According to the Steam page, Shadow Warrior is a “bold re-imagining of the classic 3D Realms’ shooter”. This is quite true, almost every aspect of Shadow Warrior that the fans of the original know and love have been implemented into this 2013 edition. But is it any good?
Shadow Warrior is a struggle, not due to difficulty or abhorrent level design, the difficulty is perfectly balanced, offering the generic options of casual, medium and hard. The level design is simply gorgeous, when there was time between removing the limbs of the sixteenth version of the same enemy, the view was breathtaking.
The game is set in the fictional world of… Japan. Filled to the brim with Sakura trees (Cherry Blossoms) wide, open mountainous regions, closed, tight claustrophobic cave areas and the cavernous depths of the shadow realm. But where does this game fault? In the comedy? Not at all, the harlequinades of the aptly named ‘Lo Wang’ and his counterpart ‘Hoji’ will leave the player in fits of laughter.
The small secret ‘fortune cookies’ which can be found, contain sardonic and often crude one-liners and rarely provide introspective thoughts. (My personal favourite being: “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and the world laughs at you.) Lo Wang, along with Hoji, keep the player entertained with endless amounts of banter and sarcastic quips. Even up until the final fight scene.
The campaign is very stereotypical, one must defeat the ‘ancients’ in order to save the world from destruction, and secure the ancient Katana known as the ‘Nobitsura Kage‘. Not wanting to spoil any aspects of the campaign, I shall refrain from mentioning any specific details, due to the game implementing a number of twists and turns. Albeit for the most part, and this is no fault, the game is quite predictable. But it strives for nothing less. It is a fast-paced hack ‘n slash and knows it. Containing plenty of references to other video games, and one film in particular, containing a rather violent Rabbit. (I applaud you, if you found the Easter Egg, I am referring to)
Where the fault, nay the struggle, lies within Shadow Warrior, is the length and repetition which plagues almost every level. Shadow Warrior is approximately twelve hours, spanning over seventeen chapters. Normally, this is a perfect video game length. However coupled with the monotony of the repetitive enemies and boss fights, it slows the game down, almost to a grinding halt. The player will finish a gruelling battle against two of the same pseudo-bosses only to have another two of the exact same variation appear through a magic portal. This will occur constantly and without rest.
Being a fan of Hotline Miami (2012), repetitive enemies are no foreign concept, but there is a mere total of eight variations of enemies to fight. Two of which are ‘pseudo-bosses’ so that brings the number of constant creatures to six. Six enemies over twelve hours of gameplay. The last seven chapters were spent mindlessly slashing through creatures in a desperate attempt to finish the level. The beautiful dismemberment system even became dull after the six millionth generic demon.
The boss fights are particularly dreadful, to ensure no spoilers are revealed, I will not mention any names or locations. However the method to defeating the bosses is arduously simple. Shoot the shining pieces of armour until they break, then shoot the revealed ‘crystals’, repeat this cycle three or four times and voila! You are left with one quite deceased boss.
I so very dearly wanted to enjoy Shadow Warrior like thousands of people had before me, and will continue to for years to come. I felt the game was far too long for the amount of content they offered, and it is certainly a shame.
But I do have quite high hopes for Shadow Warrior 2 (2016) which, through the grape-vine, I have heard is quite fantastic.