Shadow Warrior Review - Slice Up Some Demons

Paul Goodman | 26 Sep 2013 12:00
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The original Shadow Warrior, from way back in 1997, was an FPS that featured tongue-in-cheek humor mixed with action-heavy gameplay. Devolver Digital's reboot of the original title introduces its own unique style of hack and slash combat while still keeping a sense of the sarcastic humor from its predecessor, although it does lack some polish in its design.

Shadow Warrior begins with Lo Wang, a corporate agent working for Zilla Enterprises, attempting to purchase an ancient sword known as the Nobitsura Kage from its mysterious owner. However, the deal quickly goes wrong and things take a dark and mystical turn as demons from the Shadow Realm begin invading Japan. Wang then teams up with an exiled demon named Hoji, and starts out on a quest to find the Kage and hopefully send the invading otherworldly forces packing. As far as action games go, Shadow Warrior's narrative isn't terribly involved, but definitely makes you feel like you're playing through a cheesy 90's action movie, complete with an overabundance of explosions. Wang himself delivers plenty of off-color commentary and sarcastic, action hero one liners as you battle your way through the game (though, thankfully, their delivery is spread out.)

Your primary method of dispatching the demonic hordes will be by using a katana to cut your opponents into pieces (and I mean literally into pieces - Shadow Warrior can become surprisingly gory) while quick-dodging to avoid their attacks. You'll gain experience (called Karma) through killing enemies, which in turn can be used to supernaturally boost your health or stamina, and unlock various combination attacks. The combo attacks are, at least in theory, simple to use; All of them require you to double tap in one direction with your movement keys and then hold down the attack button to charge it up before unleashing it to devastating effect. In practice, though, there are several instances where combat descends into a confusing slog of hammering away on the attack button in an attempt to hack your enemies to death. You may find it easier to just try dodging your opponents' attacks and spam the attack button versus trying anything more complicated. Wang also has Ki powers at his disposal, which grant you the ability to partially heal yourself or stun enemies that have gotten too close for comfort. However, much like your katana abilities, it's easy to forget to use them in a close quarters battle and you may find yourself focusing on a particular favorite versus trying to combo them all up in conjunction with your katana combos.

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