Shadows of the Damned

Resident devil

Alcohol-fuelled violence?

Its depiction of hell blends the traditional iconography of Dante with a splash of the more sexual, visceral imagery of Lovecraft and Clive Barker. You'll come across rooms filled with mutilated cadavers hanging from meat hooks and walls constructed from amorphous body parts, but you'll also venture through hell's seedy, neon-drenched strip club district and open gates by feeding deranged cherubim-faced locks with brains, eyeballs and, oddly, strawberries.

Shadows of the Damned

Should have gone to Specsavers

For all its thematic subversion, Shadows' gameplay is surprisingly conventional. Ammunition is found in glowing boxes scattered about the place. Health is replenished by drinking alcohol – with Sake replenishing a little, Tequila a bit more, and the devil's own tipple Absinthe fully restoring you. And there's a generic system of currency in the form of collectible crystals, used to augment attributes, upgrade weapons and purchase supplies.

Gunplay is also largely conventional, with mechanics revolving around your weapon set and an Alan Wake-style concept of light and dark. Like Alan Wake, enemies are invincible in the darkness - a blue-tinted enveloping mist that eats away at your health bar. To dispel the darkness, you need to find and light a golden wall-mounted goat's head using your light shot, fired with a tap of RB. But enemies retain an impenetrable darkness around them until hit by a further light shot, only then becoming vulnerable to regular ordnance, with certain demons more susceptible to particular weapons.

Shadows of the Damned

Shooting balls

Light and dark also informs many of the game's puzzles and boss battles. At times, giant hands pop up to spew darkness into combat arenas. As you inch forwards to switch them off, you must balance fending off demons with the need to prime firework boxes to temporarily lift the gloom and preserve health.

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