Grasshopper Manufacture’s next game is a love story of sorts. Shadows of the Damned follows demon hunter Garcia Hotspur as he dives into hell to rescue his girlfriend Paula. Electronic Arts is touting Shadows of the Damned as a gritty horror game, but Goichi Suda (Suda51) added a touch of toilet humor. For instance, Garcia’s machine gun shoots bones and is called the "Boner." Actually, Shadows of the Damned is overflowing with those kinds of jokes. The demo, which took place in stage 2-1, had Garcia inspect pubic vines and optionally read the Johnsonpedia for more information about his enemies.
Way before all of the cock jokes, Shadows of the Damned threw Garcia right into combat. The level opened in an area enveloped by darkness. Monsters lunged towards Garcia, but under the cover of darkness these undead creatures were invulnerable. In the distance I saw a goat head and shot it to turn on the lights. A cloud of darkness still covered the enemies and deflected bullets. Before you can kill anything you need to hit it directly with light. All three of Garcia’s guns (a pistol, shotgun, and machinegun) can fire a photon blast with the right bumper. This doesn’t take up any ammunition, so you can blindly fire light blasts if you like. Now defenseless, these monsters can be executed with a headshot. Land one and Shadows of the Damned’s camera follows a bullet the bullet so players can see the carnage.
I got used to the rhythm quickly – left trigger (LT) to draw you weapon, move the right stick to aim (a Resident Evil 4 style laser lets you know where you’re firing), hit the right bumper (RB) to shoot light, and pull the right trigger (RT) to open fire. The left bumper makes Garcia take a swig of absinthe because alcohol is the only way to restore health in hell. After drinking it, Garcia’s vision and the screen blurs for a few seconds.
Grasshopper Manufacture hid plenty of items for players to find. Smash fences just outside the critical path and players can find extra items. Posters are also scattered through levels, like the one for "Strawberry Sh*tcake" I discovered. You can read one of these by pressing the X button, which has Garcia and Johnson, his shapeshifting demon gun gab about hell. A representative from Electronic Arts explained these posters tell players more about the world Grasshopper Manufacture created for Shadows of the Damned.
I blasted through more demons and reached one of the game’s puzzles. While the darkness tends to be Garcia’s enemy, you also need it at times. That pubic hair covered door mentioned earlier only opens when darkness covers it. I shot a goat head to turn out the lights and the darkness spread through the room like a miasma. Demons emerged when it touched corpses, but I couldn’t defeat them. The only defense Garcia has is his melee attack, which him push the demons away with Johnson transformed as a torch. After climbing a few ladders, I found the darkness core, which looked something like a Venus fly trap. Garcia shoved a brain inside it to stop the flow.
Then I ran into a woman named Justine started singing. Johnson, scared as usual, chattered his teeth. She called a giant monster with a gem on its back to attack Garcia. I wasn’t sure if it was a mid-boss, but this monster put up more of a fight. It dashed at Garcia forcing me to use his dodge roll. However, like your run of the mill demon the same attack strategy works. Hit the large demon with light to stun it and expose its weak point, the gem on its back. Right before this battle, I started using the shotgun. At close range, it can kill most demons with one shot. Two shotgun blasts to the gem later and the giant demon was defeated.
The level ended and I got a brief glimpse of the main map, which was in 2D and appeared to use sprites. Garcia walked to the next area and a cutscene began. Garcia spotted Paula’s head on the ground. In a melancholy tone, Garcia started to pine the death of his love… until the head screamed. Paula’s body, lying nearby, grabbed the head and reattached it. A knife eviscerated Paula and George, a bloody soldier, popped out of her skin. Control switched back to me and George started chasing Garcia, but the demo ended here with Garcia standing in an open area preparing to fight.
We won’t have to wait long to see what’s next. Electronic Arts has Shadows of the Damned scheduled for release on June 7th.