Shadow Warrior Review: The Sword is the Word

Melee weapons have frequently held a soft spot in the first person shooter, from Half-Life’s trusty crowbar to Counter-Strikes knife. Rarely has the melee weapon been the focal point of a first person shooter.

Shadow Warrior a remake of the 1997 game with the same namesake by the developers at Flying Wild Hog, and published by Devolver Digital gives a personal touch to the FPS genre. The game’s main armament to assassinate adversaries with is a katana, a sword which can cut through human and demon flesh with ease and precision.

In the game you take control of Lo Wang a gun-for-hire whose mission is to recover a sword named the Nobitsura Kage. While searching for the sword an army of demons is released onto earth in attempt to recover the same sword. The Nobitsura Kage is an ancient artifact which has the powers of the gods and the ability to banish demons. Lo Wang is also aided by a demon named Hoji who bestows powers and abilities onto Wang.

Hoji acts as a guide to the demonic onslaught which has befallen the city. Wang communicates with Hoji which gives way to some humorous banter, a nice contrast to all the bloodshed and violence that occurs.

Wang can use his katana to slash quickly via the left mouse button or to charge a heavy strike with the right button held, combine the two modes to release a melody of steel to dispatch your foes. In addition to the basic attacks comes a vast variety of vicious upgrades acquired through the collection of demon souls. The abilities include a devastating charged slash which releases a wave of horizontal energy able to strike multiple enemies, another ability stuns enemies around Wang and raises them into the air for a brief amount of time just to name a few.

Yet like most FPS games there are a fair amount of projectile weapons to satisfy those who enjoy a good bullet spray. All of the guns are upgradable through the use of money, upgrades make guns host additional ammunition, new natures of attacks or dual wield mode.

There are a large variety of upgrades through money, demon souls, or crystals you find in adventures through the levels. Although the main path on each level is linear you can explore to collect secrets throughout each level. The score upon completion shows how many secrets were collect and enemies were slain.

Bosses in Shadow Warrior share a similarity to those in the popular God of War series. Gargantuan demons with a vast amount of different abilities face you throughout your adventures, each more vicious than the last. As you defeat the demons and their lesser minions you can recover pieces of the Nobitsura Kage until you finally assemble the whole sword.

Enemies have an advanced AI which makes them no cake walk especially when surrounded. Baddies dodge when you attempt to aim your weapons at them, they jump on walls, block, or lunge at you. During sword fights enemies with parry your quick attacks or block them until you use a power or a heavy blow.

Along with just the basics Shadow Warriors doesn’t take itself too seriously, constant banter between Lo Wang and Hoji discusses the environment or mistakes made by the player. Collectable Fortune Cookies throughout the adventure mock popular culture or other video games.

While Shadow Warriors will not take over the FPS market, there is a special place that it can share in your twisted soul. A hired gun which slays demons with magic powers, an ancient sword, and a ton of firepower sounds like a premise for a B 80s movie, but with all the bad puns, random jokes, and obnoxious enemies Shadow Warriors is about as much fun you can have in a single-player game.

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