Shadow Warrior is as subtle as a blood-tornado spattering through your house on what was previously a very relaxing Sunday morning. This is pure throwback FPS fun, an updated take on the '97 3D Realms original. As such, the objectives are barely removed from that of the archetypal Doom: kill everything, find the key and get to the door. As the katana-wielding warrior Lo Wang, you must slash and shoot your way through swathes of demons and hired goons whilst making irresistible wisecracks, mostly relating to ‘Wang’ being slang for ‘Johnson’.
The katana is one of the game’s finest assets. Rather than acting as a last resort like Freeman’s crowbar, it soon becomes the go-to weapon. This is not only due to its efficiency – Wang’s an expert swordsman – but also because of its novelty amid the rest of the arsenal. Upgrading the requisite skill tree grants high-powered attacks that’ll turn the katana from a reliable limb-lopper to a super noggin-chopper. Once your powers are suitably upgraded though, it can be a problem to recall the mouse button and key combinations (often involving your movement keys) for each ability.
The rural Japanese settings, complete with bamboo forests, Koi ponds and traditional temples are beautiful, but the demonic forces you battle are lacking the personality and variation in classes that would’ve made fighting them more enjoyable. It’s all too easy to hack your way through an entire level without anything standing out, and the game’s adherence to early genre staples does serve to stifle its ambition.
Still, old school FPS fans will be happy here, and there’s some memorable nods to action genre tropes such as the bantering sidekick, intro sing-a-long and Wang lifting a car’s handbrake, sending it careening down into the bad guys whilst knowingly pleading ‘Please explode, please explode!’. Whereas Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon focus was '80s sci-fi action neon, synths and cyborgs, Shadow Warrior is a tribute to kung-fu movies and Manga, with its tongue so firmly in cheek, it’s burst through and been chopped off.
Version Tested: PC. Played for 7 hours.
6 / 10
- A barrel of laughs/blood/explosions
- Excellent katana action
- Powers bound to movement keys
- Lack of enemy variants