gaming

'Shadow Warrior 3' Review

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Devolver Digital

I must admit - sometimes I just want to turn my brain off during a regular gameplay session just so I can enter a rare state of zen.

Mindless first-person shooters that I've already beaten work great in that regard during an initial playthrough and additional ones thereafter - blasting enemies to bits in games like Black (what y'all know about that PS2/original Xbox gem?), Bulletstorm, and DOOM Eternal on mute, while I'm vibing out to a podcast, is the definition of heaven on earth for your's truly.

Shadow Warrior 3 is one of those FPS games that helped me tap into that "destroy everything by any means necessary!" part of my brain that's been locked away for a good while now. It's a game that doesn't take itself too seriously and relies on the sort of run & gun gameplay that Serious Sam fans would simply adore. A disruptive sense of repetition and some cringe-worthy attempts at humor stall this game the deeper you get into it, sadly. But overall, Shadow Warrior 3 still ends up being a fun pallet cleanser for those looking to unwind from all those lengthy open-world AAA games.

Series protagonist Lo Wang is back in the driver's seat once again for his latest battle with an army of fantastical foes inspired by Asian mythology. Chaos ensues as he makes it his mission to eliminate a massive dragon that's dead set on consuming his world. And you'll be thrown headfirst into it all as you slash and shoot at every baddie that's looking to stop Lo from accomplishing his world-saving mission. Maneuvering through the colorful stylized levels Shadow Warrior 3 houses makes you feel as if you're smack dab in the middle of a hyperactive B-tier action movie. Lo moves at an amazingly fast pace, can swing through the sky by using his trusty grapple hook, and can leap at a moment's notice. Zipping through each self-contained stage feels awesome thanks to all the platforming puzzles and hidden collectibles that are available for players to discover. Lo's quick maneuvering also plays a huge part in maintaining the frenetic pace that's embedded in each and every combat encounter.

Lo's arsenal isn't massive by any means, but it's manageable. As you progress through the game's early stages, you'll eventually equip a total of six firearms that all come with different modes of gunfire. Whipping out the "Riot Gun" to pull off some destructive shotgun blasts, then switching out to the automatic rifle "Sidekicks" to pick apart even more baddies is just one example of the many ways you can take down the opposition. On top of Lo's guns, he can also put his "Dragontail" katana to good use for some good old-fashioned dismemberment. You'll eventually develop a nice rhythm as you enter a new mini arena and use all the weapons, environmental explosions, and traps you have at your disposal. There's so much joy you can derive from simply pulling off a gruesome fatality on an oversized foe, then using their signature weapon to wipe out everyone else around you. Shadow Warrior 3's first half is a complete blast to play through.

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Devolver Digital

As you delve deeper into Shadow Warrior 3 however, the cracks begin to form. Once you've unlocked every weapon and blessed each one with the proper upgrade items, a strong sense of repetition starts to creep in. By the midway point, you'll have seen every enemy type there is to kill and begin to tire of the main gameplay hook at hand. You do a bit of exploring, get caught in another big battle scenario, go searching for some out-of-the-way collectibles, and do it all over again. The varied environments you'll get to trek through look good enough and some of the quips from Lo are a bit funny here & there. But the whole structure of the game starts to crumble as you get thrown into yet another combat arena with the same old enemies, the same old weapons, and the same old commentary from Lo and his supernatural sidekick. Thankfully, Shadow Warrior 3 isn't very long and wraps up long before your patience completely empties out.

Shadow Warrior 3 is one of those games that delivers quick thrills, mildly humorous jokes, and a fast & furious gameplay loop that keeps all the madness contained within a linear level design. The vertical leaps of death and the gory kills you'll pull off start off fun enough, but the repetitive nature of it all becomes a problem the more you play. Shadow Warrior 3 is a solid shooter that delivers fast food-esque satisfaction, but nothing truly substantial that'll stick with you long after it's done.

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