When the love of his life is kidnapped by Fleming, the six-eyed lord of demons, the wonderfully named Garcia Hotspur (wasn’t he a marauding full-back from River Plate?) descends to the underworld in a bid to win her back.
The plot may be as hackneyed as a love triangle in a soap opera, and yet under the guidance of Suda 51 (No More Heroes), Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil 4) and Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill), Shadows Of The Damned manages to make this irrelevant, thanks to rip-roaring gameplay, genuinely creepy audio and visual treats and the toughest boss fights in aeons.
Our heavily tattooed demon destroyer has finished off too many bad guys for Fleming (who bears a striking resemblance to Kano from 2000AD’s Bad Company, for nerds of a certain age), who decides to take his revenge by grabbing his girl and scurrying back to hell. Like a modern version of Dante (from the game, mind you) or Kratos, our leather-clad killer follows him to the gothic city of the damned, with his trusty sidekick Johnson (part guide, part gun, part flaming skull on a stick) offering clues as to how best to beat the darkness – shooting golden goats’ heads illuminates the immediate vicinity, sending the demons running, for some bizarre reason, or feeding the crying imp-like gate guards strawberries allows you to gain admittance.
Yes it’s weird, wacky and often pretty disturbing, but Shadows Of The Damned is also a pretty diverting shooter. While it doesn’t have the same outright addictability as the likes of Resident Evil, Halo or even those other hell-raisers, God Of War and Dante’s Inferno, there’s more than enough visceral combat to keep even hardened gamers happy, with the shooting, bashing and general slaying coming thick and fast.