah, just give him a chance. He might look a bit generic Grindhouse, but he's actually far more bombastic and funny than that. The interplay between him and Johnson is brilliant.
  • Zanthis - May 19, 2011 3:44 p.m.

    I agree, Diego doesn't seem to be a good follow up to Travis Touchdown, but this game looks incredibly awesome. Can't wait to play it shortly and have it prove me wrong.
  • spatuluk - May 19, 2011 2:49 p.m.

    The only thing putting me off this game is Diego Hotspur himself. Black Leather jacket? Tribal tattoos? Sweary? Rides a motorbike? I'm guessing he smokes all the time, too. He's about as interesting as a Mars bar. :(
  • Yaro - May 19, 2011 2:16 p.m.

    Fully functioning society in hell, floating skull that spouts funny stuff...Planescape Tormenploitation game!! I already knew this would be awesome. This year is packed. Even summer!
  • BurntToShreds - May 19, 2011 2:14 p.m.

    Day 1 buy, I can't wait.
  • Darkmessiah24 - May 19, 2011 1:28 p.m.

    *applauds* Suda, Mikami... You guys are awesome for making this game that I will INSTANTLY get, day one.
  • MancisFrorkYorgan - May 19, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    Damn it, you fools, play Evil Dead: Regeneration. Sure, the previous Evil Dead games sucked hard but Regeneration was a classic; a sort of 'B game' to Evil Dead's B movies.

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