Shadow Warrior

Back in 1997 the success of 3-D shooters such as Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem 3D gave rise to a flood of 3-D shooter games and helped usher in the early days of online gaming. I fondly remember playing Shadow Warrior as I loved the mix of humor, action, and new technological advances that made it such an enjoyable gameplay experience.

Sadly the game never quite reached the status it deserves in part due to the rising political correctness movement and early days the Internet that allowed people to voice their displeasure with what they perceived as negative and inaccurate Asian stereotypes in the game.
Despite never being the breakout hit it deserved, the game spawned two expansions as well as a couple of novels and remained a fond memory for many of those who played it.

Devolver Digital has picked up the Katana and has brought back Lo Wang for an all-new adventure and a highly effective reboot of the franchise.

Playing as Lo Wang, a courier and muscle for a wealthy Japanese industrialist named Zilla, the game opens with the player being tasked to purchase a valuable sword. Things do not go as planned as Wang soon finds himself battling henchmen and surprisingly demons and effort to escape with his skin intact.

Thanks to the assistance of a demon named Hoji, Wang learns that his bosses attempting to obtain and combine reports to an extremely powerful and ancient sword that will give him dominion over the land. The only problem is that Zilla is in league with several demonic forces and does not care about the fact that said demons are in our world and laying waste to all those they encounter.
Armed with his trusty Katana, and in time, a pistol, shotgun, flame thrower, rocket launcher, machine gun, and other weapons, Wang is up for the task of recovering the sword and endhing the rein of the demons.

The game is spread out over 17 levels and contains a very nice mix of enemies. Some of the battles are extremely difficult and without being able to change difficulty setting mid-level, expect to find yourself cursing sometimes at the never-ending waves of enemies that come at you. Do not forget that the folks behind this reboot brought us Serious Sam so enemies coming at you in increasingly difficult and not ending waves are par for the course.

Fortunately Wang can obtain not only upgrades to his weapons but to himself as well as he is able to learn various powers of an offensive and defensive nature. Being able to heal yourself mid battle is a huge plus when health packs are not available, as is the ability to steal health from a defeated enemy or to simply turn the world on and by unleashing a snare trap and picking them off at your leisure.
There were times when thanks to the extremely long levels that some of the enemies felt a bit repetitive and more annoying than challenging. I should’ve known better as there were soon battles with some bosses and other precarious situations ahead.

The game allows you a decent amount of exploration as the detail level of the maps is quite amazing. Ranging from office complexes, a castle, the Shadow Realm, shipping docks, and so much more the true beauty of the game is always enjoyable to behold.

The game shines graphically as there is a great mix of lighting and particle effects as well as plenty of flames and explosions throughout. I have to admit that I took great delight in slicing an unfortunate opponent into several pieces and watching said pieces littered ground around me.

The variety of enemies is good and I especially enjoyed one of the later game powers of being able to take a demons had that I had severed and using it to unleash a death ray upon any of those who challenge me.

There is some great sound effects in the game and although not offensive, Wang has not lost his traditional sense of humor as he has several witty lines throughout the game and still asks those he encounters “who wants some Wang” before heading into battle.
The developer is also clearly paid attention to the original game as there are several Easter eggs throughout which are nods to the original game include in hidden areas with the graphical look of the old game. There were also some enjoyable returns such as Wang’s sticky bombs which now are available as an upgrade to the crossbow weapon rather than being a grenade that clung to enemies and could be remotely detonated.

While the game does not offer a multiplayer mode, it does offer plenty of gameplay due to the 17 long levels in the game and some real challenge from some of the bigger battles. The developers of told me that if there is a demand for it and if the game is popular enough, they would not rule out adding a multi-play component at sometime in the future.
I also want to pass along huge kudos to the developers for not relying solely on a checkpoint save system. The game does allow players to save at various points in game which is huge due to the difficulty of some of the battles as I can only imagine the level of frustration if certain segments of the game have to be played checkpoint checkpoint.

For now, Shadow Warrior is a shining example of how a 3-D shooter should be made rather than a nostalgic re-polish of an era since passed. The gameplay is sharp and fresh as our the story and characters making the game one of my most pleasant surprises of the year and one that I hope we will be seeing more of in the near future.

4.5 stars out of 5