A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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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?
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