Shadow Warrior 3 review

Ninjas have been in pop culture forever. They are often portrayed as silent and lethal killers, using little equipment to fulfill their missions in the best way. It was then that 3D Realms, developer of games like Wolfenstein 3D e Duke Nukemdecided to present a different view of these mystical figures back in 1997.

After being shelved for 16 years, the franchise received a reboot developed by Polish Flying Wild Hog and published by Devolver Digital. With the good result, a sequel was released in 2016 that managed to surpass the original and made the public ask for more. With that, we come to March 2022, when the third chapter of the series was released, committed to bringing many changes and being even better than its predecessor. Does Shadow Warrior 3 did you manage to do all this? Check out our review below.

A new Lo Wang but not quite

I feel obliged to start this analysis by saying that Shadow Warrior 3 It’s pure fun from start to finish. While the gameplay is like a shot of adrenaline, the comments made by the characters are extremely comical, an absolutely perfect combination for those who want to disconnect their brains from fetched plots.

The third game in the series has several differences from its predecessors, but all are extremely positive. Starting with the change in the cast, as Mike Moh, the Bruce Lee of ‚ÄúOnce Upon a Time‚Ķ in Hollywood‚ÄĚ, took the place of Jason Liebrecht as the protagonist Lo Wang. Initially I was a little strange, since I played Shadow Warrior 2 very recently, but the actor convinced me after a few minutes. Not only him, but Andromeda Dunker as Motoko and SungWon Cho as Zilla look great in their roles.

In addition to Zilla, another character who constantly talks to us is Hoji.Source: Voxel / Francesco Casagrande

The story, which begins shortly after the events of its predecessor, continues ‚Äúanything‚ÄĚ, without presenting great character development or a consistent plot. What could be a major demerit is nothing too far-fetched considering the franchise in question. Shadow Warrior 3 focuses more on presenting absurd situations in which it is possible to pull off an amazing moment or ironic joke. It’s no use looking for loose ends or plot holes, as this can spoil part of the fun that the title proposes.

It is divided into 11 chapters separated by cutscenes. Even though they are not at all splendorous, they are very animated, making the situations even more comical since there is the use of body comedy. Not everything is perfect since at times it is possible to observe the lip sync getting lost during the dialogues. It’s a detail, but it made me turn up my nose a little because it seemed inattentive.

One of the deadliest battles in Lo Wang's lifeOne of the deadliest battles in Lo Wang’s lifeSource: Voxel / Francesco Casagrande

Since we’re talking about story and dialogue, it’s worth mentioning that the game is localized in Portuguese. This is already a recurring feature of Devolver Digital, which values ‚Äč‚Äčour country very much. As some jokes have contexts that are difficult to translate, many of them are modified for our ‚ÄúBrazilian way‚ÄĚ. The work was great, but some lines were weird, especially during combat and I found the same sentence twice without translation.

I must admit that its short duration left me a little frustrated, wanting more. According to the publisher, its duration is 8 to 10 hours, but my gameplay was 4 hours and 30 minutes. Even playing at my pace, without rushing, I finished in half the minimum advertised time and I’m sure other players will finish with less than 6 hours total.

Beautiful but heavy, just like you know who

Before going to the main course, which is the gameplay, it’s worth saying that the visuals are absolutely magnificent. Whether the environments or the opponents, great care was taken so that the Shadow Warrior 3 was the most beautiful in the series, a goal achieved with great success.

The art direction isn't groundbreaking, but the visuals are absolutely gorgeous.The art direction isn’t groundbreaking, but the visuals are absolutely gorgeous.Source: Voxel / Francesco Casagrande

The problem is that it came at a price: it’s pretty heavy. Even though my warrior RTX 2060 gave me almost 100 FPS on a high setting with DLSS in Balanced mode, I suffered a lot with frame drops. The famous 1% Low hit below half of the total value, which was normally between 30 and 40 frames per second. I changed the setting to be more fluid, but the result compromised the visuals a lot, which complicated my experience a little.

Shooting, beating and Lo Wang

With that all said, let’s get to the fun part: killing demons with machine guns and katanas. First of all, Shadow Warrior 3 It’s the most different game in the franchise. Its structure is more like Doom Eternal than its predecessors as the player will go from arena to arena through parkour sessions, which made it much more linear than Shadow Warrior 2.

Many might see this as a downside, but this change makes the gameplay focus more on solving the big problem by killing everything in the way than doing silly side quests just to level up or unlock a weapon.

There's a little Wang for everyone!There’s a little Wang for everyone!Source: Voxel / Francesco Casagrande

To make the gameplay even more frantic, the developer made a big decision by taking the crosshairs off and putting the katana attacks in place. This makes movement more important than accuracy, mainly because of the huge amount of opponents on the screen. Another great choice was the grappling hook that, in addition to being essential when it comes to passing obstacles between stages, adds a lot of verticality to battles.

In practically every arena there is a place for you to hang, which helps when killing air demons but also makes it easier to move vertically and horizontally. Going from one side to the other quickly avoiding shots helps a lot when health is low, the bullet is running out or when we are surrounded. If the situation is critical, just throw yourself to another corner and pick up the various healing items and ammo scattered around. In addition, we can get closer to smaller enemies and pull barrels of effects, such as ice and electricity, which will be very important to get out of some troubles more easily.

The eastern jungle boy behind his magic egg.The eastern jungle boy behind his magic egg.Source: Voxel / Francesco Casagrande

What also helps a lot are the traps scattered throughout the scenarios. The simplest ones are spikes leaning against walls perfect for pushing ‚Äúmininons‚ÄĚ with the Chi Blast, an ability that stuns larger enemies, but in some there are monumental fetching contraptions. They are perfect for ending the huge amount of strong demons that are chasing us, but it is a double-edged sword as it is also lethal to us. Just use it wisely to make battles even more dynamic.

The more the better (sometimes)

I couldn’t help but mention the opponents, as their horrible faces will be seen thousands of times during the game. There is a great variety of enemies and each one has different abilities, requiring unique approaches to finish each one. They can run towards you, fly around, emerge from the ground or even run away. When they’re all together, it’s a wonderful mess of attacks that will require the player’s best to not die.

The problem is that they are presented very quickly. There are about 10 different types, but 7 of them are presented before two hours of play, giving you no time to get used to one and having to learn the style of the other. Theoretically, this thinking matches the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčfrenzy that the gameplay preaches so much, but it’s as if the developer just threw them in our face and said “get around”.

Too disgusting, it will look better full of holes.Too disgusting, it will look better full of holes.Source: Voxel / Francesco Casagrande

While we are bombarded by a very large amount of enemies on the screen, we receive an arsenal of envy to finish each one of them. What starts with a simple revolver leads to a shuriken launcher that paralyzes opponents with electricity damage. There are 7 weapons in total, counting the katana, to kill the demons.

In the menu, we can buy various upgrades that transform weaponry. Leaving the fully automatic shotgun and the Basilisk, a super-powerful cannon, with the power to freeze enemies close to the target, combats become even more brutal for those who stand in our way. Each weapon has its uses and advantages, with the constant exchange between them being essential for a better use during confrontations. It’s very good to shoot with the cannon and, soon after, explode a grenade in the same animal.

Annihilate everything on the way

And to close with a flourish, the probably best news in Shadow Warrior 3: annihilation. It allows for a brutal finish that unleashes a special ability upon the victim for a limited time. We can freeze everyone in an area, gain a club to crush everyone in its path, or even create a vortex that pulls in nearby enemies. As if that wasn’t enough, using it completely restores health and ammo, perfect for moments of despair.

A beautiful vortex that helps a lot when it comes to eliminating everyone.A beautiful vortex that helps a lot when it comes to eliminating everyone.Source: Voxel / Francesco Casagrande

No kidding, when the bar finally filled and I tore apart that damn demon that was making me hell, it gave me a giant morbid feeling of pleasure not only for seeing him dead, but for being able to take advantage of him to finish off the rest. Flying Wild Hog itself knew that it was a big hit with this addition as it placed annihilation heavily in its marketing campaign. It was definitely the icing on the cake.

It is worth it?

Even with a simple story, minor technical issues and heavy PC requirements, Shadow Warrior 3 relies on its comic dialogues, full of references and fourth wall breaks, along with brutal, visceral, frenetic and vertical gameplay to deliver not only the best title in the franchise, but one of the best FPS of 2022. Although very similar to Doom Eternalhe has a lot of personality and style, being the perfect choice for those who want to turn off their brain and see the blood flow.

“Shadow Warrior 3 was kindly provided by Devolver Digital for this review.”

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