If there's one thing most gamers already know about Suda51, it's that his titles are first awesome, and second, really, really weird. Just ask anyone who's ever played Killer7 or No More Heroes. Well, it looks like Suda's next game will be following triumphantly in the footsteps of its predecessors with a dick-joke laden road trip through Hell in Shadows of the Damned. And just to up the ante, he's also bringing along Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami and Silent Hill sound designer Akira Yamaoka for the ride too. What we're left with is an intriguingly dark and humorous tale.
You take on the role of renowned demon hunter Garcia Hotspur. As you'd imagine, someone who does that kind of assassinating has a lot of powerful enemies, and when the king of all demons kidnaps his girlfriend, you know it's fucking on. It's now up to you as Garcia along with his perpetual boner-joke sidekick Johnson, a talking skull on a stick who can turn into all sorts of crazy-ass guns, to go to Hell and save her.
The action is somewhat similar to No More Heroes in that it's a third-person brawler with plenty of hand-to-hand combat and over-the-top finishing moves, but there's a much stronger emphasis on shooting, and from what I saw, some light puzzle-solving thrown in for good measure. The overall tone is different with everything having more of an Evil Dead meets Del Toro-style grindhouse cinema as opposed to the very animé setting of NMH. You could almost think of it as a funny Resident Evil-style shooter without the lame control scheme.
In the brief demo I was given, every time there were undead or demons to be slain, there was also a forcefield protecting them that had to be removed before they could be dealt with properly. The first time, I had to use my Johnson (heh) to spark up a torch that would disseminate the toxic, blue shroud of protection around enemies for a limited time, but the next such encounter involved having to destroy jewels on a demonic shrine to dispel the dust before I could quench my bloodlust.
In between brawls I was introduced to Christopher, a half-man half-demon redneck who serves as the in-game store for you along your journey. He munches down on the white diamonds you collect and spews up useful things such as booze, which acts as your health, and red diamonds, which can be used to upgrade your weapons and skills.
Then it was off to a mini-game mission of sorts where I had to move a giant chandelier around a huge tower and take out orbs to once again dissipate the evil blue... as Garcia and Johnson waxed poetic about the phallic nature of the orb-holding statues I was smashing up.
Like I said, the game is really weird, but it was also a lot of fun to play, and since I don't own a Wii, this is as close to playing No More Heroes as I'll get for a while. And it may be even better. After my hands-on we took a moment to talk with Shadows of the Damned creative director Massimo Guarini about where the hell they came up with all the insane creatures and how the tone was set for the environments along with what films and music helped inspire them to push the insanity envelope.
Shadows of the Damned will be hitting stores come June 21st, 2011 on Xbox 360 and PS3.