REVIEW – Lo Wang and the katana are back in a new instalment of the Shadow Warrior 3 FPS series that’s as bloody as it is short.
Flying Wild Hog revived the Shadow Warrior franchise in 2013 with the eponymous sequel/reboot, a sharp and bloody first-person shooter. The second instalment was released in 2016, borrowing RPG elements from Borderlands that didn’t fit the fast-paced, bloody style of the license at all. The developers learned their lesson with Shadow Warrior 3, which offers less content in exchange for a more intense experience.
The story is just an excuse to mow down
Shadow Warrior 3 takes place after Shadow Warrior 2. Lo Wang, the franchise’s hero, is now friends with Orochi Zilla but remains a perpetual comic character with a dubious sense of humour. And he has just accidentally unleashed a giant dragon that he must stop before it destroys the world. It’s a terribly bland and forgettable adventure, with a scenario that only serves as an excuse. The story holds no surprises; the player moves forward without thinking, the transitions rarely move the plot forward, and in the end, all we remember are Lo Wang’s recurring jokes, which are helped by the excellent voice-overs. Then again, it’s all about the gameplay anyway…
A bloodbath and a shower of bullets
Shadow Warrior 3 is a true shooter with an eye on fast FPSs like Quake and Doom. The gameplay is very enjoyable, you can switch between shooting and slashing very smoothly, and you can quickly recover ammunition from enemies you cut down with your sword. Firearms, katanas and hordes of monsters: this is what awaits the player during the adventure.
Bodies fly, blood splatters in all directions, organs explode in the arena – each fight scene is a real massacre with executions. Lo Wang ultra-violently liquidates his enemies to regain his life and acquire particularly devastating, maiming weapons, provided his Ultimate lane is full. It’s a veritable bloodbath and a shower of bullets, and while the action is a little confusing at times, it ultimately fits for a DOOM-like. But that’s it: we’ve basically described the gameplay.
Yes, the Flying Wild Hog title is highly repetitive. The player alternates between action sequences in enclosed arenas and platforming moments where Lo Wang follows a very linear path, jumping, running on walls and swinging a pickaxe to get to the next hall. That’s basically what the game is about in the short six hours it lasts.
It’s all quite entertaining, but the player quickly gets the impression that they’re living a never-ending day, even if there are elements that vary the enjoyment, such as tiny switches in the arenas that trigger traps to eliminate a bunch of enemies in an easy and bloody way.
Weapons are also quite scarce, but at least they are relatively varied: there are revolvers, shotguns, machine guns, grenade launchers, shuriken launchers and sniper rifles. This is limited, but the player can upgrade any weapon to increase combat effectiveness and combine them with katana strikes or explosive barrels that use elemental effects (fire, electricity and ice) or the Chi Blast, a hand-to-hand combat weapon that repels weak enemies. In addition, the pickaxe is also helpful in combat to quickly approach an enemy or, conversely, to move a few seconds away to find a health pack or ammunition.
No idle time here
The player has no time to be bored, with new, well-developed enemies regularly encountered (with short, punchy videos that break the game’s rhythm completely).
The adventure, besides being self-repetitive, is very linear, with few alternative paths to explore, even if the orbs needed to upgrade your weapons and character are hidden here and there. Medium difficulty is only recommended if you want to stretch the game a few extra minutes with the added challenge. Even so, it’s a little discouraging for the short playing time. At the same time, it would have been unnecessary to overdo the playing time, as the gameplay is so repetitive.
Finally, let’s talk about the technical side of things, Shadow Warrior 3 was tested on PlayStation 5, and the visuals are very average. Graphically, the title is in the average range of current games. Visually it’s relatively lovely without standing out in any way; the textures are correct, the lighting highlights the neo-feudal Japan-inspired environments and the game’s fantastic universe, but the player is mainly stuck with the bloody animations.
As for the voice acting, it’s still okay, but it’s good to understand English well after listening to it because it’s a pain to read Lo Wang’s jokes with subtitles while jumping from wall to wall or shooting at hordes of enemies. As for the music uses traditional Asian themes, but this is rare and discreet, with only the sounds of bullets and exploding bodies.
The last samurai? No, it’s a quickly lost samurai instead…
Shadow Warrior 3 is a bloody and grim FPS that’s relatively fun, easy to control, but quite repetitive, lacks originality and ends too quickly. The title is recommended for fans of the genre, but the game itself is a bit of a cliché and too similar to the rest of the franchise. It will be forgotten quickly as it is „overshadowed” by more ambitious and successful games in the genre.
+ Fun, gory and simple
+ Variety of weapons
+ Intense and exciting battles in arenas
– The story is forgettable
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Publication: March 1, 2022