Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Release Date: 03/01/2022
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Shadow Warrior has been a series that’s just all over the place. The first game in this new reboot was really great. Well-balanced weapons, enemies, and great visuals. The second game took a nose-dive adding too much to the game and Shadow Warrior 3 strips it too far back. Flying Wild Hog just can’t find a good balance for this series. This can almost be a reboot within the trilogy itself. It’s nothing like the first two games at all. It feels more arcade-like. Gone are all the pointless upgrades, chi abilities, and huge arsenal of weapons. The series takes a cue from the first game by giving us a set of six weapons, just a simple chi-blast (that ends up mostly being useless), and more story than ever before.
Lo Wang has hit rock bottom and has lost his ninja mojo because a giant ice dragon god defeated him. The story is told mostly through pre-rendered cut-scenes and banter from Lo Wang, Hoji, and Zilla. The cast is really small this time around and also gone is the hub world and open level mission structure. This game is incredibly linear and only consists of two gameplay loops. Combat arenas and tons of platforming. This consists of grapple swinging, wall running, and jump dashes across chasms. It’s pretty fun if too simple and overused. Some levels are over half of just this. The levels are pretty nice with a fun new cartoon-like art style that pretty much just sticks with ancient Japanese architecture and demons. With the weapons cut back to just six you get a varied arsenal and can really get to know them. Yes, there are upgrades, but each weapon gets three upgrades and adds a menial upgrade to each weapon. The first upgrade increases all ammo by a little bit and the second upgrade adds some sort of elemental upgrade while the third is usually the best, but you won’t ever access the third upgrade by the end of the game. It’s just too short.
During combat arenas, you can run around and blast enemies away, but each unique enemy has a finisher. This is a Mortal Kombat-style Fatality but gives you a temporary weapon you can use to devastate enemies. This is a really neat system and the best part of the game. You need to fill your meter as each enemy type requires a certain amount of chunks of your meter. Some weapons vary from melee, explosive, giant machine guns, or a passive portal that sucks everyone into one spot. There’s still not as deep of a strategic element to the weapons and enemies in a game like DOOM, but it’s way better than the last game. At least I know what enemies die fastest with what weapon and smaller enemies can just be hacked away with a sword. It’s faster-paced, even though the shooting doesn’t have the weight of the last two games, this really feels more arcade-like. It’s like how Ninja Gaiden 3 was compared to the first two games. More arcade-like, more cinematic, and simplistic, but still fun.
That’s all there is to this game. You just platform your way to the next arena where there are maybe five or so on each level. There are only two boss fights in the entire game, so it does get repetitive super quick and there just aren’t a lot of enemy types either. The game can be finished in about 4-5 hours. I finished it in two sittings. Each level looks pretty good despite the visuals not being mind-blowing or anything on a technical scale. The departure from the RPG stuff from the last game makes this one more enjoyable. This game felt like popcorn. I enjoyed it while it was there, but I won’t think about it tomorrow. It’s great as a cheap sale and a weekend gore fest. Lo Wang’s jokes are still pretty lame, but the writing is a bit better than the last game as well. I did get a couple of chuckles out. At this point, the series needs another complete reboot with maybe a different developer.