Shadow Warrior (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 06.09.2016

Review for Shadow Warrior on PlayStation 4

With Shadow Warrior 2 looming close on the horizon, Cubed3 decided to take another look at this reboot from 2003. Some games have managed to insert themselves into the public's memory, regardless to if an individual was a gamer or had even played these games, there's a chance they still would have heard of them. Games like Tomb Raider, like Street Fighter and like Duke Nukem. Shadow Warrior, however, is somewhat less known. It's surprisingly, really, considering it took the Duke Nukem formulae and arguably improved on it. Considering how controversial the long awaited and highly anticipated Duke Nukem Forever was, can this reboot do a better job? See for yourself…

The original Shadow Warrior was developed by 3D Realms, coming hot off the success of their prominent work, Duke Nukem 3D. The company took each of the elements that made this so good and reused them, making something familiar, but unique. Shadow Warrior was a first person shooter, filled with violence and gore, B-movie plot tropes, and adult jokes. This reboot does not come from 3D Realms (thankfully, considering how Duke Nukem Forever turned out - but from a relatively unknown Polish developer called Flying Wild Hog.

This reboot's star is Lo Wang, a private security - read: assassin - for Zilla Enterprises, and has been given a simple enough job. He's handed a shiny briefcase straight out of Pulp Fiction containing $2,000,000, and this money is to be used to buy a very special sword. The only problem is that the sword isn't for sale. After trying to pay with cash, then with blood, Wang finds out there's more to this story than buying a big knife.

After the owner of the sword is killed and Wang left mortally wounded, he is offered a second chance at life, by bonding with a mischievous and mysterious demon named Hoji. Hoji explains that the sword Wang has been trying to acquire is actually only one part of a magical sword able to kill immortals, thus the new duo set off on a quest to try and find the sword, cutting a swath through a variety of demonic beings.

Screenshot for Shadow Warrior on PlayStation 4

Flying Wild Hog has managed to capture the same humour that was abundantly present throughout the 1997 version. Wang is a comic book collector and, evidently, a fan of Transformers, as the intro has him rocking out to some Stan Bush while a bobblehead Grimlock bounces on his dashboard. Just like the original, the quips are thick and fast, though this time they contain a good deal of less casual racism and more just plain funny lines, throwing in plenty of references and gags like "I guess it's dangerous to go alone, I'll take this" as Wang takes a pistol from a fallen foe. Not to mention plenty of quips like "You're half the man you used to be" after cutting an enemy in half."

The random banter between Hoji and Wang is also filled with absolute gems too. "This sword is apparently 'The Hotness'," says Wang, "I was into the sword before it was cool," replies Hoji, "Yeah… you should move to Portland and start a band…" The dialogue is occasionally cringe-y, but, generally, the writing is smart and able to pull real laughs from the audience, as the pair play off each other. Wang: "Time to dance." Hoji: "Did you want that to sound tough? Because it didn't."

Screenshot for Shadow Warrior on PlayStation 4

Though this is an FPS and there are plenty of weapons added to Wang's arsenal over the course of the game, most of the fun comes from the default weapon, Wang's Katana. The combat with this is great fun, hacking and slashing away at enemies, leaving them rolling on the floor clutching at their now limbless stumps like an unlucky Crazy 88 member who got on the wrong side of Beatrix Kiddo. That's not to say that the other weapons aren't fun - each is pretty standard fare to begin. A pistol, a submachine gun, a crossbow etc. Each takes on more life as they're upgraded, though, improving their strength and versatility, then even adding special abilities to the mix - the ability to duel wield the submachine guns, sticky bombs on the crossbow bolts and "Nuke Dukem" warheads to the rocket launcher amongst others.

Wang isn't limited to just the blade and bullet, there's also special abilities unlocked by finding ki crystals hidden with secret areas in each stage. These can be used to unlock different types of abilities, and then to power them up. A heal, a knockback, a levitation of enemies, a protection spell. They aren't essential to progress but they surely add another element that is fun to play with. Occasionally, to use these abilities a sequence is needed, two D-pad presses in a direction and a shoulder button, in a method rarely used that works surprisingly well.

Screenshot for Shadow Warrior on PlayStation 4

All of these weapons are needed against the wide range of demonic enemies, there are the usual rank and file rage zombie-esque creatures who maul at Wang with their hands, then there are flying energy firing gargoyles, demons who go all Metroid, transforming into an exploding ball and rolling towards Wang, bullet proof demons that charge through anything in their path and plenty of others. Not to mention the big boss encounters with different mechanics and stages in the battle.

There are around 14 hours of playtime here across sixteen chapters, but there's plenty of secrets and collectables along with a new game+ and numerous difficulty options to encourage replays, with completionists easily racking up double the number of hours. There are all of the Ki crystals to find to fully upgrade all Ki abilities, money to find and use to upgrade the weaponry, and experience to gather to unlock passive power-ups. The chapters harken back to old school FPS; no auto refilling health bars and conveniently placed waist high walls for cover, instead, stages are made up of large maze style areas that have plenty of hidden paths and secrets to uncover.

There are flaws here of course, the maze like stages can be a little too like a maze at times, usually when it's time to progress and much time is spent backtracking with no real guidance as to what to do next. The ranking of the combat seems fairly random too, with a one-to-five shuriken rating given which seems not to abide by its own rules and guidance. There are some technical issues occasionally also, with slight stutters and slowdowns when the action gets heavy, but thankfully these moments were scarce.

Screenshot for Shadow Warrior on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

This is all that Duke Nukem Forever could and should have been. A nostalgic blast, with gameplay that is fast and fun, comedy which while cliché actually delivers laugh out loud moments, and a story which is surprisingly engaging. Definitely, one title worth picking up in order to get ready for the upcoming sequel.


Flying Wild Hog


Devolver Digital





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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