Shadows of the Damned can be described as a mixture of Killer 7, Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry (original) in Grindhouse style. To call it a simple third person shooter would do no justice to the game since there is more to it then simply shooting. Especially since it plays more like a hack and slash although you basically use one weapon called Johnson. Johnson can transform itself into different forms like Boner (pistol), Teether (machine gun) and Skull Blaster. Johnson can be upgraded by red gems and blue gems. The red gems most of the time are hidden in barrels, boxes and more.You can also buy the red gems by trading them with white gems which you can get by beating enemies. If you stomp the enemies you will get more white gems. Stomping enemies is possible by shooting some of the monsters in the legs so that they start to crawl. Grinding for these white gems is therefore encouraged. This RPG element does make life a lot easier in later levels. The blue gems are part of the story and will change the names of the different forms throughout the games adding some awesome and needed upgrades.
The controls are mostly similar to the ones of Resident Evil for which has been tweaked a little. A very welcome dive button has been added and you can walk while shooting (not fast mind you but beats standing still). Then there is a melee torch attack that can be upgraded as well and could be useful when surrounded by enemies but I rarely used it myself. For the most part the combat was satisfying and intense but at times the movement was a little clunky especially in the tight corridors or other narrow area's. Not that big of a deal when it comes to disposing of normal enemies. In the chase sequences and some boss battles however it can be. Most boss battles are fun and challenging enough. It's easy to figure out how to beat them. And the challenge lies most in having the patience and endure the fight since some take forever to beat. Here is where upgrading Johnson comes in very handy. But even upgraded the weapons fully the end boss will be tough since it is glitchy. At one point you are required to shoot a bomb through a hole in a green shield. If you fail or ignore to do that that the battle will last as long as your energy bar. Which depends on your health drinks.It's an understatement that it will be a pretty lengthy battle as Fleming (the main baddie) has some nasty attacks that put you into darkness draining your health that are there to disturb your attack pattern. Once in place again you can continue the fight. And how satisfying it is to defeat Fleming.
Now I have to discuss the inclusion of some mini games. In most reviews I read there was no mention of them so when I was confronted with them I did not think too much of it until it took me some time to get through them. In general I don't really like mini games. It's nice to have hem them when they are optional. When you are forced to play them in order to continue then it becomes annoying or even aggravating. The mini games are a shooting gallery with huge monsters and a side scrolling game. There is even a boss fight in side scrolling style. Practice makes perfect they say but honestly it almost put me off playing the game any further.
All is made bearable because of Garcia Fucking Hotspur and his Johnson. (Yeah,you might have noticed the penis jokes, get used to it because the game is filled with them). The dialogue in my opinion adds to the experience. You don't feel alone and who better to have as comrade than your trusty Boner that can cause some damage. Another thing I liked was that here and there the game was referring to movies and other video games like for example the blatantly obvious one in Act 3-3, "As Evil as Dead". For me these references make it more fun to play a game. While the not that original story obviously is not to be taken too serious there is enough to make you want to see how it concludes. Which is an accomplishment since the story is minimal at best. The ending is very satisfying and almost wants to make you play the game again if not for one fatal flaw. There is no new game plus. Ok,maybe fatal is somewhat exaggerated. Making it possible to replay levels would do the trick also. Because for me it would motivate me in playing the game a second, third or even a fourth time. I loved that about Devil May Cry 3 and 4. Granted those games had more variety in upgrades but still.
Overall I had a lot of fun playing Shadows of the Damned.It does a lot of things right and makes you overlook some of it's flaws. As Suda weirdness goes Shadows of the Damned is pretty conventional but very rich in atmosphere. It is not a game that will scare you since it is more the action horror type. But it does have a creepy vibe. Definitely one I can recommend.