Conceived by Suda six years ago following the culmination of Killer 7, Shadows of the Damned was birthed after the Creative Artists Agency brought in the project to EA. Soon Mikami linked up in an official capacity. Marked a psychological action thriller, Shadows follows expert demon hunter Garcia Hotspur through Suda and Mikami’s unequalled interpretation of hell.
EA and Grasshopper Manufacture revealed Shadows of the Damned at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. Driven by the aggregated talents of iconic Japanese developers Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) and Goichi “Suda 51” Suda (No More Heroes), it’s apparent from the introduction trailer that both are inculcating their signature styles into this third-person shooting game.
“What I want to do is introduce the audience to a brand new experience,” Suda says. “I want this to be a very exciting experience that isn’t like a normal action game. Not normal at all. That is where we came up with the idea of a ‘psychological action thriller.”
After knowing that his love was captured and being tormented in the underworld by vindictive demons – when you remove the damned for a living, they design a chip on their shoulder – Hotspur commits his life to rescuing Paula. Despite hosts of dark enemies standing in his way, he will not stop until he brings hell down to its knees.
Suda says the dark ambiance of movies, like Se7en were extremely inspirational, but that he intends to equalize the mood with the pulpy action of Robert Rodriguez films. The short trailer starts with Hotspur riding his motorcycle on an abandon road at night to a heavy metal soundtrack, having just enough light from the flickering lampposts to light up his significantly marred face and tattooed torso. Hotspur advances to a giant gate, kicks it in, brings out his gun, and says, “Let the bloodbath begin!” After slaughtering a few enemies, he halts to cry, “My name is Garcia Hotspur! My wrath is your hell!”
Hotspur’s character design feels very familiar. Dark, dangerous, and clothed in a leather jacket (a signature Grasshopper style), Hotspur feels clearly spawned from Suda’s mind. Hotspur’s extraordinary arsenal feels like vintage Suda as well; his skull-adorned shotgun makes an affirmation without even firing off a shot. Hostpur is joined on his adventure by a flaming skull, a straightened out demon who can transmute into said weapons.
Mikami’s influence is apparent all over in Shadows of the Damned. While going down further into hell, players must face a twisted regalia of creatures and solve a series of disturbing puzzles, entirely infused with Mikami’s unique style. The game boasts an over-the-shoulder camera and shooting mechanics that appear very much like Resident Evil 4. Boss fights are also created under his watchful eye.
Notwithstanding the macabre environment, visible punk rock overtones pervade the game. “I think survival horror is very serious in both visuals and gameplay,” Mikami says. “However, for this game, it really has a punk rock flavor. It isn’t always serious. It is very easy to get into and is a very stylish game. I want players to always be excited when they play. It is very different than a normal survival horror game, despite the subject.”