Shadows of the Damned

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Shadows of the Damned Game Poster Image
Shooter basks in gore, profanity, alcohol use, dirty jokes.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Despite its seemingly noble story, which sees a man journeying through Hell to rescue his beloved, this game glorifies bloody, gory violence and is filled with overt sexual jokes and extreme profanity. It is designed to shock and amuse adult audiences; there is nothing here that is intended or safe for kids.   

Positive Role Models & Representations

The hero is clearly a good man intent on fighting evil and saving his girlfriend, but he takes great pleasure in his violence and plainly enjoys profanity, drinking, and dirty humor. 

Ease of Play

It’s not as difficult as some other Japanese action adventures but it still requires quick reflexes and speedy thinking. Multiple difficulty levels help. The controls are tight and satisfying, but a little unconventional for the genre. Even veteran players will find that it takes time to fully master these controls.


Players use a variety of upgradeable fantasy weapons, including a handgun that shoots bones and an automatic rifle that fires teeth, to dispatch hordes of non-human demons. Blood and gore are a part of every kill. Crimson coats the environments and limbs explode in a shower of guts. Cut scenes show disturbing sequences in which a woman is repeatedly killed by being torn apart from within, hanged from a ceiling fan, and drowned in a lake. Demons often engage in self-mutilation, with one pulling out and eating its own beating heart.


The game’s female lead, a woman being tortured in hell, frequently appears scantily clad in sexy lingerie. A level later in the game shows billboards for strip clubs, along with slogans for nude girls and silhouettes of naked women. Countless jokes reference male genitals. For example, the name of the primary gun players wield is “boner” and it can be upgraded to fire “sticky wads.” Plus, the health bar is phallic, and grows with upgrades.   


Players should expect extreme profanity, including frequent use of “f--k” and several of its more popular variants. One demon boss expresses himself using nothing but the f-word.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The game’s hero restores his health by drinking sake, tequila, and absinthe. He exhibits no outward traits of drunkenness, and the alcohol does not impede his performance.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shadows of the Damned is a visceral, bloody game filled with sex jokes and intense profanity. The hero, a demon hunter, is on a righteous quest to save an innocent woman from the clutches of Hell, but the nobility of his crusade is at times lost in the game’s excesses. Players eviscerate demons in gory fashion with a variety of guns that fire teeth and bones; and can restore their health by chugging hard liquor. Sexual themes and dirty humor can be found almost everywhere, including in the name of the player’s primary weapon, which is called the “boner.” It is clearly intended for an adult audience.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byKoopaKing36 August 25, 2011

Gory but good fun

This is a fantastic game that will bring you loads of fun. Although it is quite gory, it also has some nudity, such as running across the body of a giant naked... Continue reading

What's it about?

SHADOWS OF THE DAMNED is the product of a collaboration between heavy hitting Japanese game developers Shinji Mikami -- mastermind of the Resident Evil franchise -- and Goichi Suda, who is better known as Suda 51, the fellow responsible for the popular No More Heroes series. Together they have crafted one of the goriest, dirtiest, and most profane games of the year. The story revolves around Garcia Hotspur, a demon hunter who travels to hell to save his girlfriend. As he travels through the horrors of perdition, he sees her die over and over again in disturbing and ghastly ways, which strengthens his resolve to rescue her. His journey leads him to blow apart countless demons using a sentient skull torch named Johnson who can morph into various weapons, like the “boner,” which fires bones and sticky explosives. A secondary ammunition called “lightshot” helps illuminate dark passages and drive off an encroaching, malevolent “darkness” that often threatens to overwhelm Garcia. Players are forced to constantly change tactics and weapons in order to survive their odyssey through the scary, demon-infested world.

Is it any good?

The jokes are often juvenile and may make adult players groan, but there’s a very well designed game beneath all of the sex gags and dirty puns. The combat system requires players to continually change tactics to combat enemies with different types of defenses and varying weak spots. Meanwhile, the sometimes puzzle-like environments force players to keep an eye out for important features -- like goat heads and blood buttons -- that will allow them to progress.

Kudos also goes to the game’s visual design, which can only be described as inspired lunacy. Imagine iron gates with crying baby faces that demand brains, eyeballs, and strawberries; villainous demons with grotesquely oversized heads and too many limbs; and creatures that eat their own hearts before releasing darkness-generating flatus. It certainly won’t be for all tastes, to be sure, but there’s no denying the imaginative imagery and solidly designed gameplay. It’ll be a treat for hardcore gamers with a palate for excess. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about alcohol use in games. Does it make any sense that drinking alcohol should restore a character to health? Is there a purpose to using alcohol as a restorative beyond simply shocking the audience?

  • Families can also discuss violence in games. Does the depiction of blood and gore seem any less intense when the creatures bleeding are evil, inhuman demons? Should the targets of violence affect your decision regarding the suitability of certain games for your kids?  

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Price: $59.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Release date: June 21, 2011
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
  • Last updated: June 20, 2019

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