Shadows of the Damned Bits


Summary

Description: Resident Evil 4 in hell.

Conveniences: The outline of the healthbar begins to flash and drain while exposed to darkness, giving the player a clear indication of when the real damage will begin.

Annoyances: Poorly balanced one-hit-kill sequences; various game breaking/crashing bugs.

Standouts: A juvenile but often humourous Grindhouse vibe.

Bits

  • Much like Alan Wake, Shadows of the Damned places light and darkness at the core of its gameplay. Darkness can damage the player and make enemies invulnerable, but venturing deep within is often required to hit switches, expose enemy weak spots, or simply progress through the level.

    Occasional hand statues can be (somewhat roughly) deactivated to prevent them from spewing out the inky blackness, while firework stations can be used to temporarily light up the area. Goat heads can get rid of the darkness permanently, but some enemies and bosses can still shroud them, creating a back-and-forth dynamic where the player keeps lighting up the goat candelabras.

    Finally, even in lit up areas enemies can be shrouded in darkness, requiring the player to hit them with a “light shot”, a melee torch attack, or an explosive “light barrel” to remove their invincibility.

  • The melee attack doesn’t seem to break fragile objects or damage enemies (at least while un-upgraded). This is especially odd as it’s somewhat easy to run out of ammo early on in the game. In fact, the player can actually be left completely helpless, unable to combat enemies or destroy the crates that might hold more ammo.
  • Enemies’ limbs can be shot off, forcing them to crawl towards the player. This makes for a fun execution event where the player unleashes a comical flurry of head-stomps that result in collectibles spilling out. Unlike most other games’ executions, this doesn’t leave the player invulnerable, and the duration of the execution is based on the remaining health of the enemy.
  • The default gun can be upgraded to fire a sticky bomb that emanates a glowing radius which represents its range. The bomb can be shot manually to damage enemies and knock off their armour, and to destroy certain obstacles. A few areas even require a chain reaction of bomb explosions, which are helpfully indicated by magnifying circles that only appear when the player is aiming the bomb shot.
  • In a playful take on glowing weak spots, bosses have large, translucent sacks of human blood attached to them that are explained to serve as their sources of power.
  • Virtually every level tries to introduce some new mechanic to add variety to the gameplay. While this keeps things interesting, some of the minigames — like the 2D side-scrolling shooter — are a bit on the clunky slide.
  • Throughout the game Garcia stumbles upon his kidnapped girlfriend who ends up possessed and mutilated right in front of him. There’s no way to prevent these segments, but they do a good job of driving the game forward.
  • The close camera and linear levels make hell feel a little small, but various posters and books add flavour to the setting. Reading these prevents the player from doing anything else, which is a bit annoying with the lengthy storybooks, but they’re humourously narrated and commented on by both Garcia and his sidekick.

Extras

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