Shadow Warrior Review – Demon-Slicing Fun (PS4)

Remakes of ’90s video games are nothing new. Wolfenstein was recently remadeDoom is currently being remade, and numerous other reinvented titles have come out over the years. These titles have either delighted us with their superiority over their original counterpart, or horrified us by not living up to our expectations (think Duke Nukem Forever). That being said, I can safely say that the PlayStation 4 version of the 2013 Shadow Warrior remake is easily one of the best remade games to come out in a long time.

This remodeled Shadow Warrior keeps a lot of the elements that made the original 1997 game stand out. It uses the same sarcastic humor, hilarious sexual innuendos, and over-the-top violence that makes me continue playing the 1997 version, despite the fact that it’s around 17 years old. Of course, this new version does have some problems, such as a lack of notable characters and a lackluster story, it still does most things right.

Lo Wang Returns

Like the original title, Shadow Warrior puts players in the shoes of Lo Wang, a hired assassin who gets put in the awkward situation of having to kill all the demons that have plagued Earth and save the planet. To do this, he must find all three parts of the legendary sword Nobitsura Kage with the help of the smart-mouthed demon Hoji. With Hoji allied with him, Lo Wang is able to not only use his sword and gun skills, but can also use demon magic to help kill the hordes of demonic creatures that are in his way.

The story is nothing unique — it uses pieces of the original Shadow Warrior game and cliched ideas to weave itself together — but that isn’t really an issue. The game knows that the player doesn’t want to focus on the story or the characters, and keeps story-driven dialogue and cut-scenes to a minimum, allowing players to simply kill enemies in peace.

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To combat the lack of dialogue and character development, the game relies on humorous and often times crude lines that either Lo Wang or Hoji will say at different points throughout your journey. Apparently, a lot of lines were recorded, as they never really are repeated. The game also relies on fortune cookies, which are scattered throughout each level, to feed players hilarious pieces of “advice.”

Swords, Magic, and Guns Galore

Although the story and the characters lack depth, the game makes up for that be giving players amazingly fun gameplay. Similar to games like Painkiller and BulletstormShadow Warrior focuses on slaughtering copious amounts of enemies in disturbingly gory ways. Lo Wang’s main weapon throughout the game is a katana, which can be used in close quarters to brutally cut enemies’ limbs off or simply slice them in half.

A number of different guns, such as the ever-useful crossbow or the enemy-decimating flamethrower,  can be found a various stages of the game. Each weapon may be upgraded using money, which can be found in chests or cabinets in each level. New modes of fire, such as allowing the crossbow to shoot explosive bolts, can be purchased, making each gun more versatile and powerful.

Besides using his sword and his guns, Lo Wang also has demonic powers. These are mostly defensive, allowing Lo Wang to heal himself or suspend enemies in the air for a set period of time, among other things. Each power may be upgraded to make it more potent by using crystals, which are generally hard to come by and are hidden in different parts of the game.

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Using a combination of his weapons and his demonic powers, Lo Wang has to fight through large amounts of demons in each level. The demons are usually fairly weak and come in hordes, so the focus of the most of the game becomes crowd control. Every few levels a boss-level demon will show up, which adds a fun change of pace to the usual enemies. 

Enemies generally appear out of nowhere, which is fun at first but quickly becomes predictable and annoying. You realize after a while that anytime there is a large, empty room in a level, it will soon be filled up with enemies just as you are about to leave it unharmed. To make it even more annoying, once enemies appear in an area or a room, you are not able to leave said area until all of them are killed. 

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Killing enemies also gives you a score. To get a good score (five shurikens), you need to use a combination of different weapons and demonic powers to kill all the demons. A higher score will result in a higher amount of bonus experience points, which can be used to unlock skills. Players can choose to use your skill points to upgrade health or increase the chance of finding money, or maybe increase Lo Wang’s running speed.

How is It Looking?

Moving on from the story and gameplay, one of the things I was really struck by is how great the game looks. Being a port from a 2013 PC game, I expected it look shabby on the PS4, or maybe even look more like a PS3 title. However, Shadow Warrior is actually quite beautiful. The environments are bright, colorful, and alive, and the characters and enemies look like they were born to be on the PS4. Certain things are not quite up to par, like the cars scattered around the game or the occasional wonky-looking building, but for the most part the game looks amazing. Certainly better than the 2013 PC version, at any rate.

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Between the game’s graphics, gameplay, and $40 price tag, Shadow Warrior is a definite buy. It offers hours of gory, hack-and-slash fighting, and focuses on just being a really fun game. If you are looking for developed characters or a story you can really get into, Shadow Warrior might not be for you. But, if you just want to kill hordes of enemies in brutal ways, you should probably pick up a copy.

 Review copy purchased by reviewer. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.

  • Fun, gory gameplay
  • Surprisingly good graphics
  • Hilarious dialogue
  • Lackluster story and characters