Shadow Warrior (PC) Review

By SirLink 07.12.2014

Review for Shadow Warrior on PC

Shadow Warrior was developed by Flying Wild Hog and published by Devolver Digital. It's a reboot of an old game of the same name, which was made by 3D Realms and released back in 1997. While it does feature a modern graphics engine and updated gameplay, it's still very much a throwback to classic first-person shooters. A wise decision, as it offers a very different experience compared to popular shooters on today's market.

The story revolves around Lo Wang, an assassin that works for the Japanese industrial magnate, Orochi Zilla. He is sent to acquire an ancient katana from a collector called Miyazaki that refuses to part with it for two million dollars, leaving Lo Wang no choice but to try to take it by force. Although his plan ended in his defeat and imprisonment, a sudden attack of demons allowed him to escape and discover that the katana is far more than just a fancy antique. Without giving too much away, the plot develops into something that's a lot better than what the premise makes it seem like. That said the main focus of the experience is definitely the over the top combat and humour, killing armies of demons while delivering as many cheesy one-liners as possible. The amusing fortune cookies and other references that are scattered throughout the various areas further add to the title's charm.

The general gameplay is fairly straightforward and consists of combat and some mild exploration with very few cut-scenes in-between. Pacing could be better, however, as some areas outstay their welcome with far more wandering around - and sometimes even battles - than necessary. The enemy variety is a bit lacking, too. Some new types get introduced, but there aren't enough of them considering encounters wait around almost every corner. Great boss fights could have made up for that but, unfortunately, they have their own share of problems. While they look impressive, their patterns are fairly simple and not very engaging. On top of that, the battles tend to drag on simply because bosses can only be properly damaged whenever their weak points are exposed. This means that most of the time is spent shooting at specific spots on their body while dodging easily predictable attacks. Quite frankly, regular encounters tend to be more intense, mainly because the enemies are far more aggressive.

Screenshot for Shadow Warrior on PC

What doesn't disappoint, though, is the combat. Lo Wang is equipped with a deadly katana to stab and slice any foes that stand in his way and while there are also several guns in the game, the star of the show is definitely the swordplay. The long-ranged weapons are still fun to use and offer a decent amount of variety, but it's hard to beat obliterating demons in close-combat using various special moves. The sword controls can be adjusted to offer either less or more control, but the default option - where cuts depend on character and camera movement with a little aim assist - works just fine.

The protagonist's abilities can be enhanced in three ways. Weapon upgrades can be bought with money and while some are only straight stat boosts, every weapon has one that gives it a secondary function. The flamethrower gains the ability to shoot fire bombs that cover a fairly wide area, for example. Ki crystals that are rarely found in levels are used to learn additional offensive and defensive skills that are triggered by pressing one of the movement keys twice in a row followed by a either the left or right mouse button. It's easy to pull them off and remember the combinations because they require no additional keys to be used, but during heated fights - where it's necessary to keep moving to survive - the setup can cause some problems. Perhaps the most useful - if not essential - skill tree is the healing one, which allows Lo Wang to slowly recover up to a set amount of his maximum health.

Lastly, there's Karma that's awarded for dispatching demons as efficiently and varied as possible. Unfortunately, it feels quite random because it gives next to no feedback for each encounter, making it tricky to know how to improve. If the ranking was clearly split between points for fancy kills, time, and damage taken - much like it is in titles from Platinum Games - the system would have been much better. It's still possible to earn enough Karma to learn all special moves for the katana and many of the passive skills in a single play-through.

Screenshot for Shadow Warrior on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There's a lot to love in Shadow Warrior, but some of its problems, such as poor pacing and underwhelming boss fights, hold it back from being more than just a fun throwback to classic first-person shooters. It's still a good game with great combat that's well worth checking out, though, as there aren't many games that offer a similar experience.

Developer

Flying Wild Hog

Publisher

Devolver Digital

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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