Shadows of the Damned is a psychological horror video game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles. The game follows the story of Garcia Hotspur, a Mexican demon hunter who goes to Hell to battle its evils in order to save his true love. The game is the result of collaboration between Goichi Suda and Shinji Mikami, and combined the styles of the two designers, namely the "punk rock" edge of the former and the "psychological action thriller" of the latter.
Demon hunter Garcia Hotspur comes home to find his girlfriend, Paula, being abducted by the Lord of Demons, Fleming, who brags that he will take Paula with him to kill her again and again. Garcia is powerless to stop Fleming, but instead follows him back to the underworld along with his demon sidekick, Johnson, who also acts as his gun, torch and motorcycle. In the demon world, Johnson helps guide Garcia through the twisted nature of the demon realm, defeating numerous enemies that try to feed on Garcia's flesh, and keeping him away from the darkness that destroys the human flesh. As they travel, they witness numerous deaths of Paula by Fleming and other demons, all to toy with Garcia's senses. Another human demon hunter, who simply goes by the name "Colonel", temporarily aids Garcia, but then leaves to get revenge on the death of his loved one, only to be brutally killed later. Garcia also encounters an ally in Christopher, a half-human, half-demon that sells Garcia valuable goods to boost his demon-fighting powers.
Later in the game, Garcia and Johnson learn of the Unbreakable Huntress, the first female demon slayer to ever challenge Fleming. The Unbreakable Huntress challenged Fleming, but was brutally dismembered by the demon king. Impressed with her refusal to surrender even when reduced to a quad amputee, Fleming made the Huntress into his queen, only to repeatedly kill her over and over again, healing any wounds that resulted from the torture. In rebellion, the Unbreakable Huntress continued to escape from the City of the Damned, only to be dragged back and killed by Fleming. Paula is hinted to have been the Unbreakable Huntress prior to the start of the game.
Eventually, Garcia reaches Fleming's "Castle of Hassle", and battles his way through to its top, where Fleming awaits him, Paula encased within his cloak. Fleming enters into battle with Garcia, but Garcia gains the upper hand, and destroys him. He rushes to Paula's side, but she hits him, angered that he watched her die over and over and made no attempt to stop it or comfort her. Furious, she transforms into a demon herself, and attacks Garcia, but Garcia eventually weakens her enough. Paula reverts to her human form, and as she lies wounded and the darkness surrounds them, Garcia comforts her and apologizes.
In the epilogue, Garcia and Paula have returned to his home and are planning for a trip, when Garcia receives a call from Fleming, warning him that more demons are coming for him. Garcia takes this in stride, commenting that now that he is dating the Lord of Demon's mistress, the demons will continue to follow them, and he vows to kill every last one.
Shadows of the Damned is a psychological horror game. The player controls Garcia, moving him through the environments. Garcia's sidekick, Johnson, is ever-present, acting normally as a torch for light or quick melee attacks, but can become a weapon when needed. Johnson can take three forms: a pistol, a shotgun, and automatic rifle, all which are upgraded into more powerful forms either by finding blue gems left after boss fights that add extra abilities, or through slotting of red gems, found in the environment or purchasable from Christopher, to improve damage, reload speed, or ammo capacity. Garcia's health bar can also be extended using red gems. Health is restored by imbibing alcohol that can be found in the game's levels, or purchasable from Christopher or vending machines using white gems, the form of currency in the demon world.
Johnson also can fire a special "light bullet", which can be used to both stun enemies and is a primary mechanic of the game's "darkness" puzzles. If Garcia enters an area covered by darkness, he will momentary be safe but soon the darkness will drain his health until he leaves or dissipates it. This most often can be done by firing a light bullet at a goat's head in the area, but often finding this goat requires completing other puzzles, such as opening a series of locked doors. Other ways of dispelling the darkness included killing demons that are spewing it, or using fireworks to temporarily remove it. In some puzzles, the solution can only be completed while Garcia is within the darkness. Demons that spawn from the darkness often will be shrouded by it even when the darkness is dispelled, preventing Garcia from damaging them until struck with a light bullet. There are numerous boss fights that combine several aspects of the gameplay, including darkness, to be defeated. Certain levels are based on mini-games, such as the use of a sidescroller in some chapters.
The game's history can be traced back to 2005, when Goichi Suda and Shinji Mikami (creator of the Resident Evil series) became good friends while working together on Killer7. Suda wanted to make a survival horror game exclusively for the PlayStation 3. With his first horror title Michigan: Report From Hell receiving decent sales in Japan by 2006, Suda immediately began working on Kurayami (Japanese for 'Darkness') in his spare time. It was at one time thought to be called "Closer". However, EA later confirmed that name had been abandoned for another title. By the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2006, a publisher for Kurayami had not yet been established. In 2008, Suda presented the game's concept to EA Games, who agreed to license the Unreal Engine 3 and to publish the game to a worldwide audience. Shinji Mikami was then invited to executive-produce the project. Suda wanted to announce the game at E3 2009, but was not allowed to do so, due to a media silence agreement between Grasshopper Manufacture and EA Games. That December, Akira Yamaoka (sound designer for the Silent Hill series) left Konami after finishing his work on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and joined Grasshopper Manufacture because he enjoyed the latter's game No More Heroes. Yamaoka began work as the sound designer for the game. The newly titled Shadows of the Damned was finally unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show in 2010 as an action game.
Shadows of the Damned has received mostly positive reviews, with average aggregate scores of 80% at GameRankings, 77 out of 100 on Metacritic, and 8.0 out of 10 at GameStats. Joystiq awarded the title a 4 out of 5, noting that Shadows of the Damned is a silly and over-the-top adventure, but is a trip worth taking. The Official Xbox Magazine gave it an 8 out of 10, praising the combat, boss battles, weapon upgrades and humour, but criticizing the linearity and the slow start. Game Informer awarded the title a 9.25 out of 10. Stating that "Shadows of the Damned is unapologetically adolescent, but instead of trying to be cutely ironic and wink at players, the humor comes off as genuine, playful, and fun." IGN awarded the title with a 7 out of 10, criticizing the game for not appealing to all audiences. Eurogamer gave the title a 7 out of 10, noting that it lacks the polish of a typical Shinji Mikami title.
Destructoid praised and awarded the title an 8.5 out of 10, saying "This crackbrained horror romp takes camp to a new extreme and wants you, the player, to have nothing but fun the entire time." Gamespot gave the title an 8.5 out of 10. Praising sound design, challenging and terrifying bosses, varied gameplay, clever use of darkness but criticizing that there is no new game+ function and stiff animation. GameZone gave the game an 8.5 out of 10, and states that "To a much simpler degree, Shadows of the Damned is an amazing experience that anyone with a sense of humor and an affinity for rich games should get their hands on ASAP."