In Case You Missed It: Shadow Warrior

By Kevin Tavore, 5 months ago
Easter Egg articles have been a staple of TA for a while now. Back in March, we introduced a revised version of that series called In Case You Missed It. The first article focused on what would shortly become a popular Games with Gold game, Lords of the Fallen. If you're new to the concept or need a refresher, ICYMI pieces highlight games that few on TA had played but that each have a particularly passionate Newshound vouching for them as under-the-radar hits.

Today, I'm happy to bring to you the second ICYMI article. This one launched in 2013 and it's one of my favorites: Shadow Warrior. It was made by Flying Wild Hog, whose most recent title was Hard Reset Redux last month, though I should note that Hard Reset Redux was actually a remaster and Shadow Warrior was developed later and featured some improvements on the gameplay systems. With a history stretching back to the golden age of gaming where it stood with series like Wolfenstein and Doom, a solid 3.9/5 community score, and a sequel on the way later this year, Shadow Warrior is the perfect candidate for an ICYMI article. I'm giving you a second chance - don't miss it this time!

Lo Wang shouldn't be missed.Lo Wang shouldn't be missed.

The Basics

The Shadow Warrior series has always starred Lo Wang and this one is no different. Lo Wang is a sort of ninja mercenary who seamlessly alternates between sword and guns to kill his enemies and complete his mission. He also takes some hints from characters like Deadpool, making humorous quips and sarcastic comments as he sheds the blood of everyone around him. In this particular tale, Lo Wang is hired by Japanese businessman Orochi Zilla to purchase a mythical katana. As they often do, things quickly get deadly and a demon invasion begins. Lo Wang befriends Hoji, an outcast demon immortal with a devious sense of humor whose only attachment to the physical world is a floating white mask. Together they grudgingly set out to stop the invasion.

The gameplay takes heavy inspiration from the classic Shadow Warrior titles (if you haven't played them, think the original Doom games). It's a first-person shooter where you wield both swords and guns to kill enemies and move through the levels. Lo Wang is proficient in nearly a dozen different firearms, his sword, and a variety of magic attacks and spells.

Of course, there's more to the gameplay beyond simply shooting and Shadow Warrior delivers here. While it has no multiplayer component, the single-player campaign is extensive. Lo Wang plays through over 10 unique environments across 16 levels. There's always something new to see and do in each level. The levels are somewhat linear, but there's also a sufficient amount of exploration to keep things interesting. It's not likely you'll ever be lost, but there's no way to say the game is on rails. This excellent level design is accompanied by excellent enemy design. There's a large variety of human and demon enemies which will require you to use different tactics depending on composition. This, along with the many weapons, always keeps combat fresh throughout the entire game. Finally, there are also four boss battles which, for an FPS, are really pretty good, especially considering their sense of scale.

The Hook

Shadow Warrior's hook is its classic gameplay. Recently, Wolfenstein: The New Order and DOOM made a huge splash in the gaming scene by offering classic gameplay reimagined with modern gameplay standards. Each of those games was hugely popular and rightly so - they absolutely make you feel like a badass using extremely powerful weapons to murder Nazis and demons. Years ago, Shadow Warrior stood by those games as part of an FPS power trio and it's only fitting that it was also reborn for the modern age alongside the better-known titles. But that's not the best part - it does that classic gameplay even better than Wolfenstein and DOOM. It's simply amazing.

DOOM was recently lauded for its gameplay, and rightly so. You get explore levels collecting keys to move forward while defeating enemies along the way. It's a classic style of gameplay that's been around for decades. Its success was in its weapons and general gameplay design. There are a dozen weapon and each one feels special and rewarding. It's been generations since we've simply picked up a rocket launcher and blew up crowds of demons in an absolutely vicious fashion. If you've played it, you know what I'm talking about. You also probably won't believe me when I say that DOOM's "powerful" weapons feel like they're shooting marshmallows when compared to Shadow Warrior, but it's true.

In Shadow Warrior, every single weapon is a monster. There's no other way to describe it. Your machine guns can be dual-wielded to shred enemies to pieces. Your crossbow can launch single shots with enough force to behead a massive demon or remote-detonation explosive arrows to take out a crowd. Your shotgun can shoot four shots at once and will literally blow enemies to pieces when you kill them. Beyond the guns there's also your katana, which can cut off body parts and slice enemies in half, and even demon heads (which, of course, each shoot a large laser beam out of their eyes).

And I must stress this again, these weapons are monsters. Everything comes together in the game to reinforce this single idea. Each weapon looks uniquely dangerous. When you pick each one up for the first time, you're going to smile because just looking at the weapon, you know it's going to be fun to kill things with it. Then there's the sound design. There's no "pip pip pip" here. The Uzi's sound like a monsoon of bullets. The shotgun roars. The flamethrower sounds like a torrent of death. And the audio and visual cues extend to the enemies as well. They will explode, they will burn, and they will literally fall to pieces under your onslaught all to the sound of what can only be described as pure carnage. When you shoot these weapons, you get a mad sense of glee. That's the hook. That's what makes this fun.


The Achievements

I'll get right out there and say this now - Shadow Warrior is not an easy completion. To earn its 53 achievements, you'll need to complete the campaign. You'll need to find collectibles (and while there are a lot, this guide will make it easy and even fun - I say that as someone who loathes collectibles). There are dozens of miscellaneous achievements that task you with killing enemies in all sorts of ways. You'll need to collect all the skills and upgrades (which can be done quite easily by abusing the achievement tracker if you check the solutions). All of this is pretty standard fare for any game though, so it should come as no surprise to you.

Shadow Warrior's main challenge comes from its "Heroic" difficulty. It's a challenge only 38 gamers to date have met, and will earn you 80GS worth nearly 1,000TA. In Heroic mode, enemies have more health and do more damage. Oh, and if you die you have to restart the entire level. With 16 levels in the game, this is no easy task. But it's also not as hard as you might think it is. It also ramps up the intensity of the game significantly, which for many is going to add a lot of extra fun. This achievement isn't a roadblock to completion. It's just your reward for enjoying the game to its fullest.

The Stats

Shadow Warrior currently has just barely under 5,000 tracked gamers with only 36 completions. That ratio can likely be chalked up to a long campaign and a scary achievement in Heroic mode. Your efforts to complete the game will be rewarded with a cool 1,000GS worth 3,305TA.

The TA community has scored the game at 3.9 stars and the Metacritic sits at 74.

The Price

While the Xbox Store sells the game for over $40.00 USD, those in the US can pick the game up on Amazon for about $11 (which is probably the best place to get it for Europe as well since the Xbox One is region free). While the game did go as low as $4 last year, it appears most copies of the game were sold and we're left with only resellers at this point. Expect the price to remain about the same moving forward unless we get lucky and get a great sale on the digital version of the game.

The Verdict

Shadow Warrior is an amazing game. It's the best of its kind. If you're look for a single-player FPS with a lot of content and a lot of fun, Shadow Warrior is the best you can get. If you played DOOM and though it was good, Shadow Warrior matches it all and does quite a lot better. You owe it to yourself to try it out. I guarantee you won't have a better time with any classic FPS this year...until maybe Shadow Warrior 2.
Kevin Tavore
Written by Kevin Tavore
Purveyor of news articles and the occasional walkthrough or op-ed. The American equivalent of Aristotle. Likes almost all genres but has an unhealthy aversion to exploration and puzzles. Nicest place he'd never want to go? Japan.