In my ongoing quest to clear my backlog, I completed Shadow Warrior (2013).
The swordfighting is very well done. Combined with the upgrades, it is just extremely satisfying to hack away at hordes of demons.
I found the overall tone rather gratifying, as well. All the jokes are bad, but the silliness reminds me of that Sunday-afternoon-hungover-Jackie-Chan-movie feel I cherish so much. I lament that it took a turn to the slightly more serious towards the end. Why is serious better than silly? Why does no one commit to the altogether daft anymore? The hand-drawn cut-scenes are gorgeous, though.
But of course, after this talented team of designers managed to pull off such a pleasant demon-slicing loop, someone at the studios got scared the game might turn out to be fun. And they couldn’t allow that. So they decided to *sigh* reward exploration.
You see, weapon upgrades are purchased with money (in-game, not microtransactions). Money is found lying around all over levels. And I mean all over. This means that whenever you finish a section, i.e. kill all the monsters, you have to inspect every corner of the level to see which cupboard are openable and hold money inside. How fun. They couldn’t just reward you with a pile of cash after you were done with your slaying. They had to make sure you experience tedium, as that seems to be an integral part of gaming nowadays.
Okay, I’ll go ahead and say it. It is so bad that I ended up doing this. I figured out that there is something much more fun than inspecting SW levels in search of money, and that is inspecting my RAM memory in search of the variable that represents how much money I have in SW. So I did that and I gave myself a stupid amount, so that I would never again have to worry about scrutinizing the maps while pressing E at stuff. Guess what. The game is now fun.
Although there are other problems, sadly. When you finish a section, you have to look for a glowing object to continue, be it a door you have to go through or a button you have to press. Sometimes it’s just in front of you, but others it’s hidden in some far away corner of the level, so you just have to go looking for it. There is no marker to aid you, no map. Once it took me extra long because a gigantic demon had died in just the right spot, so the button I had to press was hidden behind its kasa. In some large, intricate levels this search could be very tedious as well.
On top of that, it features the worst boss fight in history: an entirely unchallenging guy who every three or four attacks (always happening in the same cadence), simply disappears for 15 seconds or so. So all you can do for most of the fight is wait. And when he’s about to go down, he retreats to a corner and heals himself. Rinse and repeat four or five times, until your strikes do damage faster than he can heal, seemingly for no reason. And worst of all: that exact same fight happens twice in the game!
So in my view they managed to put together a splendid bowl of punch and then made sure to take a dump in it.
Anyway, I’m done with shooters. Am I getting too old? The rest of my backlog is mostly comprised of strategy, like Crusader Kings, Company of Heroes or XCOM. Looking forward to that.