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Shadows of the Damned
ShadowsOfTheDamnedBoxart
Developed by Grasshopper Manufacture
Published by Electronic Arts
Game designer Goichi Suda, Shinji Mikami
Game Engine Unreal Engine 3
Platform PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date June 21, 2011
Genre Third-person shooter, action, horror
Ratings ESRB: M
Media Blu-ray disc, DVD-9
Input Gamepad


Shadows of the DAMNED (シャドウ オブ ザ ダムド, Shadou obu za DAMUDO; subtitled A Suda51 Trip) is an action-horror video game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. The game was directed by Massimo Guarini, produced by Goichi Suda and Shinji Mikami and developed by Grasshopper Manufacture. It was published on June 21, 2011 by Electronic Arts.

GameplayEdit

The storyline of Shadows of the DAMNED takes 8 hours to complete. Played from a third-person perspective, the game follows protagonist Garcia Hotspur from an over-the-shoulder camera angle. Players must strategically lure enemies away from patches of darkness, as the shade makes Hotspur's foes invulnerable. Hotspur wields a torch, revolver, machine gun and shotgun, all of which are actually a demon named Johnson in disguise. 80 upgrades are reportedly available to aid Hotspur's arsenal.

PlotEdit

The game features Hotspur in the City of the Damned, fighting through demons on his path to rescuing his girlfriend Paula, who has been transported there following her death.[1] To do this, he enlists the help of Johnson, a demon who transforms into Hotspur's various weapons.[2][3] Paula's death is somehow linked to Fleming, the Lord of Demons, who agrees to restore Paula's life if Hotspur will atone for slaying his demonic armies. Hotspur refuses and follows Fleming into the City of the Damned, where he and Johnson face hordes of demons, some of which Johnson refers to as Fleming's "V.I.Ps." These are George Reed, the Sisters Grim (Maras, Kauline and Giltine), Elliot Thomas and Justine Divangelo.

DevelopmentEdit

Origins as KurayamiEdit

The April 2006 issue of Edge detailed the first incarnation of Shadows of the DAMNED. The project, proposed under the name Kurayami, was reported to involve exploring "a castle and a village filled with strange inhabitants."[4] The protagonist would wander this village wielding a torch, and would solve puzzles, among other things, to progress through the game.[5] Furthermore, the protagonist would only be safe while occupying well-lit areas, with the torch he carried allowing him to travel through the darkness between these lighted zones.[6] Suda stated that the dangers to the protagonist would not be limited to the creatures he encountered alone, as interactions with the townsfolk could also become heated.[7]

Kurayami-2006-Concept-Art-3

Concept art for Kurayami, depicting the protagonist attacking a monster with his torch.

Kurayami appeared to be planned as a free roam title with heavy focus on action[8] and less emphasis on linearity.[7] Speaking to Edge, Suda expressed that "The challenge now is to go beyond simple recognition, and transform our original games into a mainstream success."[8] This interview was conducted within the first year killer7 had been released, and Grasshopper had yet to oversee a relatively mainstream title until No More Heroes was developed the following year. Suda described Kurayami as "inspired by [Franz] Kafka, a writer I greatly admire. I thought for a long time about how to adapt the environment of his books into a game – to represent the mystery perhaps by applying filters, or dividing them into various missions. When I considered the visuals, I immediately thought of darkness, and I imagined a hero within this night, with a light that would in a way symbolise his life. That became the core concept of Kurayami: literally, 'darkness'."[6]

Suda went on to describe the unique approach he had planned for the game's graphics, explaining that "There are lots of toon-shaded titles on the market right now, but when you look how the contrast of light and shadow is central in our mangas, even in comics from abroad, there are few games that use this sense of darkness. So I want to deliver a very specific, totally new pixel shader based on darkness: an artistic texture, mixed with various effects."[6]

On the topic of enemies encountered in Kurayami, Suda stated that "It's not about some hideous monsters or evil creatures coming out of the darkness, but playing on our natural fears of the dark, and the uneasiness that comes from the absence of noise and life." This element of the game also inspires the attitude of the townsfolk, with Suda elaborating, "It shows how people change when faced with their fears – in a way, you could see a little bit of what Japan, or the world, is like in this town. But I want it to be a profound message, not one based on what's going on around me at the time development starts, or to voice some utopian idea like world peace."[7]

Kurayami-2006-Concept-Art-4

The setting of Kurayami provided the basis for the City of the Damned.

Speaking about the challenge of taking on a more high-end gaming console than the former PlayStation models and Nintendo GameCube, Suda admitted the project would be daunting, but had confidence that "We're capable of taking on technically and financially heavy development – at least, one game at a time. Sony has a vision that as a creator I wanted to respond to, and to deliver this very detailed drawing shader, we need the PS3's power. Our main focus at the moment is to make these illustrations run in realtime."[7]

Suda's last significant description of the game for three years centered around its content, and potential conflicts with game rating boards. Suda explained, "Kurayami's ideas are not about violence or eroticism, but fundamental problems in the human mind, which may find some conflict with the rating system. But if you consider the moral elements, starting from Space Invaders, videogames are basically about killing beings. I understand why the industry is trying to soften this key idea, change it to 'defeating' adversaries to be more acceptable, but I think its almost criminal to diminish the impact of death, and maybe dangerous to depict it in a cute manner for a young audience. Though I expect the rating level to be quite high for Kurayami, I also expect the PS3 to be mainly purchased and used by an adult audience. I'm making a game for an adult audience, one that shows what life is and what being human is."[9]

While sources as late as August 2009 continued to report on the game with scarce details and concept art,[10] some of which falsely believed Kurayami was a newly announced title in development,[4][11] the material they reported on in fact dated back to 2006, when the game was originally proposed to the media.[12] In actuality, neither Goichi Suda nor Grasshopper Manufacture made a public statement on Kurayami after the first quarter of 2006 until Joystiq asked about the game's status in a late September 2009 interview with Suda. Here, Suda confirmed that Kurayami had never entered development, citing that "We aren't even really working on it. We've just been talking about it, but there hasn't been time to work on it."[13] Interviewer JC Fletcher noted the recent resurgence in the game's concept art, which various websites insisted was new, to which Suda clarified, "Actually it was really just for Edge. The artwork was just something we submitted them. We're not working on this project yet. They had some special coverage about Grasshopper and we talked a little bit about Kurayami, and so we gave them some artwork."[13] While Kurayami was ultimately never developed, Mikami confirmed its ideas provided the foundation for Shadows of the DAMNED.[14]

Resurgence under Electronic ArtsEdit

Shadows of the DAMNED in its current form was first announced in 2008. Grasshopper initially intended to premier the title, unnamed at the time, at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009, however this plan fell through for reasons unknown.[15] In an interview with Suda at the convention, the director expressed hope that more details about the game could be confirmed at Tokyo Game Show 2009,[15] however the game failed to make an appearance at this event as well.

GarciaAndZeldaBubble

The protagonists of Shadows of the DAMNED are Garcia Hotspur (right) and Johnson, a rebellious demon who transforms into the weapons Hotspur uses in his fight to rescue Paula.

The few reporters who managed to evoke a comment from Suda early in the development phase always noted his reluctance to do so. When IGN interviewed the director in June 2009, Suda hesitated to provide genuine details about the game, before saying that "It's a game about light and shadows."[15] IGN pressed him for further information, noting Suda thought long and hard before solely stating, "it's sparkling."[15] In a later interview with IGN in September 2009, Suda was asked about the game, to which it was noted he proceeded to "squirm around in his chair and go back and forth with PR, who obviously don't want him sharing anything."[16] Suda then retorted that because he wanted to share information with IGN, he would say that "It's an action/horror game, and it'll be very scary... And I guess I can also tell you that the main character has a very cool watch [...] I better leave it at that."[16]

It has been reported that the title will be powered by Unreal Engine 3,[17] and while initially slated to be released for Microsoft Windows, Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it will ultimately only see release on the latter two consoles.[18] Described as "mad genius in the horror genre," the project was reportedly 50% completed as of May 12, 2010.[19] Suda later commented at the Game Developers Conference in 2011 that Shadows of the DAMNED was designed as a shooting game at the request of Electronic Arts.[17]

1

Garcia Hotspur faces Fleming in the City of the Damned.

IGN has since touched light on some plot and gameplay elements, confirming Hotspur's main opposition to be Fleming, the head of the City of the Damned, who wants to keep Paula for himself.[1] In the game, Johnson can assume the form of three different firearms: a pistol, a shotgun and an assault rifle.[1] Rather than center around shooting enemies and triggering quicktime events, the principle gameplay will focus on strategically keeping in lighted areas while in combat. This is because enemies veiled in darkness become invulnerable to Hotspur's attacks; darkness will drain Hotspur's health as well. Players must seal "conduits of darkness," which will sometimes be done through puzzle solving. These actions will range from firing at "laughing stag heads with concentrated bursts of light" to feeding "trinkets to cherub gates in order to gain access to the source of the creeping darkness."[1]

The first trailer for Shadows of the DAMNED premiered at the Tokyo Game Show 2010, showing the first footage of Hotspur, Paula and George. It was also revealed at the premier that Akira Yamaoka would be helming sound direction for the game,[2] having previously worked with Suda on the soundtrack for No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. The game's second trailer, debuting Johnson and Fleming, and showing Paula in greater detail, appeared at the Game Developers Conference in 2011.[20]

ReceptionEdit

Reviewing a Shadows of the DAMNED demo in March 2011, IGN's Arthur Gies commented that "If it seems like I'm focusing on Shadows of the Damned's style over its play, it's because it's hard to get a solid feel for the kind of game that Shadows wants to be right now [...] There's the busty villainess who's teased for several acts before you'll have a chance to fight her, the giant demon with a weakspot comprised of a jewel that houses human blood, and plenty of third person shooting, but none of it really stands out in comparison to the bold stylings that Suda is known for."[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Shadows of the Damned - Suda 51 Goes to Grindhouse Hell. Arthur Gies. IGN. March 8, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shadows of the Damned brings together Resident Evil and No More Heroes creators. Henry Gilbert. GamesRadar. September 15, 2010.
  3. Shadows of the Damned - Suda 51 Goes to Grindhouse Hell. IGN. March 8, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Suda 51 Is Working On A Playstation 3 Exclusive, Kurayami. PushSquare.com. August 18, 2009.
  5. Killer 7 creator does PS3 game. Tom Bramwell. Eurogamer. April 25, 2006.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Into the Darkness". Edge. April 2006. p. 53.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Into the Darkness". Edge. April 2006. p. 54.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Into the Darkness". Edge. April 2006. p. 52.
  9. "Into the Darkness". Edge. April 2006. p. 55.
  10. Suda 51 + Kafka = PS3 Exclusive Craziness: Kurayami. GayGamer.net. August 18, 2009.
  11. Suda 51's PS3 exclusive revealed as Kurayami. Destructoid. August 18, 2009.
  12. Kurayami se dévoile sur PS3. Gamekyo. April 22, 2006.
  13. 13.0 13.1 TGS 2009: Interview: Suda 51. Joystiq. September 29, 2009.
  14. GDC 11: Shinji Mikami Interview. GameTrailers.com. March 10, 2011.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 E3 2009: Suda 51 Talks Forthcoming Mikami Collaboration. Matt Casamassina. IGN. June 3, 2009.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Sitdown With Suda 51. Mark Bozon. IGN. September 29, 2009.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Voice of the Damned: Suda 51 on being an EA Partner and surviving the Japanese market. JC Fletcher. Joystiq. March 8, 2011.
  18. Grasshopper working with Unreal Engine 3. Brendan Sinclair. Gamespot. October 7, 2008.
  19. Mikami and Suda51's "Mad Genius Horror" Game 50% Complete. James Newton. Nintendo Life. May 12, 2010.
  20. Shadows of the Damned: GDC Trailer. Electronic Arts. March 7, 2011.

External linksEdit

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