A Paladin’s Steam Review: Shadow Warrior. You’ve Got the Katana, You’ve got the Power.

Shadow Warrior

A Paladin’s Steam Review: Shadow Warrior. You’ve Got the Katana, You’ve got the Power.

  • Genre: Single Player Narrative Driven FPS.
  • Developed & Published by: Flying Wild Hog & Devolver Digital
  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4 and Xbox One.
  • Business Model: Single Purchase
  • Copy Purchased by Myself

Preamble

Shadow Warrior (2013) is a reboot of the 1997 videogame originally developed by 3D realms. Flying Wild Hog and Devolver Digital launched this new take on Shadow Warrior in the latter half of 2013 with an emphasis on a new Katana-style combat system, plenty of guns and one liners, beautiful graphics and a new storyline. I played it a couple of years ago and had worked on a review for a while after finishing the game. However, I was never quite happy with the direction it was going so I put aside and eventually scrapped it altogether. So, much like this game, I’m rebooting the review to give my thoughts on Lo Wang’s shadowy journey.

The original Shadow Warrior was developed as a bigger, badder version of Duke Nukem 3D on an updated engine with more mechanics that were ahead of its time. It featured a very stereotypical Japanese protagonist with plenty of questionable one liners and a take-no-prisoners attitude. Killing demons and taking names, it was an interesting idea for 3D realms and even got a couple of expansions. The game never got any sequels until the eventual reboot that we’re taking a look at. Regardless of how this review turns out, I have to say I’m impressed with how much Shadow Warrior (2013) gets right that could have been done wrong. 

Overall Gameplay Thoughts

This is a first-person, linear shooter based on old-school mechanics of large arenas with hordes of enemies and no cover shooting. Separated by chapters, the player goes through area after area fighting enemies and locating secrets. Enemies range from melee warriors, ranged attackers, charging bulls and more. Enough to keep things interesting but not too many as to make things difficult. There are various colorful Japanese locations varying from cherry-blossom coated temples to snowy peaks as you progress through the campaign. For an FPS title, it has a pretty decent amount of exploration, though this can lead to backtracking and aimless wandering as you try to figure out where to go next. The main focus of the combat system is to provide old-school weapons with a Katana up-in-your-face fighting. The Katana comes with a variety of dashing and swinging moves based on keyboard commands as well as long/short ranged chi attacks. There’s also a healing and power abilities that consume chi when used. Health packs, ammo and money can be found all throughout the various levels while chi is gained from defeating demons. There’s also an upgrade system for your weapons, abilities and stats. It ranges from pretty interesting to boring. It could be worse, could be better but for now it works well enough.

To be frank, the shooting in Shadow Warrior would be pretty forgettable if the Katana wasn’t a part of it. The shooting in SE is passable. I can’t figure out why considering the range of weapons from crossbows to RPGs to flamethrowers. But it’s like there’s a spice missing from the steak that is the shooting mechanics. Each weapon looks really cool but they aren’t as satisfying to use. This becomes more exacerbated in boss battles where the Katana can’t be used and you’re stuck with the guns instead. The boss fights are mostly shooting at large bullet sponge “weakpoints”. While these fights certainly have the right scale to be epic, they mostly fall flat as the actual fighting isn’t all that exciting. But then, all you end up doing is shooting the same place over and over and picking up ammo packs as quickly as one can. They aren’t rage-inducing, they’re just boring.

Story Thoughts

The story follows Lo Wang, a successful mercenary ninja with a sharp tongue. We meet up with him driving down a road surrounded by listening to The Touch while driving to pick up a sword called the Nobitsura Kage. He’s got two million bucks, a cocky attitude and plenty of self-assurance that he can do the job regardless of what’s required. The owner of the sword, Mizayaki, however has no interest in selling the weapon. After some violent battles unfold, the owner captures Lo Wang and learns the identity of his employer: Orochi Zilla. Zilla is a powerful corporate magnate who has made a deal with the demons in the Shadow Realm. Mizayaki reveals his alliance with a demon called Hoji and after demons attack the complex, Mizayaki is killed. Lo Wang agrees to ally himself with Hoji to retrieve the sword. From there, you’re tasked with assembling the three pieces of the Nobitsura Kage sword to prevent Zilla from using it and the demons taking over the world. What follows is a lengthy campaign of death, destruction, humor and seriousness. Hoji and Lo Wang work well together as partners, both playing off each other’s sense of humor quite well. Hoji has some ulterior motives and a sad past which makes him a more complex character than you would have initially guessed. Even Lo Wang’s character is revealed in subtle (and less than subtle) ways throughout the story. What’s happening with the Demon world is revealed in flashbacks after boss fights. It’s rather tragic what’s happening too. Even Zilla’s motivations are explained. It’s a story about characters being forced into bad choices and trying to make the best of things. While there’s crass and silly humor abound, the characters still remain anchored to reality and don’t get overly obnoxious. It’s a very interesting tale all spun quite well together. A very well done story for what could have been a completely thrown away plot that’s generally reserved for silly FPS games like these. It doesn’t become overbearing either. It balances itself well enough so that the player isn’t watching cutscenes forever. I’d say my only major criticism is that perhaps the pacing could have been tighter. Some levels will stretch out for far too long and the late game can become a bit of a drag. Still, I’ve experienced much worse than Shadow Warrior’s story. It makes me really interested in seeing where the sequel takes this world its built up.

PC Settings and Audio/Video

Options confirmed by PCGamingWiki.

Game Options: What Users Can Configure:
Widescreen resolutions, Multi-Monitor, Ultra-Wide & 4X All resolutions and aspects supported.
Borderless Windowed, Windowed Mode and V-Sync. Fullscreen is borderless windowed mode. On/Off V-Sync.
Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering and Field of View. Framerate unlocked. AA: FXAA. AF: Up to 16X. FoV: 50-90 degrees. Higher values must be input through in-game console.
Multiple Graphical Effects: SSAO, Particles, Physics, Remains and Debris. Low/Medium/High
Audio Sliders. Global, Music and Voice volume sliders
Key remapping, full controller support. Full key remapping and alternative layouts for controllers.

Shadow Warrior looks absolutely fantastic and yet runs incredibly well for the amount of visual detail it has. The colorful set pieces SE is held in can almost be visually overwhelming due to the sheer intensity of it all. The music and sound effects are also excellently designed too, with some really powerful tracks emphasizing the combat. The options menu is fleshed out with a ton of different options to choose from including targeting UI, what your Katana looks like, how much graphical detail is there and much more. Excellent PC version guys, I am very impressed.

Final Thoughts

Even after doing this reboot of a review, I still had trouble with this review and I’m not entirely sure why. But my final thoughts are this. Shadow Warrior is a very well done FPS. The story is surprisingly good and intertwines itself quite well. The characters have interesting backgrounds and work well together. The combat action is good with the Katana swordplay being the star of the show. The guns could have used some work even if I can’t put a finger on what exactly they could have changed. It’s a beautiful game with a soundtrack to back it up. I definitely recommend checking it out, Shadow Warrior shouldn’t disappoint.

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GOG Link

Thanks for reading this review of Shadow Warrior (2013)! I hope you enjoyed it. Share it around or read from other reviews. It would be appreciated!

-KingIsaacLinksr

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