Suda-51's latest is a dam good ride
Popcorn gaming is a term I am on a crusade to get into the greater gaming lexicon. It refers to those games we play that we all know are dumb, the ones that dont innovate and try to change the way all future games are made or have some socio-political point to make about the world. No, it refers to those games that hark back to the beginning of the industry where paying strippers to show pixelated boobs and blasting floating one eyed demons without any real reason was one of the most entertaining things you can do.
Shadows of the Damned, more than any title you will play this year, embodies this ideal. It is dumb, on about a thousand levels, but you end up having so much fun with it you just don't care. You don't even have to put it on an especially hard difficulity setting, in fact it is better if you don't, as while it is a tremendously fun game, it does have it's flaws which are highlighted by the increase in challenge.
You play as one Garcia Hotspur, who along with his talking demon skull sidekick/weapon Johnson, set off on a quest into hell to rescue his girlfriend who has been killed/kidnapped by the lord of the underworld. Que lots, and lots, and lots of blood, great one liners and the most overt d*ck jokes ever put into a game, and this is why it is so much fun.
Johnson can turn into three different guns and can be used to melee enemies, but also provides some of those jokes and one liners which can't help but bring a smile. Yes, it is puerile and yes you feel a little odd for giggling like a school boy at some of it, but who cares when your having this much fun?
The game is not without it's problems however. The shooting isn't as tight as something like Gears of War and the voice acting doesn't fit the lip sync the majority of the time. There are 2D on rails shooting sections that while look cool, can be frustrating as the screen relentlessly scrolls to the right and if you mess up your path through the obstacles it can lead to annoying death.
Ultimately though, these are small niggles in an otherwise great game. Popcorn gaming involves the ability to switch your brain off and just enjoy, and Shadows of the Damned proves a showcase for this ideal, where the puzzles aren't especially taxing (Garcia himself stating upon your first puzzle that he 'hates puzzles') and feed into the totally daft universe the game is set in, a universe that is summed up by Johnson stating that Strawberry's are hell's joke on the world of man because they are crushed up human tongue.
The fact that when you die, Garcia falls on his back with Johnson pointing straight up at his crotch kinda sums up the game. It is adult in the most puerile way possible, fun in a way that you can just enjoy and stupid in all the right places. Play if you are interested in having a few hours of good hearted fun for no other reason that you like fun.