Shadow Warrior is developer Flying Wild Hog’s third original title that came out digitally and physically in 2014 for PS4 and Xbox One (2013 for PC/Mac). As the game’s sequel Shadow Warrior 2 was released digitally on consoles in the last May (2017) I thought it would be the best time to give this game series a try.
The game tells a story of an assassin Lo Wang and a Shadow Realm demon Hoji and their journey together against evil. At first the game’s story feels like a typical revenge story but develops and deepens satisfyingly on the way to the end. I enjoyed how the story is for the most part told alongside gameplay. On the contrary, the still image parts of the story feel the worst part of the game as these parts differentiated too much form the game’s overall high atmosphere and left me usually bored.
The Doom-like first-person action is the game’s absolute salt and it has been accomplished and polished with care. I loved the gameplay’s variation of sword swinging, gun fighting and usage of mystical powers to blow out demonic hordes. The game encourages to use environmental devices and explosives for killing as more complex playstyles give you more Karma (experience points). This made me tactic my fights and use the playing areas more widely. Also, fast switching from one weapon to another worked nicely with circle menu and short cut buttons. On the other hand, the game’s controls for mystical powers would have needed some serious adjustments as I quite often felt totally lost with the button combinations as the action kept rising to the second potency.
The level design deserves a positive mention as I never got bored of continuous fighting with the same plain and therefor dull enemies. In short, the game’s difficulty level and the change of different areas have been balanced perfectly. Bullets are easily found but the amount of them won’t let you run like a Rambo which successfully forces the player to switch between sword and gun fight styles. Sometimes I lost my way in the more complex areas which annoyed my progression but in all it didn’t lower my play mood too much.
The game even introduces some RPG elements which worked nicely even though the system is very basic. You upgrade your weapons with money, use Ki stones to upgrade your mystical powers and use Karma points to upgrade your skills. Karma is mainly earned from fighting and money is found from boxes lying around as Ki stones mainly comes to your way as you progress the game. The game has lots of different secret areas of which I managed to find about half during my playthrough without much of an effort. Finding them all can be a challenge which I think will satisfy even the most hardcore gamers.
And then there’s the game’s humor lead by the assassin Lo Wang. Too seldom do games present successful humor during gameplay as Shadow Warrior does. The game is full of hilarious conversations with Mr. Wang and his demon ally Hoji. The best laughs though are found from the fortune cookie messages which can be found all around the areas. I also loved how Wang’s personality is introduced to the gamer by random comments to the enemies and by implementing his hobbies to the game world. The voice acting also impresses. I only wish that the developers had managed to copy some of the protagonist’s charm to the demonic enemies which would have made them more interesting.
+ The polished action and combat
+ Successful humor
+ Excellent balance of money, bullets and difficulty
+ Diverse level design and secret areas
– Still image cut scenes
– Controls for special movements (at least on consoles)
– Plain and dull enemies
A brief bulletin of performance
The bought physical version was played on Xbox One X on which the game plays nicely: there’s no screen tear and the game runs smoothly 60 fps. Resolution is 900p according to Eurogamer.net Shadow Warrior Face-off (27.10.2014). Loading times between different areas are fast and hardly noticeable. Loading between chapters are longer but not disturbing. Please see yourself more about the game’s performance from the Erkkade’s playthrough video below.