The latest release from the Polish company Flying Wild Hog elicits varied reactions. Fighting swarms of foes flooding the board is undeniably satisfying, and it’s a welcome break after a long day’s work. Simultaneously, you may get the sensation that the creators have drastically scaled down the project, removing a lot of components that functioned well in the previous part of the series.
Of course, the fundamental assumptions have not altered. We take on the role of the mercenary Lo Wang, who fights demons with a katana and weaponry. However, it should be noticed that the title changes significantly from Shadow Warrior 2. There is no cooperative mode, and there are no RPG aspects like character and equipment statistics, or experience levels. Side quests have also been discontinued. The idea of more open areas was also dropped – Shadow Warrior 3 is excruciatingly linear, leading the player along a well-defined path. You cannot veer from the developers’ route by even one millimeter. The lack of collectibles in the game demonstrates the game’s restricted structure of the stages. In other words, the new elements from the second part were removed, which may be seen as a return to the origins, although fans of the second part’s complex gameplay concept may be upset. Fans of the first installment, on the other hand, will be pleased.
Other characteristics also point to the project’s lesser scale. A narrative campaign structure is an example. Lo Wang must work with the current enemy Orochi Zilla and Hoji, a returning monster from another realm, to stop a great dragon unleashed in the end of 2. Despite the ostensibly worldwide threat, there is little sense of fear in the game, and the actions affect only four persons. Instead of suspense, there is a distinct sense of comedy that is unique to the series. The characters utter jokes that aren’t that funny but make you grin, but the whole interplay between Lo Wang and his companion, Hoji, is enjoyable. Like some of the lines, which feature pop culture allusions and even amusing comments about the overall game business. The entire game is pretty short – I reached the end credits after around eight hours – but I assume that individuals with better talent than me would be able to complete the game faster. The absence of side activities and other modes, on the other hand, discourages revisiting the game. Fortunately, the sword’s cutting and firing abilities continue to be its strongest suit. The fight is meaty and entertaining, if occasionally disorganized. We are urged to regularly swap between both sorts of weaponry after earning the upgrade that rewards using a katana with ammo and using a ranged weapon creates first aid kits. The secret to success is to keep moving – Lo Wang can sprint through barriers. You may also force foes into spikes, traps, and other hazardous components of the environment.
A grappling hook is a new feature that allows you to span gaps and drag adversaries towards you, however it is not always beneficial in dynamic combat. Fighting hordes of foes, on the other hand, is undeniably thrilling – the confrontations sometimes resemble a lethal and savage ballet. A less diversified armament is another result of the aforementioned design cutbacks. While Shadow Warrior 2 featured a plethora of tools, Shadow Warrior 3 only just a few. Each kind has just one copy, and aside from the normal katana, there are only six sorts of guns. A revolver, an automatic shotgun, two machine guns, a grenade launcher, an energy launcher, and a shuriken thrower are all on the table. It’s not much, but each of the devices functions somewhat differently, and in the heat of combat, there’s frequently little time to consider the usage of a certain weapon. The tools of murder, or equipment seized from stronger adversaries, compensate for the smaller armament. All you have to do is deliver a final blow to take away your opponent’s heavy hammer or other weapon, which delivers a lot of damage to the adversary and gives them a short-term edge on the battlefield.
This doesn’t change the reality that there’s less equipment than you’d anticipate. As if that weren’t enough, the development system is limited: it’s dependent on bullets discovered on levels and gained by performing extremely easy tasks, which unlock perks like higher health or shock ammo. The quantity of boss battles is disappointing – there are only two, and they do not provide a significant challenge even for less experienced gamers. It is better with regular foes who are unique and distinctive in appearance – the list of enemies includes the troll-like Oni Hanma, Hattori with a sword, the demonic and colorful harmonica Slinky Jakku, and the underworld invading Mogura. The visual layer is of moderate quality. You may like the flurry of colors and effects that accompany the fights, but you can’t help but feel that the visuals are more akin to the previous generation than the current one. This, however, does not worry us too much because there is no time to observe the scenery during frenetic clashes. Another benefit is that the game runs well – the creators put a lot of effort into optimization, and I didn’t notice any major issues on PC, save from tiny crunches while starting cutscenes.
However, the authors neglected to provide accessibility features for players with impairments. There are almost none of them, which is a significant omission in an era when comparable alternatives are prevalent. The lack of subtitle expansion is extremely annoying, since it makes the captions nearly invisible, especially when we are seated a few meters in front of the TV.
Shadow Warrior 3 is an intriguing follow-up. In an era where sequels are continually being expanded, the Flying Wild Hog took a step back, eliminating production from the additional features that debuted in the second portion. It’s still an excellent shooter, but the game feels smaller than its predecessor. Only for hardcore genre enthusiasts – and the series’ debut series.