Shadow Warrior 3 Review – In the Shadow of Doom
Shadow Warrior is among the old-school first-person shooters from the 90s that have been revived for the modern era by developer Flying Wild Hog, with the 2013 remake being the first in what is now a trilogy with the arrival of Shadow Warrior 3.
The game doesn’t waste a second and quickly introduces you to its returning protagonist, Lo Wang, who gets you up to speed on prior events. As it turns out, a giant dragon is wreaking havoc all over the world, putting it at the brink of annihilation. Another returning character, Orochi Zilla – a former adversary – has decided to team with Wang to take down the common threat before it’s too late. Given the over-the-top nature of the series, it’s not essential to have played the previous entries to enjoy Shadow Warrior 3.
The story is merely an excuse for players to get in on the action and unleash carnage upon waves of demons. Despite the violence, Lo Wang’s non-stop banter with allies remains a highlight, keeping things comical and entertaining – while it lasts, that is. The game can be beaten in around 6 to 7 hours, and comes with little to no incentive for a replay, given the linear nature of the gameplay.
Lo Wang has a limited arsenal of weapons at his disposal, though he makes up for it to an extent by also wielding a katana that can not only slice and dice through enemies but also perform a variety of elemental attacks. The use of the katana is made essential, as it’s the only way to gain ammo for your firearms. It’s helped by the fact that Wang can double jump, wall-run, and dodge incoming attacks, which allows him to be nimble and quick like the ninja that he is. Performing melee kills to get ammo for firearms is an interesting dynamic in itself. However, katana strikes aren’t impactful in terms of feedback and hit reactions, and, therefore, not very satisfying to use.
It’s disappointing to see that Shadow Warrior 2’s open map has been axed in favor of the sequel’s small arenas. Similarly, the RPG elements found in the previous game added some variety to the gameplay, but they’ve been taken out entirely here. Additionally, some of the new mechanics introduced in Shadow Warrior 3 stick out as rough. Glory kills, for example, don’t add anything meaningful to the gameplay, and often become a hindrance due to their awkward implementation. Triggering a brutal finish on an enemy allows you to grab a piece of their corpse and turn it into a powerful Gore weapon. Several of these Glory kill animations are awkward looking, and the weapons you gain access to are often redundant.
Boss fights are another area where Shadow Warrior 3 takes a step back from prior entries. The campaign only features a total of two boss fights, and neither are particularly memorable. Such encounters were previously a series highlight, but here they appear to be more of an afterthought.
The level design also tends to be awkward in places, particularly during the platforming sections that pop up in between arena battles against demons. These sections are highly repetitive and come off as padding in what is already a short campaign. To make matters worse, these sections can get difficult at times, resulting in some unnecessary trial and error. The game is missing a layer of polish, as it also suffers from bugs and glitches that often make environmental interactions feel awkward.
The game is nothing to write home about in the audiovisual department. Artistically inconsistent and technically unremarkable, it’s certainly no graphical showcase. Additionally, the lack of a current-gen release comes as a disappointment.
Shadow Warrior 3 is mechanically sound, but it appears to take the wrong cues from the Doom series, in this process losing much of its own identity and resulting in an experience that takes several steps back from previous entries. That said, die-hard series fans will catch some entertainment out of the protagonist’s banter and the over-the-top carnage.
Shadow Warrior 3 Game Information
- Price: $49.99
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Developer: Flying Wild Hog
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher