Need to know
What is it? Throwback shooter with an outdated protagonist.
Expect payment: $50
Release date: March 1, 2022
Developer: Flying wild boar
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Review for: Intel Core i7 8700K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, 32GB RAM
Connection : https://shadowwarrior.com/
I’d love a lot more about the pacing of the throwback shooter Shadow Warrior 3 if it was anywhere else. Its single-player battle arena campaign excels at one thing: finding the flow in fast-paced firefights. Movement is constant. The cover doesn’t matter. Gore is impossible. Survival is a non-stop parkour of air dashes, double jumps, and wall-running, interspersed with various carnage options as each weapon’s diminishing ammo capacity allows.
Lo Wang’s arsenal ranges from the standard ones, such as a semi-automatic pistol, to more unconventional weapons, such as a shuriken-shooting crossbow. The shotgun in particular has a bass punch that makes yokai feed mulching reliable. A fast-recharging chi blast knocks back enemies, while a retractable grapple offers an escape from the yokai pit when you need space.
Rhythm is aided by a game of resource management that goes hand in hand with high-speed shooting. Ammunition and health packs are scattered throughout the war zones, but enemies on their own are the most reliable resupply options. Melee attacks from Lo Wang’s katana generate ammo on hits and kills, and the finisher’s refill meter allows executions to refill health and a bonus effect unique to each enemy type. There are a lot of notes here taken from 2016’s Doom, and it’s just as awful: the meatiness factor is so high it’s almost tedious.
These finishers provide an extra layer of strategy: the simplest enemies will provide quick bonuses, such as a temporary increase in maximum health or a freeze grenade in the form of a yokai brain matter ice slab. Bigger, stronger enemies will instead provide you with a “Puncture Tool”: a high-damage temporary weapon crafted from a horrific piece of yokai corpse, like a hammer made from the fleshy lower spine of an oni.
This creates some nice tension between competing impulses – cutting out waves of yokai I’d spare a handful of low-level demons to collect ammo or last hit bonuses as needed. Of course, this meant that there were more bodies around that could confuse my combat acrobatics. It’s a fun balance to find while it lasts.
Over time, the impulse collapses. Character and weapon upgrades ultimately make health and ammo drop a solid constantly, smoothing out the rhythm of decision-making in combat. A single finisher animation for each type of enemy means that the terrible novelty is short-lived; Shortly after hitting the execute button, it feels like you’re hitting the brakes. Each fight has been a test of my patience, even with the variety provided by the platforms that interrupt the march of the battle arenas. Shadow Warrior 3 doesn’t have better ideas for increasing the difficulty other than throwing out more and more of your beefy demons, and adding two clunky boss fights doesn’t help. By the end of the game, each combat encounter is a bloated mob of bulletproof sponge enemies that last ten minutes or more.
Of course, by this point, Luo Wan had already spent several hours making the experience as unbearable as it could be. From the opening cutscene to the end credits, any small success is punished by having to hear Lo Wang’s awful banter several times a minute. In seven hours, I heard Luo Wang yelling hashtags hundreds of times. Lo Wan thinks youkai are ugly. Lo Wang thinks you should cut out the last headshot. Every battle won carries the danger of provoking an insinuation based on Wang. Every kill is a chance to hear Lo Wan sing “Another One Bites the Dust” except for the fact that he says “jerk” in it. Any swing of the katana means risking one of his three variations of the same long-running fake commercial of her slicing, dicing, and making french fries, for four simple $19.99 payments.
He’s a caricature, a cheap punchline – one that has been blunted by the reboot since his first incarnation in the original 1997 Shadow Warrior, but still inevitably represents the western notion of the funny Asian man as an excuse for cock jokes and goofy accent.
At least for the first time in 25 years, this accent is spoken by a non-white person with a yellow-faced vocal. I don’t know how much of a win this is because the rest of the game doesn’t make it easy to do justice. The soundtrack represents the Frankenstein monster of East Asian musical stereotypes. Yes, this orientalist kung fu riff (you know him) is from a sample. Yes, every combat encounter ends with a blunt gong.
Meanwhile, Shadow Warrior 3’s take on Japan is an uninterrupted sea of pagodas and Buddha statues nestled in a landscape of mountain pillars that, to my untrained eye, seems inspired by a photograph of a distinctly Chinese karst range. It feels like the same exaggerated parody as the soundtrack or Lo Wang himself. I wouldn’t expect realistic accuracy from any game, let alone a double jump game. But that shouldn’t make me wonder again if anyone ever thought to involve any of the real people from real places reduced to empty fantasy land.
I don’t think the game cares. I think he’s fine with the Polish studio’s flat, non-concrete vision of what an “Asian” looks like. I think it’s good to know that many players, even after the global rise in anti-Asian xenophobia, will enjoy it without discomfort. After all, Luo Wang is the hero here. Isn’t that a compliment?
In one clip, the camera pulls back to show Lo Wang’s censored groin. Then he farts.
Shadow Warrior 3 is best enjoyed with dialogue volume at zero and subtitles turned off. This is not malicious. It’s tasteless. It’s embarrassing because it expects you to be the kind of person who will enjoy it. Just play Doom 2016.