Oct 04, 2013

Shadow Warrior Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $39.99
We Recommend: $31.99
  • Developer: Flying Wild Hog
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Genre: Action, Adventure
  • Released: Sep 26, 2013
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

Despite the generic-sounding name, Shadow Warrior is actually a reimagining and reboot of the 1997 classic from 3DRealms, which came after the release of the mega-hit, Duke Nukem 3D. This Shadow Warrior, coincidentally, follows the release of the mega-dud, Duke Nukem Forever. The good news, is that Shadow Warrior stops following Duke Nukem at this point.

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The story goes like this, you’re Lo Wang, sent to retrieve a magical sword of limitless power. You carry a briefcase containing $2 million dollars. The deal goes south, you don’t get what you came for, and are left for dead. Shortly after you’ll meet a demon named Hoji, who becomes your sidekick and only invading your space when needed. A character you’d assume would be an annoyance, is actually used seldomly, and you’ll be thankful for it. And so begins your quest to get your hands on that sword and stop the demon invasion.

Early on, the game sets you up for the juvenile humor and minor racism among Lo Wang’s quips and innuendos that’s to come. With a name like “Lo Wang” for the main character, you come to expect certain lengths that the jokes will go to, to amuse. While the look is grim, bloody, and fierce, there’s a devil-may-care attitude that Lo Wang exhibits throughout that keeps things fun and lighthearted.

Controls are standard keyboard and mouse fair (or gamepad for you crazies), but the neat thing, is a mini-combo system where double-tapping W puts your sword into a charged-up piercing move, or double-tapping S to wind-up for a 360 degree slash that wipes out everyone around you in one fell swoop. It gives a fight some cinematic flair and gory excellence as time slows down. Each click of the mouse and corresponding sword slash has a good weight to it, and feels like you’re making contact.

At the end of each combat scenario, you’re given a rating on how you did out of 5 shurikens, and are given karma. A varied and stylish fight reaps the biggest reward. Mixing guns, shurikens, sword, and demon hearts tends to be the most effective, if you can nail the timing and not dillydally. In doing so, arms and heads fall off, blood spurts out like a scene from Kill Bill. Words like “BEHEADED”, “SHREDDED”, and “MASSACRE” give you indications you’re doing well, in almost arcade-like fashion.

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In keeping with modern traditions, Shadow Warrior features an upgrade system amongst developing new powers, earning new skills, and enhancing your weapons. Powers are able to be improved by spending KI crystals that are scattered out on a level, usually in hidden or hard to reach areas. Skills use karma that is earned during combat by defeating foes with style. And upgrades use the money you acquired from chests and fallen enemies.

Each type of upgrade you invest in is either passive or active, depending on the type. It’s smart to be investing on health early on to give yourself and advantage in combat, and not to be overwhelmed. Other ones let you cast a spell for an ethereal shield. Perhaps you want to be less prone to fire damage. Or you can buff up your sword to be more damaging. The choices are yours.


Flying Wild Hog created a lovely and beautiful world, if not clichéd with cherry blossoms, much to the main character’s audible notation of the same thing. Character models when whole don’t look remarkably well, whether its reflections in a mirror or in cutscenes. Though, character models when sliced up after meeting Lo’s katana, does look awesome while lying still, and in motion.

The game maintains a fluid 60fps throughout. Occasionally, the explosions of fireworks, TNT barrels, other physics being activated, caused it to dip to about 45fps. Though, it was barely a hindrance to the fun I was having.

My PC Specs:
– Intel Core i7 3770k @ 3.9GHz (Turbo)

The music appropriately accompanies the game. When the action is subdued in a burning or abandoned part of town, bamboo flutes gently play. And when you’re in full swing of the combat, the music ups the tempo and keeps you immersed deep in the action.

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Shadow Warrior doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth the way, say Duke Nukem Forever did. In fact, Lo Wang should stand high and mighty about this return. Flying Wild Hog was able to infuse a lengthy campaign, dick jokes, nostalgia, and modern designs into an enjoyable 15-20 hours or so of gameplay, that is surely to leave you satisfied.

A Steam code was provided by PR for review purposes