Developers Flying Wild Hog had a busy year in 2022 with three big game releases. Now I say big, but one of them was an indie game, and the other two can only be put into the AA category and not AAA. Despite the scope and scale of the games themselves, they were advertised well, had potential, and gamers were looking forward to them. The second game of the bunch was “Trek to Yomi,” a black-and-white Kurosawa-inspired Samurai game that was a side scroller and had some amazing action. The third game was “Evil West,” a third-person shooter taking place in a fictional take on the Wild West era, where you killed vampires and other mutants. The first game, however, wasn’t a new IP but the third game in an existing franchise, which, despite being somewhat underrated, is loved by people who have played said games.
Originally, this first game, aka “Shadow Warrior 3,” came out last year to a lukewarm reception and was considered an experience that was worth taking but without any rush. A year later, in February 2023, the developers decided to release an update or definitive version of the game. “Shadow Warrior 3: Definitive Edition,” which we’ll be talking about today. Before we get into the meat of things, allow me to clarify that this game is not the best out there, but it’s not bad either, and I loved it. Games like these are hard to talk about because they aren’t aiming to do something distinctive or revolutionize the genre but rather to be plain fun to play. The problem with that is that gamers in general, don’t take that stuff kindly, as they want every experience to be a masterclass in some way or another, so these kinds of games aren’t talked about or remembered much and are lost to time. I loved mediocre games just as much as I loved smash hits, so my take will be a tad different, and of course, you are free to have your own opinion and disagree with me.
I have had “Shadow Warrior” and “Shadow Warrior 2” sitting in my library for quite some time now, but the truth is told, I have never actually played the first two games for some reason. Despite that, I decided to jump into “Shadow Warrior 3 Definitive Edition” as soon as it dropped on Xbox Game Pass, and after playing this game, I am totally planning to revisit the old games now. The game begins with a dragon wreaking havoc across the lands, and our protagonist Lo Wang can be seen screaming his head off and losing his mind over all the destruction while expressing his feelings about a mask that seemingly belongs to his dead friend Hoji. I think it’s safe to assume that the story here picks up immediately after the events of the second game, as there’s no “beginning” here per se, as the game just starts. All I will say for the story here is that there is one; no, it won’t win Oscars, but at the same time, it does its job and perhaps acts as a contrivance for the meat of the game, which is its gameplay.
“Shadow Warrior 3 Definitive Edition” is a fast-paced first-person shooter where you cut your way and shoot through Yokai(demons) using your Katana and guns. The gameplay here is fast; I mean super fast with quick switching weapons, slicing and dicing enemies with your Katana like there’s no tomorrow, and performing finishers on enemies, all the while running around the arenas like you are high on some hyper-energetic drug. It’s clear that the game takes heavy inspiration from iD Software’s “DOOM” games, and while it’s not as adrenaline-pumping and nuanced as those games, it does its job very well. There are six guns that unlock as you play through the levels, and each of them is useful, unique, and honestly very fun to use. No aiming down sights here as you hip-fire your way across and pull out the hand cannon called “The Outlaw” and empty its barrel like you are Clint Eastwood from a Western movie—it never gets old. Each gun can also be upgraded by finding upgrade orbs scattered across the levels and earning them by completing challenges. There are only three upgrades per gun, but at the same time, there’s no need for more, as each upgrade is truly useful and adds to your gameplay experience. Your character, Lo Wang, can also unlock more skills by using upgrade orbs, and while his upgrades aren’t as impressive, they still add to your gameplay in some ways.
That pretty much sums up the gameplay of “Shadow Warrior 3: Definitive Edition.” The game is action-packed and very fun to engage with, and the enemy variety here is also decent. The game can get very hard on higher difficulties, so unless you are a first-person shooter junkie, try it out on the lower difficulty settings first. The visuals of the game are also good. They won’t blow you away or anything, but the game can look gorgeous at times, thanks to good lighting and background scenery. The enemies, on the other hand, all look very cool and unique. One thing that may annoy you, as you may not find it interesting, but I sure did, is the constant banter that Lo Wang will have either with himself or with Hoji throughout the game. His dialogue can get cringy at times, but it is filled to the brim with pop culture references and juvenile jokes, and I dig it. You could tell the voice actor had a lot of fun recording these lines and did a good job, by the way. I don’t know; I just found Lo Wang endearing, charming, and hilarious as a protagonist, but your mileage may vary.
This game would have overstayed its welcome if it weren’t for the length. The game is short and can be beaten in under six hours, as all it has are a bunch of linear levels stitched together with some freedom for you to explore and find upgrade orbs. Overall, it’s very on-the-rails and is a straightforward experience that doesn’t lead you astray, and once again, I can appreciate this in a sea of open-world RPGs. The combat can get repetitive or boring, as it did for me towards the end, but as I said, the short length of the game balances that out. If it were any longer, then things would have been different. That pretty much sums up what “Shadow Warrior 3 Definitive Edition” is. This version is also optimized for current-gen machines and has an added horde mode and a few other things, so feel free to check those out if you are interested.
“Shadow Warrior 3: Definitive Edition” is a blast from the past if I have to sum it up in one statement, and I mean that in a good way. With how complex and advanced and lived-in games have become, this game doesn’t stand a chance in front of the current pack, but that’s this game’s strength. It’s short, straightforward, and sweet, and it aims to do one thing and does it right. Give this game a shot, especially if you are a Game Pass member. You are bound to have a blast playing this. I had loads of fun beating it, and despite all of its issues and inconsistencies, “Shadow Warrior 3 Definitive Edition” is a charming and thrilling game that I’d recommend you guys check out.